RICHARD CROOKS SINGS - AUBADE 1944 BROADCAST
Lalo composed Le roi d'Ys between 1875 and 1878 (drafting the entire opera, in its first version, in 1875). His interest in the folklore of Brittany was prompted by his wife, the contralto Julie de Maligny, who was of Breton origin. The role of Margared was originally written for her.
Getting the opera staged proved difficult, however. It was turned down by the Théâtre Lyrique in 1878, and by the Opéra de Paris in 1879, although extracts were heard in a concert with Julie as Margared. Lalo undertook a revision of the work in 1886, and it was finally premiered by the Opéra-Comique in the Salle du Châtelet, Paris, on 7 May 1888 to great success. Within a year of its premiere, Le roi d'Ys had reached its 100th performance there.
Blanche Deschamps-Jéhin who sang Margared in the world premiere of Le roi d'Ys
It was transferred to the Paris Opéra in January 1941 after 490 performances over the half-century. The opera also enjoyed considerable success in Europe, with first performances in Geneva in November 1888, Amsterdam in December 1888, Antwerp and Brussels in February 1889, and Rome in March 1890. Soon after its 1888 premiere, the libretto was translated into Dutch, German, Italian, Czech, Russian, and Romanian. The first performance in England took place at London's Royal Opera House on 17 July 1901.
The work received its American premiere at the French Opera House in New Orleans on 23 January 1890, but it was not until 1922 that it was finally staged at the Metropolitan Opera. The Metropolitan premiere starred Rosa Ponselle as Margared, Beniamino Gigli as Mylio, and Frances Alda as Rozenn. With declining interest in romantic and lyric operas after World War I, however, when works of such previously popular composers as Massenet or Reyer suffered, the opera received tepid reviews and ran for just six performances.
Le roi d'Ys has only been sporadically revived in the last 60 years. There was a concert performance of the work in 1985 by the Opera Orchestra of New York, conducted by Eve Queler and more recently one by the American Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leon Botstein at New York's Avery Fisher Hall in October 2008. One of the most recent fully staged versions was the October 2007 production at the Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse, directed by Nicolas Joël and conducted by Yves Abel with Sophie Koch, Inva Mula, Charles Castronovo, Franck Ferrari and Paul Gay in the leading roles. The Toulouse production was also performed in the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing in April 2008 conducted by Michel Plasson, with a French and Chinese cast. On February 2, 2008, NPR aired the opera with Paul Gay in the title role of The King of Ys. Lalo was known outside France primarily for his Symphonie espagnole (1874), but within France he was recognized almost solely for this subsequent opera