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Martial Singher – French opera arias
LULLY (1632-1687)
Amadis - Bois épais, redouble ton ombre [4:03]
André GRÉTRY (1741-1813)
Richard, Coeur de Lion - Blondel's Air [4:11]
Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
The Damnation of Faust - Mephistopheles' Air [2:17]; Serenade [1:48]; Song of the Flea [1:39]
Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)
Roméo et Juliette - Ballad of Queen Mab [2:55]
Ambroise THOMAS (1811-1896)
Hamlet - Chanson Bachique [3:50]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
Herodiade - Vision Fugitive [4:14]
Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880)
The Tales of Hoffmann - Dapertutto's Air "Scintille diamant" [4:04]
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
Carmen - Toreador Song [3:34]
Martial Singher (baritone)
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra/Paul Breisach
Recorded in 1945, released as Columbia Masterworks Set M-578 (71678-D - 71681-D)
PRISTINE AUDIO MP3 Format download [32'40"]


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The French baritone Martial Singher (1904-1990) first came to my attention around a decade ago in recordings of Ravel’s Don Quichotte à Dulcinée and Ronsard à son âme. Those were the works’ premiere recordings and were made in 1934 in Ravel’s presence. The orchestra was conducted by Piero Coppola. They are available on EMI Classics 7243 5 65499 2 0. These gave me a firm impression of Singher’s affinity with the French repertoire.

Other recordings include Stravinsky’s L' Histoire du Soldat under Stokowski (Artemis) and Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande under Emil Cooper (Naxos Historical). Also of interest is Singher’s book, “An Interpretive Guide to Operatic Arias: A Handbook for Singers and Coaches” (Pennsylvania State University Press), which succeeds in capturing the inner business of singing and interpretation to a remarkable degree.

This MP3 download of ten recordings made in 1945 is of great significance for aficionados of singing and French repertoire alike. It adds greatly to the range of Singher’s available recordings, and in the space of half an hour offers a thoroughly absorbing traversal of arias ranging from the all but forgotten Lully and Grétry operas to more familiar items by Berlioz, Offenbach and Bizet. Throughout Singher’s affection for the music is evident, as is his seemingly effortless and beautifully sonorous vocal production, here matched by insight and idiomatic delivery. I defy anyone to play these tracks through once and not do so immediately again. Singher’s approach is so obviously right, and these recordings are benchmark references in this repertoire.

Some might think twice about obtaining recordings by download, although a growing number of source websites are available, not least those dedicated to young and established artists of today. But concerns over legality, security of download or sound quality may remain. In my experience the reservations need not concern you here. The Pristine Audio Direct website is one of the few offering historical recordings from a reputable source, backed by full documentation and guidance on the download process. Helpful notes are also available on transferring the recordings to a CD-R for playing on a standard CD player, which is much to be preferred to computer-based listening. For those that prefer buying a CD version to producing their own, this option is available too.

Andrew Rose, the man behind Pristine Audio, has done a fantastic job with the transfer and digital restoration of the tracks. Most notable is the almost total lack of hiss, achieved without noticeable dulling down or sacrifice of the top register as is so often the case. Singher’s voice is full and immediate. So too is the sound of the orchestra, their playing subtly coloured, attractive and attentive to Breisach’s straightforward direction.

I firmly hope that Andrew Rose will keep bringing such interesting artists and repertoire into the twenty-first century. I urge you strongly to visit and keep a close eye on the website ( as your MP3/CD player will wait a long time to have it so good again.

Evan Dickerson




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