The Queen of verismo
The great Darclée – once she was the most celebrated soprano of her time, the fin de siècle era, better know today as The Age of Verismo. Puccini pleaded her to create his Manon Lescaut, but, months before jumping to world wide fame with it, he couldn't afford her. Leoncavallo coached her into her La Scala debut, and discovered Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana in the process, which propelled him into gear for his own veristic pot boiler, Pagliacci. She created Odaléa in the unjustly forgotten opera Condor by the fascinating, Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Gomes. She created Mascagni's Iris and Luisa in I Rantzau.
In those years she had but one rival, the electrifying Gemma Bellincioni, who created the other half of the verismo repertoire. I wouldn't stress the competition element between those two monstres sacrées, but when the turn of the Century arrived, Darclée reached the pinnacle of her career, when she created the quintessential and ultimate verismo diva, Tosca, in the legendary Teatro Costanzi World Premiere of January 1900. It was this creation that served to ensure that her name will forever be engraved in golden letters in the annals of opera, and yet... apart from that creation and her name, we know virtually nothing about this enigmatic soprano assoluta...
Who was Hariclea Darclée? Where did she come from? What was her true importance? Why write a book about a diva, who allegedly left no recordings? Those are all questions that will be answered in that book, which is currently finished and in the editing stage. While we are contemplating a fitting way to publish it in English and Romanian langauge, this website serves to give a sample of what is to come.
The Hariclea Darclée International Voice Competition
Apart from promoting diva and book, this website also promotes the Hariclea Darclée International Voice Competition in Darclée's Romanian birth town, Braila. Soon we hope to present a fitting audiovisual retrospect of the decade that has passed since the first competition was held under the inspiring leadership of another Romanian diva, the energetic Mariana Nicolesco. Not less legendary is the President of the Jury, the great Romanian baritone Nicolae Herlea. Then, there is of course always also 'the Maestro who never sleeps', the infatigable Marco Balderi! In the pages on the Voice Competition, you will meet astonishing talents, you will see and hear the winners, and you will get aquainted with one of the most original, and unique vocal competitions in the world.
One of the things that makes it so unique is the outrageous number of performances given there by the participants and winners of previous editions. It is because of these concerts that I habitually refer to the event as The Darclée Festival!
René Seghers, 2012.