Janine Micheau

Janine Micheau (17 April 1914 – 18 October 1976) was a French operatic soprano, one of the leading sopranos of her era in France, particularly associated with lyric soprano and coloratura soprano repertory.


Janine (or Jeanine) Micheau was born in Toulouse, and studied voice at the Paris Conservatoire. She made her professional debut at the Opéra-Comique on 16 November 1933, as la Plieuse in Louise, following this with Loys in Juif polonais by Camille Erlanger, the neighbour in Angélique by Jacques Ibert and small roles in Lakmé (Miss Rose) and Mireille (Andreloun).[1]

She later sang Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Olympia in Les contes d'Hoffmann, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Leila in Les pêcheurs de perles, Micaela in Carmen, and the title role in Lakmé at the Salle Favart. By 1935 her performances gained her invitations to Marseille (Lakmé), and then (at the instigation of Pierre Monteux) to Amsterdam (Mélisande) and San Francisco. In Buenos Aires Erich Kleiber conducted her in Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier.

She created the role of Creuse in Darius Milhaud's Médée, for her debut at the Paris Opéra in 1940, where she also sang Gilda in Rigoletto, Violetta in La traviata and Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, among other roles.[2]

Once the war was over, her career became more international than it had been; she performed at La Scala in Milan, La Monnaie in Brussels, and the Royal Opera House in London. At these venues she sang nearly all the great French soprano roles: including Marguerite, Juliette in the Gounod opera, Massenet's Manon, and Mélisande in Pelléas. For French Radio she sang in Isoline (1947) and Madame Chrysanthème (1956), by André Messager.

Micheau was also active in concert especially in 18th century French works such as Rameau's Les Indes galantes and Platée. She made many recordings, of which some have been released on CDs. Concert works in her repertoire included Shéhérazade by Ravel, Le martyre de Saint Sébastien and La Damoiselle élue by Debussy, songs by Milhaud and Debussy, and À la musique by Chabrier (which she also recorded).

From 1961 she became a voice teacher at the Paris Conservatoire, and the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Her final performance was as Pamina in Rouen in May 1968.[3] She died in Paris at the age of 62.

Selected recordings

On the lighter side, in 1958 Micheau recorded an LP with Paul Bonneau conducting the Chœurs Raymond Saint-Paul and orchestra, including "Fascination", "Oh! La troublante volupté" from La Reine s'amuse (1912) by Charles Cuvillier, Les chemins de l'amour, Les cent vierges (Charles Lecocq), "Moulin rouge", Valse des souvenirs by Wal-Berg, and Messager's "Si j'avais vos ailes", among others.[4]


  1. Wolff S. Un demi-siècle d'Opéra-Comique (1900–1950). André Bonne, Paris, 1953.
  2. Gourret J. Dictionnaire des Cantatrices de l’Opéra. Editions Albatros, Paris, 1987.
  3. Laurent F. Notes to Testament CD, 2004.
  4. Valses de Paris, Columbia LP listed at WorldCat accessed 11 October 2015
  • Dictionnaire des interprètes, Alain Paris, (Robert Laffont, 1982), ISBN 2-221-06660-X
  • Guide de l’opéra, Mancini & Rouveroux, (Fayard, 1995). ISBN 2-213-59567-4
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