His legendary verve and southern flair had made him a media character, a beast on stage who carried everything in his path. No less than the timbre at the same time dark and fleshy, the powerful breath, the natural projection and this prosody so clear that it did without surtitles: Gabriel Bacquier, baritone mythical of the post-war period and dean of French song whose was one of the most brilliant representatives, died Wednesday May 13 to a few days of his 96 years in his residence of Lestre, in the Manche. This complete artist, as much a tragedian as an actor, had a carnivorous temper, a love of music and of the scene, which earned him forty beautiful years of an indisputable career, coupled with a discographic consecration.
The young Bacquier was born in Béziers (Hérault), on May 17, 1924. His childhood was bathed in operas which he listened to on the father’s gramophone while trying to imitate the singers. But his taste first led him to the drawing he intended to study at the Beaux-Arts in Montpellier, hopes that the war would put an end to. During the Occupation, Gabriel Bacquier, who entered the railways, took lessons with his voice teacher, Mme Bastard, before starting in his hometown in Mireille, by Gounod (role of Ourrias). In 1945, he entered the Paris Conservatory and it was still a student that he performed, thanks to Lucien Brouet, director of the Théâtre de Valenciennes, every Sunday in Anzin (Nord).
In 1949, he joined the Nice Opera troupe before joining, the following year, the itinerant lyric company of baritone José Beckmans, which organized shows in the Paris region and tours in North Africa. An apprenticeship on the job which, in post-war Paris, saw the young man also sing in cabarets and cinemas, where the play of Raimu, Pierre Fresnay, Fernand Ledoux, Michel Simon, Harry Baur will mark at never relate to the scene. “I was still a student at the conservatory, and since I was already a father, I had to make her eat, my family”, he says in an interview published on the Forum Opéra site in 2017. “This is why I pushed the song in cinemas: at that time, the sessions always started with a short film, followed by the news, with an intermission before the big film. I happened to pass in Paramount, in Gaumont of the place Clichy, but also in the small bouis-bouis of the boulevards, or in this room where one made of wrestling, the Elysée Montmartre. I also sang “At my cousin’s”, place du Tertre, where a friend introduced me so I could make a living. But by dint of writing to the theaters so that they appeal to me, I was hired at La Monnaie (…) “.
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