Greatest Opera Singers

Greatest Opera Singers

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Paul Schwarz (Tenor) (Vienna, Austria 1887, 30/6 – Hamburg, Germany 1980, 24/12)




He made his debut at the Stadttheater in Bialitz in 1909, went on to the Vienna Volksoper, and in 1912 joined the Hamburg Opera, where he remained until 1933. In  Hamburg he appeared in over 4000 performances of 145 roles. Although he sang such leading roles as Manrico in Il Trovatore and Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana, he was extensively utilized as a comprimario. He specialized in such roles as David in Die Meistersinger, Pedrillo in Die Entführung aus dem Seraglio, and Don Basilio in Le Nozze di Figaro. Although his center was Hamburg, he also frequently sang in Berlin, Vienna, Amsterdam, and Paris. In addition, he also had great success as an operetta singer. Because of the Nazis, he was forced to leave the Hamburg Opera in 1933 and emigrated to the United States. At the end of the War, he returned to Hamburg and in 1949 appeared again at the Opera as Basilio. Schwarz died in Hamburg in 1980, at the age of 93.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Felix Senius (Tenor) (Konigsberg, Germany 19-09-1868 - Konigsberg, Germany 01-10-1913)




In 1872 his father became director of the Azov Commercial Bank in St. Petersburg, where the artist spent his youth. He entered his father's bank, but already in 1895 gave charity concerts in St. Petersburg. After studying singing with Ippolit Pryanishnikov in St. Petersburg (1900), he gave his first recitals in the Russian metropolis and sang the tenor solo in a performance of the "Messiah" by Handel. Glittering concerts took place in the big cities in Russia, Germany, Sweden and Finland. He moved to Berlin and became one of the most important concert tenors of his time; One saw in him the successor of Gustav Walter. In the 1905-1911 seasons he performed in concerts in Vienna. In 1906 he appeared in Brno, in 1911 he sang in Prague. In England he was admired mainly in "L'Enfant prodigue" by Debussy and "The Dream of Gerontius" by E. Elgar. In 1910 he participated in the world premiere of the 8th Symphony ("Symphony of the Thousand") by Gustav Mahler in Munich. He died after being poisoned by fish at a banquet given by the city of Königsberg. He was married to the soprano Clara Senius-Erler, who later worked as a lecturer at the Conservatory of Leipzig and still appeared in concerts in 1918. His brother, Rudolf Senius (1865-1924), worked as an operetta singer and as a director. 

Miklos Gafni (Tenor) (Tiszacsege, Hungary 1923. 05. 28 – Queens, New York City 1981. 03. 08)





When the Nazis took over Hungary, Gafni was put into a concentration camp and condemned to death. He and others in the  camp similarly awaitng death engaged in musical activities, and Gafni studied voice with one of his fellow-prisoners. The commandant of the camp was a music lover, and hearing Gafni sing, introduced him to German Lieder. He also spared Gafni from his ultimate fate, allowing him to survive the War. Still young, he returned home after the War and money was raised to send him to Italy to study. His teachers were Riccardo Stracciari and Aureliano Pertile, two of the finest singers of pre-War Italy. Gafni also received encouragement from Beniamino Gigli, and began to concertize in Italy. He then received concert engagements in England, Australia, and South Africa. He finally came to the United States, where he made his debut at Town Hall with great success, receiving the common accolade, "the young Caruso". His greatest claim to fame was in recording the first complete La Juive by Halevy, sponsored by a Jewish-American organization. Because of a limited operatic repertoire and technical deficiencies in his singing, he was not offered a contract with any major opera company, and returned to Hungary about 1960, where he is believed to have continued his vocal career.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Ugo Ugaro (Baritone) (Italy 1914 – Paris, France 4 December 1999)




His real name was Ugo Garbaccio. In 1936 he made his debut in concert at the Teatro La Fenice in Venezia. In 1945 he appeared at the Grattacielo and at the Splendor a San Pier d'Arena in Genova. I think in Italy he participated only in concerts. Later he went to France and under the name Ugo Ugaro performed at the provincial opera houses. His repertoire included Scarpia in ‘’Tosca’’, Rigoletto, Nelusko in ‘’Africana’’, Tonio in ‘’Pagliacci’’, Figaro in ‘’Barbiere di Siviglia’’ and Renato in ‘’Ballo in maschera’’. After his retirement, he taught singing in Paris and among his pupils was bass-baritone Michael Vier. He made a few records for Pacific in Paris.

Chronology of some appearances

1936 Venezia Teatro La Fenice Concert
1945 Genova Grattacielo Concert
1945 Genova Splendor a San Pier d'Arena Concert

Harry Lambert Murphy (Tenor) (Springfield, Massachusetts 1 April 15, 1885 – Hancock, New Hampshire July 25, 1954)





He was a Harvard University student and sang in a university choir. In 1908 he finished his scientific studies. On the advice of tenor Riccardo Martin he studied singing under Isadore Luckstone and Herbert Witherspoon. He became a soloist of St. Bartholomew's Church in New York and appeared at the concert hall in 1908 with the Boston Festival Orchestra and the Handel and Haydn Society. His stage debut was in 1911 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York as young sailor in "Tristan und Isolde" under Arturo Toscanini. A day after his debut, he participated at the Metropolitan Opera in the American premiere of the opera "Lobetanz" by Ludwig Thuille. Until 1914 he remained at the Metropolitan Opera, where he participated in various premieres: in 1912 in the American premiere of "Le Donne curiose" by Wolf Ferrari, in 1913 in the premiere of "Cyrano de Bergérac" by Damrosch, the same year in the first performance of the "Rosenkavalier", in 1914 in the premiere of Charpentier's "Julien" as a partner of Enrico Caruso and Frances Alda. After 1914 he appeared as a concert and oratorio singer and was one of the leading performers in North America. In the 1930’s he appeared in many concerts and especially valued as an evangelist in the passions of J. S. Bach; the Dutch oratorio singer Tom Denijs described him as the best evangelist he had ever heard. Around 1940, after a larynx surgery, he retired and since then worked as teacher at the Malkin Conservatory in Boston.

Chronology of some appearances

1911-1914 New York Metropolitan Opera

Friday, August 23, 2019

Mischa Léon (Copenhagen, Denmark 1889 – USA ? April 7, 1926)




His real name was Harry Haurowitz. He studied singing under Jean De Reszke, Devillier and Reinhard. Probably he made his debut in 1918 at the Opéra-Comique in ‘’Roméo et Juliette’’ as Romeo. In Brno he studied Leoš Janáček's ‘’The Diary’’ with Břetislav Bakala and sang in the original Czech (1922). First he appeared in the British premiere at Wigmore Hall in London (22 October, 1922), then sang in the French premiere at the Paris Conservatory. He toured the USA and Europe and performed as Don José in ‘’Carmen’’ at the National Theater in Prague. Also gave a recitals in Denmark. He was the second husband of the well-known Canadian soprano Pauline Donalda.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Frans Vroons (Amsterdam, Netherlands April 28, 1911 - ’S-Hertogen-Bosch, Netherlands June 1, 1983)




He studied with Berthe Seroen in Amsterdam, later also in Paris. Already as a student he sang at the Amsterdam Wagner Association and in student appearances of the Conservatory in Amsterdam. In 1938 he appeared as Don Curzio in "Figaros Hochzeit" under Bruno Walter in Amsterdam. In 1939 he sang in Scheveningen the part of Don Basilio in the same opera under Carl Schuricht. In 1941 he became a principal tenor of the Dutch Opera in Amsterdam and in the opening performance he performed in Wagenaar's "Doge van Venetië". After the Second World War he became internationally known; he sang at the Grand Opéra and at the Opéra-Comique in Paris, at the Covent Garden Opera in London (1948-1950). In North America he was heard at the New York City Center Opera as De Grieux in "Manon" by J. Massenet and as Hoffmann in ‘’Les Contes d'Hoffmann’’. At the San Francisco Opera he appeared opposite Bidu Sayão in "Manon" (1951). He created the title role in Benjamin Britten's "Peter Grimes" for Holland (1955) as well as at the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux. At the Holland Festival he sang the part of Hüon in "Oberon" (1950). In 1960 he appeared in the premiere of the opera "Martin Korda" by Henk Badings. Later he became co-director of the Dutch Opera (1956-1971), where he also worked as director of the opera school. He took up residence in Vught near s'Hertogenbosch and worked in Utrecht, s'Hertogenbosch and in the Hague.

Arthur Endrèze (Baritone) (28 November 1893, in Chicago – 15 April 1975, In Chicago)




Arthur Endrèze, whose real name was Arthur Krackman, First studied agronomy at the University of Illinois. The conductor Walter Damrosch discovered his talent and advised him to study singing. He came to France in 1918 and became a pupil of the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, later of Jean de Reszke in Paris. In 1925 he made his debut at the Opéra de Nice as Don Giovanni. Reynaldo Hahn was enthusiastic about the voice of the singer, and until 1929 he sang at the opera performances that he organized in Cannes and Deauville. In 1928 he joined to the Opéra-Comique in Paris (debut as Karnac in ‘’Le Roi d'Ys’’ by E. Lalo). In 1929 he made his debut at the Grand Opéra as Valentin in ‘’Faust’ by C. Gounod; Here he sang in a number of world premieres:  ‘’Guercoeur’’ by Magnard (1931), ‘’Maximilien’’ by Milhaud (1932), ‘’Un jardin sur l'Oronte’’ by Bachelet (1932), ‘’La Chartreuse de Parme’’ by Sauguet (1939). On March 11, 1937 he sang in Monte Carlo in the premiere of the opera ‘’L'Aiglon’’ by Honegger and Ibert. During the German occupation of France (1940), as an American citizen he went to United States. After the war, he came back to France and appeared in 1946 at the Grand Opéra in sensational performances of the biblical opera ‘’Joseph’’ of Méhul as Jacob. His other stage performances included Herodes in ‘’Hérodiade’’, Nevers in ‘’Huguenots’’, Hamlet, Athanaël in ‘’Thaïs’’, Valentin in ‘’Faust’’, Iago in ‘’Otello’’, Germont in ‘’Traviata’’, Scarpia in ‘’Tosca’’, Telramund in ‘’Lohengrin’’ and Amonasro in ‘’Aida’’. After his retirement in 1948 he became a professor at the Conservatory of Kansas City, but returned to France and taught singing in Paris, last in Chicago. He married Jeanne Krieger-Beligne (1887-1973), Chef de chant at the Opéra.


Chronology of some appearances

1925 Opéra de Nice
1928 Paris Opéra-Comique
1929 Paris Grand Opéra
1937 Opéra de Monte-Carlo
1946 Paris Grand Opéra

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Charles Panzéra (Bass-Baritone) (Geneva, February 16, 1896 – Paris, June 6, 1976)




Charles Auguste Louis Panzéra. He volunteered during the First World War in the French army and was twice wounded. Then he studied singing at the Conservatoire National in Paris. He made his debut in 1919 at the Opéra-Comique in Paris as Albert in "Werther" by J. Massenet. Gabriel Fauré dedicated his song cycle "L'Horizon chimérique" to him. He was generally considered one of the greatest song interpreters of his time. Concert tours have brought him brilliant success in the music metropolises in Europe as well as in America. He had a cordial friendship with composers such as Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Albert Roussel, Vincent d'Indy and Guy Ropartz. He was also a great interpreter of the German art song from Schubert to Hugo Wolf and sang classical vocal works by Lully, Rameau, Handel, J. S. Bach and other masters. Since 1926 he gave a recitals every year in England and Holland. On stage, he appeared only rarely, mostly as Pelléas, which he sang in Amsterdam and Florence. During his recitals, he was often accompanied by his wife, the pianist Magdeleine Panzéra-Baillot. In 1956 he finished his concert career. After teaching intermittently at the Juilliard Music School in New York, he worked as a vocal teacher in Paris since 1946 and in 1951 he was appointed as professor at the Conservatoire National de Paris, where he served until 1966.


Chronology of some appearances

1919 Paris Opéra-Comique Werther (Werther)
1920 Paris Opéra-Comique Le Roi Candaule (Alfred Bruneau)
1920 Paris Opéra-Comique Le Sauteriot (Sylvio Lazzari)
1921 Paris Opéra-Comique Dans l'ombre de la Cathédrale (Georges Hüe)

Achille Braschi (Tenor) (Rome, Italy 1909 - Rome, Italy 23. 2. 1983)




He was trained by Morini in Rome and began his career in 1934. He reached the peak of his career after the Second World War, when performed at the leading Italian stages as heroic tenor. He sang at the festivals of Florence, Verona and in the Roman Baths of Caracalla and gave guest performances especially on French operatic stages. He appeared at the Opéra National de Lyon and at th Opéra National de Bordeaux (1959) and from 1957 to 1963 at the Opéra de Marseille, also in the 1961-1962 season sang at  the Teatro San Carlo in Napoli.

Chronology of some appearances

1957-1963 Opéra de Marseille
1958 Genova Politeama Genovese
1959 Opéra National de Lyon
1959 Opéra National de Bordeaux
1960 Genova Genovese ricostruito