Gaston Jeanjean, aka Rye-Jean, was born in Mauguio, a village close to Montpellier, on September 6th, 1900. He was the son
of a local vine grower. While working on his parents' farm, Rye-Jean studied singing with other local amateurs. Following the
recommendations of a fellow amateur, Rye-Jean enters the Montpellier's conservatory where he was the student of Madame Mellot-Joubert,
spouse of the composer Maurice le Boucher who had been a student of Fauré and received the Prix de Rome in 1907. Madame Mellot-Joubert
taught him the love for the music of Duparc, Bach, Lulli, Debussy, Fauré. Rye-Jean studied with her from 1927 to 1934.
In spring 1934, Reynaldo Hahn, while passing through Montpellier, visited the rural singers of Mauguio. Hahn was very surprised by the
vocal and musical qualities of those young singers who had among them Gaston Rye-Jean. In his book 'L'oreille au guet' published in
1937, Reynaldo Hahn related his visit in the chapter titled 'Un biologiste'. On page 260, Hahn wrote the following on Rye-Jean:
All I know is that Mr. Claret has offered us the proof for the vocal technique he recommends, in the person of Mr. Jeanjean
whom he has taught. This heroic tenor, gifted with a beautiful voice and whose health has not encountered the problems that Mr. Claret
had, sang with superb power and great sensibility arias from Guillaume Tell, Samson and L'Africaine. This winter, he will sing those
works in an important provincial theatre, whose audience will not guess upon listening to him that all those Bs flats and high Cs, so
large and brilliant, are all sung with head resonance.
Under the name Gaston Airil, Rye-Jean made his debut in Lyon at the Grand Théâtre in October 1934 as Éléazar
and appeared also as Arnold.
Rye-Jean received a contract for the Paris Opéra beginning July 1st 1935. He stayed there until September 1937. Rye-Jean was
rather bored during his stay. Besides rehearsing with Madame Louis Fourestier all the tenor roles sung at the Opéra (Lohengrin,
Samson et Dalila, Fidelio, Aida, Rigoletto, Faust, La damnation de Faust, Hérodiade, Le trouvère) and perfecting his
acting with Madame Chéreau, he was only employed to sing minor parts on stage. Rye-Jean made his debut at the Opéra on
the 14th of October 1935 as the First Philistine in Samson et Dalila. This was followed on October 25th by a knight in Parsifal (with
de Trévi, Singher, Huberty, Narçon, Lubin and Ruhlmann). He participated at the revival of Marouf (as L'anier on July 2nd
1937), Der Rosenkavalier (Sänger) and at the premiere of La Samaritaine (composer: Max d'Olonne) on June 23rd 1937 as Le Schoer.
On September 21, 22 and 26, 1937, Rye-Jean received the first prize in the International Singing Competition, organized by the Institut
Vocale of Paris under the patronage of Euphomia, a vocal research institute. The jury included among its members Muratore and Heldy.
He sang 'Esprits gardiens' and 'Asile héréditaire'.
During 1937 and 1938, Rye-Jean sang in Montpellier: 10 October 1937 Arnold in Guillaume Tell with Tindel (Guillaume), Enia (Walter),
Spinadel (Mathilde) and Bascou conducting; 14 October Jean in Hérodiade with Spinadel (Salomé), Tindel (Hérode),
Mistral (Hérodiade), Enia (Phanuel) and Boucoiran conducting; in Ghent: 10 November 1937, Radames in Aida with Yarborough,
Prondy, Leroy, Lahous, Elsy and de Préter; in Dijon: 10 February 1938, Éléazar in La Juive; and in Angers: 3 March
1938, Éléazar in La Juive.
Rye-Jean made his debut at the French radio on May 17th 1938 under the name Georges Rye as Kratos in Pométhée with
Etcheverry (Héphaïtos), Maurice Prigent (Andros), Maria Branèze (Bia), Eliette Schenneberg (Gaïa), Turba-Rabier
(Aenoë), Georges Cusin (Hermès), Germaine Rouer (Pandore), Jean Hervé (Prométhée) and Inghelbrecht
conducting the Orchestre National. The concert was broadcast live from the Salle du Conservatoire. On June 13th, Rye-Jean took part in
a concert given at Salle Gaveau singing Vladimir in Prince Igor with Germaine Cernay, Etcheverry and Inghelbrecht conducting. He
participated in many radio concerts: June 25th at Studio des PTT; August 4th at Radio-Paris singing music by d'Indy, Weckerlin, Gounod,
Berlioz, Fauré, Duparc and Ravel; July 18th at Paris-Mondial, singing song and folklore from Provence; August 2nd at Salle
Camé-Radio, singing the role of the Centurion in Ponce-Pilate; August 11th, at Studio des PTT, singing songs.
At the end of August 1938, Rye-Jean's mother died. He went back to Manguio and stayed there working at the farm because of the war.
After the war in 1945, Rye-Jean auditioned for the Radio Diffusion Française and was hired by the conductor Jules Gressier. He
stayed there until June 1949, and sang La favorite, Guillaume Tell, Le trouvè:re, Esclarmonde, La Juive, La muette de Portici,
Samson et Dalila, Lucia di Lammermoor, Otello (Rossini), Le prophè:te, L'Africaine, Les huguenots, La damnation de Faust,
Hérodiade, La bohè:me, Tosca, and Le Cid. He participated regularly in opera broadcasts every Friday evening and matinees
on Thursday from 12.30 to 2 pm. Radio concerts he participated in included:
October 23rd 1947, arias
May 20th 1948 at the Studio Paul Lelong, the best of Massenet
June 4th 1948 at the Studio Armand Moisant, La favorite
July 14th 1948 at the Studio Armand Moisant, La favorite
September 3rd 1948 at the Studio Arnand Moisant, arias
December 25th 1948, arias
January 1st 1949, arias
April 12, 1949, arias
April 28, 1949, Rossini program
June 30th 1949, Rossini program
August 12 1949, Guillaume Tell with Charles Cambon (Guillaume), André Philippe (Walther), Lucien Lovano (Melcthal), Adrien Legros
(Gessler), Pierre Gianotti (Ruodi), Louis Rialland (Rodolphe), Maria-Giovana Vitale (Mathilde) and Jules Gressier.
The broadcast of Guillaume Tell was recorded. Unfortunately the masters have been lost. At the radio, Rye-Jean created
Léonidas by Eugè:ne Bozza with Tony Aubin conducting.
On October 10th 1947 in Bordeaux, Rye-Jean reappeared on stage for the first time since 1938 singing in Guillaume Tell with Nougaro
(Guillaume), Marzo (Walter), Gaillan (Ruodi), Taverne (Gessler), Boni (Mathilde) and Lebot conducting. On February 27th 1949, he sang
Arnold at the Théâtre Royal in Namur with Pierre Nougaro (Guillaume), Montellier (Ruodi), Bréville (Walter), van
Drix (Gessler), Nelly Genens (Mathilde) and Gailhard conducting.
Rye-Jean had to stop singing in 1949 because of heart problems. He retired in Nogent-sur-Marne and taught singing until his death in
1961 (March 22) from a heart attack.