This is an authorized translation in English of a post in French by Maité Decombe (@mdecombe): Entre illusions et réalité
As my primary language is not English, there are probably some mistakes in my translation.
Remember that the person who speaks here is NOT me, Vincent Celier (@vcelier), but Maité Decombe (@mdecombe), a French gal.
The Opera of my Life
Tony Poncet, a great voice at the service of a great art
"You're going to see, baby, tonight we'll make their eyes full! "
The speaker was none other than the famous tenor Tony Poncet, one of the greatest tenors of his generation. From the height of my 23 years I played with him "Pagliacci" by Leoncavallo at the Opera de Liège in Belgium, in the presence of King Baudouin, Queen Fabiola, cycling champion Eddy Merckx, and many other personalities.
And it is a standing room that cheers us at the end of the performance. It was a great moment for a young artist who was just starting out.
Small in size but big in talent, Tony liked to have me as a partner because in flat heels, we had the same height. Thus he demanded that I be on stage without heels, unlike some imposed singers, who dominated him (by their size).
A director had told him: "Monsieur Poncet, get up! "
He retorted, "But Master, I'm up! "
A few years earlier, he had been spotted for his voice, while singing while keeping the sheep in the Pyrenees (he also kept a very strong accent of Bagnères-de-Bigorre). He had been oriented to the lyric art because of his friendship he had begun with the concierge of the Paris Opera, allowing him to come to train and discover the music.
Later, he will become the greatest tenor of his generation. If his voice was superb, his sense of music was very approximate. This required the conductor to adapt to his interpretation.
I often sang with him, who in addition to his talent, cultivated qualities of heart, and I keep an emotional memory. Even if I was insistent because when he took me on tours in his car (a Citroën DS), I vomited all along the road. "Ah! Macarel! She annoys me this little girl! Fortunately she has talent! ".
This expression of Occitan origin, "Macarel", Tony used it very frequently.
I could not talk about Tony Poncet without mentioning our representation of Puccini's "La Bohème", where I played the role of Mimi, who at the end of the performance dies. A great emotion reigns on the set. Tony pours his tear and realizes he has no handkerchief on him. He then tries to improvise, looks around him and sees on the stage set a window with a curtain. Without hesitation, Tony tears off the curtain and uses it to wipe the tears on his face!
He then rushes on the bed to give a last kiss to his beloved Mimi. He did it with so much passion that the wheels of the bed did not resist.
Here we are, Tony and myself, lying on the bed, slipping towards the orchestra pit. The conductor was also on the verge of tears, but laughing.
Fortunately the bed stopped just in time, otherwise I landed on the solo violin!
From left to right: Jean Louis ELIE / Maité DECOMBE / Tony PONCET / Lucie DELFOSSE (pianist). Photo taken at the end of a concert at Bagneres de Bigorre in 1971)
Continue to Part 3
-- Maité Decombe (@mdecombe)