- 'Le Messin Metz', September 28, 1935
The famous tenor Léon Escalaïs tell with Mr. Chaffard-Simé, director of municipal Théatre, some tasty memories of its splendid career
I was these last days on the vast plate of Gaîté-Lyric of Paris, to make some hearings of artists there. The chance put to me in the presence of one of the most famous singers of this century which was made acclaim on the largest scenes of the World and which teaches the science of the song today, I named Léon Escalaïs who carries his 77 years briskly. Under the vault of the harrows of this scene which points out so many artistic memories, I tighten the hand of the famous tenor: « Master, do I say to him, could you evoke for Messins and me the most outstanding hours of your extraordinary career? Do I have to say your age? - Of course. I was born with Cuxac-in Aude, August 8, 1859, and I enter this evening my sixty-ten-seventh year - the idea to sing, to make theatre, how did it come to you? - By others, as with the majority... My father was a café owner. I helped it to serve the customers. I was fifteen years old. It is the age of the cicadas. One sings at fifteen years. I sang morning at the evening, so much so that the Mayor had to take a decree fixing a hour-limit for the song in the streets. It was my first success « One day, Paul Combe, my cousin, professor at the Niedermeyer school, Planchet, choirmaster to the Trinity, Bayle and Doctor Gigout, of passage to Cuxac, heard me and advised me to persevere. « I entered at 18 years to the Academy of Toulouse where, under the direction of the Dufrene tenor, I worked during three years. I baited myself on my musical studies. I obtained all the prices of musical theory. Lastly, in 21 years, secured by the first price of song, I carried towards Paris the purse and the hopes whose Toulouse had filled me « I passed two years to the Academy of Paris where I have for professor of Crosti song and professor d' Opéra Obin. « Ah, this dear Obin. That had however badly begun between us. It was abrupt. One day that in scene I adopted an unaesthetic attitude, it crushed me the toe of a blow of heel. He regretted soon its brutality and under its wing « He took then to me made me spit blood » (sic). But it left me the voice, because I had many tight sounds. It is thanks to Obin that I arrived " - Here, I believe well, a historical kick, Prix of song and from Opera, Léon Escalaïs began with the Opera from Paris on October 12, 1883, in « William Tell ». It was a bright success - That failed not to be. My head of Delahaye song had prescribed me to sing the large air of the last act in half-tone. With the repetition, Lassalle hears me and, of its armchair, he shouts me: " Escalaïs if you continuous to retain your voice, you are a man with the sea, go ahead » My Vaucorbeil director freely allowing it, I went there to full voice. The following day the public acclaimed the point of view of Lassalle, Vaucorbeil doubled my salaries for the year and tripled them (or almost) for the following year. I obtained 14.000 francs thus. It was for the time a small fortune - Were you happy, Master? - Very happy. That came to largely reward the ceaseless efforts which I had provided for eight years, as well musical side as on the vocal side. Ah! today, there are still tenors of them. You know it well.
Nature is the only one that the crisis does not reach; it always creates values. But impatience, lack of will, perseverance, studies, the scorn of the music, the large seals...
- Master, speak to me about your successes. And the heart of Léon Escalaïs this so young heart still, to beat violently as with the memory of an impassioned love. The dye of the Master empourpre, his eyes, its small eyes malicious and sharp lights of a suddenly relit flame. And from a jump, vibrating of all his size of « small man with great voice », Léon Escalaïs comes towards me... - Paris initially, America to then point out my more beautiful years me. I sang everywhere, on the scenes of all the capitals, in Italian, English, French. But never, I did not find rooms more vibrating, audiences more sincerely burning and affectionate that in Marseilles. I began in Marseilles under the Roudil direction in 1885. Still an anniversary! « I sang in Marseilles during 12 consecutive years. Were my preferred partners, my friends, there Strasy, beautiful Strasy, the Rouart baritone and low Boudouresque. - A memory, Maître... - Memories? When one starts: « At Marseille… » it always seems that a galéjade is told. This is however of the most scrupulous authenticity « It was one Sunday. (was this in 1890?) It bruinait. The Marseillais had not gone to the cottage; The room was archi-roof. Under the cheers, I had had to sing six times the «Torment infamous ». As I went to attack seventh time, somebody (it was Auguste, the leader of the floor whose remember surely the old men accustomed our Opera), Auguste, shouts me: « Go vaï. Do not tire yourself Léon. » Touched per such an amount of familiar solicitude, I say to the head of orchestra: " Go ahead ". And I sang, while Auguste in the shade, requested for me… During 31 years, Léon Escalaïs held the scene. It is the only heroic tenor having sung so a long time. Therefore it could be devoted with authority to the career of the professorship where assisted his wife, Mrs. Lureau-Escalaïs of a talent equal to his and recently died… Léon Escalaïs trained the tenors Carrière, Charlesky, Guys. The Master entrusts his hopes in these promising pupils to us... He repeats me what he recently said still to the contest of the Academy: « My young friends, work in absolute freedom: freedom of the neck, freedom of the bodies of the voice. You do not dope. You do not deprive of nothing, but without abuse. But especially work, become musicians. You will not be disappointed». The shades of Arnorld and Eléazar run to the evocation of so pure and so glorious last planed around Léon Escalaïs. And in this crown of white hair which dominates today its vis-a-vis the energy features, I desired to see an aureole…. Escalaïs was never replaced!
- 'Le Bavard', March 14, 1894
GRAND-THEATRE – L’AFRICAINE
The public was shown not filled with enthusiasm a this recovery which continues the series of weak interpretations which have followed one another for several years of most massive of the operas of Meyerbeer. The presence of >Mr. Escalaïs however gave some attraction to the evening, although excel it tenor appeared to feel a little tiredness. It less better did not say of it its large air of the fourth act and the beautiful duet with Miss Tracey, that the role of Sélika does not support like those interpreted previously by her. Mrs. Escalaïs gives to the ungrateful character of Ines a value which it is far from having; the public included/understood, therefore it applauded the brilliant professional singer as it deserved it. The role of the savage and impassioned Nelusko is a little quite heavy for Mr. Génécand; but this conscientious actor showed of a goodwill and an intelligence of which account should be held to him. MISTERS Bourgeois and Vigier are of a perfect correction. Let us stop by where we should have started, i.e. by announcing the good execution of all the first act.
- 'Le petit marseillais', October 24, 1894
LES « HUGUENOTS » – M. ESCALAIS
No the beginning, yesterday, but a very good representation of the masterpiece of Meyerbeer for the re-entry of b>Mr. Escalaïs in the beautiful role of Raoul de Nangis. The excellent tenor, after the forced rest that one knows, returns to us more in voice than ever and full with a valiancy who affirmed oneself of act in act, to lead to the large duet of the 6th act, with all the glare of the passion which this admirable piece claims. The success of Mr.Escalaïsis undeniable; each act was worth a recall to him. In the last table, after the dramatic trio with Valentine and Marcel, three salvos of nourished applause greeted the advertisement of the re-entry of Mr. Escalaïswhich could be convinced of real sympathies that it has in our city. It is too right to only associate the beautiful success of Mr. Escalaïsnot only Miss Martini, lyric tragic actress of a great intelligence, but also Mr. Sylvestre whose serious talent continues more and more.
- Le Petit Marseillais, November 1, 1894
« GUILLAUME TEL » – DÉBUTS
As it is known there was maldonne, for the representation of this work, last week, in consequence of the told incidents içi all with length. Yesterday evening, William Tell went until the end of his patriotic and vocal prowesses. The ballet raised of another noise only that of the cheers; that enables me to quote favorably Mr. Natta and Misses Rivolta, Tasi also applauded and estimated of the public. M.et Mrs. Escalaïs showed a talent quite flexible and shining in this perilous duet of the second act, whose charm is to be known as with flower of lips. In the passages of force, with the 4th act in particular, our heroic tenor spent a superb valiancy of lungs. He was yesterday, in the plenitude of his marvellous voice; C spouted out of its gosier with an ease, a little extraordinary; therefore recall with each act in company of Mrs. Escalaïswho gave to the character of Mathilde a higher distinction. The interest of the representation also related to the second beginning of Mr. Layolle, baritone. A little paralysed, undoubtedly by the emotion, the other this artist had evening not given all his vocal energy and his eloquence of play. Yesterday, we were fully satisfied. Récitatifs, prayer, scenes of tenderness, patriotic fervours, all were underlined by him with art and conscience. This artist appears to us to easily have to triumph over his rare opponents, with the final test. The barcarolle of the first act put forward very agreeably the pretty one, very pretty voice of Mr. Deville with whom we owe a well deserved compliment. In short, one of the most interesting representations of this beginning of season.
- 'Le petit marseillais', December 1893
THÉATRES, CONCERTS, SPECTACLES
The Largeone, which makes this evening slackens, will give tomorrow, by extraordinary, in morning, at cut prices, Huguenots; the evening, with half price, the Choirmaster, the Girl of the Regiment and great ballet of Faust. The booking office is open as of today for the two representations ~~ the théatre of the Gymnasium announces for this evening, for the benefit and for the good-byes of excellent comic Castelain a true evening of great official reception. The spectacle is vigorous, with the remainder: a new comedy, the Other; the second act of Helvett Miss, the second act of the Girl of the Drum major, an interlude by the artists of Alcazar, and the Palate of-Crystal, and the second act of the Mascot. Here more than one should not any, in addition to the sympathy which sticks in the name of the recipient, to make, this evening, packed room with the Gymnasium ~~ With the varieties, tenth representation of Mother and Marlure. Monday evening, first of the Sub-prefect of Castle-Buzard, new comedy of Gandillot, one of the merriest parts of the Palais Royal. The principal role, that of Simonnette, will be held by the étincelante Marie Kolb.
We receive from M.et Mrs. Escalaïs, artists of the Opera, the following letter and the documents which it contains: Mister the Director, I will be grateful to you to agree to make insert the following letters which I had the honor to address to Mr. mayor and to MISTERS Lestellier and Co – LÉON ESCALAÏS. Mister and expensive Directeur, While arriving to Marseilles one puts to me with the current of the delicate situation in which could place us with respect to a certain portion of the public, the application of the very gracious municipal Council Decision, exempting to us, my wife and me of all beginnings. Not to block our task and to put to us out of suspicion we asked for to Mr. mayor of reconsider the decision taken, and to allow us to carry out the accustomed beginnings. Receive, Mister and expensive director, the insurance of my feelings well sympathetic nerves. – LÉON ESCALAÏS. P.-S. – Herewith the letter which I address to Mister the mayor. Mister the Mayor, In a very recent meeting, the town council had agreed to exempt formality of the beginnings to us. Such a mark of regard had deeply touched us. By striping this clause of our engagement, we were unaware of the importance that the Marseilles public from time immemorial attached to this use. But, happy that we are prospect to make one season in Marseilles. Where the public was always shown so benevolent in our connection, we hold with heart to request its votes, while subjecting to us to the traditions of the Reauvau room. We thus come to request from you, Mister the Mayor, to agree to allow us to carry out the three lawful beginnings, each one in the roles of its employment. Please accept, Mister the Mayor, the expression of our feelings of high consideration
Signé : MARIA ESCALAÏS, de l’Opéra.
LÉON ESCALAÏS, de l’Opéra.