Three Tenors of the Opéra-Comique
Louis Cazette, Charles Friant and Jean Marny

51006-2 (1 CD)  | $ 18.00


Note: Original CD set is Sold Out; you will receive a CDR Version

Three Tenors of the Opéra-Comique
Opera stars of today are likely to perform for scores of opera companies around the globe. Few singers are associated with a particular company and few companies have particularly distinguishing features. This was not the case at the turn of the last century and no company was more steeped in its own traditions than the Opéra-Comique. Dating back to 1715 and until its dissolution in the early 1970s, the opéra-comique tradition (French opera with spoken dialogue) was one of the most distinctive and best- maintained forms of French artistic expression. The Opéra-Comique roster of artists was extensive and the list of extraordinary performances, countless. Three outstanding tenors of the Opéra-Comique who flourished during the 1920s were: Louis Cazette, Charles Friant and Jean Marny. Cazette was a singer with a supple voice who used it with charm, elegance and skill. His early death was one of the tragedies in the chronicles of the French operatic theater and his short life produced only eleven rare recorded sides. Friant was known for his articulation, musical sensibility and exquisite phrasing. His dramatic sense of reality made the characters he portrayed unforgettable. Marny was a cross between a lyric and dramatic tenor. He sings the part of Le chevalier des Grieux on Marston's Manon, 52003 and created one of the greatest Werthers of his time. Three Tenors of the Opéra-Comique preserves true exemplars of the now almost lost French style of singing.
Total Time: 77:43
The Complete Recordings: French HMV
1. MIGNON: Je suis heureuse (Thomas) 3:15
  with Suzanne Brohly, soprano
  2 March 1922; (BE3181) P437
2. MIGNON: Ah, que ton âme (Thomas) 2:40
  25 April 1922; (BS2811) P437
3. MANON: Instant charmant... En fermant les yeux (Massenet) 4:02
  31 May 1921; (034582v) W487
4. MANON: Je suis seul... Ah, fuyez, douce image (Massenet) 4:33
  31 May 1921; (034592v) W487
5. GRISÉLIDIS: Je suis l'oiseau (Massenet) 2:58
  1 February 1922; (BE2151) P436
6. FORTUNIO: J'aimais la vieille maison grise (Messager) 2:44
  25 April 1922; (BS2802) P436
7. Sérénade (Toselli) 3:19
  28 October 1920; (21758u) P386
8. Le tango du rêve (Malderen) 3:05
  8 November 1920; (21760u) P386
9. Pour un baiser (Tosti) 3:13
  8 November 1920; (21761u) P413
10. Mon coeur est un oiseau fidèle (Maingueneau) 2:49
  January 1921; (21847u) P413
11. Dormez, amours (Rousseau) 3:24
  10 November 1920; (21776u) P457
A Selection of his Acoustic French HMV and Pathé Recordings
12. WERTHER: Je ne sais si je veille (Massenet) 4:17
  6 March 1920; (HMV 03331v) W406
13. WERTHER: Lorsque l'enfant revient (Massenet) 4:08
  10 March 1920; (HMV 033362v) W406
14. LE JONGLEUR DE NOTRE-DAME: O liberté, ma mie (Massenet) 3:17
  1923; (Pathé 4820) 0360
15. L'ATTAQUE DU MOULIN: Le jour tombe (Bruneau) 4:17
  1 February 1922; (HMV CE2131) W516
16. LE HULLA: Mos destins sont écrits (Samuel-Rousseau) 3:40
  1924; (Pathé 1462) 0415
17. Aimons-nous (Saint-Saëns) 4:06
  10 November 1922; (HMV CS5472) W524
A Selection of his Pathé Recordings
18. MANON: Duo du Seminaire (Massenet) 6:50
  with Ninon Vallin, soprano
  Ca. 1920; (2059, 2060) 2553
19. WERTHER: La mort de Werther (Massenet) 2:58
  Ca. 1920; (3787) 0337
20. LOUISE: Quelle musique (Charpentier) 2:18
  Ca. 1925; (200132) 0506
21. LA RÔTISSERIE DE LA REINE PÉDAUQUE: Rêverie de Jacques (Levadé) 2:28
  Ca.1920; (2058) 3175
22. MIGNON: Elle ne croyait pas (Thomas) 3:22
  March 1930; (202100) x0680
Thanks to Tom Kaufman and François Nouvion for data on the career of Jean Marny.
Thanks to Katherine Stinson for her editorial advice.
Thanks to Manfred and Andrée Weidemann of Pioneer Photo, Inc., Cooperstown, NY, for reproducing the photographs of Louis Cazette and Jean Marny.

Producer: Lewis Morris Hall

Audio Conservation: Ward Marston

Booklet Design: Takeshi Takahashi

Photographs: Roger Gross, Lewis M. Hall, Charles Minzter, and Pierre Van de Weghe

Marston would like to thank Gregor Benko, Rudi V.D. Bluck, Lawrence F. Holdridge, John Humbley and Peter Lack for their help in the production of this CD release.

The purpose of this compact disc is to bring to lovers of opera the voices of three of the principal tenors who sang at the Opéra-Comique during the 1920s: namely, Louis Cazette, Charles Friant, and Jean Marny. The Opéra-Comique was rich in the diversity and extent of its tenor voices. In this essay some of the other artists singing there at that time will be mentioned. Unfortunately, today there are very few great French singers, and, as a consequence, the French style of singing is considerably weakened. So, the singers on this CD will convey what the French style should be. In brief, the elements consist ideally of the clear articulation of words, elegance and refinement of phrasing, and beauty of voice.

*     *     *

Our first artist under consideration will be Louis Cazette1, which was his nom de théâtre. The name given to him at birth was Victor Louis Camille Peault, but he was called Camille by his family. He was born on 9 December 1887 in Nantes, which is located on the Loire River near France’s Atlantic coast. His family moved to Paris when he was quite young and he received his early musical training in the Choir School at Saint-Ambroise in Paris. As a young man he enlisted in the cavalry, and in time, he pursued his musical studies.

In October 1912, he entered the Paris Conservatory where his professors were Émile Engel, a former pupil of Duprez, and Albert Saléza, a dramatic tenor who had had a distinguished international career. After Cazette left the conservatory and until the time of his early death, his last teacher was the Dutch bass Jan Reder. At the time of his graduation in 1914 when he claimed three prizes, he was engaged by the Opéra-Comique. But before he could begin singing there, World War I broke out and he was called to arms. He won the Croix de Guerre for bravery and was demobilized in 1919.

Upon demobilization, he was almost immediately called to the Opéra-Comique, where he made his debut on 14 June 1919, as Le Noctambule in Gustave Charpentier’s opera Louise, a small role he was to sing many times. The first major role he sang (and the one he was to perform most frequently) was that of Pinkerton in the Madame Butterfly of 23 August with Mathilde Saïman as the heroine.

In a performance of the same role on 21 January 1920, Raymond Charpentier, the music critic for Comoedia, the esteemed French theatrical newspaper, gave his appraisal of Cazette at this early stage of his career (23 January, p. 2):

... .M[onsieur] Cazette does not appear awkward [in the role]. He seems to possess naturalness and a certain sincerity of expression. Besides, the voice is beautiful, even, and correctly produced with an agreeable timbre and satisfying accuracy.
This is all I can say today with some certainty about this artist, who unquestionably possesses many gifts.

In early 1920, Cazette sang several small roles in operatic premieres at the Opéra-Comique: in Le Sauteriot (20 April) with music by Sylvio Lazzari; and Lorenzaccio by Ernest Moret (19 May), an opera about Lorenzo the Magnificent and set in Renaissance Florence, which starred Vanni-Marcoux in the title role.

During the same period of January through June of 1920, when Cazette was gaining experience as a singer, the principal tenors at the Opéra-Comique were Léon Beyle, Charles Fontaine, David Devriès, René Lapelletrie, Léon David, and Emile Marcelin. The chief comprimario tenors were Eugène de Creus and Victor Pujol.

At this time, by many accounts, one of the finest productions presented at the Opéra-Comique was Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte, first given 26 June 1920. The superbly integrated cast included Gabrielle Ritter-Ciampi (Fiordiligi), Aline Vallandri (Dorabella), Edmée Favart (Despina), Cazette (Ferrando), Hubert Audoin (Guglielmo), and Fé1ix Vieuille (Don Alfonso). The conductor was André Messager. Paul Bertrand in Le Ménestrel (2 July1920, p. 270) wrote that “M. Cazette, a tenor with an exquisite voice, and whose progress increases each day, triumphed... ”

The same year he sang for the first time two more major roles: Vincent in Mireille (2 September) and Wilhelm Meister in Mignon (3 October). About six months later on 7 April 1921, he sang his first Gérald in Delibes’s opera Lakmé with Yvonne Brothier in the title role. An unnamed critic wrote in Comoedia (9 April, p. 2), “M. Cazette achieved.... a very notable success. He is endowed with a beautiful voice, skillfully and artistically used. The brilliant tenor was acclaimed as well as his partners....”

Perhaps it should be noted here that Cazette rarely performed outside Paris. However, there are references to his singing at the Théâtre Municipal in Calais (in Mignon in late March 1921), and at the Casino de la Forêt at Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, a fashionable bathing resort on France’s northeastern coast (Vincent in Mireille, 26 August 1921).

On 21 October Cazette participated in a revival of Le Mariage de Télémague by Claude Terrasse at the Opéra-Comique with Marguerite Carré and Lucien Fugère. Raymond Charpentier wrote of him in Comoedia (31 October 1921, p. 1), “M. Cazette is not, perhaps, this time completely in his place. His superb voice has developed more ... [But] he must work to make his acting more supple. I already told him this a long time ago.” In fact, this opinion was frequently expressed in the reviews of Cazette’s performances.

The year 1922 saw the interpretation of the tenor’s last two new major roles, the first being that of Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni on 7 January with Vanni-Marcoux in the title role, Yvonne Gall as Donna Anna, and Aline Vallandri as Donna Elvira. Charles Tenroc in Le Courrier Musical (15 January, p. 32) stated, “All is sad, majestically sad. Apart from M. Cazette in the role of Ottavio, no one is, in his place.”

Cazette’s final new role was that of Des Grieux in Manon on 9 March with Jeanne Myrtal as Manon, André Baugé as Lescaut and, as de Brétigny, Charles Panzéra, who was to become one of France’s greatest interpreters of “mélodies”. Charpentier, the Comoedia critic, wrote (12 March 1922, p. 2) that Cazette sang the role of Des Grieux “...magnificently and with flexibility, ease and a wonderful naturalness.” But Charpentier warned him not to force his voice and to further develop his acting skill.

Cazette’s last performance was as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni on 28 April 1922, with Suzanne Balguerie, an outstanding artist, as Donna Anna, and Vanni-Marcoux. The following afternoon at the Opéra-Comique he complained of a stiff neck (torticolis) and said that he could not perform the next evening when he was scheduled to sing in Mireille with Raymonde Vécart (Mireille) and Henri Albers (Ourrias). The Spanish tenor Miguel Villabella replaced him. On the day he was to sing in Mireille (30 April) he died in the Montparnasse district of Paris, after suffering agony from having contracted tetanus.

Cazette died at the age of thirty-four years and five months. A number of different accounts in the press and various periodicals describe the cause of his death. One stated that he had cut himself while cleaning the sidecar of his motorcycle and that the wound became infected (Comoedia, 1 May 1922, p. 1). Another account was that he scratched his hand while nailing an applique to the wall of his apartment. The scratch then became infected when, at home, he planted seeds in a small pot, probably containing fertilizer, and that led to his death several days later (Lyrica, June 1922, p. 72).

These accounts are plausible versions of how the accident had occurred.

But the most authoritative statement was told to the author [of the booklet of this CD] by Cazette’s daughter-in-law, Madame Maurice Peault, in an interview that he had with her...on 23 June 1979. Here is what happened. While participating in a rehearsal [of Mireille] at the Opéra-Comique, Cazette was accidentally cut by a trident...which was held by one of his colleagues, the baritone André Baugé [who was singing the role of Ourrias]. The tetanus infection set in and within a few days he was dead. One might speculate on the reason why the other versions, and not the true one, were made public. Very possibly the reason is that the Opéra-Comique wanted to protect the career of one of its important young artists.2

Thus, the life of Louis Cazette was cut short before his voice and art had fully developed. More than one critic had compared the beauty of his voice and his refined style of singing to that of the great French lyric tenor of the previous generation, Edmond Clément. Unfortunately for present-day listeners, only eleven recordings were made by Cazette. These were made for the Compagnie Française du Gramophone in Paris. Each recording is well sung, but the most beautiful renditions are the two arias from Manon; “Je suis l’oiseau” from Grisélidis with its exquisitely poised singing; the selections from Mignon—one a duet with the mezzo-soprano Suzanne Brohly; and “La maison grise” from Messager’s Fortunio. It is a small but treasurable legacy.

France had thus lost in Louis Cazette a singer who, though not noted for his acting ability, had a beautiful, supple voice and who used it with charm, elegance, and great skill. His early death was one of the tragedies in the chronicles of the French operatic theatre.

*     *     *

Another memorable tenor is Auguste Charles Paul Friant, more commonly called Charles Friant, who was born in the Montmartre district of Paris on 12 January 1890. His father was a ballet dancer, and his grandfather a professor of ballet at the Paris Opéra. Young Charles attended the ballet school there from 1901 to 1906. Then he met a Mlle. Mougot, later to become his wife, who taught an acting course in which Friant enrolled. He revealed considerable gifts as an actor and was accepted at the Paris Conservatory in the class of the great Sarah Bernhardt. In 1908 and 1909 he participated as an actor on Bernhardt’s tours in, among other countries, Germany, Austria, Poland, Russia, Hungary, Italy and Egypt. In Paris he played opposite her in Edmond Rostand’s play L’Aiglon.

About this time it was discovered that he had a tenor voice and in 1910 he again attended the Paris Conservatory, but this time in the realm of music, and he became a student of the noted French baritone, Léon Melchissédec. Upon graduation in 1914, as a pupil of Hettich, he won, among other prizes, a first prize in singing and, as a pupil of Melchissédec, a first prize in opéra-comique. It is interesting to note that both Cazette and the aspiring tenor Edmond Rambaud also won first prizes in opéra-comique, along with Friant.

The First World War and sickness prevented Friant from making his debut until the season of 1918–1919, when his name was placed on the roster of the Grand Théâtre of Grenoble, where he sang in Manon, Werther, Carmen, Tosca, Lakmé, La Bohème, Mireille and Faust. At this time he also performed at the Casino in Biarritz.

Friant was well received when, during the autumn of 1919 (4 November), he sang the role of Spakos in the first French performance of Massenet’s Cléopâtre. This took place at the Théâtre Lyrique du Vaudeville with Mary Garden in the title role and Maurice Renaud as Marc-Antoine. In 1914 the world premiere of this work had taken place in Monte Carlo with Maria Kousnezoff as Cléopâtre. During the same season at the Vaudeville (22 November), Kousnezoff and Friant starred in the world premiere of Tarass-Boulba, an opera by Marcel Samuel-Rousseau. A critic for the music periodical Le Ménestrel (21 November 1919, pp. 53–54)3 thought it entirely appropriate that these two artists, who were also talented dancers, would have careers that overlapped and that they would appear on the operatic stage together. Albert Carré and the Isola brothers, Directors of the Opéra-Comique, were well aware of Friant’s talents and engaged him for their theater. He made his debut as Werther on 4 February 1920, with Alice Raveau as Charlotte and Daniel Vigneau as Albert. His performance was reviewed at length by Raymond Charpentier in Comoedia (8 February 1920, p. 3). A few extracts from it will suffice:

[Friant]... .brought out the essence from the role of Werther and this gave him the justified ovation that he deserved. The theatrical archives undoubtedly will record this achievement under the heading of sensational debuts. For our part, we would gladly subscribe to such a classification.... It would be regrettable if he sought to force [his voice]....[of which] the timbre is agreeable... .

Comoedia (18 March 1920, p. 3) noted that Friant at this time sang Des Grieux to the Manon of the American soprano Edith Mason.

On 20 October 1921, Friant first performed in the title role of Marouf with Marthe Davelli as the Princess, with the orchestra conducted by the composer. The next day Comoedia (p. 5) had a brief review:

M. Charles Friant....made his talent as a singing actor appreciated in the sparkling opéra-comique of Henri Rabaud. This makes him one of the best interpreters of the works of the modern French School. His success was instantaneous, as well as that of Mlle. Davelli, who embodies with a great deal of charm and delicacy the role of the Princess.

But the role that combined all of Friant’s talents and of which he was the greatest interpreter in France between the two wars was that of Jean in Massenet’s miracle Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame, for it drew upon his grace and agility as a dancer, his presence as an actor and his musical instincts as a singer. His first performance occurred at the Opéra-Comique on 10 June 1922, in a revival of the work, which had not been heard there for a number of years. The critic J. Delini wrote in Comoedia (12 June 1922, p. 2):

On Saturday evening the luminous and lyrical score of Massenet stirred up genuine enthusiasm.... With what satisfaction one found again the legend from the Middle Ages that Massenet had set to music and which will endure among the masterpieces.

The entire score....skillfully emphasizes the episodes depicted by Maurice Léna [the librettist].4 Here is the jongleur who, wan and hungry, begins to sing a pagan air, which brings upon him the disapproval of the monks of a monastery nearby.

The public [was] constantly charmed by this work, so melodic and poetic....

M. Lucien Fugère, the doyen of the Opéra-Comique, resumed his magnificent interpretation of Boniface. His quality of voice, aided by perfect diction, permits him to sing with sensitivity a role in which, at the same time, he shows a jovial good nature and sense of fantasy that are entirely apt and natural.

M. Friant interpreted the role of jongleur for the first time this evening. It is with the greatest purity of vocalism that he sings his role. Giving proof of simplicity and sincerity in the part of the poor jongleur, he interprets the music of Massenet with the greatest ardor, never seeking the [easy] effect.

What a perfect ensemble was formed by all the monks: M. Dupré, a commanding Prior; M. de Creus, a tender poet monk; M. Azéma, a vivid painter; M. Audoin, an inspired musician; and M. Morturier, a dignified sculptor.

M. [Émile] Archaimbaud conducted the orchestra with great authority...

Friant remained at the Opéra-Comique from 1920 until 1939. Among the other works he sang there were Carmen, Frasquita (Lehár), Lakmé, Le Rêve (Bruneau), I Pagliacci, Sapho (Massenet), and Tosca. Since he had admirable acting ability, he was often chosen to create roles in operas composed in his own day. Among these can be numbered Le Bon Roi Dagobert (Samuel-Rousseau), La Forêt Bleue (Aubert), Le Hulla (Samuel-Rousseau), La Peau de Chagrin (Levadé) and Le Roi Candaule (Bruneau).

Outside of Paris, Friant performed in a number of other theaters. In Nice, for example, he sang Werther and Don José (Carmen) during the 1923–1924 season. During the 1938–1939 season he again appeared as Werther and as Jean in Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame. During the 1924–1925 season he sang at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels.

In 1925 in Marseille he sang in Werther (18 January) with Suzanne Brohly (Charlotte), Georges Villier (Albert), and François Audiger (le Bailli), and he also sang the role of Jean in Le Jongleur (February), as well as Levadé’s work La Peau de Chagrin (18 February 1930), the same role that he had created at the Opéra-Comique.

At the Monte Carlo Opera, Friant sang for several seasons. In 1925 he performed in Carmen (25 January) with Maria Kousnezoff in the title role, Manon (5 February) with Emma Luart as Manon, and in Samuel-Rousseau’s Le Hulla, again with Luart. During the 1926 season among other operas that he sang were Faust (4 February) with Gall and Vanni-Marcoux; Puccini’s La Rondine (20 February) with Gall in the opera’s first performance in French, conducted by Victor de Sabata; and Lakmé (2 March). On 2 February 1946 he appeared for his last performance at the Monte Carlo Opera, in the supporting role of Le Dancaïre in Carmen with Juyol and Luccioni in the leading parts. A little over a year later on 22 April 1947, he died in Paris.

Friant cut a large number of records; he made acoustical discs for Pathé and the Compagnie Française du Gramophone, and electrical recordings for Odéon. He made a number of sides from some of the roles he created, as in Le Hulla, Le Bon Roi Dagobert, and La Peau de Chagrin, which makes them of considerable historical interest. These recordings as well as his interpretations of the more common arias reveal the intensity of his performances. Vocally, the top of his range was not produced with ease, and sometimes it was forced, but his articulation, his musical sensibility, and his sense of phrasing are always evident. His dramatic sense of reality made the characters he portrayed unforgettable.

*     *     *

Of the three tenors under discussion, Jean Marny is the one about whom we know the least. His real name was Jean Cèbe; Jean Marny was his nom de théâtre. He was born 2 November 1885. Among his earliest operatic appearances were those at the Grand Théâtre de Marseille, where he sang during the seasons 1911–1912 and 1912–1913. On 10 October 1911, he appeared in Roméo et Juliette and on 27 January 1912, he sang the part of Blancardin in Charlemagne, an opera by Durand Boch. In the 1912–1913 season, he sang in other obscure operas. These include the role of Orlando in Proserpine by Saint-Saëns on 6 December 1912; Talleyrand in L’Aigle (Nouguès) 17 January 1913; and on 4 February he sang the role of Ivan in the world premiere of the opera Annette, also by Durand Boch, with the Russian tenor Altchewsky and the baritone François Mézy, who had earlier sung for several seasons at the French Opera House in New Orleans. Marny also appeared in Lyon in 1917, 1918 and 1920 through 1922. He took part in the 1919 season at the Monte Carlo Opera, singing in three short works on 3 April: as Nicias in Phryné (Saint-Saëns); as Noureddin in Le Cadi (Monsigny); and as Lieutenant Henri Bertin in Gordon’s L’Infirmière Américaine, appearing with the great French bass Marcel Journet, who sang the role of Commandant d’Annet. In the same theater (on 13 March 1926) he sang one performance of Hoffmann in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann with Gabrielle Ritter-Ciampi in the roles of Olympia, Giulietta and Antonia, and Julien Lafont as Coppélius, Dappertutto, and Le Docteur Miracle.

On 9 August 1917, Marny had made his Opéra-Comique debut in the title role in Werther. He remained at this theater for a number of years. On 12 January 1920, he created the role of Jacques Ménétrier in Charles Levadé’s opera La Rôtisserie de la Reine Pédauque, which was based on a work by Anatole France. The critic Raymond Charpentier reviewed the dress rehearsal and wrote in Comoedia (12 January 1920, p. 12) that “M. Marny has always his beautiful voice which he uses with competency.” A critic in Le Ménestrel (16 January 1920, p. 19) noted that “.... Marny is excellent in the exquisite role of Jacques, which he tends to bring to light.” But Charles Tenroc in Le Courrier Musical (15 January, p. 34) criticized Marny’s interpretation:

I will reproach M. Marny for inadequately taking part in the general movement [on stage]. His Jacques.... though a dreamer devout with dull longings is too far from Panurge. Vocally, he sings with skill, with lovely nuance.

During the 1920 season he also sang Gérald in Lakmé with Yvonne Brothier as the heroine and Henri Albers as Nilakantha (7 February). He then performed the role of Des Grieux in Manon at a special matinee performance on 16 February with Hilde Roosevelt. During the same year (12 March) he sang in Tosca with Raymonde Visconti and Albers, and on the 17th Werther with Alice Raveau. About a month earlier he had sung the role of Werther in the Théâtre Municipal in Rennes. The undated performance is reviewed by an unnamed critic in Le Ménestrel (20 February 20 1920, pp. 85–86) which is of considerable interest:

We have just participated in a gala evening which will certainly count as one of the most beautiful of the season and will remain in our memory. The auditorium—fully packed. Very elegant public.... Five artists of the Opéra-Comique....Mme. [Suzanne] Brohly was a moving Charlotte, with a fetching voice, sublime in the letter scene in the third act. The tenor Marny possesses a warm, supple voice of good color, and, moreover, he is a faultless actor. He triumphed. His shadings were very much observed.

Marny (who also sang in Ghent from 1923 to 1924) performed other roles at the Opéra-Comique: including those of Don José, Pinkerton, Canio, Mylio (Le Roi d’Ys), Julien (Louise), Rodolfo (La Bohème), Jean (Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame), Lorenzo (Messager’s Béatrice) and Jean Gaussin (Sapho).

According to most reports, Marny was a fine actor and was one of the greatest Werthers of his era. His voice, like that of Friant, was the type that the French call a ténor démi-caractère, a cross between a lyric and a dramatic tenor, which encompasses the roles listed above.

When in 1945 Marny retired as a singer he was appointed Artistic Director of the Opéra in Marseille, where he served through 1949. His daughter, who was likewise a singer, married the noted French conductor Georges Prêtre, who conducted in Marseille.

Marny made a number of recordings, more than Cazette, but fewer than Friant. He cut three sides for the Compagnie Française du Gramophone, but his most interesting records were made for Pathé, including the first complete Manon (1923). He made a recording of his creation from La Rôtisserie de la Reine Pedauque: the “Rêverie de Jacques.” And he made at least two rare electrical recordings for Pathé one included on the accompanying CD: “Elle ne croyait pas” from Mignon.

Altogether, these recordings reveal the fine voices and elegant phrasing of Cazette, Friant and Marny. Each one skillfully modulated his voice and used dramatic emphasis when required. They were true exemplars of the now almost lost French style of singing.

© Lewis Morris Hall, 2000

1 For a more complete account of Cazette’s life and career, the reader is referred to the author’s article, “Louis Cazette,” The Record Collector, Vol. 27, Nos. 1 & 2, December 1981, pp. 5–23.
2 Ibid, p. 18.
3 Le Ménestrel, 21 November 1919, p. 55. The destruction by fire of the Grand Théâtre of Marseille, is noted.
4 The libretto is based on a short story by Anatole France.


Thanks to Tom Kaufman and François Nouvion for data on the career of Jean Marny.
Thanks to Katherine Stinson for her editorial advice.
Thanks to Manfred and Andrée Weidemann of Pioneer Photo, Inc., Cooperstown, NY, for reproducing the photographs of Louis Cazette and Jean Marny.