Lebendige Vergangenheit - Georges Thill

Artist Georges Thill
Title Lebendige Vergangenheit - Georges Thill
Release Date Tuesday, September 5, 2006
Genre Classical > Choro
Composers Richard Wagner, Giacomo Puccini, Jules Massenet, Hector Berlioz, Umberto Giordano, Giuseppe Verdi, Charles Gounod, Ruggiero Leoncavallo, Christoph Willibald Gluck, Ernest Reyer
Songwriter Georges Thill
Copyright © Preiser Records

Promotion Text

Lebendige Vergangenheit

Georges Thill, with no doubt the most Parisian among French tenors, was born on December 14th 1897 in the French capital, where his father owned a publishing house. As a boy he already possessed a powerful voice and often sang for his own entertainment without ever thinking seriously about a professional singing career. In a record shop Thill used to listen to a record of Caruso with arias from "Tosca" and "I pagliacci" until he knew the two interpretations by heart - "unfortunately, they were played at a wrong speed and I ended up singing everything one note higher than it was written. Those were my first singing lessons!" The young man was called into the French Army in 1916 where he used to cheer up his fellow soldiers with some songs "in my own way, with lots of enthusiasm and little technique". His uncle finally pushed him into auditioning for the Conservatory in Paris. "After my two Caruso-interpretations I became aware of the amused expressions on the faces of the professors who seemed to be rather surprised by this shouting phenomenon. I was accepted. Was I supposed to be happy about it - today I doubt it." After two frustrating years of study without any results Thill decided in January 1921 to go to Naples and study with Fernando De Lucia who upon hearing him for the first time predicted his later student a promising career. Under the guidance of his highly admired teacher the young tenor made rapid progress. The voice gained flexibility and its middle-register found its right placement. De Lucia concentrated less on technical details but emphasized diction, breathcontrol and a thoroughly nuanced approach to the libretto. Thill repeatedly made it known that everything he had learned about singing he owed to his teacher and even years later he confessed to continuously have asked himself while exercising or before going on stage: "What would De Lucia say?" At the same time Thill was able to maintain and develop his own, individual artistic identity combining the values of his teacher with a more "modern" and direct approach to singing and avoiding all sorts of embellishrµents and eccentricities. De Lucia's illness and his death in 1923 put an end to two years of stuq.y and Thill decided, contrary to his teacher's plans which foresaw an audition for 'the Scala in Milan, to start his career at the Opera de Paris. On February 24th 1924 the singer made his debut as Nicias in "Thais" and gave an excellent performance in the same year as Duca di Mantova in "Rigoletto". For nearly thirty years he stayed with this Opera House where his repertory included roles from both the lyric and the heroic repertoire: Faust and Romeo by Gounod, Werther, Des Grieux, Don Jose, Eleazar, Raoul in "Les Huguenots", Samson, Cavaradossi, Calaf and the title role in Don Carlo, as well as Wagnerian roles, such as Tannhäuser, Walther von Stolzing, Lohengrin and Parsifal were considered among his most accomplished interpretations. 1928 he was the first French singer to appear in the Arena di Verona where he was cast as Calaf in "Turandot". In the same year the artist made his debut at London's Covent Garden Opera as Samson and 1929/30 he enjoyed great success in Buenos Aires at the Teatro Colon. During the 1931/32 season Thill introduced himself to the audience of New York's Metropolitan Opera where he was mainly employed in French Opera but also sang Radames with Elisabeth Rethberg as Aida; still, he did not make a lasting impression. Further guest appearances brought the singer, who was appointed "Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur" in 1934, to Brussels, Stockholm, Vienna, the Scala of Milan (debut 1929) and to Russia. After a serious car accident in June 1934 the artist recovered completely within some months and was able to start shooting his second film, "Aux portes de Paris". Earlier this year he had starred in "Chansons de Paris" and a film-version of Charpentier's "Louise" with Grace Moore was to follow in 1938. In his home country the tenor was immensly popular, well supported by his large amount of records and his films. Being a modest and nature-loving person Georges Thill equally impersonated in private life what the French call "savoir vivre" adding to it an irresistable touch of Parisian flair. In the early Fourties the singer started to appear more and more in concerts and gave his farewell-concert, which was entirely dedicated to works of Richard Wagner, on March 25th 1956. Giacomo Lauri Volpi recalls that after the War Thill's voice soun­ ded "as if divided into two parts", especially in the heavier Italian repertory. In his opinion, it had to do with the singer's peculiar technique which worked out fine in French Opera but seemed insufficient in connexion with the Italian language, where he never feit quite at ease, but even more so by having tried to impose the more weighty and voluminous Italian way of singing (or what he considered it to be) on his voice. After having given up his stage-activity Georges Thill held some masterclasses and always remained up-to-date with musical life although finding it little to his taste. He died on October 17th 1984. ...