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Soprano Clara Clairbert (1899-1970) as Esclarmonde, Monnaie, 1944: The rise and fall of Belgium’s sweetheart…

A lyric-coloratura with a ringing silvery voice, she reigned at the Monnaie as the undisputed diva for 25 years. Conscious of her supremacy, she was unsympathetic to younger singers in the making. Fond of the bottle, she opened a bar and ended her life in poverty, almost a pauper; her funeral being financed by the Artists’ Union and by the State. She had tempestuous love affairs with two Belgian tenors. She left a recording legacy.