ANTOINE PONCHARD, Tenor * 31 August 1787, Paris, France + 06 June 1866, Paris, France;

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Louis Antoine Ponchard (31 August 1787 – 6 June 1866) was a 19th-century French operatic tenor and teacher.

He made his debut in 1812 in L’Ami de la maison, opera by Grétry. In 1825, he sang the leading role − George Brown − at the première of La dame blanche by Boïeldieu. He also participated to the premières of the Boïeldieu’s operas Petit Chaperon Rouge and Deux Nuits, Joconde ou Les coureurs d’aventures, by Nicolas Isouard, La muette de Portici by Michele Carafa, Zémire et Azor by Grétry as well as many operas by Auber such as Le maçon in 1825 and also La journée aux aventures by Étienne Méhul in 1816.

Ponchard taught singing at the Lille Conservatory where Henri-Bernard Dabadie, Jean-Baptiste Faure, Giovanni Mario, Louis-Henri Obin, Anaïs Fargueil, Rosine Stoltz, Jean-Baptiste Weckerlin, Gustave-Hippolyte Roger and Charles-Marie Ponchard were among his students.

Antoine Ponchard is buried at Père Lachaise cemetery (11th division).

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Posted by on January 12, 2018 in Tenors


PIERRE BERNAC, Baritone * 12 January 1899, Paris, France + 17 October 1979, Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, France;

The baritone Pierre Bernac was one of the most important French singers of the twentieth century. His singing was characterized by a refined, high, and light baritone voice with impeccably clear and gentle enunciation and a sensitive and flexible approach to phrasing. His close relationships to several major composers, most notably Francis Poulenc, made him the definitive interpreter of a large repertoire of mélodies.

After early studies with André Caplet and Yvonne Gouverné, Bernac made his recital debut in Paris in 1925. In 1926, he gave his first Poulenc premiere with Chansons gailliardes. In the early 1930s, he also studied lieder with Reinhard von Wahrlich. Bernac met Poulenc in 1934 when he asked Poulenc to accompany him for some Debussy mélodies, and on April 3, 1935, they gave their first recital together, which included the first performance of Poulenc’s Cinq poèmes de Paul Eluard. They toured the world together until Bernac’s retirement in 1960. Poulenc wrote 90 songs for Bernac and Bernac’s interpretations of these works with the composer at the piano have been recorded on disc (his complete recordings were reissued in 1999) and discussed in his two books: The Interpretation of French Song (London, 1970) and Francis Poulenc: The Man and His Songs (London, 1977). Bernac also collaborated with other important composers of the twentieth century, including Hindemith, Berkeley, Barber, Jolivet, Sauguet, and Françaix. He turned to teaching in later life; his most famous student was Gérard Souzay. Bernac’s only performances on the opera stage were in the role of Pelléas in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande (in 1933 at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and in 1936 in Geneva under the baton of Ernest Ansermet).

Artist Biography by Robert Adelson

Photo credit: Bach Cantatas Website

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Posted by on January 12, 2018 in Baritones


CAROL NEBLETT, Soprano * 01 February 1946 Modesto, California + 23 November 2017, Los Angeles;

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Carol Lee Neblett (February 1, 1946 – November 23, 2017) was an American operatic soprano.

Life and career
Neblett was born in Modesto, California and raised in Redondo Beach. She studied at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1969 she made her operatic debut with the New York City Opera, playing the part of Musetta in Puccini’s La bohème. With that company, she continued to sing many leading roles, in Mefistofele (with Norman Treigle), Prince Igor (conducted by Julius Rudel), Faust, Manon, Louise (opposite John Alexander, later Harry Theyard), La traviata, Le coq d’or, Carmen (as Micaëla, with Joy Davidson, staged by Tito Capobianco), The Marriage of Figaro (as the Contessa Almaviva, with Michael Devlin and Susanne Marsee), Don Giovanni (as Donna Elvira), L’incoronazione di Poppea (with Alan Titus as Nerone), Ariadne auf Naxos (directed by Sarah Caldwell), and Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Die tote Stadt (in Frank Corsaro’s production).

Her brief nude scene in a 1973 staging of Massenet’s Thaïs, for the New Orleans Opera Association, made international headlines. In 1976, she performed Tosca, with Luciano Pavarotti, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. In 1977, she sang the part of Minnie in La fanciulla del West (one of her great successes), with Plácido Domingo, for Queen Elizabeth II’s 25th Jubilee Celebration at Covent Garden.

In 1979, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Senta in The Flying Dutchman, in Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s production, opposite José van Dam.

She sang with the Met until 1993, in such operas as Tosca, La bohème, Un ballo in maschera (with Carlo Bergonzi), Don Giovanni, Manon Lescaut, Falstaff (with Giuseppe Taddei),[7] and La fanciulla del West.

During her career, she sang all over the world, including in San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Buenos Aires, Salzburg, Hamburg and London. Her recordings include Musetta in La bohème, with Renata Scotto, Alfredo Kraus, Sherrill Milnes and Paul Plishka, for Angel/EMI, James Levine conducting (1979); La fanciulla del West, with Domingo and Milnes, Zubin Mehta conducting (DGG, 1977); Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No.2 (“Resurrection”) with Claudio Abbado, Marilyn Horne, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (DGG, 1977); and Marietta in Die tote Stadt, with René Kollo, Erich Leinsdorf conducting (RCA, 1975).

She appeared in several performances on television, including a tribute to George London at the Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. She also appeared as a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. In 2012, Neblett made her musical theatre debut in a production of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies.

Neblett was an artist in residence and voice instructor at Chapman University in Southern California. She was also on the faculty of the International Lyric Academy in Rome.

Personal life
Neblett was married three times. Her first marriage was to the cellist Douglas Davis,[14] her second to the conductor Kenneth Schermerhorn, and her third to the cardiologist Phillip Akre. Her second marriage produced a son, Stefan Schermerhorn, and her third marriage produced two daughters, Adrienne Akre Spear and Marianne Akre. All three marriages ended in divorce.

Neblett died at age 71 on November 23, 2017, in Los Angeles. Survivors include her son, her daughter Adrienne, a sister, a brother, and four grandchildren. Her daughter Marianne Akre predeceased her, in 2001.

Courtesy: Wikipedia

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Posted by on January 12, 2018 in Sopranos


DEREK HAMMOND-STROUD, Bass * 10 January 1926, London, United Kingdom + 14 May 2012, Roden, United Kingdom;

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He studied at Trinity College in London, followed by working with Gerhard Hüsch in Munich, with Elena Gerhardt, and Roy Henderson in London. In 1955 he sang the role of Creon in London in a concert performance of Haydn’s “Orfeo” . His stage debut was in 1957 as Publio in “La Clemenza di Tito”. He became a stalwart at Sadler’s Wells before his Covent Garden debut in 1971 as Faninal .His roles inluded Papageno, Don Magnifico, Dr. Bartolo, Rigoletto, Fra Melitone, Beckmesser, Alberich,and the Sacristan in “Tosca”. He was also a noted interpreter of the works of Gilbert and Sullivan.

Short Biography by Charles Rhodes

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Photo credit: The Telegraph

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Posted by on January 11, 2018 in Bassses


TILLY KOENEN, Soprano * 25 December 1873 Salatiga, Java, Indonesia + 04 January 1941 The Hague, Netherlands;

Tilly (Mathilde Caroline) Koenen born at the isle of Java in Salatiga. Familiar with the language she liked to sing Malay songs. Already in 1906 she performed Malay songs written down by Indisch composer Constant van de Wall in Berlin. These ‘Maleische liederen’ she also performed later in all major cities in Europe.

She made her debut in Berlin, where she followed her teacher – the famous contralto and singing-pedagogue Cornélie van Zanten. She made quickly furore in Germany and the Netherlands and sang a.o. for the German Kaiser and at the Dutch Court. After very successful concert-tours through Middle-Europe, she settled down in London. In 1909 and 1910 she made concert-tours through the U.S. and Canada, where she also appeared in oratorio. Only once she sang in an opera – Orpheus – under the baton of Cornélie van Zanten in Amsterdam.

Program Elias with Tilly Koenen (1873-1941).

Gustav Mahler

  • Tilly Koenen letter to Mahler dated 09-01-1907, Paris. The dates of her three Vienna recitals were 05-02-1907, 07-02-1907 and 25-02-1907. It is obvious in the letter that Mahler had wanted to engage her as soloist for his Berlin performance of his Third Symphony, but that she had been unable to accept.
  • Undated letter to Tilly Koenen (mid-Jan. 1907). Accompanied by Coenraad V. Bos, Tilly Koenen sang the Kintertotenlieder in Berlin in her third recital on 21-02-1907.
  • In 1910 she sang in the premiere of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony under the direction of Gustav Mahler in Munich.                                                                                                       Courtesy: Gustav-Mahler
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Posted by on January 11, 2018 in Uncategorized


AAFJE HEYNIS, Contralto * 02 May 1924, Krommenie, Netherlands + 16 December 2015, Huizen, Netherlands;

Born in Rotterdam, she studied with L.F. Brandts Bujs and Paul Hasse who had been a member of the ‘Deusche Oper’ in Rotterdam. After further studies with the famous singing coach Julius Stockhausen in Frakfurt am Main she made an early debut in Schumann’s Paradies und Peri. It was Johannes Brahms who accompanied the 20 years old singer in his songs. Like many Dutch singers she never appeared on stage, but became the most important contralto on the concert platform. For many years, she was a dominant figure in the contralto parts of Bach’s Passions, B-minor Mass, in Beethoven’s Symphony 9, in Mahler’s Symphonies 2 and 3, in Verdi’s Messa da Requiem and in works of contemporary composers. The duet singing together with the celebrated soprano Aaltje Noordewier-Reddingius belonged to the vocal highlights of the season. She was also a member of the singing quartet with Noordewier-Reddingius, Tom Denijs and Johannes Messchaert. De Haan also toured Germany, Austria, Switzerland and England. Maartje Offers was to become her most prominent student. Pauline De Haan died in Rotterdam, 1954.

Courtesy: Cantabile-Subito

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Posted by on January 11, 2018 in Contraltos


MARIETTA ALBONI, Contralto * 06 March 1826, Città di Castello, Italy + 23 June 1894, Ville-d’Avray, France;

Alboni, Marietta, the great contralto, was born at Citta’ di Castello , in 1826, of very honorable parents, and received an excellent education. At the age of eleven she took lessons in music of the celebrated Maestro Antonio Bagioli at Cesena. Eight years after she entered the Lyceum of Bologna, when Rossini was its director. Her first debut was at Milan, in the great theatre of La Scala, where she continued to sing during four seasons. She then sang three engagements at Vienna, and made her mark, like all the first class Italian artists, in St. Petersburg. She left that city in 1845 for Germany, after which time she made no engagements with managers, but sang, as her mood prompted, in the principal cities, sharing in London the triumphs of Grisi, Mario, and Tamburini, until she went to Paris, where the rapture of her admirers had no precedent, both at the Italian and Grand Opera Houses.

A year ago she was exciting great enthusiasm to Belgium. And her last public appearance was in Paris, on the 13th of May, 1852, at a grand solemnity in the theatre of the Palace of Versailles, at which Louis Napoleon assist( d. She was the great star of the occasion, and astonished and de-lighted every body by her singing. The director of the Grand Opera made propositions, to her to sing in Halevy’s new opera, “Le Juif Errant,” and offered to produce expressly for her a piece of Balfe’s : “Manon l’Escaut,” the “Metal de bataille,” as it has been called, of Malibran. But she had concluded all the preliminary arrangements for a trip to America.

Here she arrived in June, 1852, and her brilliant career in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Cuba , Mexico, &c., both in concerts and in opera, is too well known to need especial notice. A Parisian critic describes Alboni’s voice as “a veritable contralto, of the most sweet and most sonorous. It goes down to F in the bass clef and up to the C in alt of the soprano ; that is to say, it traverses a compass of two octaves and a half. The first register commences with the F in the bass, and reaches to the same note in the medium ; here lies the real body of Alboni’s voice, and the admirable timbre of this register colors and characterizes all the rest. The second register extends from the G of the medium to the F above ; and the remaining compass of a fourth above that, forming the third portion, is but an elegant sumptuosity of nature. One must hear, to conceive with what incredible skill the artist uses this magnificent instrument ! It is the pearly, light, and fluid vocalization of Persiani, joined to the brilliancy and pomp of style of Pisaroni. Nothing can give an idea of this voice always united, always equal, which vibrates without effort, and of which each note opens like a rosebud. No cry, no pretended dramatic contortion, to bruise and wound your tympanum under the pretext of moving you to tears ! No doubt the admirable voice of Alboni is not without some imperfections ; it counts several notes that are feeble and slightly dull, as sol, la, si, do, notes which serve as the transition between the chest voice, of an unparalleled beauty, and the register of sounds formed above the larynx, commonly called the head tones. When the singer is not careful, this little heath enlarges, and these notes appear a little stifled. It is quite evident that the virtuosa glides over this little bridge of sighs with all sorts of precautions, and that she evinces a satisfaction when she arrives at a real tone of her contralto voice, which she snakes leap out and vibrate with so much the more sonorousness. Frequently she contrasts these two registers with an exquisite taste, balancing herself lightly on the mixed note before bounding upon the terra firma of her cheat voice, which she governs with a supreme authority. We have heard her make a gamut from the C in alt down to F in the bass ; this gamut flew before the ear with the rapidity of lightning, without your losing a single note, and all this was done with an unconcern entirely hopeless for mediocrity.”

Of her personal appearance, her favorite r?les, &c., at the time of her arrival in America, a writer in the Tribune thus speaks : “Marietta Alboni is about twenty-six years of age, -has great embonpoint, – used to keep her hair clipped short and hanging in her neck, when we heard her two or three years since in Europe-has remarkable self-possession and almost indifference of manner pon the stage, of which Steffanone constantly reminded us, and achieves her glowing triumphs more by the splendor of her voice, and her exquisite management of it, than by any dramatic genius, in which she is deficient. Her voice is the purest, richest, fullest, and sweetest contralto. The limited repertoire fin: such a voice has induced Alboni, who is singularly restless, with all her languor of temperament, to undertake many parts not strictly within her range ; but so remarkable is her voice, so delicious to hear under any circumstances, that we believe she has achieved a success in every part she has undertaken. In Rossini’s music, in his brilliant finales and scenas, like the Non più mesta, Alboni is wonderful. Her voice pours out of her mouth without the slightest effort, and with irresistible effect, and gushes through the glittering fioriture of that style with a sparkling facility which is most fascinating. The Brindisi, from ‘ Lucrezia Borgia,’ known as the drinking song, is another of her exquisite bits of vocalization. She used often to sing it between the acts at the Italian Opera in Paris, and it always excited unmingled enthusiasm.”

Complete Encyclopaedia of Music by John Weeks Moore

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Posted by on January 11, 2018 in Contraltos

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