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Paul-Émile Deiber

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  • Voice

Mr. Deiber was born on Jan. 1, 1925, in La Broque, a village in the Alsace region of France, near the German border. His father chopped and sold wood. Mr. Deiber studied violin and voice before becoming an actor, first appearing with the Comédie-Française in a small role in “Cyrano de Bergerac” in 1942. He played Bernardo in “Hamlet” the following year and joined the company in 1944. From 1942 to 1972, Mr. Deiber assayed dozens, perhaps hundreds of roles with the Comédie-Française, the state-supported theater in Paris with roots dating back more than three centuries.

Known for his deep voice, precise diction and command of the classical repertory, he performed in the works of Molière, Racine, Corneille and Shakespeare, among many others, as both a leading man and a featured actor, playing romance, tragedy and comedy with equal skill. His signature role was Cyrano de Bergerac, Rostand’s articulate, lovesick romantic hero, which he played more than 150 times.

Beginning in the late 1960s, Mr. Deiber increasingly turned his attention to opera. In 1970 he became part of a management change at the Paris Opera, in charge of rejuvenating its stage productions. He directed several productions at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, including Gounod’s “Roméo et Juliette,” with Mirella Freni and Franco Corelli, in 1967; Bellini’s “Norma,” with Joan Sutherland, in 1970; Massenet’s “Werther,” with Corelli and Mr. Deiber’s future wife, Ms. Ludwig, in 1971; and Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande,” with Judith Blegen and Barry McDaniel, in 1972. His operas were known for being not only well sung but also well acted.

He teaches at the Académie musicale de Villecroze in 2002, 2004 and 2006.


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