A report on Joan Sutherland and Esclarmonde

Sutherland in 1975
Original poster for the premiere
Sutherland in 1962
Joan Sutherland in 1990

The opera has been revived sporadically in the modern era, most notably during the 1970s with Joan Sutherland, conducted by Massenet champion Richard Bonynge.

- Esclarmonde

She continued to add dramatic bel canto roles to her repertoire, such as Donizetti's Maria Stuarda and Lucrezia Borgia, as well as Massenet's Esclarmonde.

- Joan Sutherland
Sutherland in 1975

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Tenor Colin Lee, soprano Pretty Yende, Bonynge, mezzo-soprano Violina Anguelov and baritone George Stevens at a concert performance of Lucia di Lammermoor in Cape Town in April 2013

Richard Bonynge

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Australian conductor and pianist.

Australian conductor and pianist.

Tenor Colin Lee, soprano Pretty Yende, Bonynge, mezzo-soprano Violina Anguelov and baritone George Stevens at a concert performance of Lucia di Lammermoor in Cape Town in April 2013

He is the widower of Australian dramatic coloratura soprano Dame Joan Sutherland.

By doing some research and reading up on Massenet and Italian bel canto composers, Bonynge discovered Massenet's own statement about his opera Esclarmonde being his "best achievement."

Massenet photographed by Pierre Petit, 1880

Jules Massenet

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French composer of the Romantic era best known for his operas, of which he wrote more than thirty.

French composer of the Romantic era best known for his operas, of which he wrote more than thirty.

Massenet photographed by Pierre Petit, 1880
Massenet's birthplace in Montaud, photographed c. 1908
Massenet in the early 1860s
Auditorium of the Opéra-Comique
Poster for the première of Don César de Bazan by Célestin Nanteuil
Design by Philippe Chaperon for Le roi de Lahore, 1877
"M. Massenet's bland pâtisserie and Mlle. Sanderson's sugar-candy notes" baked in "the National Musical Oven". Caricature from La Silhouette, March 1894.
Poster for the first French production of Werther.
Mary Garden in the title role of Chérubin, 1905
Poster by Georges Rochegrosse for the 1912 Paris première of Roma.
Poster by Jean de Paleologu for ''Sapho, 1897
Poster by Georges Rochegrosse for Don Quichotte, 1910
Among Massenet's interpreters, clockwise from top left: Pierre Monteux, Renée Fleming, Roberto Alagna and Victoria de los Ángeles
Massenet in his later years

For her, the composer revised Manon and wrote Esclarmonde (1889).

Among the sopranos and mezzos are Dame Janet Baker, Victoria de los Ángeles, Natalie Dessay, Renée Fleming, Angela Gheorghiu and Dame Joan Sutherland.

Tourangeau in 1970.

Huguette Tourangeau

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French-Canadian operatic mezzo-soprano, particularly associated with the French and Italian repertories.

French-Canadian operatic mezzo-soprano, particularly associated with the French and Italian repertories.

Tourangeau in 1970.

Around that time, she began a partnership with Dame Joan Sutherland and Bonynge, both on stage and on record.

She made her formal Metropolitan Opera debut on November 28, 1973, as Nicklausse in The Tales of Hoffmann (with Plácido Domingo in the name part), and later sang Dorabella in Così fan tutte (1975–76), Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro (opposite Justino Díaz and Judith Blegen, 1976) and Parséïs in Esclarmonde (opposite Sutherland, 1976).

Quilico in 1994

Louis Quilico

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Canadian opera singer.

Canadian opera singer.

Quilico in 1994

He made his debut at Covent Garden in London in La traviata opposite Dame Joan Sutherland in 1960, and remained a member of that company until 1963.

During the Met's 1976 season, he debuted the role of the Bishop of Blois in their premiere of Massenet's Esclarmonde, repeating his earlier commercial recording of the same role from a year earlier.

Giacomo Aragall (left)

Giacomo Aragall

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Spanish operatic tenor.

Spanish operatic tenor.

Giacomo Aragall (left)

In 1974, Aragall featured in Massenet's Esclarmonde with Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge in San Francisco and resumed his role singing Rodolfo in Covent Garden in 1979.