Huberte Vecray (soprano) - Airs d’opéra
André-Ernest-Modeste GRÉTRY (1741-1813)
Guillaume Tell: Ensemble: Puisses-tu ma fille un jour... Que bénis soient vos amours (I, sc. 9) ]4:30]: Air de Mme Tell (Edwige): Ô Ciel ! Où vont ces scélérats (III, sc. 2) [2:57]: Ensemble :  Je suis altéré de vengeance  (III, sc. 5) [2:15]
David Garen (tenor) and chorus/orchestra/Edgard Doneux, recorded 1954
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Fidelio: Récitatif et air de Léonore: Infâme, où donc vas-tu ... Ô viens (I, sc. 6, n° 9) [8:06]
Unidentiried orchetyra and conductor, recorded c.1954
Gilbert Dubuc/orchestra/Edgard Doneux, recorded 1954
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Aida: Air d’Aida: Vers nous reviens vainqueur (I) [6:16]: Duo Aida, Amonasro : “Ciel, mon père” (III) [7:55]
Francesco CILEA (1866-1950)
Adrienne Lecouvreur : Air d’Adriennne Lecouvreur : Io son l’umile ancella (I) [3:26]
Orchestra/Luigi Maretlli, recorded c. 1958
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Tosca: Duo Floria Tosca, Mario Cavaradossi: Non la sospiri la nostra casetta (I) [8:34]
Jan Verbeeck (tenor)/orchestra/Luigi Maretlli, recorded c. 1958
Turandot: Air de Liu : Signore ascolta (I) [2:06]
Léon JONGEN (1884-1969)
Thomas l’Agnelet, gentilhomme de Fortune : Air de Juana : Le chien, le chien ! il a menti / Ciudad real ! ma ville ! c’est toi ! (II, sc. 3) [7:17]
Duo Juana, Thomas : Arrière, arrière tous, vous autres (IV, sc. 5) [5:23]
Jean Lasffont (tenor)/orchestra/Maurice Bastin, recorded 1950
Auguste DE BOECK (1865-1937)
La Route d’émeraude: Scène Dirk, Kobus, puis scène et duo Francesca, Kobus (II, sc. 2) [19:43]
Jean Laffont (tenor)/Claude Hector/orchestra/Maurice Bastin
rec. Brussels 1950-58
Huberte Vecray (soprano) with accompaniments as above
This latest disc from Musique en Wallonie - the latest in a line of effective restorations by the way - explores the off-air legacy of soprano Huberte Vecray (1923-2009). Born in Dolhain, near Verviers, she was spotted early and began her training at the town’s conservatory before the War. She made her La Monnaie debut in 1946 and throughout her career sang many times at the house, giving numerous premieres. One such was the French language Brussels premiere of Handel’s Julius Caesar, and another was the Belgian premiere of Britten’s Albert Herring, again in translation. She studied with Lucette Korsoff, which consolidated her technical and expressive powers.
The list of roles provided in this excellent, profusely illustrated ‘book style’ release includes all the expected roles and others that may be considered less so; she sang in Menotti’s The Consul in 1950 shortly after singing, still only 26, Brunnhilde (Siegfried) and the title role of Elektra. Given her youth, and the hard schedule, one may have feared vocal burn out, but she seems to have looked after her voice effectively, and these roles saw to it that she was in demand elsewhere. She was heard for the first time in Paris in 1953, though a new director at the Palais Garnier seems to have been reluctant to release her for engagements. Back in Brussels she sang in Albert Dupuis’s La Passion and gave the French premiere of Peter Grimes in January 1954 in which she sang Ellen Orford. Abruptly, on her marriage in 1959, she left the operatic stage. She was still only 36, had sung 38 roles in 759 performances. Her most frequent roles were Marguerite in Faust, Salome (in Hérodiade) and Aïda. Her journey to the Congo with her husband proved short lived, and on her return she taught in Verviers, at her old conservatory, but never went back to the stage.
I am indebted to Georges Cardol’s excellent notes which are in French, English and German for this information.
We hear her first in Grétry, a composer much loved across the channel by Sir Thomas Beecham. Guillaume Tell is the work and we hear her finely produced voice in three extracts, along with the tenor who sings the title role, the ardent David Garen. The performance, directed by Edgard Doneux, is not as stylish as Beecham’s forays into this repertoire and Vecray, in truth, isn’t a natural for this kind of role, being rather too forceful. We don’t know the conductor’s name for the Fidelio extract from Brussels, but this is altogether more convincing stylistically. It’s appropriate, since she sang it so often, to hear her fine Aïda. Toward the end of her stage career she seems to have been directed a lot by Luigi Martelli who conducts her Cilea and Puccini extracts in c.1958. I assume these all come from the same broadcast from Brussels as the acetate scuffing sounds similar in all cases.
The most valuable things here however are the two longer extracts of Belgian repertory. Jongen’s Thomas l’Agnelet, gentilhomme de Fortune is represented by a twelve minute extract which reveals some impressionist affiliations and also introduces us, in addition to Vecray’s excellence, to another ardent tenor in the shape of Jean Laffont. In the case of Auguste de Boeck’s La Route d’émeraude we hear the whole of Act II scene 2. Both these works come from the same broadcast, the earliest in the selection, from April 1950. They’re conducted by Maurice Bastin. Once again there’s some scuffing on the acetates.
These miscellaneous performances only offer a partial snapshot of Vecray’s brief operatic career. It’s true that there is scuffing, but the sound quality itself of the discs is pretty good. For those intrigued by her, the evidence is of a very decent soprano that circumstances conspired to still when in her prime.
Jonathan Woolf  

A very decent soprano that circumstances conspired to still when in her prime.