Monsieur Bru

Monsieur Bru singsRigoletto: Comme la plume au vent

Monsieur Bru sings Noël
In RA format
In the few internet sources that mention Bru at all, it has become prevalent to assume that his first name was Gaston. Well... the source for this assertion is the senior French voice teacher Roger Yaeche, and he also claimed that Bru sang at the Paris Opéra, and even "knew" of three precise performances – none of which stood the reality check. Not only is Bru missing from the general list of all Opéra singers until 1971, but of the three performances mentioned by Yaeche, two were sung by a different tenor (Edmond Vergnet), and the third was a complete invention since the Opéra was closed on the day in question, plus the opera allegedly given had not even been written at the time (Salome, in 1899!!!). So this is a proof (and not the only one, by the way) that whatever Roger Yaeche told about historical singers was pure fiction, and unless any real proof can be found, I'm convinced that also Bru may have had any given first name, except Gaston.

Bru was a concert singer; and from the frequency of his appearances, I'd say: singing concerts was his second job, or his hobby. He sang regularly at half-private society events: at a banquet of the Société libre des artistes français (an artist society) at an elegant restaurant in Paris on 15 February 1893; at the Geographical Society in Paris (March 1893); for the army (at the Varillon barracks in Évreux, 24 March 1895, where he stepped in for an Opéra-Comique tenor called Carbonne; at the Paris Cercle Militaire, an officers' club, 26 February 1901); two concerts with a choral society in Bellac called "Les enfants de Bellac" (April 1899, where he was ill-disposed, and July 1900); at the Université populaire (an adult education center) in Paris in January 1902. He got always very good reviews on those occasions (somewhat surprisingly if you know his records); he would typically sing operatic arias (Sigurd, Trovatore, Africaine, Philémon et Baucis), and the odd mélodie by Goublier, Hahn or Massenet. Those were never solo concerts, he appeared either with other singers or with instrumentalists, and normally sang just two pieces per evening. In the review of the 1895 Évreux concert, he was called "ténor léger des Concerts d'Harcourt"; the Concerts d'Harcourt were a society headed by conductor Eugène d'Harcourt that gave popular concerts, but I didn't find any review of a Harcourt concert with Bru. Was he perhaps a chorister there?

References: La Parisienne, 6 April 1895; Gil Blas, 28 February 1901; Journal des artistes, 12 and 19 February and 5 March 1893; Le Courrier du Centre, 7 and 20 April 1899; Le Nouvelliste de Bellac, 9 and 23 April 1899 as well as 1 and 15 July 1900; Le Monde artiste, 26 January 1902; Le Fin de siècle, 11 March 1893; Revue du Cercle militaire, 2 March 1901


Berliner, Paris, July 1899
3200 Noël (Augusta Holmès)                                             32647 (7")
3201 Vous êtes si jolie (Delmet)                                       32570 (7")
3202 Bonjour, Suzon (Pessard)                                          32573 (7")
3203 Quand l'oiseau chante (Tagliafico)                                32571 (7")
3204 Stances (Flégier)                                                 32572 (7")
3266 Grand Mogol (Audran): Petite soeur                                32590 (7")
3267 Pour elle (Clérice)                                               32580 (7")
3268 Stances à Manon (Delmet)                                          32591 (7")
3269 L'école buissonière (Legay)                                       32589 (7")
3270 Africaine (Meyerbeer): Ô paradis                                  32579 (7")
3271 Pêcheurs de perles (Bizet): Je crois entendre encore              32577 (7")
3274 Veux-tu? (de Wenzel)                                              32578 (7")
3288 Un jour (i.e. Some day) (Wellings)                                32584 (7")
3289 Cavalleria rusticana (Mascagni): Ô Lola, blanche fleur            32585 (7")
3290 Rigoletto (Verdi): Comme la plume au vent                         32576 (7")
3291 Si j'étais roi (Adam): J'ignore son nom                           32588 (7")
3293 Sérénade (Toselli)                                                32574 (7")
3294 Charité (Faure)                                                   32581 (7")
3295 Cloches de Corneville (Planquette): Je regardais en l'air	       32583 (7")
3296 Rip-Rip (Planquette): Mes enfants                                 32582 (7")
3297 Rip-Rip (Planquette): Vive la paresse!                            32575 (7")
3298 Panurge (Planquette): Dors bien tranquillement                    32587 (7")
3299 Noël (Minuit, chrétiens) (Adam)                                   32586 (7")
Source for the discography: (alas defunct).

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