V1947. FERNAND ANSSEAU: Arias from Roméo, Werther, Monna Vanna, La Damnation de Faust, L’Africaine, Carmen, Pagliacci, Tosca & Lohengrin; w.Fanny Heldy: Carmen – Parle-moi de ma mère. (Austria) Preiser 89022, recorded 1923-29. Final copy!
“Ansseau had a vibrant and glowing tenor which maintained its youthful beauty, unfaded, over a long career. He had a strong and unforced top register, flexible and with great warmth and perfect diction. Remarkably, his voice kept its sheen and colorful characteristics until his retirement from performing.”
- Richard T. Soper, BELGIAN OPERA HOUSES AND SINGERS, p.284
“Ansseau’s was a full, richly-varied lyric-dramatic tenor voice with plenty of thrust, well placed on the breath, the high notes free and ringing. After Paul Franz, Ansseau was the finest tenor active in the French repertory.”
- Michael Scott
“With his beautiful singing of inner animal drive and dramatic verve Ansseau has made a number of outstanding records. To me, his singing with passion and fire is more suitable to dramatic roles than to lyrical parts. I particularly like him in MONNA VANNA, HÉRODIADE, L’AFRICAINE and PAGLIACCI. Fernand Ansseau’s background was musical. At the age of 17 he entered the Brussels conservatory and became a student of the noted teacher Désiré Demest. Demest trained him as a baritone, but Ansseau felt that he was making too little progress. His teacher directed him to change to tenor, noticing his student’s increasing ease with the upper register. After studying three years with the celebrated Flemish tenor Ernest van Dijck, Ansseau made his widely acclaimed début as Jean in Massenet’s HÉRODIADE (the role was to become one of his most successful achievements). During his career he appeared in roles such as Sigurd, Faust, Julien and Don José. He was the tenor lead in Saint-Saëns’ first performance of LES BARBARES. As a Belgian patriot he refused to appear on the operatic stage during World War I and sang only occasionally. After the war he resumed his operatic career at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, as Canio (1918). Particularly in Auber’s liberation opera LA MUETTE DE PORTICI he was much applauded. His repertory included Radames, Samson, The Duke of Mantua, Jean, Don Alvaro, Faust (Berlioz), Des Grieux (Manon) and Cavaradossi. He remained at this important opera house until his retirement. 1919 saw his Covent Garden début, singing Des Grieux with the soprano Marie-Louise Edvina as Manon and Beecham as conductor. Ansseau became a well-known singer at Covent Garden and appeared as Faust, Canio, Cavaradossi and Roméo, opposite Dame Nelly Melba. He refused a generous offer by general manager Gatti-Casazza in 1920 to sing at the Met, not keen to leave home for an extended period. In 1922 he sang at the Paris Opéra as Jean, Alain (GRISÉLIDIS), Roméo, Lohengrin, Tannhäuser, Admète (opposite Germaine Lubin) and again as Roméo. From 1923 to 1928 he was a regular member of the Chicago Civic Opera, enjoying remarkable popularity. The ‘Reigning Queen’, Mary Garden was full of praise for the tenor, becoming a favorite partner of the Diva. He was the tenor lead opposite her in Alfano’s RISURREZIONE and in Montemezzi’s L’AMORE DEI TRE RE. Ansseau spent his active years in Brussels but often reappeared in Ghent and Antwerp. His last performance at the La Monnaie was in 1939. His rather early retirement was often linked to the war and given a patriotic twist, also by Ansseau himself. Some people who knew him attribute it more to saturation. From 1942 to 1944 he served as a Professor of Voice at the Brussels conservatory, devoting the following decades to his hobbies, fishing and gardening. He died where his was born, in Boussu-Bois.”
- Andrea Shum-Binder, subito-cantabile