Arias from Herodiade, La damnation de Faust, Carmen,
Les Troyens, Joseph en Egypte, Alceste, Iphigenie en Tauride, La Juive,
Les Abencerages, Tosca, I pagliacci, Cavalleria rusticana, and La
Guy Chauvet, tenor, Orchestra Conducted by Jésus
MALIBRAN MR 566. F (AAD?) TT: 76:23
BUY NOW FROM AMAZON
French tenor Guy Chauvet was born in Montluçon 2 October 1933.
In 1954 he was co-winner of a tenor competition in Cannes, along with
Alain Vanzo, Gustave Botiaux, Tony Poncet, and Roger Gardes—a pretty
impressive assemblage of talent! Chauvet made his Paris Opéra debut
in 1959, starting with comprimario parts, finally advancing to lead
He soon established himself as an important presence, both in France
and, ultimately, in many of the world’s other major opera houses.
He sang numerous roles in the French and Italian repertoire, and became
particularly well-known for such heroic parts as Aeneas and Samson.
Guy Chauvet was without question a talented singer, and one who filled
a pressing need during a time when the grand tradition of the French heroic
tenor was in decline. Nevertheless, I’m not entirely certain that
the path of Chauvet’s career was ideally suited to his vocal talents.
I’ve always considered him a singer whose vocal weight leaned
more toward the lyric than the dramatic. And while Chauvet coped quite
with the demands of heroic repertoire, I suspect it may have been at the
expense of vocal freshness, beauty and flexibility.
These suspicions are inspired by this recent reissue by Malibran of recordings
Guy Chauvet made for the Vega label early in his career. Chauvet sings
all of the selections, including those from Italian opera, in French. Typical
of this singer’s work in general, the diction is idiomatic and crystal-clear.
What sets these Vega recordings apart from Chauvet’s later work is
the gorgeous vocal quality and the wide variety of colors at the tenor’s
disposal. The sweetness of the young Chauvet’s timbre is something
to savor. In addition, Chauvet displays all of the other qualities that
are the heart and soul of great French tenor singing—a seamless legato,
a masterful application of the mixed voice, and an ideal balance between
elegance and passion. It’s also quite impressive to hear Chauvet
demonstrate an ease and mastery of style and technique in music ranging
from the 18th century to verismo. And if all of these attributes
inspire comparison to Chauvet’s great predecessor, Georges Thill,
the singing on this disc justifies such comparisons.
The CD sounds as if it is a straight transfer from LP to CD. The sound
is good mono, with occasional light surface noise, and, here and there,
a slight bit of distortion. In short, the sonic quality is more than sufficient
to hear some absolutely first-rate French tenor singing. Highly recommended.
K.M. (September 2004)