The Queen of verismo

DARCLEE COVERThe 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 an idea of what you can expect from the book.

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. After Operalia, the Hariclea Darclée International Voice Competition is the most unique and fascinating voice competition around. It takes place in a mysterious area near the black Sea, under the blazing sun, where miracles happen. Words, pictures and videos fall short in describing it. Stars were born there, and I once had actual mermaids singing Rusalka's Moon aria to me thee, on the shores of the Danube.

René Seghers, 2020.