Eugénie “Ninon” Vallin (September 1886 – November 22 , 1961) was a French soprano who achieved considerable popularity in opera, operetta and classical song recitals during an international career that lasted for more than four decades.  In this post, I am going to give you a sample of her repetoire.  I also must apologize.  With respect to “Intimité” or “Tristesse”, I have given you the words that Vallin sings in French.  This song was based on a Chopin Étude.  The famous opera singer Félia Litvinne arranged the étude and provided the words for Vallin.  I have translated the words myself, and I think that some French expressions are mistranslated, but most of it is correct.  Just to let you hear the source material, the last link is to Paderewski playing the Chopin piece as it was written.

Berceuse

Cachés dans cet asile où Dieu nous a
conduits,

Unis par le malheur, durant les longues nuits
Nous reposons tous deux endormis sous les voiles
Ou prions aux regards de tremblantes étoiles.

Oh ne t’éveille pas encore
Pour qu’un bel ange de ton rêve
En déroulant son long fil d’or,
Enfant, permette qu’il s’achève.
Dors, dors, le jour à peine a lui.
Vierge Sainte, veillez sur lui.

Lullaby

Hidden in this sanctuary where God led us

United by misfortune during the long nights
We both rest asleep under their veils
Or pray under the gazes of the trembling stars

Oh! do not wake up yet
So that a beautiful angel, in your dream,
by unwinding its long golden thread
Child, allows it to come to an end
Sleep! Sleep! the day just barely glinted

Holy Virgin, watch over him.

Depuis le Jour

Depuis le jour
Où je me suis donnée
Toute fleurie semble ma destinée
Je crois rêver sous
Un ciel de féerie
L’âme encore grisée
De ton premier baiser!
Quelle belle vie!
Mon rêve n’était pas un rêve!
Ah! je suis heureuse!
L’amour étend sur moi ses ailes!
Au jardin de mon coeur
Chante une joie nouvelle!
Tout vibre
Tout se réjouit de mon triomphe!

Autour de moi tout est sourire
Lumiére et joie!
Et je tremble délicieusement
Au souvenir charmant
Du premier jour d’amour!
Quelle belle vie!
Ah! je suis heureuse! trop heureuse…
Et je tremble délicieusement
Au souvenir charmant
Du premier jour d’amour!

Since the day

Since the day
when I gave myself,
Every blossom seems to be my destiny.
I seem to be dreaming
beneath a fairy sky,
my soul still enraptured
by your first kiss!
What a beautiful life!
My dream was not a dream!
Oh, I am so happy!
Love spreads its wings over me!
In the my heart’s garden,
a new joy sings!
Everything is vibrating,
everything is rejoicing in my triumph!

Around me all is smiling,
light and joy!light and happiness!
And I tremble deliciously
at the delightful memory
of the first day of love!
What a beautiful life!
Oh, how happy I am! too happy!…
And I tremble deliciously
at the delightful memory
of the first day of love!

Après un rêve

Dans un sommeil que charmait ton image
Je rêvais le bonheur, ardent mirage;
Tes yeux était plus doux, ta voix pure et
sonore,

Tu rayonnais comme un ciel éclairé par l’aurore.
Tu m’appelais et je quittais la terre
Pour m’enfuir avec toi vers la lumière;
Les cieux pour nous, entr’ouvraient leurs nues,
Splendeurs inconnues, lueurs divines entrevues…

Hélas! Hélas, triste réveil des songes!
Je t’appelle, ô nuit, rends-moi tes mensonges;
Reviens, reviens radieuse,
Reviens, ô nuit mystérieuse!

After a dream

In a sleep that charmed your image
I dreamed of happiness, burning vision;
your eyes were sweeter, your voice pure and ringing,

you shone like a sky lit up by the dawn.
You were calling me and I was leaving the earth
to flee with you towards the light;
the skies parted their clouds for us,
unknown splendors, divine half-seen lights…

Alas! Alas! Sad awakening from dreams!
I call on you, o night, give me back your lies;
come back, come back my radiant one,
come back, o mysterious night!

Intimacy

Viens dans mes bras,
Le jour se meurt,
Plus de clameurs,
Au loin nul bruit de pas,
Ne parle pas
Seule une présence est entre nous:
c’est l’odeur
Des lilas
Tes yeux sont las
Ton front est lourd
Fruit de velours posé contre mon sein
Tel un coussin.
Ferme tes grands yeux, partons ainsi
Faire un voyage au beau pays
Où tout est bleu comme les cieux!
O mon enfant!
N’aie point de souci
Mon coeur te défend
Ne bouge pas
Comme une soeur
J’inventerai pour toi des mots
berceurs
Comme une soeur
Je veille sur toi, ne pense à rien
Dors, Dodo
L’enfant do
Tels un rideau
Tes cils épais
Voilent enfin tes grands yeux couleur
d’eau
Tels un rideau
La nuit pas à pas monte à l’assaut
du firmament,
Le rêve en moi prend son essor
O mon trésor!
Ne bouge pas!
T’ayant sur mon coeur
Je crois au bonheur
Ne bouge pas
Ne bouge pas
Ne parle pas.

Intimacy

Come into my arms
The day is ending
No more noise
No more far off footsteps
Don’t speak
Only one presence is between us:
The scent
of lilacs
Your eyes are weary
Your forehead is heavy
Velvet fruits posed on my breast
Like a cushion
Close your large eyes, let us leave like this
To travel to a beautiful country
Where everything is blue like the sky!
Oh, my child
Have no fear
My heart will defend you
Don’t move
Like a sister
I will invent for you words
of lullabies
Like a sister
I will watch over you, don’t think of anything
Sleep, sleep
The child sleeps
Like a curtain
Your thick eye lashes
Finally see your large eyes, the color of
water
Like a curtain
Night step by step launches an attack
of the firmament
The dream in me grows
Oh, my treasure!
Do not move!
Having you on my heart
I believe in happiness
Do not move
Do not move
Do not speak.

Four years younger than Fauré, Benjamin Godard was a child prodigy, and he was only fourteen years old when he enrolled at the Paris Conservatoire to study composition. His first instrument was the violin, but it was as a violist that he was to gain an enviable reputation as a performer of chamber music. Godard’s reputation as a composer, however, has proved less fortunate and today the one piece for which he is remembered is this tender Berceuse  (written for tenors, but here sung by a soprano) from his opera Jocelyn, first performed in 1888. This arrangement for cello and piano is the composer’s own, published in 1896.

Ninon Vallin

Ninon Vallin was born in 1886, at Montalieu-Vercien (region of Isère). After studies at the Conservatoire de Lyon, she was taught by Meyriane Héglon at Paris. The young singer was soon successful on the concert platform, singing in Debussy’s La Demoiselle Élue and also in the première of his Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien, both in 1911 at le Châtelet. Debussy was excited about the young soprano whose voice, he said, shimmered like silver. He chose her for the première of his Trois Poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé. In addition to Debussy, Ninon Vallin collaborated with a number of important composers, including Albert Roussel, Reynaldo Hahn, Xavier Leroux, Louis Beyot, Marguerite Béclard D’Harcourt and Joaquín Nin.

She was first persuaded to sing opera in 1912, appearing in a number of roles at the Opéra-Comique, including Micaëla (in Carmen), Mimì (in La bohème), Clara in Les cadeaux de Noël, and the title role in Louise.

The range of roles which she undertook was unusually varied in their vocal requirements: Manon, Charlotte (in Werther), Juliette (in Roméo et Juliette), Marguerite (in Faust), Mignon, Zerlina (in Don Giovanni) and Mélisande. She also sang the trio of heroines in The Tales of Hoffmann.

Vallin had a great affection for French operetta, and performed works by Lecocq, Massé, and Chabrier; she even ventured into music hall during the 1930s, singing at the Alhambra in Paris. Such was her popularity in her native country that she also appeared in a 1937 film, La fille de la Madelon.

Vallin worked with most of the leading French singers of her era, including the renowned tenor Georges Thill, whom she disliked.

She was 70 years old when she made her last recordings, with a voice still in good condition. She continued to give concerts until after the war and spent the rest of her life teaching near Lyon.

She died in 1961, aged 75, at La Sauvagère, her estate at Millery, near Lyon.