Jean Riddez

Jean (Arthur) Riddez. Baritone, teacher, b Lille, France, 10 Mar 1875, naturalized Canadian ca 1928, d Montreal 2 Sep 1939: premiers prix voice, declamation, opéra-comique (Lille Cons) 1897, premiers prix voice, opéra-comique, opera (Paris Cons) 1900.

Riddez, Jean

Jean (Arthur) Riddez. Baritone, teacher, b Lille, France, 10 Mar 1875, naturalized Canadian ca 1928, d Montreal 2 Sep 1939: premiers prix voice, declamation, opéra-comique (Lille Cons) 1897, premiers prix voice, opéra-comique, opera (Paris Cons) 1900. A member, 1900-10, of the Paris Opera, he made his debut in the title role of Rigoletto and thereafter undertook numerous roles, notably in Ernest Reyer's Sigurd and Salammbô, Saint-Saëns' Henry VIII and Samson et Dalila, Xavier Leroux's Le Chemineau, and Massenet's Thaïs. From 1908 to 1910 he sang the title roles in Lohengrin and Faust and the leading tenor roles in other operas. He participated in several cantatas composed by candidates for the Prix de Rome, including those by Caplet and Ravel.

Reverting to the baritone register Riddez participated with great success 1912-13 in the productions of the Montreal Opera Company, making his debut 12 Nov 1912 in Massenet's Hérodiade. With the same company he sang the title role in Rigoletto and leading roles in Roméo et Juliette, Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame (Massenet), Tosca, Carmen, Tales of Hoffmann, Thais, and Noël (Erlanger).

With the Boston Opera Riddez sang Pelléas in Pelléas et Mélisande and other roles of the French repertoire. With the large orchestras of Paris he performed works by Charpentier (La Vie du poète), Dubois (Le Baptême de Clovis), and other French composers. He sang five seasons in Lyons and taught at the conservatory there.

Invited to sing in Thaïs in 1920, Riddez moved to Montreal where he devoted himself mainly to teaching, privately and in such institutions as the École normale de musique. Among his pupils were Albert Cornellier, Geneviève Davis-Lebel, Conrad Latour, Charles Marchand, and Henri Prieur.

Riddez was made an officer of the Instruction publique de France in 1907. He was a member of the Association des maîtres du chant français and deputy teacher and jury member of the Paris Cons and the American Cons at Fontainebleau. He wrote articles 1927-8 for La Lyre and recorded six songs (listed in Roll Back the Years) for HMV and Columbia.

Riddez' daughter Juanita (dramatic soprano, b Vichy 15 Apr 1915) studied with her father and 1936-9 at the Paris Cons where she obtained a deuxième prix in opera. She made her debut 24 Jun 1947 at the Opéra-Comique as Poussette in Manon but gave up singing shortly afterwards. Riddez' other daughters, Sita, Mia, and Lygie, are known in the world of theatre and dance in Montreal.

Writings

'La grande pitié du chant,' Canada musical, 8 instalments, Jan-Jun 1921


Further Reading

  • 'Jean Riddez,' Entre-Nous, vol 1, Apr 1930

    Musiciens canadiens