Gaston Rye-Jean

Picture of Gaston Rye-Jean
La Juive
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 conservatory of Montpellier, where he was a 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, Lully, 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, who is 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 starting on 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, Il trovatore) 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 October 14th, 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 21st, 22nd and 26th, 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'.

In 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 again.

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 Knjaz 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 songs 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 Mauguio 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:

23 October 1947, arias
20 May 1948 at the Studio Paul Lelong, the best of Massenet
4 June 1948 at the Studio Armand Moisant, La favorite
14 July 1948 at the Studio Armand Moisant, La favorite
3 September 1948 at the Studio Arnand Moisant, arias
25 December 1948, arias
1 January 1949, arias
12 April 1949, arias
28 April 1949, Rossini program
30 June 1949, Rossini program
12 August 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 to Nogent-sur-Marne and taught singing until his death in 1961 (March 22nd) from a heart attack.

Gaston Rye-Jean sings Guillaume Tell: Asile héréditaire
In RA format

Disques Pyral (flexible)
12", with piano, unpublished private recordings, recorded 5 May 1947
1604	La favorite: Un ange, une femme
1604	La favorite: Ange si pur
        Guillaume Tell: Asile héréditaire

Éditions Cécilia
10", piano accompaniment by Madame Moréna, no date given
        Rigoletto: Comme la plume au vent
        La Juive: Dieu que ma voix tremblante

Radio France, 1946
Samson et Dalila, act 2 with Suzanne Lefort (Dalila), Charles Cambon (Le Grand Prêtre) 
Orchestre Radio-Lyrique, conductor Jules Gressier

Rye Jean in the Press

Rye Jean's Arnold performances

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