Denise Duval

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Denise Duval (born Paris, October 23, 1921) is a French soprano, best known for her performances in works by the composer Francis Poulenc. Duval created the roles of Elle in La voix humaine, Thérèse in Les mamelles de Tirésias and later excelled in the role of Blanche de la Force in Dialogues of the Carmelites, although she did not sing in the world premiere of the work at the Teatro alla Scala, when it was performed in Italian translation.

Duval made her debut as Lola in Cavalleria rusticana in Bordeaux in 1941, and was a member of the companies of the Paris Opéra and Opéra-Comique from 1947 to 1965, when she retired. She was noted for her portrayals of Debussy's Mélisande and Massenet's Thaïs. She was also noted for her performances of works by Roussel and Ravel.

She continued to be closely associated with Poulenc, who in a sense 'discovered' her, and undertook many tours with him towards the end of his life as a duo chansons partnership. Her voice was characterised by a general fragility in strength, an intonational precision marked by a lack of vibrato, and a manner of articulation wherein the delivery of notes lies slightly behind the beat. She was particularly effective in roles where emotion is ironic or neo-classical in nature, but not explicitly anti-romantic.

Among her appearances in America was her 1961 Thaïs at the Dallas Opera, conducted by Nicola Rescigno and directed by Franco Zeffirelli.

Roles created[edit]


  • Warrack, John and West, Ewan (1992), The Oxford Dictionary of Opera, 782 pages, ISBN 0-19-869164-5