August 8, 1859 in N°7 of the Place Sieur Aune in Cuxac d' Aude a happy event occurred within the Escalaïs-Barbaza family. A superb boy Léon-Antoine had just been born. He was to become a great glory of beautiful the canto world. After the fall of Napoleon III his parents settle as Cafetiers in N°10 of the Boulevard Yvan Pélissier. Any Léonyoung person sings all the day and with his Antoine father equipped with a beautiful bass voice singing, our grass artist was useful by singing the customers who appreciated already the stamp and its voice charms. And it is in this ' Coffee of the Republicans " that the career of our future high-speed motorboat « it will decide will be a singer ».
After being auditioned by musical celebrities of Cuxac, Carcassonne, Bordeaux and Paris, it was agreed that Léonwould continue his studies for the song. At 16 years it is allowed with the Academy of Toulouse. The vocal and musical studies go hand in hand with its traditional studies. From 1876 to 1879 he goes to harvest many bay-trees and in particular the first price of song, first price of opera, first price of musical theory. He leaves then the Rose City and moves towards the City of Light, Paris, very haloed the its first successes. 1883 see the reward, obtaining all the same prices as in Toulouse but also the dedication.
Indeed the director of the Palate Garnier, our opera, engages this 24 year old tenor who will begin in Guillaume Tell. Little time after, April 14, 1884 , he marries Maria Lureau a very large professional singer and celebrates Soprano. She will accompany during twelve years her husband, Leon Escalaïs throughout the whole world, singing in the same parts on the same scenes. Their career and their going success of par. But in 1896 of the troubles of rather serious health put an end to short but exceptional career of Maria Lureau. She devotes herself from now on to the teaching of the song. Alas this artist with the delicious voice was to die out in 1923.Léon Escalaïs only finds himself, shown courage and redoubles work.
||His exceptional career continues. The large French and foreign scenes claim this great voice. The United States, Russia, Turkey, Austria, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Belgium, Holland, England, etc accomodates it. Such point that a director of a large foreign theatre said: « Léon Escalaïs is the artist who is to me the least expensive ». Its successes, its triumphs were growing. During 31 years he will have carried out a brilliant lyric career. In 1912 heleaves the scene and teaches the song. He will train many pupils. But saddened by the events of 1939it is withdrawn in its native village where it has only friends and admirateurs. In spite of its age, 81 years, he gives lessons of song. Untiring in this field, generous in its artistic career, never not refusing the « bis » she was « large » among the large ones. 25 Août 1940 died out forever the beautiful voice of this exceptional artist of world the Canto Beautiful.
«Small man with great voice, Léon Escalaïs has an extraordinary body. A such water jet springing towards the sky, his voice rises, grows, is spread, spread out, then falls down in rain of pearls of gold ». He was a man charming, attentive, of a generosity without terminals and equipped with very beautiful and vast intelligence. Heroic tenor it has a great repertory: William Tell in whom he will begin. Then the Jewish one from which his name is inseparable lasting many years that he interprets incomparably with Boudouresque and Gabrielle Krauss. But also: The Trouvere, Aïda, the African one, Jerusalem, Robert Devil, the Prophet, Huguenots, Hériodade, Sigur, Polyeucte etc. And creations: Zaire (opera 1891), Baptism of Clovis (Oratorio 1891), Hosanna de Fraisier and Angélus of the sea of Goublier. Nearly 30 years afterwards, he plays for the last time the Jewish one with large Félia Litvinne (Russian) and Gabrielle Krauss (German). Member of the Jury of the National Academy of Paris he professes the song in his house of the street of Rochefoucault where it receives many pupils. A certain number already acquired the celebrity: Micheletti, Luccioni, Career, Iché, Charlesky, Morini, Pink Cardouy, Bernadette the Michel of Roy, Lucy, Caylus, Lyne Clevers, etc. In 1929it is made chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, But it obtains also international distinctions: Michau (Tunisia) Medjidié (Turkey) St Andre (Russia) St-Gregoire The Large One (Italy).
Léon EscalaÎs, of modest origins, had the gift of the song as of its youth. In his adolescence, during night walks with his comrades, the narrow streets of Cuxac resounded of its songs. His brave men compatriots were thus the first to appreciate his voice. They lost a little their sleep however there. The Mayor of the Commune, admonished, paternally youth night bird. He prevented it however that he does not tolèrerait any more « the songs of last tenor » eleven hours of the evening. The first magistrate came by a witty remark, to decide career of his managed young person. Tenor? Why not?.
The gift of the song of Léon EscalaÎs was known of all in Cuxac. So that one day on invitation, Mr. Elie Massal organist in Cuxac accepted with his table three musical personalities. Paul Combes, originating in Cuxac and cousin in the young wonder, organist in Bordeaux, Paul Lacombe of Carcassonne, type-setter and Main Strainer organist of the Trinity in Paris. After the meal they went to the coffee " Republicans ", where the young singer served digestive to them. And there, the career " He would be, he will be a singer ". After a small hearing the mini jury advised with the parents not to be long in sending their son to continue his studies. He is allowed with the Academy of Toulouse in 1876.
Whereas he repeated with the Opera of Paris Guillaume Tell for his beginnings, the Vaucorbeil director which made him sing in half-tone stops him. Escalaïs starts again but this time at full voice breaking with what one had taught to him. It was a revelation. But the following day for its official beginnings it was not reassured " All turned around me, hetold. I felt lost, when a hand struck me the shoulder and a voice murmured: « Leon, I am there! ». It was Lassalle. He saved me. I triumphed over my trac ». Lassalle, baritone, had been opposed so that it starts in the Jewish one pretexting that he did not have « enough low register » !
He was the great champion of the top C of the history of the French tenors. He assumed without tiredness the most perilous partitions, he galvanized the public by a sound blooming which grew at the same time as the notes rose. He never refused « bisser ». Thus at the time of a round in the United States it sang 7 times the air of the Trouvere « supplice infâme », 2 French times, 2 times in Italian, 2 English times, 1 last French time. He had pushed 14 top Cs in fifteen minutes. In 1907,it also interpreted 7 times the air of the Trouvere " infamous torment ", during the inauguration of the Opera of ORAN in Algeria.
He gave supreme pleasures to those which had the worship of the voice for the voice and it knew near them a popularity without terminal. Thus in Marseilles in the " Airs " part of the public claimed it the (a) to him, whereas the other part shouted « Leon is not tired! ». This familiarity led sometimes to a true dialogue between the artist and the room. One day, to Marseilles still, in the trio of the second act of William Tell, he gave by inadvertency, the simple top C instead of the top C sharp. At once a voice fell from the hen house: « Oh Leon, and the large note do you forget it? ? ». Escalaïs stopped Net the orchestra and known as with the head: « One starts again », and it sang C sharp.
Leon Escalaïs had been the disciple of Duprez, old, with which he had worked... Italian William Tell. The resemblances between the two singers were numerous and Escalaïs was him also a small man with the great voice with which it missed 15 cm. of size! He played all its roles with his moustache with the raised ends and its beard at a peak; and all his roles were accomodèrent some extremely well. Another characteristic curious about his career, he is that with its small size, he always had like partner of very large women: Krauss, Charon, Strazy, Ardiny, Litvinne etc.
His parents having joined him in Paris, he had sold the coffee and had bought a beautiful residence in N°41 of the Boulevard of Vingré. Then he became purchaser of the beautiful property of the Andrieu family in N°4 of the Avenue of St-Pons, vineyard, house of Master, dependences. By this purchase he became a big landowner. During many years the 4, Avenue of St-Pons will see ravelling an incalculable number of musical personalities, pupils, artists, the ones for lessons, others for councils and how much to greet him. The door was always open, he always accessible with a broad smile.
During August 1940 he gave to Cuxac a lesson song, with his/her faithful friend Louis Bousquet, organist. He accepted the visit of Mr. Director of the Currency of Brussels which of passage to Narbonne had made a hook by Cuxac, to come to greet the large artist who had made the beautiful days of this temple of the music and the song. He rose after good moments of artistic conversation and asked his faithful friend to plate to him on the piano an agreement in " C ". At once a " top C " clear, Net, powerful spout out of this chest, not feeling any effort and known as: « this top C is for Mr. Director ». After some words and an accessory glance with his/her friend, one hears a second agreement, follow-up of a second " top C " as shining and bright as the first. This one, made it is for " the husband of my controlling of which we are without news ". The visit of this very brilliant personality touched at its end, he made a wink with his friend who was accustomed to obeying the eye and the rod of the Master and plated a third and last agreement followed of marvellous and third " top C ". Leon Escalaïs had just celebrated his 81years . A few days after one of the greatest voices of Beautiful Canto International died out forever.