Vallin, real name Eugénie Vallin-Pardo, studied singing with Mme Mauvernay at the Lyons Conservatoire. Here she was awarded the first prize for singing and began to appear in local concerts where she was noted by the composer Vincent d’Indy, who recommended in 1907 that she move to Paris, where she studied with Meyriane Héglon.
Here in 1911 Vallin made her professional debut as a singer with the Colonne Orchestra in Debussy’s La Demoiselle élue, swiftly followed by her substitution for Rose Féart in the first performance of Debussy’s Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien at the Théâtre du Châtelet. Debussy was impressed with the young singer: in 1914 she gave the first performance of his Trois Poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé at the Salle Gaveau in Paris, accompanied by the composer. Other contemporary composers whose songs she performed included Fauré, Hahn, Ravel and Joaquín Nin.
After her Paris debut Vallin auditioned for Albert Carré, director of the Opéra-Comique, who like Debussy was greatly impressed, commenting: ‘The exceptional quality of this voice, its purity, its freshness, its timbre, its colour, its flexibility, its emotional character as well as the assurance and the taste with which it was used could leave no doubt whatever. We were in the presence of a great artist.’ Vallin made her debut at the Opéra-Comique as Micaëla / Carmen in 1912; other roles which she sang there included Mimì / La Bohème, the title role in Louise, Nedda / Pagliacci, Rozenn / Le Roi d’Ys and Salud / La vida breve (1926). In addition she took part in several first performances, including Erlanger’s La Sorcière (1912) and Leroux’s Les Cadeaux de Noël (1915), as well as in the local premiere of Respighi’s Maria Egiziaca (1934).
After Carré left the Opéra-Comique for the first time in 1914, the roles offered to Vallin were of less interest to her. She therefore travelled to South America, where she made her debut at the Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires in 1916 as Marguerite / Faust. She continued to appear there for the next twenty years, singing more frequently in Buenos Aires than in Paris. Further international debuts included La Scala, Milan, where during the 1916–1917 season she appeared as Thomas’s Mignon, Susanna in Wolf-Ferrari’s Il segreto di Susanna and the Princess in Rabaud’s Mârouf. She went on to sing at the Rome Opera (1917), the Paris Opera (where she first appeared as Massenet’s Thaïs in 1920), Brussels (1927), (1927), Geneva and the Vienna State Opera (1928), Berlin (1929), Budapest (1931) and with the San Francisco Opera (Marguerite, 1934). During 1935 she undertook a tour of North and South America, and in the same year took part in the premiere of Charles Silver’s opera Quatre-Vingt-Treize at the Nice Opera.
Vallin’s performances were focused upon the principal soprano roles in the French lyric repertoire, such as the title part in Massenet’s Manon, Charlotte / Werther, Juliette / Roméo et Juliette, Mélisande / Pelléas et Mélisande and Olympia, Antonia and Giulietta / Les Contes d’Hoffmann, as well as Zerlina / Don Giovanni. In addition she was a highly proficient performer of French operette, often appearing in works by Chabrier, Lecocq and Massé. Like her contemporary Maggie Teyte, she appeared in music-halls during the 1930s, for instance at the Alhambra in Paris, and also featured in the film La fille de la Madelon (1937).
From 1930 Vallin was based at her country house outside Lyons. Late appearances included the Countess / Le nozze di Figaro at the Monte Carlo Opera in 1943 and at the Opéra-Comique in 1946. She continued to be active and gave her final recitals at Cannes and Deauville in 1957. Between 1953 and 1959 she served as Professor of Singing at the Montevideo Conservatory and taught at the Lyons Conservatoire.
Vallin recorded prolifically for several labels, notably Odéon and Pathé, playing one off against the other in order to record works in which she was personally interested. Her singing was notable for being both vocally assured and characterised by the greatest musicality, as well as by considerable passion where required, for instance as Charlotte in Werther.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Patmore (A–Z of Singers, Naxos 8.558097-100).