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Latest Issue

Charles Rousselière

Charles Rousselière

This first issue of Volume 63, and to coincide with our latest CD release The Art of Charles Rousselière, is devoted to the great tenor. Charles Rousselière (1875-1950) was one of the leading tenors at the Opéra in Paris with a truly international career, which took him to most of the great opera houses of the world. His voice of great beauty, especially in mezza voce, embraced all the typical lirico spinto roles that would have made him a valued member of the company of any opera house. In addition, he was famed for his interpretation of the roles in operas by Wagner. However, his versatility enabled him to embrace lighter roles, so that he was a famed Roméo, Faust and Des Grieux, while encompassing Samson, Don José and even Otello. At Monte Carlo his voice was declared to be "magnificent" and he created a number of roles at these houses, such as in Les Barbares of Saint-Saëns and Pénélope of Fauré.

His discography is of great interest. His records are highly sought after by lovers of the tenor voice. Most of his work was for G&T in 1903, with occasional forays with such companies as Pathé, Odéon, Beka and Eden. He was able to record for G&T excerpts from most of his important parts and, for such early recordings, they are surprisingly successful, capturing a voice of great power, yet suffused throughout with obvious beauty and a nobility of line and utterance. After 1907 there is a gap in his discography until 1930, when he made his only electric recordings, for Polydor. Though the unique beauty of that voice has obviously faded, its great power largely remained and he made a number of successful recordings of excerpts by his beloved Wagner. However, it remains a mystery why Polydor should have invited a tenor, whose career had largely been over since 1921/22, to return to record after 8 years in retirement.

This article has been written by our great expert on French singers, Robert Bunyard. Researching original sources, Robert uncovers a story of a talented yet difficult tenor and certainly one considered one of the grandi nomi. The discography is by Larry Lustig. Our CD, The Art of Charles Rousselière, is brand new and does not yet feature on our website. Those interested in this limited edition should contact our editorial office as soon as possible or, in the US, our distributors Peters, Norbeck and Ford.

Lovers of the operas of Richard Wagner will also be interested in our second article and discography. Like Rousselière, the bass-baritone Ludwig Hofmann (1891-1963) was a famed Wagnerian. In addition he possessed great versatility and embraced comic roles such as Osmin and Sir John Falstaff, through patriachs such as Sarastro to the modern works of Stravinsky, Krenek and Von Einem. At his height Hofmann was an unsurpassed Hagen, Wotan, Hans Sachs and Hermann, roles which he sang in all the great houses such as the Met, Covent Garden, the Colón and the Vienna Staatsoper. Hofmann's discography is not vast: he made recordings of Odeon, HMV and Grammophon/Polydor from 1927-1932, but he left an important and extensive cross section of his work in live and broadcast recordings.

The singer's son, Hans-Joachim, has written the biography with the guidance of a friend of this journal, Richard Kummins, who previously contributed a fine article on Pavel Lisitsian. The singer's discography, compiled by Richard, includes tantalising information on some of the private recordings owned by the family.

With a major new article on Mahler's singers by Steven Addiss and our regular book and record reviews, this is a very full and fascinating issue indeed.

Please see our "Subscriptions" page for special offers for new subscribers.

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