Personalities | Joseph Legros | Classical Era | Opera

1739–93, French

The French tenor and composer Joseph Legros made his debut at the Opéra in Paris, singing Titon in Titon et Aurore by Jean-Joseph Mondonville (1711–72). Subsequently he built up a considerable repertoire of roles in operas by Lully, Rameau, Grétry and Gluck, among others. One of his greatest roles was as Gluck’s Orpheus – a role in which he was considered ‘a true to life actor, full of passion’. Legros appeared in several other of Gluck’s works, including roles as Achille in Iphigénie en Aulide, Cynire in Echo et Narcisse and Pylade in Iphigénie en Tauride.

Legros’s voice was flexible, with a brilliant high register, but on stage he was ungainly and awkward. He fought a running battle with his weight, but it eventually caught up with him. Legros became so fat that by 1783 he could not function properly on stage and had to retire.

Introduction | Classical Era | Opera
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