(Rare!) Sarah Bernhardt - Excerpts from 'La Samaritaine' (1903)





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Published on Jul 24, 2009

One of the Greatest actress of 19th century, Sarah Bernhardt, (1844.10.22 ~ 1923.3.26.) a.k.a. "The Divine Sarah", recites some excerpts from Edmond Rostand's play "La Samaritaine" ( Act 2, Scene 3 ; "Il dit Encore; Soyez doux....") for Gramophone & Typewriter company in 1903.

Since Sarah was one of the superstar on European stages, she had many chance to record her voice, her first recording session was taken place in 1895, on 6 Bettini cylinders (none of the Bettini recordings survives today, but the recording session was photographed - the photo I presented here.) Later she recorded 6 selections on G&T discs on April 9th, 1903. After that, she made more than 30 records both on discs and cylinders for Zonophone, Pathe, Edison, etc. Her Final recording was recorded in 1918, reciting "Prayer for the Enemies".

Fred Gaisberg, who recorded Bernhardt on the G&T session, said that when she heard the playback of her voice, she shouted, "Ah, mon Dieu! Maintenant je comprends pourquoi je suis Bernhardt! Mon cher, quelle voix! Quelle artiste!"

(But, personally, I don't believe this story since I think this is just another variation of Adelina Patti story.)

The label on the record indicates the selection is "Les Vieux", on G&T 31172, but the recording itself is "La Samaritaine" on G&T 31171 (You can see the engraved number "31171" in the label photo.) Very interesting error. I know early records have lots of similar mistakes like this, but this is the only example I have in my collection.

Played on my Numark machine on 71rpm. There is no way to correct the pitch since there is no single musical instrument recorded in this record, but since some earilest recordings made by G&T runs around this speed, I decided to play this at this speed. When played on 78rpm, Bernhardt sounds like a female Demis Roussos....:-(

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