Following the fire of 1838, a new house was inaugurated in 1840 until another ghastly blaze destroyed the theatre again in 1887, killing 84 people. The existing Opéra-Comique was inaugurated in 1898 with a capacity of 1,255 seats.
Jules Massenet (1842-1912) was one of Opéra-Comique’s most beloved composers. These fragments of the boxes’ wallpapers with annotations in his hand are one-of-a-kind relics from his own collection!
Duprez was the creator of many roles and invented the tenor’s chest voice high C.
Caroline was gifted with an agile but diminutive voice and studied with her father. Like Marguerite Gauthier and Violetta in “La Traviata”, she died of tuberculosis, aged 43.
A pupil of Gilbert Duprez, she was a coloratura soprano who fiercely negotiated cadenzas and embellishments with composers so that her “vocal fireworks” (her own words) would stun her audience! Married to French baritone and opera director Léon Carvalho.
A favorite at the Opéra-Comique, he was endowed with a diminutive but alluring presence and a resounding voice. He enjoyed paying funny tricks to his colleagues and as shown here, he had a strong comic talent! He left a recording legacy.
Following a modest debut and a stint as a chorister, she ruled as a primadonna, esteemed by composers and conductors alike. A respected personality in the Parisian posh circles. Her elegiac figure and acting skills were mesmerizing.
She helped funding the construction of the new Opéra-Comique and left a recording legacy.
The sheer vocal and stylistic splendor of Manon and the Chevalier des Grieux was saluted by the press as “the ideal interpretation of ‘Manon’”, shortly after composer Jules Massenet congratulated the artists in Paris in 1893. Both soloists left a recording legacy.
Wherever she sang, she was greeted with rave critics, embodying a soprano’s dream come true. Her madness scene in “Hamlet” captured her audience until a ripe age, still sing beautifully the repertoire of her youth! She left a recording legacy.
Following a positive debut in Paris in 1889, his voice declined prematurely. His acting skills were considered to be too caricatural as can be seen here.
He later settled in Brussels where his career was almost gone and where he taught singing and acting! He left a recording legacy.
Despite her meteoric rise to stardom (she created Massenet’s “Esclarmonde” and “Thaïs”) and privileged relation with composers, her life was not a happy one: poor health and depression wrecked her voice.
She reputedly had an affair with Massenet, and left a recording legacy.
An outstanding baritone, he could learn his part almost photographically in one day in a gallery of more than 140 roles. When his life-size portrait as “Hamlet” by Alfred Bastien was presented to him during an official ceremony at the Monnaie, he fainted, overcome by emotion. He left a recording legacy.
This distinguished bass scored great successes throughout the world. Belgian tenor Fernand Ansseau (1890-1972) recalled that “his voice was as powerful as an organ”.
A born actor, he could tackle comic and dramatic parts alike, which all gave rise to long standing ovations and encores. He left a recording legacy.
Born into a musical family, he had a hefty but surprisingly supple lyric voice which was compared to “a violin” by composer and violinist Armand Marsick (1877-1959). An accomplished and refined musician (he had a perfect ear), he became a distinguished voice teacher and author. He left a recording legacy.
Clément exemplified tonal beauty and phrasing, with a voice ideally tailored to opéra-comique, but in New York, his appearances were challenged by those of Enrico Caruso. Wounded during WW1, he reduced his operatic appearances and taught at Nice. He left a recording legacy.
Hailed as the “intellectual tenor”, his talents were manifold: sculpture and painting, violin, composition, writing, publishing and teaching.
A stern and sometimes distant man, he became an editor and operatic tour impresario, a staunch defender of French opera. He left a recording legacy.
A dramatic tenor, reputed for his instinctive musicality and pathos, singing in five languages. After an illustrious career, he taught in Brussels.
Almost blind, he fell down the stairs of his home and died soon after! Author of an informative autobiography: « Souvenirs de Théâtre et de Coulisses”. He left a recording legacy.
Endowed with an extended voice and an infectious ‘vis comica’, this versatile bass mastered a repertoire of more than 125 roles. A fixture at the Opéra and a respected musical figure, he taught at the Paris Conservatoire, forming many leading singers. He left a recording legacy.
An Opéra-Comique top star, she sang with the best artists of her generation and premiered several operas, including “Sapho”. An admired and poignant “Carmen”, she sang Bizet’s opera 220 times! An iconic and beloved Belle-Epoque artist, she left a scarce recording legacy.
As the wife of composer Léon Xanrof (1867-1953), she exploited his influential relations to promote her subdued career. Her lovely figure and handsome looks were the talk of the town in Paris as she posed as a fashion model; to her husband’s dismay. She left a recording legacy.
Her companion, Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949), author of “Pelléas et Mélisande”, tried to convince Claude Debussy to let her create “Mélisande” in 1902, to no avail: a quarrel ensued and Mary Garden won.
Leblanc’s voice was rather conventional, but she was a remarkable actress. She left a recording legacy.
A compelling beauty with innate acting skills, a distinctive voice and strong business acumen, her ambition was to become a celebrity beauty queen. Her talents took her to music-hall, operatic and theatrical stages worldwide. She died in the bombing of her house while trying to save her jewelry collection!.
The creator of “Pelléas et Mélisande”, she embodied vocal magnificence and refinement, remaining closely associated with “opéra-comique”. Katyusha was a triumph shared with Belgian tenor Fernand Ansseau (1890-1972) as Dimitri. She left a recording legacy.
Of Italian descent, her impassioned temperament was “mesmerizing”. An adopted child, she made her debut aged 17. She created the title-role of “Elektra” with Caruso in America. She ended her life broken, disabled and blind. She left a rare recording legacy.
A powerful bass and a consummate actor, following his 1914 concert at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, critics wrote that “His partners were dismayed by his devil-like histrionic abilities and unearthly expression” (Comoedia).
He later became a revered professor in acting and a mute film actor. He left a recording legacy.
An underrated singer, he gave thousands of performances and created dozens of operas in realistic and dramatic portrayals. Composer Leroux said that he was his “best Chemineau”.