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Henri CHRISTINÉ (1867-1941)
Dédé (1921) - Musical (abridged, with dialogue in French)
Maurice Chevalier (bar) Robert; Marina Hotine (sop) Denise; Raymond Girerd (ten) André/Dédé; Andrée Grandjean (sop) Odette; Marcel Carpentier (bar) Leroydet.
Orchestra conducted by Jacques-Henri Rys
Rec. Universal (Decca) Studios, Antony, France. 1953 Mono
2 CDs for the price of one

This rare recording of Dédé comes as part of an Operette series of re-releases from Universal France. Max de Rieux initiated this series of recordings of the 1950s and 1960s to provide a testament to a forgotten age. Today's CD catalogue contains only two songs by Christiné and nothing else. Along with Phi-Phi, this release is welcomed. The Traubner book on Operetta speaks well of Christiné who introduced to Paris a new form of operetta-revue or musical. Dédé is characteristic of the style of Twenties stage shows.

Henri Christiné spent a lot of his adult life in France yet was a native of Switzerland. He was born in Geneva, the son of a watchmaker. An interest in music was developed after marrying a singer from a travelling troupe which came to Geneva. Christiné wrote chansons for her. His release from a strict upbringing brought about an interest in non-conformist material. He moved first to Brussels where he presented his first operettas and later to Paris where he worked initially as a conductor. Later he was decorated with the Légion d'honneur and became Vice-President of the Société des Auteurs Dramatiques.

Dédé followed the roaring success of Phi-Phi (recorded in this series, 465 886-2) at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens three years later. Christiné had gained the attention of the theatre-going public with his new style operetta/revue and carried the formula into the Twenties (known in France as 'The Folie Years'). Dédé was a hit attraction at the Bouffes-Parisiens, opening in November 1921.

The action takes place in a Parisian shoe shop where the creator of the role of Phi-Phi (André Urban) in the previous Christiné musical stars as the shop manager. His main shop assistant in 1921 was the young Maurice Chevalier who here is brought in by Decca to play his old part after a lapse of 32 years. With his trademark straw-boater (hat) and stage charisma it is right that he was encouraged to participate in this recording. The work was brought to London a year following the Paris opening (with a translation by Ronald Jean), but did not take with the public. The show was filmed (1934) and enjoyed a successful revival in the 1970s. The production gets its title from the character André de la Huchette who is known as Dédé to his friends. (This fact is not made clear in the cast list accompanying the notes.)

A long, narrated introduction, some of it over a musical introduction (1'30") gives production details and might have been dispensed with. In the original production, Chevalier brought the house down with its hit number, Pour bien réussir dans la chaussure (To succeed in selling shoes) [CD 1 tk.12]. To the British, Chevalier is a star one either likes or dislikes. Known to many from his films, many of which captured a gravelly voice past its best, he conveyed an engaging presence on stage.

Dédé is charismatically played by Raymond Girerd with sensuous velvety tone [CD1 tk.8] while Marina Hotine (Denise) lifts the ambience with a perky brightness [CD1 tk.3]. Marcel Carpentier as Leroydet is a baritone whose singing voice has a coarse timbre: fortunately he only sings briefly at the beginning. His spoken dialogue is very characterful, however.

The production under Jacque-Henri Rys's direction flows breezily along and the operetta is very clearly recorded, in fact outstandingly so for 1953. The mono mastering does not hinder one's enjoyment.

Brief notes in French are provided in the attractive card case.

Raymond Walker

Other sets in the Accord 'Operette' series:

Audran, La Mascotte [465 877-2];
Benatzky, L'Auberge du Cheval Blanc [465 880-2];
Christiné Phi-Phi [465 886-2];
Dumas, Ignace [472 877-2];
Ganne, Les Saltimbanques [465 868-2];
Goublier, La Cocarde de Mimi Pinson [461 964-2];
Lecocq, La Fille de Madame Angot [465 883-2] Le Petit Duc [472 874-2];
Lehár, Paganini [472 868-2] Rose de Noel [472 871-2];
Maillart, Les Dragons de Villars [472 865-2];
Messager, Véronique [465 864-2];
Offenbach, La Belle Hélène [461 954-2] La Fille du Tambour Majeur [461 673-2] La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein [465 871-2];
Planquette, Les Cloches de Corneville [465 861-2];
Strauss, Trois Valses [461 958-2];
Varney, Les Mousquetaires au Couvent [465 874-2];
Yvain, La-Haut [461 967-2].

Operette series from Universal Accord reviewed by Ray Walker
Further reading: "Operetta", Traubner (Oxford 2003)


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