V0769. CHARLES FONTAINE: Noël de Victoire (Sung by the Composer); Arias from Guillaume Tell, Les Pêcheurs de Perles, La Muette de Portici, Reine de Chypre, Lakmé, Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame, La Juive, Dimitri, Aïda, La Boheme, Roma (Massenet) & Lohengrin. (France) Malibran 591. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 3760003775912
“Like Fernand Ansseau, another Belgian tenor Charles Fontaine was a pupil of Demest at the Brussels Conservatory. He was born in Antwerp and after making a successful debut there was invited to Covent Garden for the season of 1909, where his roles included Faust, Samson and Renaud in a solitary performances of Gluck's ARMIDE. The engagement was, however, premature and the best notices he secured spoke well only of his acting. During the next two seasons he remained in relative obscurity in the French provinces. In 1911 he appeared for the first time in Paris, at the Opera as Raoul in LES HUGUENOTS, in which ‘his powerful voice, the manner in which he deployed it, easy and vibrant’ made a suitable impression. In the course of the next three yerars he divided his time between Paris and appearances at various Belgian theatres. At Antwerp in 1914 with Yvonne Gall in ROMÉO ET JULIETTE, he sang ‘with a force that quite subjugated the crowds’, the same season at Liège he was Arnold in GUILLAUME TELL with another leading Belgian Singer, the baritone Jean Noté. After the German invasion of Beltium in September he moved to Paris. At the end of the same year he made his debut at the Opera-Comique as Don José. He created Almerio in Fevrier's GISOMONDA with Fanny Heldy and Henri Albers. By this time his singing seems to have much improved and LE MENESTRAL picked out for special praise ‘his beautiful voice and restrained playing’ in Faure's PÉNÉLOPE. In the autumn of 1917 he sang in a special gala evening of excerpts from French opera at La Scala. In December 1918 he became a member of the Chicago Opera. During his first season in which, as a result of the presence of Mary Garden as principal prima donna, fourteen of the twenty-nine works in the repertory were French, he shared the principal tenor roles with Lucient Muratore and John O'Sullivan. He took the role of Pierre in Messager's MADAME CHRYSANTHÈME with the Japanese soprano Tamaki Miura. When it was repeated on tour at the Lexington Theatre in New York, Aldrich noted that: ‘[Fontaine] as Pierre showed an agreeable tenor voice, a little uneven in quality, and sometimes a little disposed to flat but with plenty of power, and in his impersonation was vigorous and manly’. He remained active through the 1920s in Paris and, the French provinces at Bordeaux, Nice (with Rittter-Ciampi in LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN) and elsewhere. When a less scrupulous delivery does not come amiss, in Sigurd's ‘Esprits gardiens’, he makes a brazen effect sweeping easily through the high tessitura.”
- Bruce Duffie
“Charles Fontaine, a Belgian tenor who was born in Antwerp on 24 May 1878, studied at the Brussels Conservatory, then made his opera début in the season of 1903–1904 at the Théâtre Royal Français in The Hague, where he sang Don José, Faust, Julien, Des Grieux and other roles. His first London appearance was at Covent Garden in 1909, when he was Samson in theater’s first staged performance of SAMSON ET DALILA; other assignments there were Faust and Armide. Fontaine’s Paris Opéra debut followed on 7 July 1911, when he sang Raoul in LES HUGUENOTS. He remained a leading artist with that company until 1930, singing the operas of many composers, from Rossini to Wolf-Ferrari.
After 1914, Fontaine also appeared frequently at the Opéra-Comique in Paris. His career abroad included several roles in Monte Carlo (1916) and two seasons with the Chicago Opera (1918–1920) [where he sang often with Yvonne Gall and Mary Garden]. He also sang Messager’s MADAME CHRYSANTHÈME there, with the famed Japanese soprano Tamaki Miura.”
- Mary Jane Phillips-Matz