The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Gilbert Duprez

Gilbert Duprez

The French tenor Gilbert-Louis Duprez (1806-1896) enjoyed a successful career on the operatic stage. He was also a composer and a teacher at the Paris Conservatoire; his pupils included Emma Albani.

Born in Paris on 6 December 1806, he studied there and made his operatic début at the Odéon in 1825 as Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville. He sang and engaged in further studies in Italy, where in Florence he created the role of Ugo in Donizetti’s Parisina in 1833. In 1835 he was the first to perform the role of Edgardo in the same composer’s Lucia di Lammermoor.

Back in Paris, in 1838 he created the title role in Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini. For Donizetti, he sang the roles of Fernand and Polyeucte in the premières of La favorite and Les martyrs, respectively, in 1840, and in 1843 created the title role in Dom Sébastien, Donizetti’s last opera.

Although Rossini dismissed his full-chested high ‘C’ early in the 1830s as ‘the squawk of a capon having its throat cut,’ he nevertheless became the first great tenore di forza, and created many Donizetti roles during his years as principal tenor at the Paris Opéra. He was forced to retire from the stage at the age of forty-nine due to problems with voice caused by a wrong technique.

Gilbert Duprez died in Paris on 23 September 1896.

His daughter, Caroline Vandenheuvel-Duprez, was also a successful and popular opera singer.

Photographed by Disdéri of Paris.


Code: 123067
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