Jean-Alexandre Talazac |

Jean-Alexandre Talazac |

Jean-Alexandre Talazac

Date of birth
Date of death
Voice type

Jean-Alexandre Talazac |

Jean-Alexandre Talazac was born in Bordeaux in 1853. Studied at the Paris Conservatory. He made his debut on the opera stage in 1877 at the Lyric Theater, which was popular in those years (world premieres of Faust and Romeo and Juliet by Ch. Gounod, The Pearl Seekers and The Beauty of Perth by J. Bizet took place here). A year later, the singer enters the even more famous Opera Comic, where his career is developing very successfully. The director of the theater at that time was the famous singer and theatrical figure Leon Carvalho (1825-1897), husband of the famous singer Maria Miolan-Carvalho (1827-1895), the first performer of the parts of Margarita, Juliet and a number of others. Carvalho “moved” (as we would now say) the young tenor. In 1880, Jean-Alexandre married the singer E. Fauville (known for her participation in the world premiere of Felicien David’s opera Lalla Rook, popular at the time). And three years later, his first finest hour came. He was assigned the role of Hoffmann in the world premiere of this masterpiece by Jacques Offenbach. Preparing for the premiere was difficult. Offenbach died on October 5, 1880, four months before the premiere (February 10, 1881). He left only the clavier of the opera, without having had time to orchestrate it. This was done at the request of the Offenbach family by the composer Ernest Guiraud (1837-1892), better known for composing the recitatives for Carmen. At the premiere, the opera was performed in a truncated form, without Juliet’s act, which seemed to the directors too complicated in terms of dramaturgy (only the barcarolle was preserved, which is why the action of Antonia’s act had to be moved to Venice). However, despite all these difficulties, the success was enormous. The bright singer Adele Isaac (1854-1915), who performed the parts of Olympia, Antonia and Stella, and Talazak brilliantly coped with their parts. The wife of the composer Erminia, who, apparently, did not have enough mental strength to go to the premiere, devoted friends reported on its progress. Hoffmann’s song “The Legend of Kleinsack”, which is very important for the introduction, was a great success, and Talazak had a considerable merit in this. It is possible that the fate of the singer would have turned out differently if the opera had immediately made a victorious march through the theaters of Europe. However, tragic circumstances prevented this. On December 7, 1881, the opera was staged in Vienna, and the next day (during the second performance) there was a terrible fire in the theater, during which many spectators died. A “curse” fell on the opera and for a long time they were afraid to stage it. But the fateful coincidence did not end there. In 1887, the Opera Comic burned down. There were no casualties. And the director of the theater, L. Carvalho, thanks to whom The Tales of Hoffmann found their stage life, was convicted.

But back to Talazak. After the success of Tales, his career developed rapidly. In 1883, the world premiere of Lakme by L. Delibes (Gerald’s part), where the singer’s partner was Maria van Zandt (1861-1919). And, finally, on January 19, 1884, the famous premiere of Manon took place, followed by the triumphal success of the opera on the opera stages of Europe (it was staged in Russia in 1885 at the Mariinsky Theater). The Heilbronn-Talazak duo was universally admired. Their creative collaboration continued in 1885, when they performed in the world premiere of the opera Cleopatra’s Night by the very popular composer Victor Masset in the 19th century. Unfortunately, the early death of the singer interrupted such a fruitful artistic union.

The successes of Talazak contributed to the fact that the largest theaters began to invite him. In 1887-89 he toured in Monte Carlo, in 1887 in Lisbon, in 1889 in Brussels and finally in the same year the singer made his debut at Covent Garden, where he sang the parts of Alfred in La traviata, Nadir in Bizet’s The Pearl Seekers, Faust. We should also mention another world premiere – E. Lalo’s opera The King from the City of Is (1888, Paris). An important milestone in the singer’s career was participation in the Paris premiere of “Samson and Delilah” by C. Saint-Saens (1890, title role), staged in his homeland only 13 years after the world premiere in Weimar (conducted by F. Liszt, in German) . Talazak also led an active concert activity. He had big creative plans. However, an untimely death in 1896 interrupted such a successful career. Jean-Alexandre Talazac was buried in one of the suburbs of Paris.

E. Tsodokov

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