Choeur de l’Opéra

Operatic solos and ensembles featuring named singers are often reissued, but more anonymous ensembles from the early days of recording are far less likely to make it to CD. The five recordings below, presumably recorded at the same session, judging by the matrix numbers provide a selection of French opera choruses (and one German chorus in French!)

Gounod – Faust – Kermesse
Gounod – Faust – Choeur des soldats
Weber – Le Freyschutz – Choeur des Chasseurs
Meyerbeer – L’Africaine – Choeur des eveques
Lecocq – Le Fille de Madame Angot – Conspirateurs
Les Choeurs de l’Opéra, avec accompagnement d’Orchestre

G&T G.C.-34608, 34604, 34605, 34606, 34612 (10”)
Matrices 3100FII, 3102FII, 3103FI-I, 3104FII, 3105FII
Recorded April 1904, Paris

The records all have “Disque pour Gramophone” labels, with “Fabriqué par La Cie The Gramophone and Typewriter Ltd et Sociétés Filiales”, and have the recording angel trademark (Marque de Fabrique)

The two Gounod sides were remade in July 1905, so these versions were available for only about a year.

The recorded sound is generally good throughout, though there is some blasting in the Faust items (perhaps why they were remade?), and only the occasional blast in the other items. The Gounod and Weber play in score pitch at about 74.5rpm, and I have assumed the same speed for the other two items based on the matrix numbers.

The choir is small, and exclusively male, with the Kermesse chorus cut appropriately. The Meyerbeer has some audible throat clearing about 10 seconds before the chorus start singing (at 0:54)!

The “Orchestre” is, perhaps not unexpectedly for this date, a smallish wind and brass ensemble, with either a piano or harp (which is particularly noticeable in the Soldiers and Freischütz choruses.) In the Lecocq item one of the cadences is emphasised either by a bass drum or timpani.

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