26 – French contralto Marie Delna (1875-1932) as Didon (“Les Troyens à Carthage”), creation at the Opéra-Comique, June 9, 1892. It marked her extraordinary debut, aged 17. Edmond Clément sang the role of Hylas.

With her opulent voice and commanding stage presence, she was dubbed the “sensational contralto”. Despite her prestigious international career and after a foray into teaching, she died in poverty, her funeral being paid by her former colleagues of the Opéra.

Marie Delna - The Trojans at Carthage (Berlioz) - Dear Tire (1912)


28 – Belgian mezzo-soprano and actress Marguerite Sylva (1875-1957). From “Carmen” to Broadway and Hollywood…

Her life wife was a fairy tale come true. From the Opéra-Comique to the Drury Lane Theater and Broadway musicals, she was an amazing stage performer, actress and singer, who quickly became a household name. She crashed her car into a house driving at full speed and died short after, left a recording legacy.

Marguerite Sylva - Carmen (Bizet) - Act I: seguidilla By the ramparts of Seville


31 – French soprano Suzanne Cesbron-Viseur (1879-1967) in Jules Massenet’s “Ariane”, a role she rehearsed with the composer himself.

A stylish lady, she was one of the most distinguished ambassadors of French opera, and a close friend of many composers. A delicate and intuitive soprano, she was also an exceptional concert soloist.

She became a respected professor and taught singers such as Germaine Lubin and Régine Crespin, etc.), left a recording legacy.

Suzanne Cesbron-Viseur - Sappho (Massenet) - For a year I was your wife (1929)


33 – Elusive French tenor David Devriès (1881-1936) as Jean in Massenet’s “Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame”, Monnaie, Brussels, October 14, 1920.

Born into a reputed musical family, his career epitomized French vocal refinement with a small, but perfectly placed voice. He was instrumental in helping to persuade Scottish soprano Mary Garden (1874-1967) to sing the tenor part of Jean at the Metropolitan Opera in 1908. He left a recording legacy.

David Devries - The Juggler of Notre Dame (Massenet), Act I: O freedom, my love!


34 – Belgian bass Albert Huberty (1881-1955) as a realistic old Hebrew (“Samson et Dalila”), Opéra de Paris, 1919.

A legendary bass, he sang over 3200 performances, from buffo parts, to lyric or dramatic roles. His stentorian voice was considered alarmingly powerful and he could recreate almost any part instantly. However, as a professor, he simply sat at the piano, and sang …for himself, uncaring towards his pupils! He left a recording legacy.

Albert Huberty - Faust (Gounod) - Serenade


39 – French baritone Léon Ponzio (1884-1947) as a striking Bruno, creation of “Oudelette”, opera by Charles Radoux, Monnaie, Brussels, April 21, 1912.

Of Italian descent, gifted with a warm and powerful voice, he was the quintessential singing comedian in a repertoire encompassing more than 150 roles. He was also a talented painter and graphic designer, before devoting his time to teaching. He left a recording legacy.

Watermark Operas
Leon Ponzio - The Song of the Desert (Romberg) - Song of the desert, ca. 1930


42 – French soprano Lucyle Panis (1887-1966) as Maliella in Wolf-Ferrari’s “I Gioelli della Madonna”, creation, Monnaie, Brussels, 1913.

42 – French soprano Lucyle Panis (1887-1966) as Maliella in Wolf-Ferrari’s “I Gioelli della Madonna”, creation, Monnaie, Brussels, 1913.

She was famous for her beauty and commanding stage deportment. Her “shapely figure” was praised as much as her voice! Her performance of “Thaïs” at the Opéra Comique in 1921 was considered to be “too provocative”… She left a recording legacy.


45 – The indomitable Belgian contralto Jeanne Montfort (1889-1964) as a plump and vigorous Dalila (“Samson et Dalila”) her debut role at the Opéra de Paris in 1921.

Endowed with what she herself described as “a voice from the Gods”, she sang a variety of contralto and alto roles, before embarking on a successful teaching journey in Paris. She reportedly had a private affair with a reputed lady fashion designer … She left a recording legacy.

Jeanne Montfort - Samson et Dalila (Saint-Saens) - My heart opens to your voice (1930)


46 – Belgian tenor Fernand Ansseau (1890-1972) as Orphée (« Orphée et Eurydice »), Monnaie, Brussels, 1922. On October 11, 1921, he created the revised tenor version at the Opéra-Comique to huge acclaim.

A pupil of Désiré Demest and Ernest Van Dyck, he was one of the most sought after tenors of his generation who cut short his career at its peak in 1940 at the outbreak of WW2 just after German invasion to devote himself to fishing, archery, “pétanque” (boules) and to teaching. He left a recording legacy.

Fernand Ansseau - Orpheus and Eurydice (Gluck) - J`ai lost my Eurydice


47 – Belgian soprano Emma Luart (1892-1968) as the Queen in Samuel-Rousseau’s opéra-comique « Le bon Roi Dagobert », Opéra-Comique, 1920.

With her brilliant voice, distinctive musicality and stylish looks, she was dubbed “the perfect voice” and “La Luart” by her aficionados. Her histrionic abilities were also greeted as “incredibly convincing”.

One of Opéra-Comique’s most beloved artists, she left a recording legacy.

Emma Luart - Thaïs (Massenet) - L`amour is a rare virtue (1928)