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Roger Soyer (Bass)

Born: September 1, 1939 - Paris (Thiais), France

The French bass, Roger (Julien Jacques) Soyer, began his training with George Daum, and then studied with George Jouatte and Musy at the Paris Conservatory, where he won premiers prix in singing (1962) and opera (1963). In October 1962 he took part in the creation of de L'Opéra d'Aran by Gilbert Bécaud at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.

In 1962 Roger Soyer made his debut at the Piccola Scala in Milan as Francis Poulenc's Tiresias. From 1963 he was engaged at the Paris Opera (first role as Ferrando in Il Trovatore), but until 1968 appeared there only in secondary roles (2nd Philistin in Samson et Dalila, Wagner in Faust, Cappadocien in in Salomé, the Doctor and the Marquis in La Traviata, Sciarone in Tosca with Maria Callas,...). However during othis same period he also appeared in province and abroad: in 1963 in Les mamelles de Tirésias by F. Poulenc at Milan's La Scala, and in 1964 as Pluto in Monteverdi's Orfeo at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, where he sang with much success in subsequent years. In 1965 he made his debut at the Salzbourg Festival as Moralès in Carmen, and in 1967 at the Festival of Perugia. In 1968 he made a tour of England, where he appeared at the Wexford Festival in England in La Jolie Fille), and the same year he made made his USA debut in Miami as Friar Lawrence in Roméo et juliette.

In 1969 Roger Soyer had a triumphant performance at Aix-en-Provence Festival in the title role of Don Giovanni (with Teresa Stich-Randall and Elizabeth Harwood). It would become his become one of his finest roles thereafter: he could be heard in prestigious productions like that of Edinburgh in 1973 (his first appearance there), Paris in March 1975 (with Margaret Price, Kiri Te Kanawa, Jane Berbie and José Van Dam, under the baton of Georg Solti), Genève in November 1975 (with Gabriel Bacquier, Rachel Yakar, Anna Tomowa-Sintow and Matti Salminen. Other notable places were in 1967 at Aix, in Cologne during 1975 (with Margaret Price and Lucia Popp), or in Vienna in April 1976 (with Margaret Price, Leonie Rysanek, and Giuseppe Taddei). His Metropolitan Opera debut in New York in November 1972 was also in this role. He remained faithful to Aix-en-Provence Festival, and appeared there in particular as Pluton in L'Orfeo by Monteverdi, Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia, or Arkel in Pelleas et Mélisande.

After the creation in 1972 (Sud by Stanton Coe), Roger Soyer was engaged in first roles at the Palate Garnier since 1973, under the Liebermann era. Especially remembered are his appearances in principal roles of the Grand opera, such as Procida in I Vespri Siciliani in 1974 (with Plácido Domingo), Méphisto in Faust in 1976 (with Nicolai Gedda, Mirella Freni and Tom Krause), Rangoni in Boris Godounov in 1980 (with Ruggero Raimondi, Virioca Cortez and Ernest Blanc), or always in 1980 Colline in La bohème (with Kiri Te Kanawa, Plácido Domingo, and Tom Krause).

As during his first engagement in Paris, Roger Soyer performed in parallel to his services at the Garnier Palate an intense international career (Munich, Stuttgart, Cologne, Brussels, Copenhagen, Monte Carlo, Venice, Florence, Rome, Turin, Prague, Lisbon, San Antonio, Chicago, San Francisco, Buenos Aires,…), which concluded in 1982 as Conte Rodolfo in La Sonnambula in Genève, then in 1983 at the Opera of Dallas as Sulpice in La fille du régiment. He also appeared widely as a concert artist. His appearance in at the Bastille as Nilakhanta in Lakmé was greeted by the press. Today he teaches singing in Paris.

Apart from Don Giovanni, Roger Soyer's other admired roles were Don Basilio, Mephistopheles, Ferrando, Colline, and Sulpice. His tessiture, relatively high, has authorized him with panacher authentic roles of noble bass (Arkel, Colline, Méphisto, Ferrando in It trovatore…), with the bass-baritone (Don Giovanni, Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte, Alidoro in la Cenerentola, Mephisto in La damnation de Faust), and also with pure baritone roles such as Albert in Werther or Claudio in Beatrice et Benedict by Berlioz.

Recordings: Tosca in 1965 (role of Sciarrone, recorded live at l'Opéra de Paris) on Melodram, Carmen in 1966 (role of Moralès, recorded live at Salzburg Festival) on Frequenz, Vesperae solennes de confessore by Mozart in 1966 on Erato, Rigoletto in 1967 (role of Comte de Ceprano) on Adès, Werther in 1968 (role of d'Albert) on EMI, selection from Armide by Gluck in 1968 on MHS, La damnation de Faust in 1969 (role of Méphisto, recorded live by RAI of Rome) on Arkadia, Les Troyens in 1969 (role of Narbal, with Jon Vickers, conducted by Colin Davis) on Philips, Lakmé in 1970 (role of Nilakhanta, conducted by A. Lombard) on EMI, Benvenuto Cellini in 1972 (role of Clemént VII, conducted by Colin Davis) on Philips, Faust in 1972 (role of Méphisto, recorded live in Amsterdam, conducted by R. Benzi) on BellaVoce, Don Giovanni in 1975 (tiltle role) on EMI, Maria Stuarda in 1975 (role of Talbot) on Decca, Faust in 1975 (role of Méphisto, recorded live at l'Opéra de Paris) on Dreamlife, Requiem by Mozart in 1976 (conducted by Michel Corboz) on Erato, Les pêcheurs de perles in 1977 (role of Nourabad) on EMI, Pelléas et Mélisande in 1978 (role of Arkel) on Eurodisc, Beatrice et Benedict by Berlioz in 1979 (role of Claudio) on DGG, Dardanus by Rameau en 1980 (role of Teucer) on Erato, David et Jonathan by Charpentier in 1981 (role of Achis) on Erato, L'opéra d'Aran by Gilbert Bécaud and L'enfance du Christ by Berlioz on HMV.

Source: Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997); The Basses Site, English translation by Aryeh Oron (May 2007)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2007)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




R.P. Émile Martin


BWV 70, BWV 130, BWV 142, BWV 147, BWV 249

Links to other Sites

Roger Soyer (The Basses Site) [French]


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Last update: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 03:54