Forgotten Opera Singers

Forgotten Opera Singers

Nov 30, 2014

Georgette Leblanc-Maeterlinck (Soprano) (Rouen 1869 – Le Cannet, near Cannes 1941)

She was the mistress of the Belgian poet Maurice Maeterlinck, who wrote the play Pelléas et Mélisande. Maeterlinck tried to procure the world premiere role of Debussy's operatic Mélisande for LeBlanc, but Mary Garden won the role, which she performed to great success. According to Garden's autobiography, Debussy had LeBlanc sing an act of Pelléas before a jury of musicians. The overwhelming results of that audition strengthened Debussy's support for Garden. LeBlanc had a light voice of no special quality. Fortunately, in 1903 LeBlanc recorded an excerpt of Massenet's Sapho, which is preserved in the Historical Sound Recordings collection at Yale University. Its historic value is not so much for LeBlanc's contribution, but for the fact that it is a very rare recording of Massenet himself accompanying the singer. Critic Edmond Stoullig caught her 1898 performance as Sapho at the Opéra-Comique, calling it, "quite different from that of her predecessor [Calvé, which] earned for her a personal success as actress, singer, and woman.

Chronology of some appearances

1893 Paris Opéra-Comique
1894-1896 Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie
1907 Paris Opéra-Comique
1912-1913 Boston Opera House


Columbia, 1912
Carmen (Bizet): Aria delle carte 19754 A1153
Amadis (Lully): Bois Epais  19763 A1243
Thais (Massenet): L'amour est une vertu rare 19755 A 1153

Nov 29, 2014

Antoinette Laute-Brun (Soprano) (Nimes 1876 - ?)

She received her education at the Paris Conservatoire by Duvernoy, Melchissèdec and Mangin. In 1904 she made her debut at the Grand Opéra in Paris as Helmwige in "Walküre", then sang there the role of Ines in G. Donizetti's ''La Favorite''. During the first years of her work she took over in this opera house, whose member she remained till 1927, roles like Jemmy in G. Rossini's ''Wilhelm Tell'', Urbain in ''Huguenots'' by G. Meyerbeer, Crobyle in ''Thaïs'' and Eunoë in ''Ariane'' of J. Massenet. She sang there in several premieres, thus on 31. 10. 1906 in ''Ariane'' of J. Massenet, on 24. 5. 1907 in ''La Catalane'' of Le Borne, on 2. 5. 1909 in ''Bacchus'' of  J. Massenet, in 1910 in ''La Fille de Soleil'' of André Gailhard, in 1914 in ''Scémo'' of Alfred Bachelet and on 14. 3. 1921 in ''Antar'' of Gabriel Dupont. She sang there also in 1908 in the première of Rameau's ''Hyppolite et Aricie'', also in the premières of the R. Wagner's operas "Götterdämmerung" (1908) and "Rheingold" (1909). In 1907 she married the composer Georges Brun and appeared since that time under the name Antoinette Laute-Brun. In 1907 she undertook together with the baritone Jean Noté a tour through Belgium. She had a successful career in the French province, where she often guested. She had their big success as an oratorio soloist in ''La Damnation de Faust'' by H. Berlioz and in ''The Creation'' by J. Haydn.

Chronology of some appearances

1904-1927 Paris Grand Opéra


Zonophone, Paris 1904
Faust (Gounod): Air des bijoux X-83102
Faust (Gounod): Ballade du roi de Thule X-83105

G&T, Paris 1904/1905
Faust (Gounod): Entrée de Faust et Marguérite with Beyle & chorus 34663 4414o 

Favorite, Paris 1906-07-10/18
Faust (Gounod): Laisse-moi contempler, pt 1 with Lucien Muratore 1-9070
Faust (Gounod):  Pt 2 with Lucien Muratore 1-9071

Odeon, Paris 1909?
Sigurd (Reyer):...Avec les fleurs...Maitre que m'ont donne les dieux with Agustarello Affre  97509 XP4886
Huguenots (Meyerbeer): O ciel, ou courez-vous with Agustarello Affre   97512 XP4889
Huguenots (Meyerbeer): Tu m'aimes with Agustarello Affre   97513 XP4890

Edison 4-min cylinders, Paris 1911?
Faust (Gounod): Ballade du roi de Thule BA 27115
Huguenots (Meyerbeer): Nobles seigneurs BA 27119
Faust (Gounod): Scene de l'eglise with Gustave Huberdeau BA 27122

Ideal, Paris 1913?
Faust (Gounod): Air des bijoux 8435
Quand l'oiseau chante (Tagliafico) 8438

Walter Kirchhoff (Tenor) (Berlin 1879 – Wiesbaden 1951)

He studied with Lilli Lehmann and Robert Weiss. He made his debut (1906) at the Berlin Imperial Opera as Faust. He was particularly noted as a Wagnerian singer. As Walter von Stolzing (seen here) in a 1913 Meistersinger at Covent Garden, The Times said, "Mr. Kirchhoff gives what one so rarely gets in a Wagnerian tenor, a combination of vocal power and manly personality, which is essential to a satisfactory representation." Kirchhoff sang at the 1911-14 Bayreuth Festivals, during which time he also served as the chief administrative assistant to the Crown Prince of Germania.

Chronology of some appearances

Kirchhoff, Walter, t, 17. 3. 1879 Berlino, †26. 3. 1951 Wiesbaden Lohengrin 2/1/1927, Siegfried 3/1/1927, Alfonso 11/15/1927, Parsifal 4/3/1928, Menelas 11/13/1928, Tannhäuser 1/8/1929, Lohengrin 1/22/1929, 11/12/1929, Tannhäuser 1/21/1930, Erik 12/2/1930, Pietro 1/6/1931 (Filadelfia)


Beka, Berlin 1906-10?
Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Morgenlich leuchtend 7215
Lohengrin (Wagner): Mein lieber Schwan! (Abschied) 7216
Widmung (Schumann) 7218

Pierre Deldi (Baritone) (? Toulouse - ?)

For some years he was engaged by the Opera House in Toulouse, whose audience estimated him very much. During the 1930's he appeared as a guest in the famous French opera houses and sang among other things in 1934 at the Grand Opéra in Paris as Germont in ''La Traviata''. From 1947 to 1950 he worked as a director of the Opera House (Théâtre Capitole) in Toulouse, since 1953 as a professor in the conservatoire there. His repertoire included Valentin in  ''Faust'', Albert in ''Werther'', Ourrias in ''Mireille'', Boniface in ''Le Jongleur der Notre Dame'' by Massenet, Hérode in ''Hérodiade'', Lescaut in ''Manon'' of Massenet, Figaro in ''Il Barbiere di Siviglia''.

Chronology of some appearances

1930's Toulouse Théâtre Capitole
1934 Paris Grand Opéra


Pagliacci (Leoncavallo): Prologue BFX16 WLX1590
Pêcheurs de perles (Bizet): Duo de Nadir et Zurga, act 1 with Jose Luccioni BFX16 CLX1798

Willy Tubiana (Baritone) (Alger 1891 - ?)

In 1910 he began his education at the Paris Conservatoire which was interrupted in 1912 by his military service. from 1914 to 1918 he was a soldier in the front. In 1919 he took up his study again and made his debut in 1920 at the Opéra-Comique in Paris; for the next thirty years he remained a popular member of this opera house, where he appeared also as bass. Here he appeared in an important opera premières. (He sang among other things in 1929 in the premiere of ''Le Peau de Chagrin''' of Charles Lavadé). Since 1926 he appeared over and over again in opera performances of the French broadcasting company, for the last time in 1950. From 1950 to 1951 he was a professor of the Conservatoire in Algiers. Later he worked as a vocal pedagogue in Paris.

Chronology of some appearances

1920-1950 Paris Opéra-Comique


Gramophone, Paris 1924-12-11
Faust (Gounod): Seigneur, daigne permettre (Scène de l'église, pt 1) with Mireille Berthon & chorus W619 034270
Faust (Gounod): Que dirai-je alors au Seigneur (d:o, pt 2) with Mireille Berthon &chorus W619 034271

Nov 25, 2014

Felicie Kaschowska (Soprano) (Warsaw 1867 - Bielsko-Biała 1951)


At the age of 15 her voice was discovered by the famous tenor Enrico Tamberlik. She studied under Troschel in Warsaw, then at the Vienna Konservatorium with Joseph Gänsbacher and under Jean de Reszke in Paris. At the age of 16 she gave her first concert in Warsaw and made her debut at the Grand Theatre, Warsaw as Alice in ''Robert le Diable'' of G. Meyerbeer and as Marguerite in ''Faust'' of C. Gounod. Already in 1888 she was engaged by the Metropolitan Opera in New York (beginning role: Urbain in ''Huguenots'' of G. Meyerbeer), where she remained in the 1888-1890 seasons and appeared also from 1890 to 1891. She appeared there primarily in R. Wagner's operas (''Fliegenden Holländer'', Eva in ''Meistersingern'', Sieglinde in ''Walküre'',  Elisabeth in ''Tannhäuser''). She made guest appearances at the opera houses of St. Louis, Boston and Buffalo and sang in the concert hall together with the leading orchestras. In 1892 she undertook a big USA tour. In 1893 she was engaged by the National Opera in Budapest, where she excited big sensation as Brünnhilde in R. Wagner's ''Walküre''. Then in the 1894-1896 seasons she appeared at the Opera House in Dusseldorf, in the 1896-1897 season at the Opera House in Leipzig and from 1897 to 1905 at the Court Theatre in Darmstadt. Later she sang at the Court Theatre in Karlsruhe, however appeared in the 1908-1909 season again at the Metropolitan Opera. She made guest appearances at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome (1910), at the Grand Theatre in Warsaw (1910-1911), at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, alos in Amsterdam, Madrid, Stockholm and Paris. In 1917 she retired from the stage and worked in Warsaw as a pedagogue. She also been active in Vienna in the educational field and one of her pupils was Hungarian soprano Maria Nemeth. 

Chronology of some appearances

1884 Warsaw Grand Theatre
1888-1891 New York Metropolitan Opera
1893 Budapest National Opera
1894-1896 Dusseldorf Opera House
1896-1897 Leipzig Opera House
1897-1905 Darmstadt Court Theatre
1908-1909 New York Metropolitan Opera
1910 Rome Teatro Costanzi
1910-1911 Warsaw Grand Theatre


Pathé, Berlin 1909?
Zauberflöte (Mozart): Das klinget so herrlich with Lordmann 14551
Zauberflöte (Mozart): Bei Männern with Lordmann 14553

Tosca (Puccini): Vissi d'arte E. 9564-I
L'Elegie (Massenet) E. 9564-II

Marguerite Carré (Soprano) ( Cabourg 1880 – Paris 1947)

Her real name was Marguerite Giraud. Her father was a manager of the Théâtre Graslin in Nantes. Here she made her debut in 1899 as Mimi in G. Puccini’s ‘’La Bohème’’. She studied singing at the Conservatoire de Bordeaux, then at the Conservatoire de Paris. Her real debut was happened in 1902 at the Paris Opéra-Comique, again as Mimi in ‘’La Bohème’’. She married in 1902 the manager of the Opéra-Comique, Albert Carré (1852-1938). She appeared at the Opéra-Comique in a number of opera premieres, among other things in ‘’La pure Fiammette’’ of Xavier Leroux (23. 12. 1903), ‘’La fille de Roland’’ of Henri Rabaud (16. 3. 1904), ‘’Fortunio’’ of André Messager (5. 6. 1907), ‘’Le Mariage de Télémaque’’ by Cl. Terrasse (4. 5. 1910), ‘’Chiquito’’ of Jean Nouguès (30. 10. 1909) and ‘’La Danseuse de Pompéi’’ written by the same composer (29. 10. 1912). In 1906 she sang at the Opéra-Comique the title role in the French première of ‘’Madame Butterfly’’. In 1908 she performed in an unforgettable French première of N. Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘’The Snow Maiden’’, in 1909 in an important performance of Mozart’s ‘’Zauberflöte’’ as Pamina. On  7. 2. 1912 she sang at the Opéra-Comique in the premiere of Sylvio Lazzari’s ‘’La Lépreuse ‘’, on 20. 3. 1913 in ‘’Le Carillonneur’’ by Xavier Leroux, on 4. 6. 1913 in Charpentier’s ‘’Julien’’, in 1914 the role of Salud in the première of de of Falla’s ‘’La vida breve’’. In 1909 she appeared at the Opera House of Monte Carlo (where she made guest appearances in  the 1905-1907 seasons) in the premiere of the opera ‘’Le Cobzar’’ by Gabrielle Ferrari, in 1906 and 1910 took place guest appearances at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels. In 1911 she created for Buenos Aires the role of Mélisande. After the First World War she appeared in Paris in operetta performances (‘’ La belle Hélène’’, ‘’La fille de Madame Angot’’,  ‘’La petite femme de Loth’’). Later she worked as a singing teacher in Paris. Soprano Janine Micheau among other things belonged to her pupils.

Chronology of some appearances

1899 Nantes Théâtre Graslin
1902 Paris Opéra-Comique
1909 Monte Carlo Opera House


G&T, Paris 1904-06
Reine Fiammette (Leroux): Ariette (piano: Leroux) 33476 3438F
Roi d'Ys (Lalo): Pourquoi lutter (Chanson de l'epousee) 33477 3439F

Pathe cylinders & discs, Paris 1904?
Manon (Massenet): Duo de la rencontre with Leon Beyle 2534
Manon (Massenet): Duo with Leon Beyle  674 

Nov 24, 2014

Armand Narçon (Bass) (Paris 1866 - Paris 1944)

He was trained at the Paris Conservatoire. In 1891 he began his career as a Chorist at the Grand Opéra. He made his debut there in 1893 as comprimario in the premiere of the opera ‘’Deidamie’’ by Henri Marechal. Till 1940 he worked at the Grand. He also counted as a superior interpreter of solo parts in oratorios. during many years he appeared with the church concerts in Saint-Philippe-du-Roule in Paris. Since 1934 he was a professor of the Paris Conservatoire.

Chronology of appearances (Opera premieres)

1914 Paris Grand Opéra Scémo
1920 Paris Grand Opéra La Légende de Saint-Christophe
1922 Paris Grand Opéra Renard
1923 Paris Grand Opéra Pâdmâvâti
1923 Paris Grand Opéra Le Jardin de Paris
1928 Paris Grand Opéra Sept chansons
1929 Paris Grand Opéra Les Troyens
1935 Paris Grand Opéra Le Marchand de Venise
1934 Paris Grand Opéra Roland et le mauvais garçon
1936 Paris Grand Opéra Oedipe


Odeon, Paris 1908?
Ernani (Verdi): Ah! Que dit-elle   with Talexis, Landouzy, Bornica, Gilly, Cèbe and Delzara 56198 XP4449
Aida (Verdi): Gloire a L'Egypte with Talexis, Affre, Landouzy, Lequien and Rigaux 56196 xP 4438
Aida (Verdi): O guerriers sur ce rivage with Talexis, Lequien, Rigaux,  Affre and Landouzy 56193 xP 4439
Africaine (Meyerbeer): Oui fallut-il perdre la vie with Affre, Rigaux, Freville and Bernard 97061 XP4355
Huguenots (Meyerbeer): En mon bon droit j'ai confiance with Freville, Claudin, Affre, Lequien, Rigaux and Bernard 97142 Xp4452
Rigoletto (Verdi): Paix! voici le bouffon with Gilly and Landouzy 56199 xP 4448
Faust (Gounod): Ainsi que la brise légère with Paule Marelly and Auguste Gonguet 97644  xP 5065

Gramophone, Paris 1910-06-14
Samson et Dalila (Saint-Saens): Je viens célébrer ta victoire with Suzanne Brohly and Georges Granal  034086 01548v

Columbia, Paris 1929?
Huguenots (Meyerbeer): Récit et choral de Luther RFX7 WL1937 
La Reine de Saba (Gounod): Cavatine RFX7 WL1191 

Caid (Thomas): L’amour ce dieu profane with  Georges Granal  RF 13 C. 
Chalet (Adam): Dans le service de l’Autriche with  Georges Granal  RF 13 C. 
Le cor (Flegier) WLX.1402

Marie Charbonnel (Mezzo-Soprano) (Lyon 1880 - ? 1962)

She received her education at the conservatoire de Lyon and made her debut at the Opéra National de Lyon (1901). She sang in this opera house roles like the Carmen, Amneris in ‘’Aida’’, Azucena in ‘’Il Trovatore’’ and Dalila in ‘’Samson et of Dalila’’ by Saint-Saëns. In 1907 she was engaged by the Grand Opéra in Paris, where as beginning role she sang Dalila in ‘’Samson et Dalila’’ by Saint-Saëns. In 1908 she appeared there in the première of R. Wagner’s  ‘’Götterdämmerung’’, one year later in the première of ‘’Rheingold’’ as Erda. Since 1910 she also performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris . Here she sang on  30. 11. 1910 in the premiere of the opera ‘’Macbeth’’ by Ernest Bloch, on 15. 11. 1911 in A. Magnard’s ‘’Bérénice’’ and in 1911 in the première of the opera ‘’L'Ancêtre’’ of Saint-Saëns. She made appearances also at the famous opera houses in the French province and in 1913 she sang at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels.

 Chronology of some appearances

1901 Lyon Opéra National 
1907 Paris Grand Opéra
1910 Paris Opéra-Comique


Odeon, Paris 1911-01-01
La favorite (Donizetti): Léonore, pourquoi tristement baisser les yeux with Francois Mezy X 111206 xP 5423
La favorite (Donizetti): Dans vos palais ma pauvre âme soupire with Francois Mezy X111207 xP 5424

Odeon, Paris 1912-01-01
Louise (Charpentier): Ah! quelle journée with Paul Payan X 111566 xP 6044
Louise (Charpentier): Le bonheur, vois-tu with Paul Payan X 111537 xP 6045
Carmen (Bizet): Air des cartes (Carmen) Voyons que j'essaie à mon tour X 111567 xP 6049
Mireille (Gounod): Voici la saison, mignonne (Couplets de la Sorcière) X 111539 xP 6047

Gramophone, Paris 1913-12-29
Prophete (Meyerbeer): Complainte de la mendiante 33879 P271

Gramophone, Paris 1914-04-07
Sapho (Massenet): Air de la lampe 33889 P201

Gramophone, Paris 1914-04-08
Samson et Dalila (Saint-Saлns): Amour viens aider ma faiblesse 033174 S3578

Gramophone, Paris 1920-02-23
Werther (Massenet): Oui, c'est moi (Le retour de Werther) with Rene Lapelletrie 034207  Y58

Gramophone, Paris 1920-02-25
Le crucifix (Faure) with Edouard Rouard and Rene Lapelletrie Y60 03322v

Gramophone, Paris 1925-02-23
Trovatore (Verdi): Mere, tu dors (Madre, nondormi) with Cesar Vezzani W706 034280
Trovatore (Verdi): Oui, la fatigue (Ai nostri monti ) with Cesar Vezzani P2 W706 034281

François Mezy (Baritone) (Montfrin 1872 - Montpellier 1963)


He was a pupil the song pedagogue Paul Lhérie and Léon Melchissèdec in Paris. In 1900 he made his debut at the Théâtre de Nîmes as Nelusco in ''L'Africaine'' of  G. Meyerbeer. During the following ten years he appeared at the French provincial opera houses. Then in 1910 he was engaged by the Opéra-Comique in Paris, where he appeared with great success. He was famous for his interpretations of  Escamillo in ''Carmen'', the father in ''Louise'' of G. Charpentier, Scarpia in ''Tosca'' and the Karnac in ''Le Roi d'Ys'' of E. Lalo. In 1912 he guested in Marseille and created, besides, in the French première of G. Puccini's ''La Fanciulla del West'' the role of the Jack Rance. Last he lived as a pedagogue in Montpellier.

Chronology of some appearances

1900 Théâtre de Nîmes
1910 Paris Opéra-Comique


Odeon, Paris 1911-01-01
La favorite (Donizetti): Léonore, pourquoi tristement baisser les yeux with Marie Charbonnel X 111206 xP 5423
La favorite (Donizetti): Dans vos palais ma pauvre âme soupire with Marie Charbonnel X111207 xP 5424

Nov 23, 2014

Gabriel Olaizola (Bass) (Hernani, Spain 1891 - Hernani, Spain 1973)

His full name was Gabriel Olaizola Gabarain. He began his musical studies with the organist of Hernani, Manuel Cendoya. In 1916 he joined to the Donostia choral society and later moved to Barcelona to be perfected under Joaquín Vehils. Sang during his career at the Teatro Bellas Artes de Donostia-San Sebastián, Campos Elíseos in Bilbao, Teatro Real in Madrid, Liceo in Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Oviedo, Zaragoza, Valladolid, Teatro San Carlos in Lisboa, Scala in Milán, San Carlo in Naples, Regio in Parma, Palermo, Venice, Paris, Montecarlo, Marseille, etc. Appeared under the batons of Mancinelli, Toscanini, Santini and Capuano. In 1919 at the Teatro de Bellas Artes in Donostia-San Sebastian he sang in ‘’Txanton Piperri’' of  Zapirain, ‘’Mendi-Mendiyan’’ by Usandizaga and ‘’Amaya’’ of Guridi. Also he took part in the premiere of ‘’Marianella’’ written by Jaime Pahissa. In 1937 he found by the request of José Antonio Aguirre, Eresoinka, the National Basque choir. In 1949 he founded in Hernani la Schola Cantorum.

Chronology of some appearances

1919 Lisboa San Carlos Tristan und Isolde
1923 Barcelona Liceo Marianela
1923 Napoli Teatro San Carlo Tristan und Isolde
1926 Naples San Carlo Aida


Gramophone, Barcelona 1928
Miserere (Eslava): Ecce enim with chorus 0262049 CJ 1341
Miserere (Eslava): Liberame with Pedro Checson and chorus 262050 CJ 1342

Nov 22, 2014

Richard van Helvoirt-Pel (Baritone) (Harlem 1873 - Amsterdam 1950)

He made his debut quite young at the Old Dutch Opera as comprimario in the premiere of Simon van Milligen's ''Brinio'' (1889) and became the successor of Joseph Orelio their as first baritone. After this opera house was closed in 1903, he went first to Germany and then sang several years at the Opera House in Riga. In 1908 he guested at the Vienna Court Opera and was engaged by the Municipal Theater in Linz (Austria). In  the 1909-1912 and 1924-1925 seasons he sang at the Bayreuth Festival in R. Wagner's ''Lohengrin'' and ''Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg''. In 1914 he came back with the outbreak of the First World War to Holland and was to be heard in the 1915-1919 seasons at the Nationale Opera of Koopman as first heroic baritone distinguished himself above all as a gifted interpreter of R. Wagner's most important operas. After the First World War he was active at several Dutch opera societies, last with the Ko-operatie in Hague. He retired from the stage in 1929.

Chronology of some appearances

1889 Old Dutch Opera
1908 Vienna Court Opera
1909  Bayreuth Festival
1915 Nationale Opera of Koopman


Gramophone 1922
Tannhäuser (Wagner): O du, mein holder Abendstern  H 62010 973 as

Nov 21, 2014

Léonie Tanésy (Soprano) (? 1860 - ? 1942)

She received her education at the Paris Conservatoire. In 1887 she made her debut at the Opera House in Lyon, where she remained during two seasons. Then she was engaged by the Opera House in Marseille and appeared in the 1892-1893 season at the Grand Opéra in Paris. Till 1895 she sang at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, where she sang among other things in 1894 the roel of Isolde in R. Wagner’s ‘’Tristan und Isolde’’. Then she returned to France and now was to be found above all at the Opera House in Marseille, however, guested also at the other famous opera houses in the French province. Her repertoire included Valentine in ‘’Huguenots’’ of  G. Meyerbeer, Rachel in ‘’La Juive’’ of F. Halévy, Brunehilde in ‘’Sigurd’’ of E. Reyer, the title role in ‘’Salammbô’’ of the same composer, Dolorès in ‘’Patrie!’’ of Paladilhe.

Chronology of some appearances

1887-1888 Lyon  Opera House
1892-1893 Paris  Grand Opéra
1894-1895 Brussels  Théâtre de la Monnaie


Pathe cylinders, Paris 1902/1903
Faust (Gounod): Trio final with Maurice Vallade and Rene Fournets 0759
Sigurd (Reyer) Duo de la fontaine with Agustarello Affre 0731

Dutreih cylinders, Paris 1903?
Faust (Gounod): Anges purs (Trio final)  with Minvielle and Marius Chambon 150.699  

Pathe, Paris
Robert le Diable (Meyerbeer): Quand j'ai quittai la Normandie 8311
Guillaume Tell (Rossini): Sombre forêt desert triste  8352 
Sigurd (Reyer): Sigurd, les dieux dans leurs clémence  8312    

Selmar Cerini (Tenor) (Poland, Wólka 1861 - Poland, Breslau 1923)

His real surname was Steifman. He left home at the age of eleven because he rebelled against the intolerance of his fanatically religious parents and went to neighboring Pultusk, intending to study the Talmud. While singing at the Sabbath service, the cantor heard him and became interested in his voice, putting him in the choir and giving him his first music lessons. At the age of 12 he went to Plonsk, and in the synagogue there he sang  the prayers, alternating with the choir and gaining much admiration. However, with his change of voice at the age of 15, Cerini was forced to return home, where his family was totally opposed to him becoming a singer. However, he tested his voice secretly for about a year, and when he found that his voice had developed into a beautiful tenor, he made his way to Warsaw. He stayed there two years, singing in a synagogue choir and studying music. His obligatory  military service of 5 years was shortened to only one because of favor from his superiors, who recognized the boy's talent. In 1882 he accepted the position of cantor in the town of Zagorow, and stayed there three years. He then went  to Lodz, and his singing in the local synagogue brought such crowds that police had to be stationed around the synagogue. However, Cerini still desired a career on the stage, and after many hardships was given a scholarship at the  Royal Music Academy in Berlin. He also sang as the soloist in the major synagogue in Berlin, where he was heard by the director of the Victoria Theater, who gave him a solo sung behind the scene in a minor opera. He was a tremendous success, but his name wasn't even listed in the program, and critics demanded to know who the wonderful tenor was. Since at that time beginners were not allowed to perform in public without a contract, the director had the name of a well-known Italian tenor, Cerini, printed in the program as a pseudonym so that the singer would not incur a penalty; Cerini retained that name throughout his career. After three years of study in Berlin, Cerini made his stage debut in Halberstadt in 1890, where he sang in  Il Trovatore and Flotow's Alessandro Stradella. He then appeared as guest in Stettin, which led to an offer of a five-year contract at the Leipzig Opera. He declined the offer because of racial hatred in that city, but accepted a three-year contract in Breslau in 1891. His performances there were sold out, and and he was a great box office success. At the Breslau City Theater he sang such roles as Eleazer in La Juive, Raoul in Les Huguenots, Arnold in Guillaume Tell, Radames in Aida, Manrico in Il Trovatore, and Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana. His fame soon spread all over Germany and he was invited to sing at many different German houses, including the Kroll Opera in Berlin. However, the life of an opera singer soon palled. Because of his religious convictions he would not sing on the Sabbath, nor ride on a train; if he could not find a place where Jewish dietary laws were observed, he made do with dry food. He also confronted anti-Semitism, and was even advised to convert, which he refused to do. Although he was in great demand and could have sung at any of the major houses, he decided to give up the stage and accepted an offer to become the chief cantor of Breslau in 1895. Judging from the reviews of the times, and from his recordings, Cerini may well have had one of the greatest  tenor voices of his time, and yet sadly, his stage career only lasted 5 years. Cerini was one of the first cantors to record, and it should be remembered that his records were made about 10 years after he had last sung on the stage.

 Chronology of some appearances

1890 Halberstadt Opera House
1890 Stettin Opera House
1891-1894 Breslau Opera House


G&T, Breslau 1904
Juive (Halévy): Gott erleuchte meine Sinne 2-42961

Odeon, Berlin 1905-02?
Aida (Verdi): Holde Aida X34526
Barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini) Sieh' schon die Morgenröte X34525
Guillaume Tell (Rossini) Du meiner Väter Hütte  X34480
Kaddish zu Tal und Geshem X.38810
Kol Nidre (arr. Lewandowski) X.38801
Mach auf! (Spanische Serenade) (Dessauer) X34522
Alt-Heidelberg, du feine, op. 34 (Jensen)  X 34541

Beka, Breslau
Uwaschofor Godol (Lewandowski) 10513
Socharti loch (Lewandowski) 10512

Anker, Breslau
Maoz Zur (arr. Louis Lewandowski)  896

Berlin, Zonophone 1906
Guillaume Tell (Rossini) Du meiner Väter Hütte X-22355

Nov 17, 2014

Katharina Senger-Bettaque (Soprano) (Berlin 1862 - ?)

Born in Berlin, she enjoyed a career of international proportions that began there. After studying with Heinrich Dorn, Senger-Bettaque made a youthful début at the Hofoper (1879) in Rubinstein’s Feramors. Engagements as a lyric s. at Hamburg, Leipzig, Mainz and Rotterdam followed, and in 1888 she sang Eva and a "Blumenmädchen" at Bayreuth. Later that year she headed for New York and the Metropolitan where she was billed as Kathi Bettaque (Herr Senger was a few years down the road) and sang Freia in the American premiere of Das Rheingold, Marguerite in Faust, Sélika, Elsa, Marzelline in Fidelio, Sieglinde, Elisabeth and other rôles. At Covent Garden in 1892, she appeared in a number of her New York rôles as well as Gutrune, and Venus in Tannhäuser, but in 1894 she found her "home base" when she was named principal dramatic s. at Munich. This house would be the center of her activities for most of her remaining career. Senger-Bettaque returned to the Met for a month of guest appearances during the 1904 – 05 season; by then her ambitions and European successes had her tackling the Die Walküre and Siegfried Brünnhildes and Leonore in Fidelio. In these rôles, the New York critics did not like her. She was, apparently, successful in these same rôles at Stuttgart (1906 – 09), and then her career seems to have come to and end. Today, Katherina Senger-Bettaque is an enigma lost to the ages. Even the year and location of her death are unknown, shrouded by the years that followed. Groves Dictionary of Opera is non-committal, cleverly assuming her death occurred after 1909 since she was still singing in Stuttgart then. Other sources have her alive in Berlin in the early to mid 1920s. It is sad, and somewhat baffling, due to her obvious talent and the wide scope of her long career, that she has been forgotten. Recordings: These remain as enigmatic as the singer who recorded them. Senger-Bettaque is known to have made about ten recordings in Europe between 1901 – 05, and all belong in the "rare as stardust" category. Most are of song titles, and from what can be heard it appears that the recording process of her day unnerved her. The voice frequently sounds ill at ease, if not frightened. Some of this can be heard in one of her earliest discs, Franz’s lovely "Es hat die Rose sich beklagt." But the voice in general is of pure and lyric quality, almost "pretty," despite a variation from pitch or two. In fairness, it may have been that she was laboring under hopelessly inferior recording conditions, for even the piano accompaniment has a garbled, "wobbly" sound to it. A coupling of Wolf’s songs "Gesang Weylas" and "Morgentau," made a few years later, has a much steadier sound and Senger-Bettaque seems relaxed in the music; the voice here in much warmer and more appealing. One of her few operatic excerpts is Elsa’s "Euch Lüften, die mein Klagen." It is a well-sung piece with a charm of its own, but hardly displays a heroic or Brünnhilde-sized voice. After hearing her Elsa, it is difficult to imagine her as Ortrud in the same opera, but that rôle was in her large repertoire as well. She sang it once at a Met matinée in January 1905, with Emma Eames as Elsa. The volatile, cold-blooded American seems to have been particularly out of control that afternoon; after what she perceived to be an "upstaging" during the curtain calls, she slapped Senger-Bettaque across the face in full view of the audience! Reporters raced to her dressing room for comments, but the gracious Senger-Bettaque seemed outwardly unruffled. "Oh, I did not resent it," was her deceptively magnanimous reply. Then she added: "I was really surprised and delighted to see any evidence of emotion in Madame Eames."

Chronology of some appearances

1879 Berlin Hofoper 
1888 Bayreuth Festival
1892 London Covent Garden


G&T, München 1905
Gesang Weylas (Wolf); Morgentau (Wolf) 43665 3131L
Lohengrin (Wagner): Euch Lüften 43668 3134L