French soprano. One of the very few French dramatic sopranos to pursue an international career abroad, Alice Baron made a distinguished career, first at the Paris Opera, then in America with Oscar Hammerstein, before to establish herself as a true Wagnerian singer during and after WWI. She was brought to the public attention, in provincial opera houses at first, before joining the Nizza Opera House in 1907. Nizza at that time, was one of the most important places in France, presenting, just as its rival Monte-Carlo, an impressive international season. Alice Baron made an impressive debut there as Brünhilde in Reyer’s opera Sigur for the opening of the 1907/1908 season, the end of her one-year contract matching with her Paris Opera début in August 1908. In the meantime, she appeared successfully in Nizza as Salomé in Massenet’s Herodiade, Leonore in Il Trovatore, Tosca, Rachel in La Juive, and as Eva for the local premiere of Die Meistersinger with Léon Rothier as Hans Sachs and Henri Albers as Beckmesser. Immediately after the Nizza performances, Alice Baron went to Paris for her debut scheduled on August 7 th , 1908, as Valentine in Les Huguenots. She remained attached at the Paris Opera for one season, singing Aïda and creating the part of the 3 rd Norn in the Götterdämmerung premiere, conducted by Messager, on October 23, 1908. She quickly realized that the severe competition between the reigning divas of the Paris Opera, and the supremacy of such artists like Bréval or Demougeot in her repertoire, would certainly jeopardize her career in this house. Therefore, she accepted an audition for Oscar Hammerstein, and like many other French singers, was hired for his next coming season at the Manhattan Opera. Hammerstein at that time, was looking for young singers all over Europe, for his “educational season”, a kind of pre-season at the Manhattan Opera, with popular prices. With Alice Baron, he also wanted to secure the repertoire of his star, Mary Garden, by taking a French soprano able to sing Garden’s repertoire, in case of emergency. Baron sailed to America in mid-August. She must have done a very impressive audition, since Hammerstein scheduled her American debut as Aïda, on August 31, 1909, with a cast including Berthe Soyer, Carasa and the baritone Pignarato, under the baton of Sturani. According to the New York Times, she sang “with feeling and taste”, and gave 6 more Aïda performances until the end of the season. Her repertoire during her first American season also included Charpentier’s Louise which she sang on September 24, (and with Garden’s agreement), Santuzza, Tosca with Carasa and Beck, and Giulietta in Les Contes D’Hoffmann, conducted by Nicosia. This first season was a great success for Alice Baron, who immediately re-signed for a second contract in 1909/1910, for which Hammerstein gave her not only Aïda and Trovatore performances, but also Chrysothemis in the first American premiere of Elektra, for which he had just got the exclusive rights. This time, she reached the United States in early November of 1909 in order to start the ten weeks of rehearsals scheduled for ELEKTRA. In the meantime, she gave performances in Philadelphia: on November 27 th , as Aïda, as Marguerite in Faust for Christmas Eve, and as Aïda again on January 1 st 1910. At the Manhattan Opera she made her come-back on January 15 as Santuzza, and gave a performance of Trovatore, on January 29 with Zerola and Sammarco. Preceded by much publicity, the Elektra premiere took place on February 1st , 1910 and got a tremendous success. The piece, performed in its French version with a all French cast included Devries, Huberdeau, Mariette Mazarin and Jeanne-Gerville Réache, and was conducted by the new musical director appointed by Hammerstein: Henriquez De La Fuente. Even if some of the critics who were of the opinion that had Elektra been sung in German, (instead of the translation by Henri Gauthier-Villars), and that had De La Fuente reading been more forceful, the opera would have gained, the performance was overpowering. Same reactions in Philadelphia when the piece was presented on February 2nd . The auditorium held an enormous audience, and even if the score shocked the critics, the public responded filling the house for the other two performances. At this stage, Alice Baron kept only Chrysothemis at her repertoire until the very end of the season in Boston on March 23rd, exception made for a single LOUISE performance which she sang on February 23 rd , Mary Garden being ill. Financial problems as well as a terrible competition with the Metropolitan Opera, did not permit Hammerstein to set up a new season, and Baron’s American career came to a end. She settled in Europe during WW-I especially in Italy, where she got very much in demand in the Wagnerian repertoire. She gave the first performance of TRISTAN at the Teatro Comunale in Treviso in October 1913 under the direction of Vittorio Gui, and sang the part again, a couple of weeks later in Trieste with a cast including Flora Perini, Ernesto Lavarello, Francesco Cigada, and conducted by Gino Marinuzzi. On March 13, 1914, she was in Parlermo where she sang the local premiere of PARSIFAL at the Teatro Massimo with Bindo Gasparini in the title part, under Marinuzzi’s baton. Alice Baron repeated her Isolde in the fall of 1915 in Trieste with Luisa Garibaldi, Francesco Viñas and Segura Tallien, as well as at the Liceo on November 30, 1915, with a similar cast conducted by Antonio Ribera. She appeared twice at La Scala, each times on occasions related with the political conflict: On December 1 st , 1917 she sang “La Marseillaise” for the closure of the Garibaldi exhibition, while allies soldiers sang patriotic hymns; and on December 13, 1918 for another Allies Benefit concert where she sang “L’Inno delle Sorelle latine” by Attal, with Bianca Serena. She sang regularly in Italy and Spain until the mid twenties, appearing at the Liceo in 1916 as Brünhilde in Siegfried, in December 1919 as Isolde, and in January 1920 as Brünhilde in Walküre performances, given in a French translation with Charles Rousselière and Marcel Journet.
as Norne with Charbonel and Caro-Lucas Paris 1908
as Chrysostemis “Elektra” Manhattan Opera House New York 01. Feb. 1910