Madeleine Sibille

Sibille, Madeleine, Sopran, * 25.2.1895 Paris, † 19.7.1984 Paris
; studied by Engel in Paris.

(by Christophe Delhoume):First years at the Comique French soprano, Madeleine Sibille was born in 1895. Noticed by Albert Carré, director of the Opera-Comique, she has been attached to this house all along her career, which ended in the late forties. She was engaged there in 1920, making her debut as Mercedes in CARMEN on January 11, 1920.  During her first years as a pensionnaire at the Comique, Madeleine Sibille was cast first in minors parts, such as  “La première” and “La balayeuse” in LOUISE, but she was also immediately noticed for her creation in LORENZACCIO by Ernest Moret (premiere on May 19) where she portrayed the part of Catherine Ginori, opposite a first class cast including Hilda Roosevelt and Mathilde Calvet, the tenor Lapelletrie and the famous bass-baritone Vanni-Marcoux.  The following  season proved to be much more interesting: if she remained  cast in secondary parts (same roles for the 500° performance of LOUISE) and for the revival of LORENZACCIO (this time, under the baton of Albert Wolff), Madeleine SIBILLE imposed herself as Santuzza, a role very much identified with her all along her career, which she sang on June 12, 1921, and that repeated until the end of the season. In the meantime, was Bacchis in APHRODITE by Camille Erlanger, opposite the famous Marthe Chenal in the title-role, and created the one act opera by Marc Delmas: CAMILLE under the baton of Emile Archambaud, in a mise en scène by Mr. Carré himself. During the 1921/1922 season, Madeleine Sibille found herself in the operetta by Claude Terrasse, LE MARIAGE DE TELEMAQUE where she faced the director's wife, Marguerite Carré, as well as some other important members of the Opera-Comique company such as Louis Fugère and Cazette. LE MARIAGE DE TELEMAQUE proved to be a great popular success which lasted all along the 50 performances until January 1922. Other appearances included  the premiere of Henri Büsser's LES NOCES CORINTHIENNES, especially written for Yvonne Gall (première on May 5, 1922) with Gall, Lise Charny, Trantoul and staged by Carré, as well as a revival of CAVALLERIA (July 10, 1922), opposite Rogatchewski as Turridu. In 1922/1923, Madeleine Sibille kept singing alternately small and first parts, as she sang indifferently soprano and mezzo parts. She was Rose-Marie in LA LEGENDE DU POINT D'ARGENTAN, when the Felix Fourdrain Opera  was revived, then Mercedes again, opposite Suzanne Brohly as CARMEN for the gala celebrating the 1700 th performance of the piece on April 30, 1923. She undertook for the very end of the season Nedda in PAGLIACI with Charlesky on August 18, and Giulietta in LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN with David Devries as Hoffmann on August 22. Successful in both parts, Madeleine Sibille  repeated PAGLIACI with Fraikin on October 10, and Giulietta on June 19, 1924. In the meantime, she created Milena in Felix Fourdrain new opera: LA GRIFFE on November 5, 1923, repeated Santuzza in December with Gaulfin and Baugé, and closed the season, appearing as Musetta in performances of BOHEME scheduled especially for Maria Kousnetzoff's return at the Comique.

First success at the Comique By the 1924/1925 season, Madeleine Sibille seemed to get more and more involved in important productions at the Comique. Carré before he left the direction of the theatre decided to give her nothing less than Brangäne in the greatest hit  of the season:  TRISTAN. This was a new production especially made for Suzanne Balguerie in a French translation by Maurice Léna and Jean Chantavoine. The staging was by Albert Carré, the sets by Lucien Jusseaume, and this TRISTAN given for the very first time at the Comique, was great success for Carré himself, as well as all the members of the cast which included Oscar Ralf as Tristan, Henri Albers as Kurwenal, Felix Vieuille as Marke. The orchestra was conducted by Désiré Emile Ingelbrecht, and the premiere took place on May 26, 1925. TRISTAN was repeated on June 16, 13 and 18. Shortly before, Madeleine Sibille created  Vatleen in Rabaud's opera L'APPEL DE LA MERE with Germaine Baye and Balguerie, and sang in LORENZACCIO again with Vanni Marcoux on November 8, 1924 (but this time, as the Marquise Cibo), as Giulietta in LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN on December 3 rd , and as Aliette in LA LEPREUSE by Lazzari, opposite Alice Raveau in the title-role, which was one of her finest compositions. The following season saw Madeleine Sibille in Giulietta again with Kaisin as Hoffmann on January 29, 1926 as well as Bacchis for the revival of APHRODITE on February 20. She participated to the Paris première of Ravel's L'ENFANT ET LES SORTILEGES in the small part of the dragon fly, with Marie Thérèse Gauley as the Child, and Germaine Féraldy as the Princess. This was the first execution of L'ENFANT ET LES SORTILEGES after its creation in Monte-Carlo a few months before. After some more Musette in BOHEME for the debut of Hislop as Rodolpho on March 26, she took part to the TRISTAN revival on April 27, 1926  with Balguerie again, Maurice Oger, Roger Bourdin Felix Vieuille, and Albert Wolff conducting. In 1927/1928, Sibille repeated the same roles: Aliette in LA LEPREUSE (February 17), Giulietta with Micheletti and Beckmans (gala of the 500 th performance on March 3 rd ), LORENZACCIO with Roger Bourdin (March 10), Brangäne again (May 14), HOFFMANN with Vilabella (July 4)… But the real challenge came  on the following season: Louis Masson who shared the direction with Georges Ricou, knew exactly what to do with this gifted artist, and decided to give her a chance, by offering her successively the title of CARMEN opposite Gaston Micheletti as Don José (October 10, 1927), the world premiere of Darius Milhaud's LE PAUVRE MATELOT staged by Jean Cocteau (December 16, 1927) and TOSCA for the much expected debut of Miguel Fleta (on April 18n, 1928). In the meantime, she repeated her Musette again in a typical Opera-Comique dream-cast including Emma Luart, Miguel Villabella and Roger Bourdin (May 30). 1928 ended for Madeleine Sibille with a new role: Anita in LA NAVARRAISE by Massenet (December 23) and she repeated in 1929 LORENZACCIO again, and BOHEME with Lotte Schöne as Mimi (January 16). On April 24, 1929, she created the new Opera in 4 acts by Charles Lévadé: LA PEAU DE CHAGRIN based on a novel by Honoré de Balzac. She was the Countess Foedora, opposite Vera Peeters, Charles Friant and Roland Bourdin and sang the whole performances (20), including the 5 mores given during the revival of 1932. The 1929/1930 brought a new part for Sibille at the Comique: Charlotte in WERTHER which she sang until then, all along her career. She was cast with the most famous WERTHER of her time: Georges Thill, a colleague with whom she will perform quite often in the future. She started the season as  Giulietta again, with Leïla Ben Sedira as Olympia and Vera Peeters as Antonia (September 9), followed by the revival of TRISTAN (this time with Marguerite Soyer as Isolde, on October 10), and then WERTHER (November 4 to 13) with Georges Thill, André Gaudin, and conducted by Georges Kauweryns. TRISTAN came back again on March 12 1930, this time with the ducth prima donna Poolmann-Meissner, who sang her part in German, just like her Tristan: Walter Kirchhoff. Sibille joined the French-born cast back on stage on the 17th of June, for performance sung by Soyer, Forti, Guénot and Vieuille, under the direction of Albert Wolff. When TRISTAN was repeated for the last time at the Comique during the 1930/1931 season, Sibille met again Balguerie as Isolde for the November performances, but had to face Madame Briffaux's débuts as Isolde, for the performances of May. Meanwhile, she sang on March 1 st , 1931 the part of Jahel in LA ROTISSERIE DE LA REINE PEDAUQUE by Charles Lévadé, with Simone Berriau, Germaine Cernay and Louis Musy, and repeated her Nedda with Girard and Musy on July 25, and Musette on October 3 rd . Another Lévadé's work came back on the roster for the 1931/1932 season: LA PEAU DE CHAGRIN where she sang the Countess, a part she had created three years before. On November 17, Madeleine Sibille was La Belle Helpérinte in LA BELLE DE HAGUENEAU by Maurice Fouret, a role created by Germaine Gien at the Trianon Lyrique, in 1924

Outside of the Comique Extremely present on the roster of the Opera-Comique for over a decade, Madeleine Sibille has sung in major Opera Houses in France ( Toulouse , Bordeaux , Vichy …). On January 27, 1934 she was CARMEN opposite Georges Thill as Don José at the Opéra de Lyon, before to participate to the opening of the 1934/1935 season in Toulouse as CARMEN (this time with Burdino), Charlotte in WERTHER (with Burdino again), Musette and TOSCA with (Giuseppe Lugo),  PAGLIACI… Madeleine Sibille has been a regular guest of the main theatres of North Africa , appearing at the Opéra d'Alger as well as other cities on tour, during the Spring 1934. On April 30, she repeated her CARMEN in Casablanca , always with Thill as Don José, and under the baton of a young Belgian conductor: André Cluytens. Her performances abroad included also La Monnaie in Brussels , as well as the Maggio Musicale in Firenzein 1937 where she sang Geneviève in the Opéra-Comique production, with Jeanine Micheau, Gaudin and Etcheverry, conducted by Albert Wolff.

The last years From the mid thirties she concentrated her repertoire much more on the mezzo-soprano parts, still keeping singing Charlotte and Carmen, and giving away the Musettas and Neddas she had sung for so many years. On March 11 1937, she created Béatrice in the Operetta LE TESTAMENT DE TANTE CAROLINE by Roussel with Fanely Revoil and André Balbon. She remained in a light repertoire with the revival of LA ROTISSERIE DE LA REINE PEDAUQUE in April, before to follow the Opéra-Comique on tour in Firenze for Geneviève in PELLEAS ET MELISANDE. She closed the season with Santuzza on June 6 with the tenor Verdière. In 1937/1938, Madeleine Sibille is Geneviève again in September for PELLEAS conducted by Albert Wollf, and  above all Ottavia when L'INCORONAZIONE DI POPPEA is brought back to the stage on December 23. She sang the four performances of the work in its Malipiero version, in a French translation by Borren with Renée Gilly as Poppea and Georges Jouatte as Nero. In the seasons preceding WW-II and until the end of her career, Sibille orientated her repertoire on character parts. Except a few Carmen or Charlotte (once more in Limoges at the Grand Théâtre with Thill in May 1943), she sang the Sorceress Taven in MIREILLE at the Comique in its original version (arranged by Reynaldo Hahn-June 1939), the Mother in LOUISE (from 1940 to 1946), Maria in LA LEPREUSE by Lazzari (April 1945). Her last creation Salle Favart having been Mère Ilse in Antoine Mariotte's opera NELE DOORYN with Edmond Chastenet and Bernadette Delprat, staged by Max De Rieux. Madeleine Sibille has left several recordings. A the very beginning of her career she sang Javotte in the 1923 recording of MANON featuring Fanny Heldy and Jean Marny, some arias and duets including a the beautiful scene from THERESE By Massenet: “Jours de Juin, jours d'été”. She recorded some duets with Ninon Vallin (LE ROI D'YS, LA FILLE DE MADAME ANGOT, LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN…) and the duet “Belle Hermione” from Lully's opera HERMIONE with Charles Panzera. She also recorded selections of operas, such as  BOHEME in French with Claudel, Beckmans and Germaine Corney, issued in 1931. In 1943, Madeleine Sibille took part to the shooting of Sacha Guitry's film: “LA MALIBRAN” with Géori Boué, Suzy Prim, Jean Debucourt and Jacques Castelot.

(Many thanks to Christophe Delhoume!)


In German:

sie studierte bei Engel in Paris und debütierte 1919 an der Opéra-Comique Paris. Sie blieb deren Mitglied für mehr als zwanzig Jahre und hatte ihre wichtigsten Erfolge im dramatischen Sopran-Repertoire, sang aber auch Partien wie die Musetta in »La Bohème« und auch kleinere Rollen. An der Opéra- Comique wirkte sie in mehreren Uraufführungen mit, so am 19.5.1920 in »Lorenzaccio« von Ernest Moret, am 10.4.1924 in »L'Appel de la Mer« von Henri Rabaud, am 16.12.1927 in der Uraufführung von »Le pauvre matelot« von Darius Milhaud, am 24.4.1929 in »Le Peau de Chagrin« von Charles Lavadé. Ihre große Popularität an diesem Operntheater brachte es mit sich, daß sie kaum auswärts gastierte. 1939 trat sie dort immer noch als erste dramatische Sopranistin auf; ihre großen Partien waren die Santuzza in »Cavalleria rusticana«, die Charlotte im »Werther« von Massenet, die Carmen, die Margared in »Le Roi d'Ys« von Lalo und die Tosca. Später lebte sie als Pädagogin in Paris.

Schallplatten: kleine Partie in vollständiger Oper »Manon« auf Pathé (1923); später weitere akustische wie elektrische Pathé-Platten. Auf Polydor sang sie die Musetta in einer Kurzfassung von »La Bohème«, 1933 erschien eine weitere Serie von Aufnahmen auf HMV, darunter eine Szene aus »La Lépreuse« von Sylvio Lazzari.



Portrait (by courtesy of Christophe Delhoume)