Albert Vaguet

15 June 1865 Elbeuf – 22 March 1943 Pau

Albert Vaguet singsSigurd: Esprits gardiens
In RA format
For quite many singers, it's difficult enough to write any (however short) biography. For Vaguet, it's difficult to write only one biography since there seem to be two of them.

Kutsch & Riemens as well as Alfred de Cock's liner notes of a Rubini LP (no idea who copied from whom) say Vaguet's career was so short – 13 years only – because he had a serious accident in 1903 that necessitated the amputation of one leg, so he could no longer appear on stage. French sources know nothing about such an accident; according to them, Vaguet simply quit the operatic stage at age 37 because he had overstrained his voice. In my opinion, there is no doubt that the French version is correct; Vaguet expert Samuel Marc wrote his biography with the help of Vaguet's descendants, and the Municipality of Nay (where Vaguet lived for decades after taking his leave from the Paris Opéra) built upon the reminiscence of Nay citizens who were old enough to hear Vaguet sing (at the local church, or at the inauguration of a monument in the village), evidently with all his legs in place.

Summing up the undisputed part of his life, he had studied at the Paris conservatory with, among others, Joseph Theodor Barbot, the creator of Gounod's Faust, and Faust was also his debut role in 1890, at the Paris Opéra, where he was to spend his entire career (monument inaugurations in Nay apart). He sang both main and comprimario roles there, Faust remaining the most important one (reportedly more than 300 times in not quite 13 years!); further, he sang Fernand in La favorite, Rodolphe in Guillaume Tell, Cassio, Duca, Raimbaut in Robert le diable, Léopold in La Juive, Nicias, both David and Stolzing in Meistersinger, Lohengrin, the title role in Méhul's Joseph, Don Ottavio. His last performance was eith Ottavio in October 1902 (as by de Cock), or Lohengrin in February 1903 (as by his own descendants).

After quitting the stage, he continued singing as a prolific recording artist for Pathé (until 1928!), and was a successful voice teacher (one of his pupils being Charles Rousselière.

A fantastic illustrated discography of Vaguet (albeit with the lost-leg version of his biography) is to be found, in two parts, here and here

I want to thank Thomas Silverbörg for the recording.

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