Greatest Opera Singers

Greatest Opera Singers

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Fernand Ansseau (Tenor) ( Boussu-Bois, Mons 1890 - Bruxelles 1972)

His father played the organ in the village church of Boussu-Bois near Mons (Wallonia) where the artist was born. At the age of 17 he entered the Brussels conservatory and became a student of the noted teacher Désiré Demest. It was in church music (Mozart’s Requiem) he appeared for the first time. Demest trained him as a br., but Ansseau felt that he was making too little progress. His teacher directed him to change to tenor, noticing his student’s increasing ease with the upper register. After studying three years with the celebrated Flemish tenor Ernest van Dijck, Ansseau made his widely acclaimed debut as Jean in Massenet’s Hérodiade (the role was to become one of his most successful achievements). During his career he appeared in roles such as Sigurd, Faust, Julien and Don José. He was the tenor lead in Saint-Saëns’ first performance of Les Barbares. As a Belgian patriot he refused to appear on the operatic stage during World War I and sang only occasionally. After the war he resumed his operatic career at the Théâtre de la Monnaie inBrussels, as Canio (1918). Particularly in Auber’s liberation opera La Muette de Portici he was much applauded. His repertory at “The Munt” included Radames, Samson, The Duke of Mantua, Jean, Don Alvaro, Faust (Berlioz), Des Grieux (Manon) and Cavaradossi. He remained at this important opera house until his retirement. 1919 saw his Covent Garden debut, singing Des Grieux with the s. Marie-Louise Edvina as Manon and Beecham as conductor. Ansseau became a well-known singer at Covent Garden and appeared as Faust, Canio, Cavaradossi and Roméo, opposite Dame Nelly Melba. He refused a generous offer by general manager Gatti-Casazza in 1920 to sing at the Met, not keen to leave home for an extended period. In 1922 he sang at the Paris Opéra as Jean, Alain (Grisélidis), Roméo, Lohengrin, Tannhäuser, Admète (opposite Germaine Lubin) and again as Roméo. From 1923 to 1928 he was a regular member of the Chicago Civic Opera, enjoying remarkable popularity. The “Reigning Queen”, Mary Garden was full of praise for the tenor, becoming a favorite partner of the Diva. He was the tenor lead opposite her in Alfano’s Risurrezione and in Montemezzi’s L’Amore dei tre Re. Ansseau spent his active years in Brussels but often reappeared in Ghent and Anversa. His last performance at the La Monnaie was in 1939. His rather early retirement was often linked to the war and given a patriotic twist, also by Ansseau himself. Some people who knew him attribute it more to saturation. From 1942 to 1944 he served as a Professor of Voice at the Brussels conservatory, devoting the following decades to his hobbies, fishing and gardening. COMMENT: His was a full, richly-varied lyric-dramatic tenor voice with plenty of thrust, well placed on the breath, the high notes free and ringing. After Paul Franz Ansseau was the finest tenor active in the French repertory (Michael Scott). With his beautiful singing of inner animal drive and dramatic verve Ansseau has made a number of outstanding records. To me, his singing with passion and fire is more suitable to dramatic roles than to lyrical parts. I particularly like him in Monna Vanna, Hérodiade, L’Africaine and in I Pagliacci. Werther, Roméo and Don José request a more lyrical voice. However, I am sure that many of you will disagree on this point...Ansseau made his debut (1913) in Dijon as Jean in Hérodiade. He was quite popular in BrusselsMonte CarloLondon, and Paris. His objections to war and later to the German occupation of his homeland limited his singing opportunities, and eventually led to his retirement in 1940. He was a handsome man with a heavy but flexible lyric voice.

Chronology of some appearances

Hérodiade-Dijon, Municipal, 1913 - Carmen-Dijon, Municipal, 1913-4 - Cavalleria rusticana-Dijon, Municipal, 1913-4 - La Favorite-Dijon, Municipal, 1913-4 - Rigoletto-Dijon, Municipal, 1913-4 - Faust-Dijon, 1913-4 - Louise-Dijon, 1913-4 - Les Barbares-Dijon, 1913-4 - Paillasse-Brussels, Th. Des galeries, 1914-8 - Samson et Dalila-Brussels, Th. Des galeries, 1914-8 - Messaline-Brussels, Th. Des galeries, 1914-8 - Manon-Brussels, Th. Des galeries, 1914-8 - Werther-Brussels, Th. Des galeries, 1914-8 - Tosca-Brussels, Th. Des galeries, 1914-8 - La Muette de Portici-Brussels, Monnaie, 1918 - Roméo et Juliette-Brussels, Monnaie, 1918-20 - Alceste-Brussels, Monnaie, 1918-20 - Aida-Brussels, Monnaie, 1918-20 - Les contes d'Hoffmann-Monte Carlo, Garnier, 12 February 1921 - La damnation de Faust-Monte Carlo, Garnier, 15 February 1921 - Orphée-Paris, Opéra-Comique, 11 October 1921 - Le cantique des cantiques-Monte Carlo, Garnier, 18 February 1922 - Lohengrin-Paris, Opéra, 1922 - Tannhäuser-Paris, Opéra, 1922 - Grisélidis-Paris, Opéra, 29 November 1922 - Monna Vanna- Chicago, Auditorium, 1923 - L'amour des trois rois- Chicago, Auditorium, 1924-5 - Resurrection- Chicago, Auditorium, 1925-6 - Sapho- Chicago, Auditorium, 1927-8 - La force du destin-Brussels, Monnaie, 24 October 1931 - Judas Macchabée-Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 1935.


HMV, London 1919-07-21
Manon (Massenet): En fermant les yeux (Le rêve) 2-032060, DB486

HMV, London 1919-07-25
Werther (Massenet): O Nature 2-032039 DB485

HMV, London 1920-06-09
Hérodiade (Massenet): Ne pouvant reprimer 2-032056 DB623
Aubade (Mattinata) (Redhegiere) 2-032055 Ho4428-2af

HMV, London 1920-06-29
Werther (Massenet): Pourquoi me réveiller 7-32036 DA427
Joseph (Méhul): Champs paternels 2-032057 DB482

HMV, Paris 1922-11-21
Africaine (Meyerbeer): O paradis 7-32077 DA427

HMV, Paris 1923-02-26
Damnation de Faust (Berlioz): Nature immense 2-032072 DB487
Lohengrin (Wagner): Ah, respirons 7-32078, DA614

HMV, Paris 1923-03-02
Orphée et Eurydice (Gluck): J'ai perdu mon Eurydice 2-032069x DB487

HMV, Paris 1924-03-21
Panis angelicus (Franck) 2-032085 DB782

HMV, Paris 1924-10-01
La procession (Franck) 2-032086 DB782

HMV, Paris 1924-10-02
Werther (Massenet): Oui, c'est moi with Sadoven 2-034034 DB783
Werther (Massenet): N'achevez pas with Sadoven 2-034035 DB783

HMV, London 1926-06-29
Roméo et Juliette (Gounod): Ah, lève-toi, soleil DB951 2-032104
Roméo et Juliette (Gounod): Salut, tombeau DB951 2-032103

HMV, London 1927-06-15
Tosca (Puccini): Recondita armonia DA898 7-52378

HMV, Paris 1927-10-11
Carmen (Bizet): Je suis Escamillo with Journet DB1098 2-034043
Carmen (Bizet): La fleur DB1098 2-032123

HMV, Paris 1927-10-12
Pagliacci (Leoncavallo): Vesti la giubba DB1097 2-052352
Pagliacci (leoncavallo): No, Pagliaccio non son DB1097 2-052353

HMV, Paris 1927-11-12
Carmen (Bizet): Parle-moi de ma mère with Heldy  DB1115 2-034044
Carmen (Bizet): Qui sait de quel démon with Heldy DB1115 2-034045
Manon (Massenet): Toi! Vous! with Heldy DB1410 2-034046

HMV, Paris 1929-09-2?
Monna Vanna (Février): Air de Prinzivalle DA1064 30-1526
Monna Vanna (Février): Elle est à moi (Air de la main) DA1064 30-1527

HMV, Paris 1929-09-27
Faust (Gounod): Mais ce Dieu with Journet DB1364 2-034048
Faust (Gounod): Ici je suis with Journet DB1364 32-841

HMV, Paris 1930-02/03
Faust (Gounod): Alerte! Alerte! with Heldy & Journet DB1609 32-1287
Manon (Massenet): N'est ce plus ma main? with Heldy DB1410 32-1303

HMV, Paris 1930-06?
Muette de Portici (Auber): L'amour sacré with Servais E560 30-3865

No comments:

Post a Comment