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Thursday, August 13, 2020

The famous baritone Gabriel Bacquier dies, aged 96

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Gabriel Bacquier, a famous French baritone after the Second World War who shone on the stage of the greatest operas, died Wednesday at 96, announced his wife to AFP.

The mezzo-soprano Sylvie Oussenko did not specify the reasons for his death, which occurred at his home in Lestre, in Normandy (west).

Great ambassador of French song thanks to his perfect diction, he was also sought after for his scenic elegance and his intelligence of roles, especially in operas by Mozart, praised for his “Don Giovanni” or his count Almaviva in “Les Noces de Figaro” .

He sang alongside legendary sopranos like Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, Birgit Nilsson and Régine Crespin and on the biggest stages in the world, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Royal Opera House in London, the Paris Opera or even the Vienna Opera.

Born in Béziers (south) on May 17, 1924, he entered the Conservatoire in Paris in 1950 and, after performing at the cabaret and in cinemas, he joined the troupe of the Royal Theater of La Monnaie in Brussels.

He then joined in 1956 the Opéra-Comique then the Paris Opera which still owned a troupe at the time, “to which Gabriel Bacquier says he owes everything”, says his wife who is also his biographer.

The baritone impressed the public in the worrying role of the police chief Scarpia in Puccini’s “Tosca” or in that of Golaud in “Pelléas et Mélisande” and made him laugh in Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale” or by embodying the character of Doctor Bartolo in the “Barber of Seville”.

Popularized by Eurovision

In 1960, he was given the title role of Don Giovanni during a televised performance of Eurovision, it was a triumph that launched his international career.

Gabriel Bacquier excelled in the Italian and French repertoires and confided his regret at not having approached the German repertoire.

A master class with Gabriel Bacquier:

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