La Boheme (Giacomo Puccini) Premiere, 1 February 1896. Cesira Ferrani (Mimi) and Evan Gorga (Rodolfo)

Sep 15, 2014

José Lens (Tenor) (Belgium, Ardennes Mohiville 1897 - ? 1964)


                                                                Don Jose

He received his first education at the Music Academy of Ciney in Belgium and then continued in Lüttich under Jules Massart. He made his debut in 1926 at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels in the role of Nicias in ''Thaïs'' of Massenet. He remained a member of this leading Belgian opera house till 1952. He appeared at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in different French-speaking premières, among other things in ''Turandot'' of Puccini (1926 as Pang), ''Mona Lisa'' of Max von Schillings (1928 as Alessio), ''Debora e Jaele'' of Pizzetti (1929), ''Ariadne auf Naxos'' of Richard Strauss (1930 as Brighella), ''Wozzeck'' of Alban Berg (1932 as captain) and ''Der Liebestrank'' of R. Zandonai (1933 as Renzo). He sang there also on 29. 4. 1929 the role of Alexis in the premiere of Prokofiev's opera ''Der Spieler'' (''Le Joueur''). Other roles from his repertoire included the Steuermann in "Fliegenden Holländer", Walther von Stolzing in "Meistersingern", Assad in "Die Königin von Saba" of Goldmark, Herodes in ''Salome'' of R. Strauss, Turiddu in ''Cavalleria Rusticana'', Julien in ''Louise'' of Charpentier, Canio in ''Pagliacci'', Pinkerton in ''Madama Butterfly''. He made also guest appearances in France, Holland and Switzerland. Probably he retired from the stage in 1955.

Chronology of some appearances

1926--1952 Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie


Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti): Fra poco a me ricovero

Maurice Capitaine (Tenor) (? 1885 - ?)

He studied singing at the Paris Conservatoire and won in 1911, by the end of his study, the first price. In 1911 he made his debut at the Paris Opéra-Comique. In 1917 he appeared there in the premiere of G. Charpentier’s opera ‘’Julien’’. His repertoire included roles like Chapelou in ‘’Le Postillon de Lonjumeau’’ byAdam, Gérald in ‘’Lakmé’’ of Delibes, George Brown in ‘’La dame blanche’’ of Boieldieu, Nadir in ‘’Pêcheurs de perles’’ by Bizet. Later he sang in many famous opera houses in France and Belgium

Chronology of some appearances

1911 Paris Opéra-Comique
1917 Paris Opéra-Comique


Pathé, Paris 1918?
Postillon de Longjumeau (Adam): Romance de la tourterelle 228 2450

Victor Forti (Tenor) (? 1890 - ?)



He studied singing under Bora Lévy. After the first appearances at the French provincial theatres he made his debut in 1925 at the Paris Opéra-Comique as Canio in ''Pagliacci''. He appeared there also as Tristan, then continued, however, his career at the famous French provincial theatres. In 1928 he was engaged by the Grand Opéra in Paris, where he remained active till 1932. He made guest appearances also in Marseille, Bordeaux, Toulouse and Lyon, however, gave also successful guest performances abroad. Thus he appeared in 1932 in Amsterdam and appeared in the 1937-1948 seasons often at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels. At the Opera House in Strasbourg  he appeared above all in Wagner's operas. Already in 1924 he sang at the Théâtre de Champs-Élysées in Paris in the premiere of the opera ''Les Burgraves'' of L. Sachs, in 1931 at the Grand Opéra in Paris in ''Guercoeur'' of A. Magnard. In 1948 he appeared at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels for the last time. His repertoire included roles like Tannhäuser, Tristan, Siegmund in ''Die Walküre'', Loge in ''Rheingold'', Parsifal,  Herodes in ''Salome'' of R. Strauss, Otello of Verdi, Canio in ''Pagliacci'' and  Énée in ''Les Troyens'' of  Berlioz.

Chronology of some appearances

1925-1932 Paris Opéra-Comique
1928-1931 Paris Grand Opéra
1937-1948 Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie


Pathé, Paris 1932?
L'Or du Rhin (Wagner): Air de Loge X 7217

Hans Nachod (Tenor) (Vienna, Austria 1883 - London, England 1965)

He was born into a Jewish choirmaster's family and was a cousin of the famous composer Arnold Schönberg (1874-1951). In 1907 he began his stage career at the Vienna Volksoper, where he remained till 1910. In the 1910-1912 seasons he appeared at the Municipal Theatre in Mainz, in the 1912-1913 season at the Municipal Theatre in Kiel. From 1915 to 1923 he worked at the German Land Theatre in Prague, in the 1924-1925 season at the Municipal Theatre of Stettin. He made guest appearances at the Municipal Theatre in Graz (1909), at the Court Theatre in Wiesbaden (1911) at the Munich Court Opera, also in Amsterdam and Hague (1921). He was known as a concert singer and also as an interpreter of contemporary vocal works. Thus he sang on 23. 2. 1913 in the Vienna premiere of the "Gurrelieder" of Arnold Schönberg in the part of Waldemar and performed also in the Leipzig première of this work (1914). He lived later as a vocal pedagogue in London. His repertoire included among other things roles like Don José in ‘’Carmen’’, Erik in "Fliegenden Holländer", Walther von Stolzing in "Meistersingern".

Chronology of some appearances

1907-1910 Vienna Volksoper
1909 Graz  Municipal Theatre
1910-1912 Mainz Municipal Theatre
1911 Wiesbaden Court Theatre
1912-1913 Kiel Municipal Theatre
1915-1923 Prague German Land Theatre
1921 Amsterdam, Hague
1924-1925 Stettin Municipal Theatre


Favorite, Wien 1910-04?
Lohengrin (Wagner): In fernem Land 1-25438 3228-t-
Tannhäuser (Wagner): Dir töne Lob! 1-25445 3235-t-

Sep 14, 2014

Fernand Baer (Bass) (? 1875 - Lille 1937)

He studied singing at the Paris Conservatory and concluded his study in 1900. He was engaged in 1901 by the Grand Opéra in Paris. There he debuted as Scaurus in ''Les Barbares'' of Saint-Saëns. In 1902 he appeared at the Grand Opéra in the premiere of the opera ''Orsola'' of Paul and Lucien Hillemachers. His repertoire included roles like Mefistofele in ''Faust'' of Gounod, Sparafucile in ''Rigoletto'' and Norfolk in ''Henri VIII'' of Saint-Saëns. He also had a great success in Nice and Monte Carlo (1904). His records show him as a bass of the great vocal strength and strong personal radiation, in addition, as a singer who had still rooted completely in the tradition of the 19-th century.

Chronology of some appearances

1901 Paris Grand Opéra Les Barbares (Scaurus)
1902 Paris Grand Opéra Orsola (-)
1904 Nice, Monte Carlo


Edison 2-min cylinders, Paris 1905?
Juive (Halévy): Cavatine 17153
Juive (Halévy): Malédiction 17163
Roméo et Juliette (Gounod): Invocation 17185
Faust (Gounod): Sérénade 17184
Faust (Gounod): Scène de l'église 17216
Le cor (Flégier) 17215
Robert le diable (Meyerbeer): Evocation 17159
Les sapins (Dupont) 17158

Jean Vallier (Bass) (? 1863 - Paris 1952)

He was trained at the Paris Conservatory and belonged to the leading French basses of his time. In 1899 he sang the role of king in ''Tristan und Isolde'' and then in 1902 the role of Hagen in the French première of ''Götterdämmerung'' at the Théâtre du Château d'Eau in Paris under Alfred Cortot. He was active in the 1890-91, 1900-1901 and 1903-07 seasons at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, where he appeared on 30. 11. 1903  in the premiere of E. Chausson's ''Le Roi Arthus'' and in 1907 a smaller role in the première of the opera ''Salome'' of Richard Strauss. In 1903 and 1908-09 seaqsons he sang at the Opera House in Monte Carlo, in the  1910-11 season at the Grand Opéra in Paris. In the 1909-10 season he was engaged by the Manhattan Opera House in New York; he sang there in the New York première of Massenet's ''Hérodiade''. He also performed at the Covent Garden in London.

Chronology of some appearances

1890 Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie
1891 Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie
1899 Paris Théâtre du Château d'Eau Tristan und Isolde (King)
1900 Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie
1901 Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie
1902 Paris Théâtre du Château d'Eau Götterdämmerung (Hagen)
1903-1907 Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie
1903 Monte Carlo Opera House
1908-1909 Monte Carlo Opera House
1909-1910 New York Manhattan Opera House


Edison 2-min cylinders, Paris 1905/1906
Hamlet (Thomas): Prière 17564
L'homme et la mer (Flégier)

André Gresse (Bass) (Lyon 1868 - Paris 1937)

He was a son of the bass Léon Gresse, who was active at the Paris Grand Opéra. André Gresse wanted to become originally a painter and visited the Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, but since 1893 he studied singing at the Paris Conservatory under Taskin, Melchissèdec and Duvernoy. He made his debut in 1896 at the Opéra-Comique in Paris as Commendatore in ‘’Don Giovanni’’, while Victor Maurel sang the title role. At the Opéra-Comique he appeared among other things as Gaveston in ‘’La Dame blanche’’ of Boieldieu and as Samba-Hamet in ‘’Le Spahi’’ of Lucien Lambert. When his father finished in 1900 his stage career at the Grand Opéra, he became his successor; here as a beginning role he took over the Saint Bris in ‘’Huguenots’’ by Meyerbeer. Till 1930 he belonged to the most prominent singers of this opera house. On 10. 2. 1910 he created at the Opera House in Monte Carlo in the premiere of Massenet’s ‘’Don Quichotte’’ the role of Sancho Panza, while Fedor Schaljapin appeared as Don Quichotte. He also sang in the premieres of the operas ‘’Sapho’’ of Massenet (Opéra-Comique, 27. 11. 1897 as Césaire), ‘’Le Juif Polonais’’ by Camille Erlanger (Opéra-Comique, 11. 4. 1900), ‘’Bacchus’’ of Massenet (Grand Opéra, 2. 5. 1909), ‘’Le Miracle’’ by Georges Húe (30. 12. 1910 Grand Opéra) and ‘’Scémo’’ of Alfred Bachelet (6. 5. 1914 Grand Opéra). He sang at the Grand Opéra in the premières of several Wagner's operas and, besides, sang the parts of the Fasolt (‘’Rheingold’’, 1909), Titurel (‘’Parsifal’’, 1914) and Marke (‘’Tristan’’, 1904, after the French première at the Nouveau Théâtre in Paris, 1899). Approximately thirty years he was the famous Mephisto of the Grand Opéra in Gounod’s ‘’Faust’’. In 1930 he retired from the stage. He worked as a professor at the Paris Conservatory. One of his numerous pupils was the baritone Martial Singher.

Chronology of some appearances

1896 Paris Opéra-Comique Don Giovanni (Commendatore)
1897 Paris Opéra-Comique Sapho (Césaire)
1900 Paris Grand Opéra Huguenots (Saint Bris)
1900 Paris Opéra-Comique Le Juif Polonais (-)
1909 Paris Grand Opéra Bacchus (-)
1910 Monte Carlo Opera House Don Quichotte (Sancho Panza)
1910 Paris Grand Opéra Le Miracle (-)
1914 Paris Grand Opéra Scémo (-)


Pathé, cylinders & discs, Paris 1902/1903
Faust (Gounod): Entrée de Méphisto, pt 1 with Albert Vaguet 3758
Faust (Gounod): Entrée de Méphisto pt 2 with Albert Vaguet 3759

Pathé cylinders & discs, Paris 1904?
Songe d'une nuit d'été (Thomas): Allons, que tout s'apprête 0508

G&T, Paris 1905
Faust (Gounod): Sérénade 3-32472 4693o
Faust (Gounod): Le veau d'or with chorus 34669 4445o

Gramophone, Paris 1912-11-26
Huguenots (Meyerbeer): Dans la nuit tout seul with Marie Lafargue 034183 02591v
Huguenots (Meyerbeer): Je courais t'avertir with Marie Lafargue  034184 02592v