Poulenc’s muse has died, aged 94

Poulenc’s muse has died, aged 94


norman lebrecht

January 26, 2016

The soprano Denise Duval created the roles of Elle in La voix humaine and Thérèse in Les mamelles de Tirésias, as well as playing Blanche in Dialogues des Carmelites, after its Italian premiere.

Poulenc first spotted her at the Folies Bergères and decided she would be his perfect interpreter.

A member of the Paris Opéra and Opéra-Comique from 1947 to 1965, Denise toured widely with the composer. Poulenc called her his ‘feminine ideal’.


Elegant, youthful and effortlessly entertaining, she retired in 1965 after a vocal injury that was poorly treated. For the rest of her life, she mostly shunned music.

Denise Duval died in Switzerland yesterday, aged 94.


  • Michael says:

    I thought you were going to say Abe Vigoda…

  • Jan Wilson says:

    Love Poulenc. What a lovely, fresh, clean voice.

  • clarrieu says:

    Another major addition to the big musical losses of this fatal month… Never has an interpret been so closely identified with a composer’s work. Only the pair Messiaen-Loriod comes to mind.