Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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PSB (A. Dzierbilka)


J.W. Reiss: Polskie skrzypce i polscy skrzypkowie (Warsaw, 1946)


Jélyotte, Pierre de

(b Lasseube, 13 April 1713; d 12 Oct 1797). French singer and composer. He received his early musical training at Toulouse, where he studied singing, the harpsichord, the guitar, the cello and composition. In 1733 he went to Paris and made his début at the opera in a revival of Collin de Blamont's Les fêtes grecques et romaines. In the next years at the opera he continued to sing minor roles and his popularity quickly grew. In 1738, when the haute-contre Tribou retired, Jélyotte took the main part in a revival of Lully's Atys. Subsequently he created many of Rameau's leading roles, usually with the soprano Marie Fel (they are listed by Piton). With her he also performed in Mondonville's Daphnis et Alcimadure in 1754, a tragedy written in their native Languedoc dialect.

Jélyotte often took part in performances at court. Zeliska, his comédie-ballet (F-Pn; one vaudeville in Mercure de France, March 1746), had its première at Versailles in 1746. In 1745 he had been appointed maître de guitare to the king and later he became first cellist for the Théâtre des Petits Appartements of Madame de Pompadour. In the concerts spirituels that she organized he performed his own motets (now lost) or those of Mondonville. Ecoutez l'histoire, a romance by him, survives (F-Pn). At the Paris Concert Spirituel, however, he made only infrequent, unannounced appearances (see, for example, Mercure de France, May 1752, p.185). He retired from the opera in 1765 but continued to perform occasionally in soirées at the Prince of Conti's home. An oil painting by Ollivier records one of these performances, in which Jélyotte is playing the guitar beside the young Mozart (aged seven) seated at a harpsichord during his first visit to Paris. Several other portraits of Jélyotte are known (they are listed by Prod'homme); to those should be added an anonymous miniature (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon) on ivory formerly presumed, on unknown authority, to be a portrait of Claude Balbastre (see illustration) – he is accompanying himself on the guitar, and a score of Atys stands open before him on the harpsichord.

One of the extraordinary features of Jélyotte's voice was the ease with which he traversed the upper register of the haute-contre range (f' to d''). Some of Rameau's roles originally written for Tribou (such as Castor in Castor et Pollux, 1737) and later revised for Jélyotte (1754) demand a high tessitura and agility in rapid runs. One of the most difficult ariettes in all of Rameau's works, ‘Règne, Amour’ from Zaïs (1748), was also written for him. Rameau's librettist, Cahusac, pointed to the talents of Fel and Jélyotte as an important factor in the success of Rameau's works:

We enjoy nowadays two singers who have carried taste, precision, expression and lightness of singing to a point of perfection that one would never before have thought possible. The art owes its greatest progress to them, for without doubt it is to the possibilities that Mr Rameau saw in their brilliant, flexible voices that opera owes its remarkable pieces with which this illustrious composer has enriched French singing.

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