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Géori Boué (soprano)
see end of review for track listing
Interviews with Géori Boué in 2011 [2:33 + 2:05]
Orchestra/Gustave Cloez, rec. 1942-49 except unidentified Tosca and Bohème (Un bel) (1947?) and last three items with Serge Baudo, rec. 1957
MALIBRAN CDRG194 [79:26]

Géori Boué, one of France’s leading sopranos, was born in October 1918. Though she made her debut before the War, it was in the early 1940s that she truly first made her mark, critically speaking, when she returned to the south of the country where she was born, there to be heard by Reynaldo Hahn. Later, in Paris, she was chosen by Sacha Guitry to star in his film La Malibran, she married the baritone Roger Bourdin, and began an international career. In later years she became an admired teacher. This brief synopsis doesn’t begin to cover the many roles, theatres and musical personalities that were part of her long musical life.
 
The series of Odéon 78s begins in 1942 and is firmly centred on the Franco-Italian operatic repertoire. Her Gounod shows a highly distinctive voice which at this point possesses a rather reedy girlish quality. The Faust extracts remind one that she was chosen by Beecham to sing in his French language recording of 1947-48 in which she makes a fine showing. In these earlier extracts she shows presence and style. Her other Gounod extracts focus on Mireille and this impersonation is fine, albeit she doesn’t often favour especially soft singing with a result that she can, occasionally, bring rather too unrelieved a presence to her role. Her diction and stylishness in Massenet are excellent.
 
She sang the Italian repertoire in French, in the main - with the exception of the picture discs - and she has rather a small voice for this spectrum of the repertoire, at least as it’s preserved on record. It’s arguable whether her characterisation changes enough in the Italian examples of her art; some stern critics would argue that the excerpts from Otello, Tosca and La Bohème are rather lacking in variety. Her Mozart is sometimes rhythmically uncertain.
 
There’s some blasting on a few of the 78s and there’s a pitch slip or two along the way. The picture disc doesn’t sound to have been especially well recorded for 1947. I’m assuming it was a commercial recording. After the 78s there are extracts from three 1957 LP performance all conducted by Serge Baudo; more Massenet, some Bizet and finally Berlioz (Damnation of Faust). The Massenet has surprisingly dull and distant sound. The Bizet is taken from a Barclay LP and it’s very prone to echo; a most unsympathetic recording, unfortunately.
 
There are also two brief interviews with Boué, lasting some four and a half minutes in total.
 
This welcome disc is saddled with a head-scratching contents list. In its favour it lists the 78 catalogue numbers, though the 1947 picture discs (Puccini) are not easy to work out. There’s a rather homespun quality to this part of the booklet that I found a little trying. The booklet itself is mostly in French, with a brief synopsis in English, and has splendidly reproduced photographs.
 
Whilst the transfers could, in truth, have been consistently better, I hope this disc stimulates others that more fully celebrate the musicianship of this admirable artist.
 
Jonathan Woolf
 

Track listing
Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)
Faust; Ballade du Roi de Thulé [4:14]
Faust; Air des bijoux [3:38]
Mireille; Trahir Vincent…A toi mon âme [6:09]
Mireille; Air de la Crau [6:28]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Madame Butterfly; Sur la mer calmée [4:07]
La Bohème; Oui, on m’appelle Mimi [4:12]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
Manon; Je suis encore tout étourdie [3:11]
Manon; Adieu notre petite table [3:10]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Marriage of Figaro; Mon Coeur supire [3:17]
Marriage of Figaro; O nuit enchanteresse [4:11]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Air de Saule [4:31]
Otello; Ave Maria [4:33]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Tosca; Visi d’arte[2:32]
La Bohème Un bel di [3:53]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame; O liberté ma mie [4:55]
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
Carmen; Air des cartes [2:56]
Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
La Damnation de Faust; D’amour l’ardente flamme [8:04]