SUSAN GRAHAM: C'est ça la vie, c'est ça l'amour...


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Poémes de l'amour
Awards 2005
In recital
C'est ça la vie!
La Belle Époque
DeadMan Walking

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If  The Merry Widow or "Die Fledermaus is your definition of operetta, then chances are, like most of us, you've never heard the songs on this CD before. So, as you scroll down this page and begin hearing the first bars of the opening song, be prepared to be seduced as we were by Susan Graham's charming way of singing these "French Operetta Arias" about the foibles, the fallibilities, and the bitter-sweet perils of love.

The songs, lest we forget, remind us of operetta's French pedigree. All 17 of them (8 by André Messager, 3 by Reynaldo Hahn and the rest by Moïses Simons, Maurice Yvain and Arthur Honegger) were written in the first 33 years of the 20th century by purveyors of French operetta - now relatively obscure composers musically descended from Jacques Offenbach, father of the art form, who popularized operetta in 19th century Paris. It's fascinating how the all-male librettists/song-writers could project thoroughly feminine and sometimes outright feminist points of view - showing woman as flirt, lover, mistress, wife, daughter, sister caught in various stages of the love game.

And Susan Graham captures the spirit of each character - her high, creamy mezzo-soprano delectably cloaked in impeccable French and spun out with perfect phrasing. Her natural affinity for French vocal music is quite in evidence yet again, as it was in her earlier recordings of Berlioz' Les nuits d'été and Reynaldo Hahn's La Belle Époque.

With its rumba-like beat and the allure of Susan Graham's singing (one can imagine, with a naughty wink of an eye), the opening number, Simon's C'est ça la vie... is more than a teaser, it sets the tone for the rest of the disc:

"The scrapes one gets into! One falls in love one evening. The next day it's goodbye. That's life. That's love! Carnen the Gypsy loved handsome Escamillo. She swore to love the bull-fighter forever. But all men are the same: He tired of her kisses, he deceived her. She reproached him, he left her...."

And who will not agree that these lines from Messager's J'ai deux Amants and his "Les hommes sont biens tous les mêmes" as sung by Graham a la provocateur can only be music to the modern feminist's ear:

"I've two lovers, it's so much better. For I make each one believe the other is the serious one. My God! How stupid men are!.. I don't know what women are, but men! By God they're stupid! And then... just think... two!...."

"The best of them is not worth the trouble of loving... Rakes, betrayers, smooth talkers, liars, men are all the same!"

But there are many more facets to this CD than these amusingly sung anti-male invectives. Such as:

Yvain's "Yes" - in which Susan Graham delightfully takes on the role of an ingenue who constantly utters this deceptively simple 3-letter word and gradually learns that "YES!" is THE consummate word in the art of seduction:

"This little foreign yes is so sweet, so light that it appears devoid of danger. You must not trust it, for one is stupefied to see all it can mean. It's a very little world through which one says one acquiesces. Yes, it's such a sweet word that it leads you into the sweetest of situations, Yes."

or the many moments of dreamy, tender longing, as in Hahn's "O mon bel inconnu" in which Graham sweetly sings the trio of wife, daughter, maid - all yearning for the same handsome stranger:

"O my handsome unknown one, you only have to appear, and though my eyes have not seen you, my heart on seeing you will recognize you."

and the haunting songs of regret (e.g., "Je ne vois rien... Lorsque je n'etais qu'une enfant") and nostalgia (e.g., "Je regrette mon Pressigny")....

But enough already! Listening is believing... so click the PLAY buttons below and let Susan Graham provoke you, make you laugh, and tug at your heartstrings.. Thanks to America's star mezzo-soprano, more than ably supported by Yves Abel (French) conducting the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (British), these delightful, nearly-forgotten French songs will now certainly have a currency outside France.

Even if you're not a Francophile, or a fan of opera/operetta, chances are you'd wish you had the CD to listen to again and again. And after you'd have done so, the next time you hear someone sigh C'est ça la vie, you won't be thinking "Oh, it's just a trite French expression" anymore. You'd surely be humming, if not singing, the tune which Susan Graham would have indelibly etched in your memory. Indeed this is a gem of a CD, and music for everyone!

Click PLAY BUTTON to listen to music clip (REAL PLAYER required):

Track 1 -Moises Simons: "C'est ça la vie, c'est ça l'amour" from Toi c'est moi

Track 2 - André Messager: "J'ai deux amants" from L'Amour masqué

Track 3 - Maurice Yvain: "Yes" from Yes

Track 5 - Reynaldo Hahn: "O mon bel inconnu" from O mon bel inconnu

Track16 - Reynaldo Hahn: C'est pas Paris, c'est sa banlieue from Ciboulette

Track17 - Moises Simons: Vagabonde from Toi c'est moi
Own this CD: BUY IT NOW...

Also on the CD:
Arthur Honegger:
"Si vous saviez" from Les Aventures du roi Pausole
André Messager:
"Je ne vois rien... Lorsque je n'etais qu'une enfant" from Fortunio; "Les hommes sont bien tous les mèmes" from Coupe de roulis
Reynaldo Hahn:
"Air de la lettre" from Brummel
é Messager:
"L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" from Passionment; "Vois-tu, je m'en veux" from Les P'tites Michu
Reynaldo Hahn:
"Être adoré " from Mozart
é Messager:
"Je regrette mon Pressigny" from La Petite Functionnaire; "Amour, amour, quel est donc ton pouvoir" from Les Dragons de L'Impératrice; "Mon rêve" from L'Amour masqué
Reynaldo Hahn: "C'eest très vilain d'être infidele" from O mon bel inconnu

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