The Red Army Choir #2 – Concert tour to France: Mireille Mathieu and Felix Yusupov, 1967


The red light is on… Yes, the record has started. “Talking with my father” Meeting Prince Yusupov and
acquaintance with Mireille Mathieu Russian Prince Felix Yusupov Tell me about your meeting with Felix Yusupov. With Yusupov… When did you kill Rasputin? When I was 29. Prince, do you belong to the Russian Royal Family? No, but my wife is the niece of the Emperor Nicholas II. Princess, did you know about your husband’s plans? Yes, I knew about it. Did you approve all that? Yes. Was that in France? In France, in Paris. When was it? What year? Maybe in 1963… The Ensemble was invited to watch a French movie. And the scenario for it
was written by Yusupov himself. It’s about the murder of Gregory Rasputin
in the Yusupov’s palace in St. Petersburg That’s what the film about. And the scenario was written by Felix Yusupov… You’ve been refusing to participate in creating
the movie on that subject for your whole life. All previous movies about Rasputin
were made without your permission and now for the first time you agreed
to participate in our movie. and for the first time you’ve appeared
in front of the camera Prince Yusupov, why? Because there was no true story told in other movies. The man who was just talking to you,
the man who killed Rasputin will be recalling now… So he invited me, Boris Alexandrov,
Belyaev and someone else – there were four of us –
invited to his place. Invited you to his own house? Of course! Yes, he invited us to his house. So there… he told us that when he… wrote the scenario and when the movie was finished,
it was sold very well. It was even bought in America the killing of Rasputin So the Rasputin’s daughter appeared there and she sued him in order to get payment
for the blatant murder of her father which was shown in the movie
and in the scenario of Felix Yusupov. Prince, now in your declining years,
when you remember Rasputin what do you feel towards him? Disgust. Were you personally interested
in the killing of Rasputin? No. Prince, if you were again in similar circumstances,
would you do the same thing? Yes. In short… I asked him a question: “Please tell me, Mr. Felix, “How did it all end?” “Were your really upset that you had been sued?” “No, I wasn’t” – he replied.
“I took some of my belongings…” “and flew to America to see her.” “I came there and gave those things to her.
And she shut her mouth.” Then he showed like this… Well, Yusupov is Yusupov…
He was even richer than the Russian Tsar. That’s how we met. He was a very kind and sweet person. Very sophisticated… Well, Yusupov was a real prince! There’re Yusupov Palaces
in Moscow and in St. Petersburg. He was a very rich man. Acquaintance with Mireille Mathieu Now tell me please about Mireille Mathieu. We talked with you about Mireille Mathieu earlier today and about that song… about how you rehearsed it in France in 1967… Yes, it was in 1967. So please tell me about Mireille Mathieu and all that. I will start from the very beginning, OK? Boris Alexandrov called for me then and said – “Georges Soria (a French impresario)
has sent me the notes” “There’s a new young singer in France – Mireille Mathieu” The Secretary of the Communist Party of France
addressed Boris Alexandrov during the concert tour and asked him to listen to a young girl
from a working family The Soviet musicians liked the young singer so much
that they invited her to participate in their concert. And in several years after that the whole world
recognized her name – Mireille Mathieu. So Georges Soria suggested that we should sing
the notes along with Mireille Mathieu. Soria put a remark on the notes –
The 1st verse should be performed by Mireille Mathieu The 2nd verse should be performed by Leonid Kharitonov,
and the 3rd verse they should perform together. And everything should be sung in French.
There’re such a long verses! An interpreter was hired specially for me
to translate from the French language. But I learned all three verses just in case…. I did it… and we came to France where I got a sore throat. It had already started in Moscow but the temperature became
very high when I got there. “I think I won’t be able to rehearse”
– I said to Boris Alexandrov. “How’s that?!” – he replied. “Well I have a sore throat. My temperature is 39.” There were always two military doctors with us
on our concert tours. Both were colonels. A laryngologist and a therapist. In short… Boris Alexandrov told me: “You know what we will do?..” “I will ask Georges Soria to order a car for you
in order to take you to a rehearsal” “And it will take you back to the hotel after that.” “Lyonya, there will a lot of press reporters!” “This rehearsal is meant to be specially for them!” “It cannot be without you!” “And they’re waiting for the new song!” And the name of the song was “Quand fera-t-il jour,
camarade” – “When will this day come, comrade?” The song was about the revolutionary
life in St. Petersburg in those days. How the revolutionaries remembered Gavroche, how they bravely walked shoulder to shoulder in the paternal caps and in the factory clothes… My interpreter translated each sentence and I put it into my soul and I knew what I was singing about and knew where to place the accents –
where is “piano” and where is “forte”. Recently you were shown a film
about the Leningrad blockade What impression did the film make on you? I can say that the film deeply touched me. But what shook me to the core was the courage and the will
of the men who defended their city and their country. Gavroche, La Marseillaise and Paris – these words are dear to the Soviet people same as Petrograd, revolution and Aurora
dear to the French people. This song was composed by Paul Mauriat
in Leningrad after he visited the Aurora warship. Mireille Mathieu took this song back to Paris. So I learned it by heart. And I learned all three verses just in case.
And rehearsed the song with the orchestra. As my intuition told me. By the way, you have the photo when I met Mireille at the reahersal. So Boris Alexandrov told us to start the rehearsal
of the “Quand fera-t-il” song with Mireille Mathieu. So first I trained my vocal with Kanger (vocal teacher) Then I went back. I met Mireille, gave her a hand
and we stepped on the stage. The name of the concert hall was “Palais Des Sports” Actually it was a sport stadium
for about 5000-6000 of people. They also used it for hockey and boxing competitions. Well… she started to sing… “Quand fera-t-il jour, camarade?” I could not adjust to her, so I sang as I always did. That was my verse to sing. She started looking at me like that… while I was singing my verse,
with her mouth half-open. Then when we started singing together she became very diffident and I had to sing the 3d verse
almost alone drowning her completely with my voice. So the next day there were newspapers that had written… I need to say that some people thought that
Mireille Mathieu would replace Edith Piaf. “Piaf” means sparrow in French. And Mireille got this nickname – Piaf So newspapers had written as follows: “In vain, our “sparrow” agreed to sing with this Russian bear. Because when the bear growled,
then the sparrow lost all its feathers.” As a result, she did not sing with me
after this repetition any more. And I had to sing this song on my own. But it was such a great success! Some people
even complained that I came there to make a revolution! Every concert tour abroad became a special mission. Once Marina Vlady came backstage
after the concert in Paris. She said to the artists: “Thank you
for your memory about the Motherland” And when we were in Paris in 60-s, an ambassador of the Soviet Union in France, his last name was Vinogradov, so he said – “Dear comrades, what you did today is invaluable! Hundred ambassadors couldn’t do more
in a year than what you did during the concert that I heard today.” Well in short… I had to sing the third verse as an encore. You say that she left the rehearsal
and never sang again with you?.. Yes. Never again… Although there was information on the first posters that Mireille Mathieu would participate. But later… it was announced before the concerts that
she couldn’t participate due to her illness. Well in short… I can understand her… I can understand… You can hear her voice yourself. Well, she has a very strong and good voice… It’s a tiny voice… Hm… In comparison to other female voices… She has a coloratura soprano so to say… coloratura soprano And here is the central bass. Bass! And a powerful one from the whole chest. Did you sing it just in France? Never in Russia?
Nowhere else. Just in France? Yes. I had my own principle… Each soloist sang a song of the country we went to – in English, Spanish, German, French, Czech, Polish I sang only Russian and Soviet songs in principle. I was not looking for… an easy public confidence and sympathy for singing native songs. I imposed our songs and they were met very well. Thank Lord! They were treated greatly! And the press gave excellent reviews and… Boris Alexandrov never asked me to sing foreign songs… But that time Soria asked me to. And Mireille Mathieu was just getting popularity then and needed some support…
We had concerts practically every day and two on Sundays and the house was full! Tickets were even resold there. So I guess we helped her to gain popularity. Then ten of us were invited to visit her place. And I was chosen too. Of course I was!
Since this visit was organized specially for me. Do you remember who went there? I remember that Samsonenko was there.
He was our choirmaster and the head of the group. Maybe Belyaev? No, he was not. I was the only soloist there. No other soloists. There were some choir members and Feoktistov was also there.
He played balalaika for her. I remember that because her played for her. She asked for that.
And she asked me to sing I answered that I was going to have a concert in the evening
and that was why I didn’t sing in the daytime. And she didn’t insist. Tell me how she lived
and what kind of house she had. She had no house at all then. Her impresario (Johnny Stark) rented a furnished
four-room apartment for her at those times. He bought some clothes for her red knee-high boots… He came up with her hair cut.
And a makeup man followed her all the time. So he presented her at a very high level. Her songs were on the radio almost every day. He wanted a return on the invested money. And he did a million times more! Because she became the most famous
and recognized singer in the world! So he was not risking in vain. She also told us – “It so happened in our family that my mom and dad had 7 daughters and 7 sons. Before the impresario found me, I used to sing in the streets
in order to earn some money.” So the impresario found her there
and was amazed to discover new Edith Piaf! He took her and started to promote her. The public liked her a lot and she became one
of the most famous variety singers in the world. She is very charming in ordinary life, very hospitable, very gentle and kind person. So she knew what it means to grow in a big family and to sing in the streets and then to become a real music star of the world!
Even a “planet” I would say. She was also invited to the Soviet Union
and later to the Russian Federation. She even used to sing on the Red Square
during some celebration. With great pleasure I’m recalling my visit
to your country in the summer of this year. I remember my acquaintance with
your cities – Moscow and Leningrad. Russian people loved her very much. She used to sing in the “Russia” concert Hall here. And the house was completely full! Nowadays the star of the French variety
herself invites the Alexandrov Ensemble, when she comes to Moscow. It should be said that famous world stars consider it
a great creative luck to perform with the Red Army Choir. Well, enough for today?.. OK! This record was made on the 29th of March, 2017
in Moscow by the son of the singer Mikhail. To be continued…

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