The breed Part IV
Adolphe Nourrit & Gilbert Louis Duprez
The prime difference between Duprez and the creator of the voix sombree technique, Donzelli,seems to have been their vocal range: whereas Donzelli was secure up until, say A natural, Duprez had an easy top register and a free extention to B-flat or B.
Therefore, it seems that his first High C from the chest was a more or less natural achievement, following from his powerful projection combined with a natural extention to the top register.
An expensive note
Even for Duprez, there was, however, a price to be paid. Berlioz noted a hardened tone as early as 1838, when Duprez created Benvenuto Cellini. The 1840s saw isolated successes, but but weren o longer considered his prime, and his 1851 retirement was forced by the deterioriation of his voice due to what increasingly became his curse as the inventor of the Do di petto: he had to sing it again and again, because poeple came to hear it from him. Although he created the breed, he was not yet
Rossini's Great 27
Just how difficult it is to sing those 27 High C's that the score stores for the tenor, can immediately be heard from Corelli's attempt to study the role at home – and that is even with piano. At one point, he said 'basta', closed the ook, replaced Arnold with Raul in les huguenots and celebrated the greatest ictory of his career with it. While the world thought that a new Duprez was born, Corelli himself decided to stick to more rewarding roles in terms of vocal longevity and financial revenue. The latter both in respect to reaping the benefits of a long career as well as with repsect to the fact that one comparatively seldom gets the chance to perform the heroic Meyerbeer roles, while they require immense efforts in terms of study and histrionics.
So, while Corelli certainly had the High C at his disposal, he did not feel compeltely comfortable wit hit at all times, or in any role. Whereas he would never shun the High C's in Turandot, or even the D at the end of Il trovatore Act I, he would usually lower the key for Di quella pira, taking the High C a half step down, whcih also goes for the optional High C at the end of Meco all'altar di venere in Bellini's Norma. The High C's in the Aida finale, however, seems to float from his voice naturally. So, while his Cetra recordings and his career plan from 1958 up to 1961 seemed to aim at a career as a heroic tenor, he was in truth a lyrico spinto tenor.
In vocal terms, one might argue that Corelli traveled between the world of Donzelli and the world of Gilbert-Louis Duprez. With the first he shared foremost the role of Pollione, with the latter the roles of Gualtiero and Poliuto and, to a certain extent, also Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, while we have now also Corelli's private rehearsals of Arnoldo in Guglielmo Tell. Arguably, one could add a few roles of which Corelli had single arias in his repertoire, such as the culmination point for the tenor in La favorita, 'Spirto gentil'.
The latter si an interesting part, given vest's theory that sDuprez' entrance on the Paris Opera stage may have contributed to the changing style of orchestration onwards:
Then what if the repertoire of Donzelli and Duprez at large would have been fashionable in the 1950s and 60s? Well, in fact they were fashionable and Corelli helped popularize them. He was also expected to appear n them, when, in 1962, he changed his mind and tuned away from them, judging Guillaume Tell and Le prophète t too taxing on his vocal chords. Find below some unique sample sof Corelli rehearsing the once scheduled Scala Guglielmo Tell performances, that he ultimately canceled. And listen to some music that he never performed or recorded in, whle imagining how it would sound liewith his dark, hued , liquid copper timbre.
For Duprez these would be:
1835-07-13 Demetrio in Marsa (Coccia)
1838-03-05 Guido in Guido et Ginevra (Halevy)
Similar passages were written for Donzelli in Bellini's Norma of 1831 ("Meco all'altar di Venere") and for Duprez in Berlioz' Benvenuto Cellini of 1838 (The large, loud orchestration of these tenor arias set the stage for the later vocal feats of Raffaele Mirate in Verdi's Rigoletto of 1851 ("Possente amor"), which contained the same full tutti, forte sections, while a choir was added to the texture for Carlo Baucardé in Verdi's Il trovatore of 1853 ("Di quella pira").
The opera also served to launch the career of the great tenor Mario, who made his debut in the role of Robert in Paris on November 30, 1838. Meyerbeer even composed an additional tenor aria for the occasion. Strangely, some eleven years later, when Mario was already regarded as the world's leading tenor, he sang the lesser role of Raimbaut at Covent Garden, with the almost as important Enrico Tamberlick singing Robert. Other famous interpreters of the role include Gaetano Fraschini, Roberto Stagno, Angelo Masini, Julian Guayarre, Jean de Reszke, Leon Escalais, Gilbert louis Duprez and Italo Campanini. In fact, just about every famous nineteenth century dramatic tenor sang Robert at one time or another.
After the premiere of Les Huguenots on February 29, 1836, which once again moved the public to enthusiasm, Robert le diable was performed 16 more times, although only 5 times in 1837 in its full length, and on 27 March the fifth act alone. In letters to his wife Minna, Meyerbeer again and again expressed his annoyance with this practice. However, mention must be made of one particular performance. As the new director of the Opera, Duponchel had arranged a concert on the occasion of the marriage of the Duc d'Orleans on 10 June 1837 in Fontainebleau: the third and fifth acts of "Robert le diable" were performed, with Guilbert Duprez in the title role for the first time. Although the newspapers were full of praise, Meyerbeer did not like him; without question, he preferred Nourrit. In any event, Duponchel stated his intention after the concert of preparing a revival of "Robert le diable". But Duprez did not want to sing the title role. Whether he had heard Meyerbeer's negative criticism, or whether he himself had second thoughts -- both are possible. In any case, Duprez then sang the entire part for the first time on 4 November 1840. After this concert, "Robert le diable" was presented in 1837 only one more time, on 20 November. On that occasion, Lafont again sang the title role.
As with Les Huguenots, Scribe's libretto was based on an historical event, the Anabaptist uprising of 1534–1535, which led to the establishment of a short-lived theocracy in the Westphalian city of Münster under a young, charismatic Dutchman named John of Leyden, after his native city. Scribe took understandable liberties with factual accuracy: his prophet—faithful lover, devoted son, driven to rebellion by a monstrous injustice—is a far cry from his model, who took advantage of the brutal theocracy he presided over to take as many wives as he could and to have one of them publicly beheaded. In the opera, guilt is largely transferred to Jean's sinister accomplices, Jonas, Mathisen, and Zacharie, who eventually betray him. Yet Jean is an impostor—like Dmitri in Boris Godunov—and a dictator, and thus an unusually negative, or at least ambiguous figure, by traditional operatic standards. This complex and demanding role had been intended for Gilbert Duprez—the original Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor and the original Benvenuto Cellini—but by the mid-1840s Duprez was thought to be in decline; the last part he premiered was Gaston in Verdi's Jérusalem in 1847. The title-role in Le prophète was therefore given to Gustave Roger, the Paris Opera's leading tenor at the time, while the 28-year old Pauline Viardot starred as Fidès, Jean's mother, a part now widely considered the most arduous in the mezzo-soprano repertory.
1839 Death of tenor and coach Adolphe Nourrit. Born 3 Mar 1802 in Montpellier. Debut as Pylade in Iphigenie en Tauride (Gluck) Teachers, Manuel Garcia Snr, Louis Nourrit (father), Gaetano Donizetti Pupils, Jeanne Anais Castellan, Prosper Derives, Marie Falcon Pierre-Francois Wartel Created Gustav III in Gustav III (Auber) Masaniello in Masaniello (Auber) Raoul in Huguenots (Meyerbeer) Eleazar in Juive (Halevy) Robert in Robert le Diable (Meyerbeer) Poliuto in Poliuto (Donizetti) Arnold in William Tell (Rossini) Ory in Count Ory (Rossini) Stradella in Stradella (Niedermayer) Neocles in Siege de Corinthe (Rossini) Don Sanche in Don Sanche (Liszt) Lindor in Belle au Bois Dormant (Carafa) Ubaldo in Elena da Feltre (Mercadante) Cleomede in Lasthenie (Herold) Gaston in Vendome en Espegne (Aubert & Herold) Sang in premiere of Dieu la Bayadere (Auber) Philtre (Auber) Serment (Auber) Virginie (Berton) Macbeth (Chelard)
(3 March 1802 – 8 March 1839)