José de Trévi

31 March 1890 Liège – 21 January 1978 Brussels


Born Joseph Willemsen into the family of a mining engineer, he showed considerable talent when learning to play the flute as a child, and thus continued to study that instrument – until his friend from childhood, Fanny Heldy, discovered his voice... and so he switched to vocal studies at the conservatory of Liège, with Ernest van Dyck. Van Dyck strongly discouraged him from venturing into the heroic repertory, and he became – after his 1911 debut as Faust – a light opéra-comique tenor, and sang with considerable success all over Belgium and the French provinces: French operetta, Le postillon de Lonjumeau, Manon, Il barbiere di Siviglia, La fille du régiment and the like.

Many years later, he met by chance the Italian voice teacher Pintorno, who told him that he was singing the wrong fach, and was actually a dramatic tenor. After four years of new studies, de Trévi made kind of a second debut, and became quickly the leading francophone Wagnerian tenor. A member of the Paris Opéra from 1930 onwards, he sang everything from Lohengrin to Tristan and both Siegfrieds, plus Otello, Énée in Les Troyens, Canio, Samson...

His career ended when he was fired by the Opéra in 1943, because he had refused to sing Tristan in the language of the German occupants. Jean Ziegler in a Malibran CD booklet (perused here for this biography) states that de Trévi sang a total of 332 roles. Three-hundred-and-thirty-two! And in our sorry times, people think nobody has sung more roles than those roughly 140 that Domingo has actually sung on stage...

Roles sung at the Paris Opéra:
He debuted on December 20th, 1930 as and in Siegfried; the same year (i.e. just a few days later!!), he sang also Alfredo in La traviata!
In 1931, he sang Lohengrin, Mârouf, Canio, Jean (in Hérodiade), Samson, Pylade (in Iphigénie en Tauride), Otello and Tannhäser, and Guido in the world premiere of La duchesse de Padoue by Le Boucher on October 15th.
In 1932, he added Énée to his Opéra repertory, and participated in two world premieres: as Perfirio in Maximilien by Milhaud on January 5th, and as Guillaume in Un jardin sur l'Oronte by Bachelet on November 3rd; in 1933, he took on the roles of Yves (in La tour de feu by Lazzari), Parsifal, the other Siegfried (in Götterdämmerung), Siegmund and Faust (in La damnation de Faust); in 1934, Gaspard (in Rolande ou le mauvais garçon by Rabaud), Herodes, and Le commissaire de la convention (in Perkain by Poueigh); in 1935, his new roles were Loge and Ulysse (in Pénélope by Fauré); in 1936, Tristan and Le berger (in Œdipe by Enescu); in 1937, Prinzivalle (in Monna Vanna by Février), Le centurion (in La Samaritaine by d’Olonne), Shuiskij and Stolzing; in 1938, Matho (in Salammbô by Reyer); in 1940, Jason (in Médée by Milhaud); and in 1942, Palestrina.

José de Trévi sings Tannhäuser: L'âme brisée

José de Trévi sings Werther: Lorsque l'enfant revient

José de Trévi sings Werther: Pourquoi me réveiller

José de Trévi sings Mârouf: À travers le désert

José de Trévi sings Mârouf: Il est des musulmans

José de Trévi sings Mârouf: Le jardin fleuri
In RA format

José de Trévi sings Le jongleur de Notre-Dame: Alléluia du vin
In RA format

José de Trévi sings La damnation de Faust: Nature immense
In RA format

José de Trévi sings Tannhäuser: Ô Wolfram
In RA format


Gramophone, Paris 1927-10-10
BTR3168-1	 Mignon (Thomas): Elle ne croyait pas								 		P738, 4-32778
CTR3169-1-2 Manon: En fermant les yeux												032852, W867
CTR3170-1-2 Manon: Ah fuyez														032851, W867

Gramophone, Paris 1928-06-14
BT4079-1	  Paganini (Lehar): Belle Italie												unpubl
BT4079-2	  d:o																	K5452, 2-232903
BT4080-1	  Werther (Massenet): Pourquoi me reveiller								unpubl
BT4080-2	  d:o																	P767, 4-32810
BT4081-1	  Werther (Massenet): Lorsque l'enfant revient								unpubl
BT4081-2	  d:o																	P767, 4-32811
BT4082-1	  Mireille (Gounod): Anges du paradis									        P786, 4-32827

Gramophone, Paris 1928-10-08
BV67-1		  Marouf (Rabaud): Il est des musulmans									unpubl
BV67-2		  d:o																	P777, 4-32817
BV68-1		  Marouf (Rabaud): A travers le desert										unpubl
BV68-2		  d:o																	P777, 4-32816
BV69-1		  Marouf (Rabaud): Dans le jardin fleuri									unpubl
BV69-2		  d:o																	P782, 4-32823
BV70-1		  Marouf (Rabaud): Viens, mon epouse fleurie								unpubl
BV70-2		  d:o																	P782, 4-32822

Gramophone, Paris 1928-10-12
CV99-1		  Carmen (Bizet): La fleur													unpubl
CV99-2T1	  d:o																	L702, 0232291, AN289
CV102-1T1	  Carmen (Bizet): Parle-moi de ma mere (w. Brothier)						L697, 0234020, AN284
CV103-1T1	  Carmen (Bizet):  Qui sait de quel demon (w. Brothier)						L698, 0234021, AN285

Gramophone, Paris 1928-10-16 CV114-1 Carmen (Bizet): Je suis Escamillo (w. Musy) unpubl CV114-2T1 d:o L707, 0234026, AN294 Gramophone, Paris 1928-10-23 CV155-1 Carmen (Bizet): Ecoute, ecoute compagnon unpubl (w. Perelli, Lebard, Fenoyer, Morturier, Cornellier & Payen) CV155-2T1 d:o L704, 0234033, AN291 CV156-1T1 Carmen (Bizet): Hola! Carmen, hola! L703, 0234032, AN290 (w. Perelli, Lebard, Fenoyer, Morturier, Cornellier & Payen) CV160-1T1 Carmen (Bizet): Viva! Viva! (w. Perelli & chorus) L711, 0234028, AN298 CV163-1 Carmen (Bizet): Carmen, il est temps encore (w. Perelli) unpubl CV163-2T1 d:o L711, 0234027, AN298 Gramophone, Paris 1928-10-25 CV177-1T1 Carmen (Bizet): Halte-la!... Je vais danser (w. Perelli) L702, 0234024, AN289 Gramophone, Paris 1928-10-26 CV188-1T1 Carmen (Bizet): Hola! Hola, José! L708, 0234037, AN295 (w. Perelli, Lebard, Fenoyer, Cornellier, Payen, Brothier & Musy) CV189-1T1 Carmen (Bizet): Va-t'en! Va-t'en! L708, 0234038, AN295 (w. Perelli, Lebard, Fenoyer, Cornellier, Payen, Brothier & Musy) CV190-1 Carmen (Bizet): Si tu m'aimes, Carmen... C'est toi? unpubl (w. Perelli, Lebard, Fenoyer & Musy) CV190-2T1 d:o L710, 0234039, AN297 CV191-1 Carmen (Bizet): Non! Tu ne m'aimes pas (w. Perelli) unpubl CV191-2T1 d:o L703, 0234025, AN290 CV192-1 Carmen (Bizet): Pres des remparts de Seville (w. Perelli) unpubl CV192-2 d:o L699, 0234022, AN286 Gramophone, Paris 1928-10-28 CV202-1 Cavalleria rusticana: Vive le vin 32515 CV202-2 d:o W1028, 032515 CV203-1 Le jongleur de Notre Dame: Alléluia du vin unpubl CV203-2 d:o W1028, 032516 BV204-1 Le roi d'Ys: Vainement unpubl BV204-2 d:o unpubl BV204-3T1 d:o 4-32826, P786 Gramophone, Paris 1930-03-21 CF3082 Tannhäuser (Wagner): Retour de Rome, pt 1 W1088 CF3083 d:o, pt 2 W1088 BF3084 Tannhäuser (Wagner): Chant de concours P851 BF3085 Tannhäuser (Wagner): Reine d'amour P851 Gramophone, Paris 1931-02-13 2G278-II La damnation de Faust (Berlioz): Choeur de gnomes et sylphes (w Panzera) 52-893, L-889 2G284-II La damnation de Faust (Berlioz): Introduction - Ronde des paysans - Récit 52-886, L-886 2G285-II La damnation de Faust (Berlioz): Sans regrets j'ai quitté 52-888, L-887 2G286-II La damnation de Faust (Berlioz): Vers les gloires immortelles 52-889, L-887 2G287-II La damnation de Faust (Berlioz): Dans mon coeur retentit (w Panzera) 52-905, L-895 Gramophone, Paris 1931-02-25 2G306-II La damnation de Faust (Berlioz): Ange adoré dont la céleste image 52-901, L-893 (w Berthon) 2G307-I La damnation de Faust (Berlioz): Nature immense 52-904, L-895 2G308-II La damnation de Faust (Berlioz): Merci doux crépuscule 52-896, L-891
Pathé, Paris 1932
N250245 La Juive (Halévy): Rachel, quand du Seigneur X90044 N250246 La Juive (Halévy): Dieu, m'éclaire X90044 Gramophone, Paris 1934-09-07 2LA-3 Götterdämmerung (Wagner): Act I, duo pt 1 (w Lawrence) unpubl 2LA-4 d:o, pt 2 unpubl

Christian Torrent has contributed all pictures, several recordings (L'âme brisée, both Werther arias, Il est des musulmans, À travers le désert), the discography, and the biographical information: thank you so much!
Reference: Richard T. Soper Belgian opera houses and singers, The Reprint Company, Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1999
Robert Johannesson, (defunct)

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