Contralto Watch #2: Delphine Galou

galou_orlando_basel[screenshot from the video by gudrun74 featured below]

…and another entry that has been inspired by the camera of gudrun74 and an alert by Purity. And by that far too rarely played opera, “Orlando furioso”, by the generally far too underrepresented opera composer on the world’s stages, Antonio Vivaldi.

Thankfully, Basel (also known as the house that first tenured Ms. von Otter, and the house that first hosted Claus Guth’s “Barbiere”) has put Vivaldi’s “Orlando furioso” onto its stage this season.

If you’re a longtime Eye Bags reader, you know that Vivaldi’s “Orlando” tends to be linked to Marijana Mijanovic for me, but after seeing (and hearing) gudrun74’s clips from Basel last week, I may have to broaden my casting scope.

Behold Delphine Galou:


Stage presence, a good grip on coloratura, an impressive chest register, and a countertenor-esque timbre that is at times reminiscent of Marijana Mijanovic? – I’m all ears.

And in related trivia (and just like another certain French contralto), she did not just study singing, but also piano, and holds a Sorbonne title on the side.

To sum it up: The girl’s got profile, a philosophy degree, and a serious pair of pipes.

What’s not to love?

On a side note: is she rocking those sideburns and the hoodie or what?!

More proof? Gudrun74 also got a hold of “Nel profondo” (for clear audion, skip to the da capo), the aural business card for every Vivaldi Orlando:


Calling Galous “up and coming” may not be the best choice – she’s been around since 2000/01 already (then newly tenured in Strasbourg with a repertoire that reaches into mezzo fach), and has received a number of awards, most notably perhaps the 2004 French YougArtists Sponsor Group “Discovery of the Year”.

But since most of the world tends to be up to five years behind when it comes to French fashion, perhaps this also goes for fashionable French contraltos.

Fast forweard to 2009, and Galou has Bach with Minkowski slated (a St. John’s Passion that might elicit some Eye Bags traveling, I predict) and has some baroqueer repertory, including Gluck’s Orphée and Handel’s Giulio Cesare (oh which you can download a sample on Delage – her management’s – website), under her belt. Add to that this year’s Karlsruhe Handel festival Zenobia in Handel’s “Radamisto” (excerpt with a nice quality video also provided by her management) and now that stunning Vivaldi “Orlando” in Basel, and we’ve got ourselves a new contralto to watch out for. (apropos “Radamisto”: that would be the ‘authentic approach’ at exact reproduction that Claus Spahn in his summary of the Handel year’s most important stagings didn’t like. I understand his point there, but will defend the “Agrippina” – Karlsruhe has a rehearsal video online; you can get a glimpse of Galou at work from 2’58 onwards)

And apropos watching: for a picture gallery (mostly skirts, a few pants – notably Cesare and a really cute Ernesto f’rom the moon’), swing by Delage once more; after the Orlando clips I was quite surprised that Galou pulls off skirts just as well as pants and has an offstage gallery that is more a picturebook portrayal of of youthful femininity than anything else. Can pull off pants AND skirts in a credible manner? More points.

And more evidence: gudrun74 has made a “Mad Scenes” mix from the Basel “Orlando” (staging by Barrie Kosky) – the production takes genderbending to a new level and has all characters transfrom into Patricia Petibon over the course of the evening, Orlando included:


Sadly, neither her management nor Operabase list any performance dates past the “Orlando” run (which wrapped up this past Friday). There aren’t any recordings available, either. Yet. (Darn.)

YouTube will have to tide us over until new dates pop up. Until then, thanks to originalcrisis, enjoy this sublime contralto/soprano moment from Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater”:


6 thoughts on “Contralto Watch #2: Delphine Galou”

  1. Fantastic as ever thanks Anik, everything we ever needed to know about Ms Galou and then some. Must say I approve of the mezzo in sideburns trend (Hot Mezzos in Facial Hair??); first VK now this… 🙂


  2. …this just in: has a high-quality production clip of the Orlando Furioso up. Little of Ms. Galou, but the sideburns and the hoodie do feature momentarily. Looks like fun baroqueer staging with plenty of sexy, too.


  3. Gorgeous blog! Delphine Galou for me THE baroque discovery of the year. Pure excitement.

    Technical note: the pirated Orlando Furioso vids have been transplanted to:
    – Sorge l’irato nembo

    – Mad scenes

    – Nel profondo (da capo)

    plus newer Rinaldo videos of Delphine Galou on that new channel 🙂


  4. @G: for me, the discovery of the year, too – thanks to a certain someone’s camera and work! I’ll update the links and am on my way to check out the Rinaldo (never was a channel more aptly named!).

    Thank you for stopping by, and thank you for allowing so many of us to share opera moments we’d never get to experience otherwise.


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