Andrés Huc Santana
Fr. Cornelius Mattei
Andrés Huc Santana
There have been at least two substantial 20th century Franco-Argentinian singers; one who was the master, indeed the shaper of the tango, Carlos Gardel, probably born of a single mother who emigrated from Toulouse to the river Platte estuary, whether in Montevideo, Uruguay or Buenos Aires, it is not known. But the great “morocho del tango” is not the subject of our piece today, but rather Andrés Huc Santana, he who became a star basso in France and Brussels in the 1940’s and 50’s.
To start, let us hear Santana in Song. Here is the old but always popular “Le Cor”:
Very beautifully and masterfully done!
Having begun his operatic career with a small role in “Louise,” Santana and his young wife left Paris for Marseille where, patronized by countess Lily Pastré, he was hired by Paul Bastide for the Théatre Municipal, making his debut in 1941 as Phanuel in Massenet’s “Hèrodiade.”
In 1943 he returned to the capital, where he auditioned for Jacques Rouché, singing “Le Cor” as we have heard it here, making his debut as Sparafucile and also singing Ramphis and the Commendatore. His next important step was becoming a star bass at Monte Carlo, where Gunbourg entrusted Boris, Don Giovanni, the four Hoffman villains, Gounod and Boito demons to him, thus setting him on his true way.
At approximately 6’ 7” he certainly had the imposing physique!
Here is his Faust:
In addition to some of the previous roles…he sang Bazile in “Le Barbier” at the Comique…he also performed the Berlioz “Mephisto” and built a following as a bass protagonist at the Opéra, where he was to remain until the mid-1960’s in a variety of roles, memorably as both Philippe and the Grand Inquisitor in the Margherita Wallman production of “Don Carlos.”
In Brussels for seven consecutive seasons, he wrote his own ticket, appearing in so-called Chaliapin roles, even essaying both Galitzkiy and Khan Konchak in the same performances of “Prince Igor.” At Aix-en-Provence he appeared memorably in Rameau’s ”Platée.” In Argentina, as may be imagined, he sang at the Teatro Colón. He was heard to advantage in the French theaters outside Paris, memorably at Toulon and other venues in the south, so avid for opera in those days, as well as in Italy, Tunis and Algeria.
American students attending the AIMS program in Graz, Austria, have fond memories of him there in the 1970’s. He was also prominent on the juries of the international vocal competitions. Still teaching in retirement, he passed away on January 21, 1982 in Paris.
A final offering: Le Pas d’armes du roi Jean”