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Lyric Coloratura Soprano

Géori Boué, French lyric coloratura soprano

By April 12, 2024No Comments

Géori Boué was an important French soprano during the post WWII period. She had a bright sound, which probably carried very well in the halls in which she sang. In addition to the brightness of her singing, we can hear overtones which are not, in general, apparent today. By this I mean that today’s voices are over-darkened and squeezed by the throat muscles and the swallowing muscles. This rids the voice of overtones. We don’t hear such free singing today.

I realize that I am using the word “overtone” without having given a definition of it. Here is a definition:

Most musical tones contain several frequencies happening at once. The listener’s ear typically hears one of the frequencies present – usually the lowest one – as the defining frequency, giving the tone its perceived pitch. For instance, imagine a stretched string vibrating at 196Hz (196 cycles per second). That happens to be the tone that musicians call G below middle C. Due to the characteristic vibration patterns of strings, that same string vibration most likely plays an additional frequency very close to 392Hz, twice the lower frequency, plus another around 588Hz – triple the original frequency – and so forth upwards in multiples of the original frequency. Each of the higher frequencies is a little quieter than the one before. The ear normally doesn’t hear the additional frequencies separately and doesn’t normally recognize them as separate pitches; instead they blend into an overall composite tone quality with that low G as the defining pitch. That frequency is considered to be the fundamental, while the frequencies above can be seen as overtones.  Overtones are what makes two different instruments playing the same note sound different.

G. Charpentier, Louise, “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!

G. Charpentier, Louise, “Since the day”

Since the day I gave myself
Every flower seems to be my destiny
I think I’m dreaming under a fairy sky
my soul still intoxicated by your first kiss!
What a beautiful life!
My dream wasn’t a dream!
Oh! I’m so happy!
Love is spreading its wings over me!
In the garden of my heart
sings a new joy!

Everything thrills
everything rejoices at my triumph!
All around me everything is smiling
light and joy!
And I’m trembling deliciously
from the charming memory
of the first day
of love!

C. Gounod, Faust, “O nuit d’amour”

FAUST
O nuit d’amour! … ciel radieux! …
O douces flammes! …
Le bonheur silencieux
Verse les cieux
Dans nos deux âmes!

MARGUERITE
Je veux t’aimer et te chérir! …
Parle encore!
Je t’appartiens! … je t’adore! …
Pour toi je veux mourir! …

FAUST
Marguerite! …

MARGUERITE
Ah! … partez! …

FAUST
Cruelle!

MARGUERITE
Je chancelle!

FAUST
Me séparer de toi, cruelle!

MARGUERITE
suppliante
Laissez-moi !
Ah, partez, oui, partez vite !
Je tremble ! hélas ! J’ai peur !
Ne brisez pas le cœur
De Marguerite !

FAUST
la relevant doucement
Divine pureté! …
Chaste innocence,
Dont la puissance
Triomphe de ma volonté! …
J’obéis! … Mais demain! …

MARGUERITE
Oui demain! … dès l’aurore! …
Demain! … toujours! …

FAUST
Un mot encore! …
Répète-moi ce doux aveu! …
Tu m’aimes! …

MARGUERITE
s’échappe, court au pavillon, s’arrête sur le seuil et envoie un baiser à Faust
Adieu! …
Elle entre dans le pavillon.

FAUST
Félicité du ciel! … Ah! … fuyons! …

C. Gounod, Faust, “O night of love”

FAUST
O night of love, radiant sky,
O sweet transports!
Silent bliss
Instils heaven
Into both our souls!

MARGUERITE
I want to love and worship you!
Speak again!
I am yours!
I adore you!
I would die for you!

FAUST
Marguerite.

MARGUERITE
Ah, you must leave!

FAUST
Cruel girl!

MARGUERITE
I can hardly bear it!

FAUST
Must I then part from you ?

MARGUERITE
entreating him
Leave me!
Ah, you must go, yes, at once!
I tremble, alas, I am afraid!
Please, do not break
Marguerite’s heart! etc.

FAUST
Divine purity!
Chaste innocence,
Whose power
Triumphs over my will!
I obey. But tomorrow…

MARGUERITE
Yes, tomorrow, as soon as day breaks!
Tomorrow! For ever!

FAUST
Just one more word!
Repeat once more this sweet avowal.
You love me?

MARGUERITE
breaks free, runs to her door and turns to blow him a kiss.
Farewell!

She runs into the cottage.

FAUST
Heavenly bliss! Ah, let’s go!

Massenet, Herodiade, “Il est doux, il est bon”

Celui dont la parole efface toutes peines,
Le Prophète est ici! c’est vers lui que je vais!

Il est doux, il est bon, sa parole est sereine:
Il parle… tout se tait…
Plus léger sur la plaine
L’air attentif passe sans bruit…
Il parle…

Ah! quand reviendra-t-il? quand pourrai-je l’entendre?
Je souffrais… j’étais seule et mon coeur s’est calmé
En écoutant sa voix mélodieuse et tendre,
Mon coeur s’est calmé!

Prophète bien aimé, puis-je vivre sans toi!
Prophète bien aimé, puis-je vivre… vivre sans toi!
C’est là! dans ce désert où la foule étonnée
Avait suivi ses pas,

Qu’il m’accueillit un jour, enfant abandonnée!
Et qu’il m’ouvrit ses bras!
Il est doux, il est bon,
Sa parole est sereine,
Il parle… tout se tait… plus léger sur la plaine…
L’air attentif passe sans bruit…
Il parle!

Ah! quand reviendra-t-il?
Quand pourrai-je l’entendre?
Je souffrais… j’étais seule et mon coeur s’est calmé
En écoutant sa voix mélodieuse et tendre,
Mon coeur s’est calmé!

Prophète bien aimé, puis-je vivre sans toi!
Prophète bien aimé, puis-je vivre… vivre sans toi!
Ah! quand reviendra-t-il? quand pourrai-je l’entendre!
Prophète bien-aimé, puis-je vivre sans toi!

Massenet, Herodiade, “He is mild, he is good”

He whose words remove all pain,
The Prophet is here! It is toward him that I go!

He is kind, he is good. His words are peaceful:
He speaks . . .everything is quiet
Everything is lighter on the plain
The attentive air goes by without a sound . . .
He speaks . . .

Ah, when will he return? When might I hear him?
I was suffering . . .I was alone and my heart calmed itself
While listening to his melodious and tender voice,
My heart calmed itself!

Beloved prophet, can I live without you!
Beloved prophet, can I live . . .live without you!
It is there! in the desert where the astonished crowd
Had followed his steps,

That he greeted me one day, an abandoned child!
And he opened his arms to me!
He is kind, he is good,
His words are peaceful,
He speaks, everything is quiet . . .lighter on the plain
The attentive air goes by without a sound
He speaks!

Ah, when will he return?
When could I hear him?
I was suffering . . .I was alone, and my heart calmed itself
While listening to his melodious and tender voice,
My heart calmed itself!

Beloved prophet, can I live without you!
Beloved prophet, can I live . . live without you!
Ahm when will he return? When might I hear him!
Beloved prophet, can I live without you!

(Georgette) Géori Boué
October 16, 1918 – January 5 , 2017

Boué was a French opera soprano, particularly associated with the French repertoire, especially Maguérite (Faust). Boué is remembered for her long career at Paris’ Opera-Comique, during which she specialized in French compositions. Raised in Toulouse, she studied piano and harp from age seven, trained at the Conservatory of her native city, and at 16 made her professional debut with the Capitole Toulouse, originally in such comprimario roles as Urbain of Meyerbeer’s “Les Huguenots”, Siebel in Gounod’s “Faust”, and Stefano of the same composer’s “Romeo et Juliette”, but gradually taking on more substantial assignments such as Micaela in Bizet’s “Carmen” and the title lead of Gounod’s “Mireille”. Géori made her 1939 Opera-Comique debut as Mimi from Puccini’s “La Boheme”, in 1942 bowed at Paris Garnier as Marguerite in “Faust”, and in 1943, because she could accompany herself on the piano, was selected for the title lead in Sacha Guitry’s film “La Malibran”. Over the years she made her name in such roles as Gilda of Verdi’s “Rigoletto”, Tatiana in Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”, Violetta from Verdi’s “La Traviata”, Desdemona in the same composer’s “Otello”, and the title leads of “Romeo et Juliette”, Charpentier’s “Louise”, Delibes’ “Lakme”, Massenet’s “Manon”, and Puccini’s “Tosca” and “Madame Butterfly”. Géori made her 1949 La Scala Milano debut as Mélisande in Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande”, in 1956 was first heard at Moscow’s Bolshoi Opera as Tatiana, and even sang operetta on occasion, starring in such pieces as Offenbach’s “La Belle Helene” and Lehar’s “The Merry Widow”. She headlined throughout Europe as well as in Brazil, Mexico, and Chicago, from 1969 thru 1975 taught at the Boulogne-Billancourt Conservatory, retired from the stage in 1970.