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Gérard Souzay (Bass-Baritone)

Born: December 8, 1918 - Angers, France
Died: August 17, 2004 - Antibes, France

The French bass-baritone, Gérard Souzay (real name, Gérard Marcel Tisserand), was born to a musical family. In college, he concentrated on Philosophy, which he continued to read widely after making his career as a singer. After graduating, he went to Paris to pursue philosophy, and to study voice with Pierre Bernac, Claire Croiza, Vanni Marcoux and Lotte Lehmann. Later, he entered the Paris Conservatoire (1940-1945), where he was a prize-winning student.

Gérard Souzay made his professional debut in 1944, his New York debut in 1950, and his opera stage debut at the Festival of Aix-en-Provence in 1958, where he sang roles in Cimarosa's Il Matrimonio Segreto and Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. Since then, his operatic career developed parallel to his career as a recitalist and concert singer and specialist in little-known repertoire. In 1960, Leopold Stokowski invited Souzay to interpret the role of Orfeo in Monteverdi's Favola d'Orfeo at the New York City Center Opera. In 1962, Ernest Ansermet invited him to play Golaud in Debussy's Pellèas et Mèlisande at the Rome Opera. Souzay also sang Golaud at the Paris Opéra Comique in the same year, in a performance celebrating the centenary of Debussy's birth. In 1963, at the Paris Opéra, he sang Don Giovanni for the first time. In 1965, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro; he also made his debuts that year at the Vienna State Opera and the Munich Opera. Known for his phenomenal gift for languages and dialects, Souzay was also greatly respected for his master classes.

In a distinguished 43-year recording career that began with the recording of two duets by Blangini and Leguerney in 1944, Gérard Souzay, a remarkably versatile artist, recorded more than 750 titles in at least 15 languages. These recordings, appearing on nearly 50 labels (more than 535 different catalog numbers) on 78s, 45s, LPís, prerecorded open reel tapes, 8-track cartridges, cassettes, and CDís, earned Souzay numerous awards. Souzay won the prestigious French Grand Prix du Disque on three separate occasions for performances of a George Frideric Handel aria, Ravel songs, and classical arias with orchestra. Except for operas and cantatas, Souzay rarely recorded joint programs: his only recorded duets were with his sister, soprano Genevieve Touraine, Germaine Lubin, and Elly Ameling.

Source: Karen Mercedesí Favourite Singers Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2001, August 2004)

Gérard Souzay: Short Biography | General Discussions

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Geraint Jones


BWV 56, BWV 82

Herbert von Karajan


BWV 232 [3rd], BWV 243 [2nd]

Fritz Lehmann


BWV 245

Helmut Winschermann


BWV 56, BWV 82

Links to other Sites

Gerard Souzay (Karen Mercedes)
The Recorded Performances of Gerard Souzay - A Discography

Gramophone: Gérard Souzay has died
Nouvel Observateur: Le baryton Gérard Souzay est décédé
France 2: Le baryton français Gérard Souzay est mort

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Last update: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 03:53