Forgotten Opera Singers

Forgotten Opera Singers

Mar 24, 2014

Frantz Rabinowitz (Baritone) (Copenhagen, Denmark 1918 – Sweden 1948)

When he was 16, he decided he wanted to be a singer, and began studies with the baritone, Holger Bruusgaard. He enlisted in the Danish army at 18; after discharge in 1938, he went to Italyto study with Giuseppina Finzi-Magrini and stayed with her for more than a year. While in Italy, he hoped to be able to perform, but his Jewish name didn't  make things easier, so he used the name Francesco Dammarchi, and although he was invited to sing by an Italian touring company that was going to Nice, this fell through because of the increasingly bad relations between Italy and France, and a recording venture evaporated because war broke out. Rabinowitz returned to Denmark in 1939 and finally got to make a few recordings. He was hoping to get a contract with the Royal Opera, but although he was accepted for a debut performance after an audition, this never happened. Finally, out of despair, his father paid for a concert with the Copenhagen Philharmonic, which had to be postponed because Frantz caught the flu, but did take place on April 1, 1940, and was a huge success. Eight days later German troops occupied Denmark, and it did not portend a hopeful future for a young Jewish singer. However, Frantz finally got his break, being invited to sing Marcello (42 performances in all) with a troupe touring Denmark with ‘’La Boheme’’. Based on his success in this, he finally was invited to sing at the Royal Opera, and made his debut there on April 17, 1941, again as Marcello, but it was another year before he got another such opportunity. He had to satisfy himself with giving a few more concerts. In October, 1943, he fled to Sweden to escape the Nazi roundup of Danish Jews to be sent to concentration camps. He gave a few concerts there, and was well received, but in March, 1944 he joined the Danish Brigade in Swedenand was with them when they returned to Denmark in 1945. His concert career began picking up, and he even got to sing two more performances at the Royal Opera, but Frantz's unlucky star still hovered over his head. Based on a screen test he took for a Hollywood film with Deanna Durbin, he came to the U.S. in 1946, but ended up sweeping floors to make a living. However, toward the end of 1946, Rabinowitz began to get concert engagements, using the name Frank Wennerholm. It was even thought that he had a chance for an engagement by the Met, but nothing ever came of this either. After a year in the U.S., Frantz had still not sung in an American opera house, except for some concert performances as Scarpia in Tosca at Carnegie Hall. He did sing Amonasro in Aida at a semi-staged performance in Indianapolis, but otherwise he sang concerts only in minor cities at music schools, colleges, music clubs and with amateur orchestras. Returning to Denmarkin 1948, he was again foiled in his hope to sing at the Royal Opera, which had no time to hold rehearsals with a guest. He did, however, give a concert at the Tivoli Concert Hall in July, 1948, but this was to be his last. While visiting in Sweden, he became ill and died at the age of 30 on Aug. 28, 1948 from complications following an appendicitis operation. Rabinowitz's unlucky star was with him until the end.

Chronology of appearance

1941 Denmark  Royal Opera Boheme (Marcello)


Polyphon, København 1941-01-20
Saa lad Sangen i Salene bruse (Heise) XS43334 1562hdk

Polyphon, København 1941-10-24
Andrea Chénier (Giordano): Nemico della patria XS50897 1754hdk
Torna a Surriento (de Curtis) XS50898 1755hdk


  1. Hello

    If you are interested, I have a photo of Francis Joseph Rabinowitz Wenner Holm's tombstone. Please write an email address where I can send it to. In the subject line write: Vestre Mosaiske (69) (rh)

    Best Regards
    Finn Halling Larsen

    1. Hello, thank you for your letter. Give me your email to write on it, my email is
      All the best