Rose Féart

Féart, Rose, Sopran, * 26.3.1878 Saint-Riquier (Departement Somme), † 5.10.1954 Genf

(by Christophe Delhoume): Opéra de Paris Rose Féart was in born in Saint-Riquier (north of France ) on March 26, 1878 and studied at the Paris Conservatoire from where she was immediately hired by the Paris Opera. She made her debut there, on October 17, 1902 as Donna Anna in DON GIOVANNI, and remained all along her career, one of the most important singers of the company. Shortly after her successful debut, she was cast as Valentine in LES HUGUENOTS, Elisabeth in TANNHAUSER for her first Wagnerian role (September 14, 1903) with Carrère-Xanroff, Casset and Noté, Berthe in LE PROPHETE opposite Meyrianne Héglon as Fides (October 5, 1903), Leonora in TROVATORE with Rousselière and Flahaust (June 1904), etc… When TRISTAN had its premiere at the Paris Opera (the piece had been given in Paris already in concert and at the Chateau d'Eau with Felia Litvinne two years earlier) this was the highest point of the 1904/1905 season. The management and Paul Taffanel, who had been carefully looking after her, since her debut, assigned Féart as Brangäne. Louise Grandjean sang Isolde, the tenor Alvarez Tristan, Delmas was Kurwenal and Gresse the King Marke. The premiere on December 14 1904, was a most expected event, the dress rehearsal itself having been performed in public, as a benefit for the association “des Artistes et Amis de l'Opéra”. Féart repeated her Brangäne all along the season (with Van Dyck as Tristan for the performances of January) until the end of June 1905. In the meantime she has taken part to some TANHHAUSER performances with Marcelle Demougeot, Scaremberg and Alvarez in the title role, as well as La Haine when Gluck's ARMIDE was brought back to the stage, a  revival especially scheduled for Lucienne Bréval (premiere on April 12, 1905). During the 1905/1906 season, Rose Féart repeated her Brangäne with almost the same cast, and took over the part of Phèdre in Massenet's ARIANE, which had just been created by Louise Grandjean. Other performances included  the Cantata LA GLOIRE DE CORNEILLE composed by Camille Saint-Saëns for the 300 th Anniversary of Corneille's death with Grandjean, Demougeot, Affre and Dubois (June 6), as well as her first appearance at Covent Garden, for an ARMIDE performance with Bréval and conducted by Messager, on July 6. The following season gave Féart the opportunity to appear in  two important dramatic parts: Ortrud, which she sang for the very first time on November 10, 1906, and Brünhilde which she undertook in a performance of WALKÜRE on December 1 st . She got great acclaim in both parts, and kept alternating these two roles until the end of the season. In LOHENGRIN she had Lindsay, Emile Scaremberg or Jean Noté as her partners, while she sang WALKÜRE opposite Hatto, Paquot d'Assy, Margyl or Alvarez. When TRISTAN came back on the roster on April 17, 1907, she was Brangäne again with a all-stars cast including Litvinne as Isolde, Van Dyck as Tristan, Bartet as Kurwenal. On September 1907 she was Brünhilde again in WALKÜRE and created at the Paris Hippodrome the part of Bia, in Fauré's PROMETHEE with Baudy, de Max, Mrs. Paquot d'Assy and Laute Brun. This performance was conducted by the composer himself, and the piece entered into the Grand Opera's repertoire 3 days later, with the same cast. Rose Féart had collaborated with the great composers of her time:  Fauré, Massenet, and later Debussy. She sang also a lot of César Franck's compositions, such as REDEMPTION that she gave in the Conservatoire Auditorium on March 22, 1908 with Georges Marty conducting. A the Opera she sang successfully her first AÏDA, a revival of LOHENGRIN planned for the debut of Maria Koussnietzoff as Elsa, WALKÜRE with Hatto, Paquot d'Assy and Delmas as Wotan, and more LOHENGRIN during the Summer 1908 with Yvonne Dubel, Godart and Vilmos Beck and Raymond Boulogne sharing the part of Telramund. Another big event took place the following season, after TANNHAUSER where she appeared with Alvarez, Dangès and Vanni-Marcoux, Féart created Gutrune in the first staged production of GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG. The best element of the company appeared during theses performances: Grandjean as Brünnilde, Jeanne Paquot d'Assy as Waltraute, Van Dyck as Siegfried, Din-Gilly and Delmas completed the cast as well as the young Yvonne Gall as Woglinde. Messager was in the pit. No less than 16 performances were given until the end of January 1909. For the rest of the season, Féart kept very busy with the Wagner repertoire: LOHENGRIN in February and March 1909 (debut of the tenor Franz in the title role), revival of TRISTAN and GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG in July, both with Litvinne and van Dyck, and closing of the season with LOHENGRIN (Minna Scalar and Franz). In the meantime, she had repeated Franck's REDEMPTION at the Conservatoire with André Messager at the lead (April 1909), and paid a second visit to Covent Garden on Debussy's special request, for the local premiere of PELLEAS ET MELISANDE. The first night (the premiere in Great Britain actually) took place on May 21, 1909 and the opera was performed three times. Féart sang in a complete French idiomatic cast, including Edmond Warnery as Pelléas, the Italian born bass baritone Vanni-Marcoux as Arkel and the Belgian mezzo-soprano Jeanne Bourgeois as Geneviève. The orchestra was conducted by Cleofonte Campanini and according to Rosenthal's report on Féart's performance : “the soprano was a fascinating, delicate and fragile Mélisande”.

LE MARTYRE DE SAINT-SEBASTIEN 1910 found the artist extremely busy either on the concert and opera stage: In April 1910 she sang at the Conservatoire both Franck's REDEMPTION and Debussy's LA DAMOISELLE ELUE with André Messager conducting. Being very much involved in Debussy's creation, she was the composer's choice for his work to be: LE MARTYRE DE SAINT-SEBASTIEN. Until then, she remained cast at the Opera in the same repertoire, singing Elisabeth in TANNHAUSER with Franz in the title role, and Elsa in LOHENGRIN with Franz again, and Gaston Dubois. On May 22, 1911, she created the part of La Vierge Erigone in Debussy's LE MARTYRE DE SAINT-SEBASTIEN. The piece had been ordered by Ida Rubinstein herself who was at that time rich enough (she was by then the protégée of Guiness) to order a piece to Debussy and d'Annunzio, in which she would appear both as an actress and as a dancer. The work was rehearsed and performed at the Théâtre du Châtelet with some unexpected difficulties shortly before the premiere. The scandalous end equivocal  theme of the piece, and the fact that part of the Saint was performed by a female dancer, compelled the Archbishop of Paris himself to threaten any catholic attending a performance of excommunication ! In this very tensed climax, Féart found herself in difficulties with the stage director. Having refused to sing  from a catwalk high above the stage, she had to walk out a few hours before the dress rehearsal and quit the production. A young beginner, contracted by Debussy for some other solo parts in the piece, took her place on this occasion. Her name was Ninon Vallin and this was the beginning of her fantastic career. After the dress rehearsal and Vallin's unexpected success, it did not took too long to Féart to get back into the production again, and to take finally her place on the catwalk for the rest of the performances. Besides, the scandal preceding the premiere and the recognition of Debussy's talent did not help LE MARTYRE to remain on the poster and the piece did not met a successful reception. From then, Féart remained very active at the Opera, and just before the WWI declaration, appeared at the Théâtres des Champs-Elysées in a FREISCHÜTZ production conducted by Felix Weingartner (April 1913), and in BORIS GODUNOV with Giraldoni, and conducted by Ingelbrecht (November 1913)

GENEVA At the very end of WWI, Féart was approached by Albert Paychère, conductor and director of the Grand Théâtre in Geneva . Due to a last minute cancellation, he was by then looking for an ALCESTE. He proposed the part to Féart who refused point-blank to sing a part she had never sung before, and to learn such a score in two weeks. Roger de Candolle in his “Histoire du Grand Théâtre” wrote that Paychère sat calmly at the piano, and start to play slowly a few bars of ALCESTE… Suddenly, he was interrupted by Féart: “It's all right”, she said, “I'll do it!” Rose Féart came to Geneva for the ALCESTE performances on February and March 1918, without knowing that she would meet the immediate admiration and affection of its audience, and that she would establish herself in this city for the rest of her life. During the 1918/1919 season, she sang two performances of PELLEAS ET MELISANDE and two DON GIOVANNI (Anna). She made a sensation in the title role of ARMIDE, when the opera was given nine times in the Salle de la reformation, during the Winter of 1919. In 1919/1920, she sang two LOHENGRIN performances and was still very successful with IPHIGENIE EN TAURIDE, given 7 times in the Salle de la Réformation, and revived at the Grand Théâtre for four more performances during the Autumn 1920. In the early twenties, Rose Féart start to reduce her appearances on the opera stage, to concentrate herself on her teaching activities. On March 20, 1921 she was back at the Salle du Conservatoire in Paris for a concert with Philippe Gaubert conducting, where she sang excerpts from ARMIDE as well as a cycle song by Maurice Emmanuel: ODELETTES ANACREONIQUES. Still very active at the Grand Théâtre de Genève for the 1921/1922 season, she made very highly praised appearances at the Orange Festival on July 1922 as IPHIGENIE EN TAURIDE with Tindel, Ernest Bauer and José Beckmans, and on July 1923 as ARMIDE with the same cast, both conducted by Albert Paychère.

Retired in Geneva (she was by then a Swiss citizen) Rose Féart did a long career as a teacher at the Geneva Conservatoire, and died on October 5, 1954.

in German:

sie wurde am Conservatoire National in Paris ausgebildet. 1902 kam es zu ihrem Debüt an der Pariser Grand Opéra in der Partie der Donna Anna im »Don Giovanni«. An diesem traditionsreichen Opernhaus hatte sie seitdem eine große Karriere im dramatischen Sopranfach. Sie sang an der Grand Opéra die Valentine in Meyerbeers »Hugenotten«, die Leonore im »Troubadour«, die Aida und die Phèdre in »Ariane« von Massenet (31.10.1906 in der Uraufführung des Werks). Sie galt als große Wagner-Interpretin und trat an der Grand Opéra als Elsa wie als Ortrud im »Lohengrin«, als Elisabeth im »Tannhäuser« und als Brünnhilde in der »Walküre« auf. Sie wirkte hier auch in zwei Erstaufführungen von Wagner-Opern mit: 1905 sang sie die Brangäne im »Tristan«, 1908 die Gutrune in der »Götterdämmerung«. 1905 erschien sie an der Grand Opéra in einer denkwürdigen Aufführung von Glucks Oper »Armide« als Partnerin von Lucienne Bréval. Sie gastierte an großen Bühnen in Frankreich wie im Ausland, u.a. an der Hofoper von St. Petersburg und am Grand Théâtre Genf, und kreierte 1909 an der Covent Garden Oper London in der englischen Erstaufführung von Debussys »Pelléas et Mélisande« die Mélisande. Sie war bis 1911 an der Grand Opéra im Engagement. Nachdem sie durch ihre Heirat Schweizerin geworden war, wirkte sie 29 Jahre hindurch als Pädagogin am Konservatorium von Genf. Dort gehörten Marie-Louise de Montmollin, Madeleine Dubois und Derrek Olsen zu ihren Schülern.

Rose Féart gehört zu den Sängerpersönlichkeiten, bei denen das Fehlen von Schallplattenaufnahmen nicht zu verstehen ist.

as Brangäne Paris Jan. 1905
as Brangäne Paris Jan. 1905
as Gutrune Paris Jan. 1908
as Gutrune (close-up) Paris Jan. 1908
as Armide Paris Jun. 1905
in "La Haine" (by courtesy of Christophe Delhoume)
as ? Geneve
Portrait 1° Prix du Chant Paris 1902