Gailhard, Pierre


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(b Toulouse, 1 Aug 1848; d Paris, 12 Oct 1918). French bass and opera director. He studied singing in Toulouse and with Révial at the Paris Conservatoire. On 4 December 1867 he made his début at the Opéra-Comique as Falstaff in Ambroise Thomas’ Le songe d'une nuit d’été, and was engaged at the Opéra in 1870. There he created the roles of Richard in Auguste Mermet's Jeanne d'Arc (1876), Simon in Victorin Joncières’ La reine Berthe (1878) and Pedro in Thomas’ Françoise de Rimini (1882). He appeared regularly at Covent Garden from 1879 to 1883, his roles there including Osmin, Girot in Ferdinand Hérold's Le pré aux clercs, and Méphistophélès, of which he was generally considered to be the finest interpreter since Faure. His voice was warm and vibrant, but also powerful, and he was said to be unequalled in vehemence in the scene of the Benediction of the Swords (Les Huguenots). Yet he also had the necessary light touch for comic operas. In 1884 he was appointed manager of the Opéra, a position he held jointly with Jean Eugene Ritt (1884–91) and then with Eugène Bertrand (1893–9); on Bertrand's death in 1899 he became sole manager (until 1906). His regime was perhaps most distinguished for its excellent Wagner productions. Gailhard also wrote the scenarios for two works by Paul Vidal, Maladetta (1893) and Guernica (1895). On 6 July 1886 he was appointed a Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur.

From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.

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