6th December 1806
23rd September 1896
Gilbert Duprez was a French tenor, singing teacher and minor composer who famously pioneered the delivery of the operatic high C from the chest. He also created the role of Edgardo in the popular bel canto-era opera Lucia di Lammermoor in 1835.
Gilbert-Louis Duprez, to give his full name, was born in Paris. He studied singing, music theory, and composition with Alexandre-Étienne Choron and made his operatic début at the Odéon in 1825 as Count Almaviva in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia. He worked in that theatre without much success until 1828, when he decided to try his luck in Italy. There, the operatic scene was more active and developed. As a result, Duprez was able to immerse himself in work, beginning principally withtenore contraltino roles such as Idreno in Semiramide and Rodrigo in Otello, both by Rossini. He appeared, too, as Gualtiero in Bellini's Il pirata. The latter role proved to be his first undisputed stage success, probably because it was free of elaborate coloratura passages, which were not considered to be his strong suit as a vocalist.