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Gailhard, Pierre

Gailhard, Pierre

Gailhard, Pierre, noted French bass and opera manager; b. Toulouse, Aug. 1, 1848; d. Paris, Oct. 12, 1918. He began his vocal studies in his native city, and entered the Paris Cons, in 1866. After a year of study under Revial, he graduated in 1867, winning 3 1st prizes. He made his debut at the Opéra-Comique (Dec. 4, 1867) as Falstaff in Thomas’s Songe d’une nuit d’été-, on Nov. 3, 1871, he made his debut at the Opera as Méphistophélès in Gounod’s Faust. At the height of his powers and success he gave up the stage when, in 1884, he accepted, jointly with M. Ritt, the management of the famous institution; on the appointment of M. Bertrand as successor to Ritt, in 1892, he retired, but joined Bertrand the following year as co-director; after the latter’s death, in 1899, he remained sole director until 1908. His administration was remarkably successful, considering both the novelties produced and the engagement of new singers (Melba, Eames, Bréval, Caron, Ackté, Alvarez, Saléza, Renaud, the 2 de Reszkes, et al.). Against violent opposition he introduced, and maintained in the repertoire, Lohengrin (1895), Die Walkure (1893), Tannhäuser (1895; the 1st perf. after the notorious fiasco of 1861), Meistersinger (1897), and Siegfried (1902). His son, André Gailhard (b. Paris, June 29, 1885; d. Ermont, Val d’Oise, July 3, 1966), composed the operas Amaryllis (Toulouse, 1906), Le Sortilège (Paris, 1913), and La Bataille (Paris, 1931).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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