Franz, Paul

French tenor, 1876 - 1950

As Roméo

Biographical notes:

He was born François Gauthier in Paris and assumed the name Paul Franz. Initially an employee of the French railways, he did not start vocal tuition until the age of nearly 30 (!). In 1908 he won a competition for amateur singers and immediately attracted the attention ot the director of the Grand Opéra in Paris. His debut that same year as Lohengrin in Nantes was a remarkable success and he subsequently joined the ensemble of the Grand Opéra, where he remained as an admired member until 1938. He was not only compared with Jean de Reszke but also with the great Ernest van Dyck and Charles Rousselière. Apart from his extraordinary vocal qualities, Paul Franz also enchanted his audiences with his impressive stage appearance. His French repertoire inluded roles such as Eléazar in La Juive, Roméo, Faust, Samson, Don José, Sigurd, Jean, Roderigue in Le Cid and Enée in Les Troyens. Outstanding assumptions in his Italian repertory were Radames and Otello. His Wagnerian repertoire included Tannhäuser, Parsifal, Stolzing, Siegmund, Siegfried and Tristan. He was much acclaimed at Covent Garden where he sang between 1910 - 1914 (Raoul, Julien in Louise, Radames and Otello). In 1915 he appeared at La Scala and in 1918 at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. After his stage farewell he was appointed a professor at the Conservatoire National de Paris.


As Lohengrin


As Lohengrin


His height, his build, also the size of his voice suit him to the great heroic roles...The voice is admirable, it is at once very large and of a charming delicacy, at times even caresses. He has a good pronunciation, his phrasing is expansive, perhaps on occasion a little too much so...Above all he has that great quality, his is a natural voice; he sings without effort and without having to fake a brazen effect, for his is a clarion voice from bottom to top.

The great Canadian soprano about Paul Franz




Recital (Arias by Meyerbeer, Wagner, Verdi, Gounod, Bizet, Reyer and Massenet)

Preiser - LV

Covent Garden on Record Vol. 3


Great Tenors Vol. I


18 Ténors d’Expression Française

Music Memoria

Mike Richter’s Opera Page: The Record of Singing Vol. 2



In the title role of Reyer’s Sigurd


Among the Wagnerian tenors of French descent, two - Charles Dalmorès and Paul Franz - have achieved legendary status. For me, the voice of the dramatic tenor Paul Franz is one of the finest of all French voices that emerged in the years immediately prior to the outbreak of Worldwar I. He made a sizeable quantity of recordings for HMV, Pathé and Columbia between 1909 and 1932.

He possessed a dark and powerful voice, with fully blended registers and a pronounced expressivity. His Wagner singing is equally outstanding as that of Jaques Urlus and Lauritz Melchior. The voice itself was unforced, at once lyrical and strong, with broad, well-bounded phrases. Some electrical recordings, made when he was more than 50, still show him at the height of his abilities. Dramatic tenors at the turn of the century managed to sing - apart from the heavy parts - more lyrical roles. A fine example is Roméo’s aria Salut! tombeau sombre  where Franz surprises by a wide range of expression. In all Wagnerian excerpts (Parsifal!) and in Sigurd’s aria Un souvenir poignant he is at his absolute best. These recordings should be thoroughly studied by every student trying to tackle dramatic parts.

 Un souvenir poignant (Title role in Sigurd / Reyer / Gramophone 1912)