Leo Slezak sings 'Sous le beau ciel de Touraine' (auf Deutsch) from Giacomo Meyerbeer's 'Les Huguenots'.
This recording is from 1905.
Leo Slezak (18 August 1873 -- 1 June 1946) was a world-renowned Austrian-Czech tenor who specialized in German opera and lieder. He was also one of the premier interpreters of Verdi's Otello. Discovered and trained by the well-known baritone and teacher Adolf Robinson, he made a promising début at Brno on 17 March 1896 , as Lohengrin. His early career was somewhat chequered and his Covent Garden début on 18 May 1900, again as Lohengrin, was ruined by the pandemonium aroused by the war news of the Relief of Mafeking in South Africa. By contrast, his career in Vienna, whither he was called by Gustav Mahler in 1901, was brilliant and prolonged. He remained one of the leading tenors of the house through the mid-1920s and subsequently made occasional guest appearances until a final Pagliacci in 1933. Slezak had become internationally famous during this time, especially after a period of study with Jean de Reszke in 1907. A marked improvement was noted on his reappearance at Covent Garden in 1909, when he sang Otello with robust power and beauty of tone. That autumn he made his first appearance at the Metropolitan Opera as Otello, to still greater acclaim. He remained with the company for four consecutive seasons, singing, among other parts, his main Wagnerian roles (Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Walther), Giuseppe Verdi's Manrico and Radames, and P.I. Tchaikovsky's Hermann, and frequently appeared under the direction of Arturo Toscanini and Gustav Mahler. In later years he became well known as an lieder interpreter and, later still, made a new career for himself in 'comic uncle' roles in German and Austrian films. His irrepressible sense of fun comes out in his autobiographical books; a similar volume by his son, the actor Walter Slezak, calleWhat Time's the Next Swan?', alludes to the tenor's celebrated stage whisper on an occasion when the swan in Lohengrin began to move off before he had stepped aboard. Such anecdotes, together with his immense stature and ample girth, might suggest that Slezak was more of a 'character' than a serious artist; but, the verdict of New York critics during his seasons there, as well as numerous recordings made over a 30 year period, prove the contrary. There were certain flaws in his technique, but at his best he combined great warmth and brilliance of tone with clear enunciation and a near-perfect command of mezza voce.