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Susan Graham Sings French Operetta Arias

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Audio CD (18 Mar. 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: CLASSICAL
  • ASIN: B00005UW0Z
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 273,025 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Simons : Toi c'est moi [1934] : C'est ça la vie [Viviane]
  2. Messager : L'Amour masqué [1923] : J'ai deux amants [Elle]
  3. Yvain : Yes [1928] : Yes [Totte]
  4. Honegger : Les Aventures du roi Pausole [1930] : Si vous saviez [Diane]
  5. "Hahn : O mon bel inconnu [1933] : O mon bel inconnu [Marie-Anne, Antoinette, Félicie]"
  6. Messager : Fortunio [1907] : Je ne vois rien ... lorsque je n'étais qu'une enfant [Jacqueline]
  7. Messager : Coups de roulis [1928] : Les hommes sont biens tous les mêmes [Béatrice]
  8. Hahn : Brummell [1931] : Air de la Lettre [Lady Eversharp]
  9. Messager : Passionnément {1926] : L'amour est un oiseau rebelle [Julia]
  10. "Messager : Les P'tites Michu [1897] : Vois-tu, je m'en veux [Blanche-Marie]"
  11. Hahn : Mozart [1925] : Etre adoré [Mozart]
  12. Messager : La Petite Fonctionnaire [1921] : Je regrette mon Pressigny [Suzanne]
  13. "Messager : Les Dragons de l'Impératrice [1905] : Amour, amour, quel est donc ton pouvoir [Lucrèce]"
  14. Messager : L'Amour masqué [1923] : Mon rêve [Elle]
  15. Hahn : O mon bel inconnu [1933] : C'est très vilain d'être infidèle [Antoinette]
  16. "Hahn : Ciboulette : Act 1 ""C'est pas Paris, c'est sa banlieue"" [Ciboulette]"
  17. "Simons : Toi c'est moi [1934] : ""Vagabonde"" [Viviane]"

Product Description

Susan Graham - C'est Ca La Vie C'est Ca L'amour - Cd

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
With this Cd, Mrs. Graham and Yves Abel make a wanderful work, and for me is one of the most original recital CD of this year.
The beautiful mezzo-soprano voice of Mrs. Graham has the "glamour" to sing french arias, but not the French "chic".
This is a great project from Graham and Yves Abel with the Birmingham Simphony Orchestra, and for that my congratulation from them.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9977d69c) out of 5 stars 13 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x997912a0) out of 5 stars A CD full of scrumptious French chocolates! 3 Sept. 2002
By Joy Fleisig - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
When one thinks of 'French operetta', the composer that most often springs to mind is Jacques Offenbach. However, the generations of operetta composers that came after him also produced some wonderful music. Unfortunately, although these works were very popular in their time, they are virtually forgotten today. Apart from Andre Messager, the best known names on this anthology, Reynaldo Hahn and Arthur Honneger, are better known for other types of work, and most of the other composers are unknowns. Susan Graham, perhaps the finest American mezzo-soprano of our time, is to be commended for bringing these sweets out into the open once again.
Graham is a singer very much in the mold of Frederica von Stade - like von Stade, she is best known for trouser roles such as Octavian and Cherubino, but she has done some wonderful work in French music, especially as a recitalist. Her voice is firm and lustrous with an easy, sopranoish top, her phrasing is exquisite, and her French is excellent. By turns Graham is funny, ironic, sensual, wistful, charming, and heroic.
Most of the music on this CD was written between 1920 and 1935, although one selection here is from as early as 1897. The music actually has greater similarity to 'modern' musical comedy than to traditional operetta. Of course, the primary theme of these works is the travails of women in love - either they struggle with their (often illicit) passions - in one case attempting to invoke Joan of Arc! - or muse on the perfidy of men. My favorite song on the disc is the title track, a delightful samba take on 'Carmen' (from Cuban-born Moises Simons' 'Toi c'est moi') with a verse that sounds quite a bit like the 'Habanera' - only in this version, Carmen murders Escamillo! It actually occurred to me while listening to this disc that Graham might make an excellent Bizet Carmen on records or in a small theater. By the way, the 'Carmen' connection shows up again in a song entitled - you guessed it - 'L'amour est un oiseau rebelle'!
Other tracks which I love are `Yes', wherein a French woman goes to England knowing only that word and gets her self married - and more, and `O mon bel inconnu', where three women get letters from the same man (their husband, father, and employer respectively) through the lonelyhearts column. Thanks to the miracle (?) of multi-tracking, Graham gets to sing all three roles, and her `voices' blend together gorgeously. And in the final track, 'Vagabonde' (also from 'Toi c'est moi') is a delightfully whirling 'impatient, quivering, impulsive' plea from a woman who wants to find a man willing to marry before her 'orange-flower' wilts (wink, wink).
Despite the light tone of most of this music, there are several moments of high drama. `Lorsque je n'etais que enfant' is an aria from Messager's `Fortunio' where the heroine, berating herself for toying with her boyfriend, reminisces of her purer and more innocent childhood. Graham is back in her usual trouser-role territory for the heroic `Etre adore' from Hahn's `Mozart', where the composer effuses over Paris and willingly sacrifices his soul to be adored by its people. There is also sweet nostalgia and regret, such as in 'Je regrette mon Pressigny', 'Vois-tu, je m'en veux' and 'C'est pas Paris, c'est sa banlieu'.
Actually, the only track that I don't like is 'Si vous saviez' from Honneger's 'Les Aventures du Roi Pausole', which ironically enough is Graham's favorite. The aria, where the wife of a polygamous potentate begs her husband to sleep with her more than once a year, is meant to be sensuous but just drags. I suspect this his Honneger's fault, not Graham's.
The French-Canadian Yves Abel is an ideal conductor for this repertory. He has a strong affinity not only for French opera but also for comedy and light music in general; the latter two qualities were very evident at a Metropolitan Opera `Il Barbiere de Siviglia' this year. I also remember a fine performance of `La Grande-Duchesse de Gerolstein' he conducted with his company L'Opera Francais de New York and Stephanie Blythe. Under his baton the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra plays just like a French ensemble.
The documentation has full texts and translation of all the material and a fine essay on the works and the composers by Patrick O'Connor. Unfortunately, there is no biographical information for either Graham or Abel. Also, some people might have problems reading the white type on purple background for the translations (the type for the essay is the normal white-on-black), although I did not. As usual, my complaint about many modern CDs, especially those produced by Erato, applies here - there is less than an hour of music on a medium that can hold almost 80 minutes. I think it is unlikely that Graham and Abel couldn't find more good music in this vein, or even that they ran out of recording time. And speaking of Erato, I think it is a crime that that parent company Warner Classics dismissed not only Graham but many other fine operatic artists like Jose Cura, Daniel Barenboim, and Barbara Frittoli. At least the man now in charge of Warner regrets Graham's dismissal and is negotiating a new contract with her.
I am glad that so many star singers today are championing French rarities - not only Graham but also Roberto Alagna and Vesselina Kasarova, among others. I would recommend this not only to lovers of opera and operetta but also to fans of more 'popular' French music like Edith Piaf's and Jacques Brel's, or even to admirers of the American musical. It doesn't matter by which road you come to it - this material is delightful and the presentation is flawless. Most importantly, it is clear that everybody involved with the making of this disc had a great time, and anyone who listens to it will as well.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9979124c) out of 5 stars Great Voice and Artistry in Unusual Repertoire 27 Jun. 2002
By M. Ramos - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Susan Graham is just a delight on this refreshing selection of arias from French operettas. This not so known repertoire (by composers like André Messager, Reynaldo Hahn, Moises Simons, Maurice Yvain and one selection by Arthur Honegger) require a mastery of the nuances of the French language in order express the diverse meanings of the lyrics. Graham is just magnificent in adapting her very beautiful lyric mezzo to the different characters and styles of the music, from music hall kind of patter to operatic settings. Among the best numbers of this collection is "Je ne vois rien...Lorsque je n'etais qu'une enfant" from Messager's FORTUNIO. On this almost operatic scene Graham employs silken phrasing, remindful of her excellent work in operatic roles like Charlotte in WERTHER and MIGNON. The same can be said of numbers like "O mon bel inconnu" and "C'est très villain d'être infidele". The most extrovert numbers are also excellent delivered, like the opening number, with its rumba influence, and the naughty liyrics of "YES" and "Vagabonde". Ives Abel and the City of Birminghan Symphony Orchestra are in perfect harmony with the singer's versatility. It would be great to hear Ms. Graham on more recordings of French music, like Offenbach and complete operatic roles like MIGNON. This CD is highly reccomended.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x997916f0) out of 5 stars Enchanté, Mlle Graham! 13 Nov. 2004
By R. J. Stove - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Though it's fair to say that the stunning title track reaches a creative standard unmatched by any of the later items (no wonder it comes first), this is still refreshing stuff, which will bring out the slumbering Maurice Chevalier in us all. Anyone who can hear it without wanting to grab the nearest straw hat and proclaim "Zank 'eaven for leedle girrrrrlz" is a tougher man than I am, Gunga Din.

Refreshing stuff, but seldom flippant. Other than the X-rated Honegger song (who'd have thought sober-sided Artur H had a bawdy streak in him?) and the subtler but still eyebrow-raising Maurice Yvain number "Yes", the prevailing atmosphere is often surprisingly operatic. Surprising at any rate to me, since I can't recall hearing most of this material before. Reynaldo Hahn sometimes does a rather good Richard Strauss impersonation, as in "O mon bel inconnu", which suggests a Gallic version of ROSENKAVALIER's final trio.

Presumably Miss Graham sings all the vocal parts of this piece in a multi-tracking arrangement, but it would be nice to have been told in the booklet note whether this was the case. The short playing time deplored by Joy Fleisig is also a nuisance, since one wants even more of the same. Miss Fleisig rightly censured, in addition, the white-print-on-purple-background design which some graphic-design-school genius decided to employ for the lyrics' translations. So no fifth star for this review. The release remains a pretty enchanting (not to say enchanté) production, even if a native French singer would have cultivated - as native French singers will - an edgier, more acidic timbre than Miss Graham's warm, sonorous, very slightly cloudy tone. Altogether a splendid supplement to heftier and more austere listening.
HASH(0x99791a44) out of 5 stars What did French pop music sound like between the wars? 28 Mar. 2012
By jt52 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
If you're curious, this album is the place to start. US mezzo Susan Graham, who devotes much of her energy to French repertory, collaborates with conductor Yves Abel leading the City of Birmingham orchestra in a compilation of operetta numbers, mostly from the 1920s and 1930s. Graham is a very good technical singer and does well - on pitch, with pleasant tone throughout, I felt like Graham was at no point being stretched technically during this program. She engages in some trickery and sings a Reynaldo Hahn trio from 1933, doing all three parts herself, thanks for multi tracking. The CD is well recorded, too, so it is a winner on all technical counts.

What did I think of the music? I was bored -- which is why I'm giving this release 4 stars. The numbers breeze by you, and leave me with few memories. Many of the tracks are by Andre Messager, one of the premier operetta composers for an exceedingly long time, with hits stretching from the 1890s to well into the 1930s. Messager's arias are easy to digest, pleasant and a bit bland. Graham also includes many numbers by Reynaldo Hahn, a composer she has championed. Based on his other work, Hahn is a consistently interesting composer, among other things, with a gift for melodic invention. Later on in his long career, Hahn began to write more self-consciously popular music, and it seems to have diluted his inspiration. Besides the more traditional operetta numbers, Graham bookends the CD with more jazzy songs from a 1934 operetta by Moises Simons - they were OK. The most interesting number for me was also the most unusual and non-operetta item, "If you knew," from Swiss composer's Artur Honegger's foray into operetta "The Adventures of Kind Pausole." I am not normally much of a fan of Honegger, but "If you knew" comes as a welcome surprise in this breezy disc, with unusual and inventive instrumentation and harmonies, and a vocal part that stretches Graham, and makes her produce some of her best work found here.

This disc was interesting for me and raises the question about whether, seventy-five years from now, the celebrated US and Brit pop music of the 1960s, 70s and 80s will elicit the same reaction from a future listener. I don't want to extrapolate from one example, but I am suspicious. I was just in a grocery aisle listening to U2's "In the name of love" - and boy was it boring. Then again, I was just listening to "Stairway to Heaven" with my little boy, and he told me unprompted how much he liked the song. So it depends. Always the answer to everything!

Well-performed, interesting disc. Try it out if you are curious..
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99791a98) out of 5 stars C'est magnifique!! 29 Jun. 2002
By David Cady - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Graham has never been better in this disc of delightful French operetta arias. A must for fans of the artist. And I dare you to get that opening track out of your head!!
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