1 - Period engraving of the Opéra-Comique or second Salle Favart in its full glory in 1864
Following the fire of 1838, a new house was inaugurated in 1840 until another ghastly blaze destroyed the theatre again in 1887, killing 84 people. The existing Opéra-Comique was inaugurated in 1898 with a capacity of 1,255 seats.
2 - French composer Jules Massenet’s historic piece of ephemera from the second 1887 fire
Jules Massenet (1842-1912) was one of Opéra-Comique’s most beloved composers. These fragments of the boxes’ wallpapers with annotations in his hand are one-of-a-kind relics from his own collection!
3 - French tenor Gilbert Duprez (1806-1896) and daughter soprano Caroline Duprez (1832-1875) posing together in a 19th century print, ca. 1851.
Duprez was the creator of many roles and invented the tenor’s chest voice high C.
Caroline was gifted with an agile but diminutive voice and studied with her father. Like Marguerite Gauthier and Violetta in "La Traviata", she died of tuberculosis, aged 43.
4 - French soprano Caroline Miolan-Carvalho (1827-1895) for Parisian weekly “Camées artistiques”, posing as an "ingénue" Marguerite (“Faust”).
A pupil of Gilbert Duprez, she was a coloratura soprano who fiercely negotiated cadenzas and embellishments with composers so that her “vocal fireworks” (her own words) would stun her audience! Married to French baritone and opera director Léon Carvalho.
5 - French bass-baritone Hippolyte Belhomme (1854-1923) as a farcical Biju in Adolphe Adam’s opera « Le Postillon de Longjumeau », Monnaie, Brussels, 1907.
A favorite at the Opéra-Comique, he was endowed with a diminutive but alluring presence and a resounding voice. He enjoyed paying funny tricks to his colleagues and as shown here, he had a strong comic talent! He left a recording legacy.