Jean Borthayre (1901-1984) was born near Mauleon and spent his youth as a shepherd in the Basque area. The Paris Conservatoire refused to accept him in 1926, but continued his vocal studies while working in a variety of different jobs, including that of taxi-driver. In 1934 he appeared at the Casino de Paris singing Basque songs, alongside Tino Rossi. The outbreak of war in 1939 prevented him fulfilling a contract with the Algiers Opera. He appeared in small parts at Toulouse in 1941, and enjoyed his first significant success singing Verdi at Strasbourg in 1946. He first sang at the Opéra-Comique in 1951, making his debut in Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles. A few years later he appeared at the Paris Opéra as Valentin in Gounod’s Faust, which he also recorded under Cluytens. He retired at the age of seventy to Montmorency where he died.