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Hélène Bouvier (Contralto)

Born: June 20, 1905 - Paris, France
Died: March 11, 1978 - Paris, France

The French contralto, Hélène Bouvier, studied at the Conservatoire National de Paris.

Hélène Bouvier made her debut in 1930 at the Opera House of Nantes in the title role of Gluck's Orpheus. She sang at the beginning of her career at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. In 1938 and 1939, she appeared at the two great opera houses of Paris, the Grand Opéra and the Opéra-Comique. Since then, she had a significant career in the French capital. Her role at the inaugural Grand Opera was Dalila in Samson et Dalila by Camille Saint-Saëns. At the Opéra-Comique she sang and danced (in spite of a disease poliomyelitis in childhood) the title role in Carmen. In 1952 she appeared there in the world premiere of Dolores by Michel-Maurice Lévy. In 1946 she sang at the Grand Opéra in the title role in Padmavati by Albert Roussel. In 1951 she appeared at La Scala in Debussy's Le Martyr de Saint Sébastien, in 1957 as the mother in Louise by Charpentier.

Hélène Bouvier was especially known as Dalila in Samson and Delilah and as Geneviève in Pelléas et Mélisande by Debussy. Other highlights in her repertoire for the stage were Charlotte in Werther by Massenet and the mother in Louise. She performed in Holland and Belgium, at the opera houses of Dresden and Leipzig as well as in Monte Carlo. In 1949 and again in 1965 she appeared at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires as a guest. She sang at the Holland Festival in 1952 the role of Jocasta in Oedipus Rex by Igor Stravinsky. In 1953 she appeared at the Paris Opéra in Les Indes Galantes by Rameau. She sang in Paris in modern stage and concert works by Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud and Henri Busser. In 1947 she created on French radio and then in the concert hall, the Requiem by Maurice Duruflé; on May 12, 1950 she took part at the Grand Opera in the premiere of Darius Milhaud's opera Bolivar. She had to quit her stage career early in 1967, when she drew upon a partial paralysis, but until her death worked as a respected teacher in Paris.

Hélène Bouvier was the leading French contralto of her time, not only for the stage, but also for the concert and especially the song singing. She sang on Pathé inter alia in complete performances of Samson et Dalila by Camille Saint-Saëns and L’Enfance du Christ by Berlioz, on Decca in Oedipus Rex by Igor Stravinsky and Pelléas et Mélisande. Other recordings on Vogue (songs by French composers, recordings of concerts in Paris in 1955 and 1957), Bourg Records (Lazare by A. Bruneau), Erato (Requiem by Maurice Duruflé).

Source: Operissimo Website, English translation by Aryeh Oron (September 2011)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (September 2011); Yoël L. Arbeitman (June 2012)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works

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Works

Jean Gitton

Alto

BWV 243

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Last update: ýJune 26, 2012 ý00:46:04