Heldy, Fanny (1888–1973)

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Heldy, Fanny (1888–1973)

Belgian soprano. Born Marguerite Virginia Emma Clementine Deceuninck on February 29, 1888, in Ath, near Liège, Belgium; died on December 13, 1973, in Passy, France; studied at Liège Conservatory.

Debuted at the Théatre de la Monnaie in Brussels (1910); debuted at the Opéra-Comique in Paris (1917); appeared at the Teatro alla Scala and Covent Garden (1926).

For 20 years, from 1917 until 1937, Fanny Heldy was the acknowledged star of the Opéra-Comique and the Paris Opéra. A scholarship founded in her name continues to be awarded to promising young singers. Some did not find Heldy a serious soprano and claimed that she was more interested in her racehorses than in her performances. This criticism seems unfair in light of her staying power as a star. Her voice, wrote one critic, was "never hard," but her intense presentation "would infallibly make for hardness in a less skillful artist." However, it is still felt that a hardness in the ringing quality and a tone too bright for comfort can be detected in recordings Heldy made. This hardness, however, emerges in her later recordings while the earlier ones have a freshness and charm which established Heldy as a perennial favorite in France.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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Heldy, Fanny (1888–1973)

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