Michel Sénéchal, February 11, 1927 – April 1, 2018
Sénéchal was an undisputed master of the French repertoire, he was intimately connected to the great composers such as Charpentier, Hahn, Honegger, Messian, and Poulenc, as well as the renowned master teacher Nadia Boulanger. A student at the Paris Conservatory along side Régine Crespin and Gabriel Bacquier, he studied with the great French baritone Camille Maurane, as well as Gabriel Pollet, the last disciple of Fauré, Duparc, Satie and Debussy.
Michel Sénéchal led a brilliant career, starring on the world’s most prestigious stages including the Paris, Vienna, Salzburg, Berlin, Milan, London, Bruxelles, Moscow, Madrid, Barcelona and San Francisco opera houses as well as the Metropolitan in New York. He can be heard on over a hundred recordings. Renowned for his impeccable style and dramatic presence, he was one of Karajan’s preferred singers. The maestro invited him to perform in Mozart’s greatest operas in Vienna, where he also took on many other prominent roles alongside the most celebrated singers of our times, under the most renowned conductors.
Michel Sénéchal was born in Paris. During his childhood, he sang as an alto in the choir at his grade school and at his church; then after a period of classical study, he entered into the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris where he studied voice with Gabriel Paulet. He won the 1er Prix de Chant in 1950 and was immediately engaged with the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels where he made his début in Mârouf. In 1958, he made his débuts at the Paris Opera and at l’Opéra-Comique where he excelled at his chosen repertoire: Mireille, Mignon, Lakmé, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Les Indes Galantes, Cosi Fan Tutte, Le Compte Ory, Platée, L’Incorrazione di Poppea…
While his light tenor voice was perfectly suited to leading roles of Mozart and Rossini which he sang in his early career, he dedicated the second half of his career to the repertoire for character tenor. Thanks to his unique artistry and exceptional humor, he became the premiere performer of these roles.
Established as an absolute master of French singing, he was professor and director at the Opéra de Paris School for fifteen years; he offered classes at Columbia University and New York’s Mannes College. He also gave master classes to young singers at the Metropolitan Opera and San Francisco Opera and taught at the International Vocal Arts Institute in Montreal.
After making his debut in 1950, he continued to be active for over 60 years as a performer and master teacher.