Améliè de l’Enclos, French soprano, billed in London as ‘the vocal phenomenon’

January 7, 2015

Améliè de l’Enclos (active early 20th Century), French singer, billed as ‘the vocal phenomenon,’ who made United Kingdom appearances at the Tivoli, Stand, and other London and provincial music halls between about 1909 and 1911
(photo: Ernst Schneider, Berlin, 1908/09; postcard no. 5779, published by The Rapid Photo Printing Co Ltd, London, circa 1909. This postcard, stamp and postmark missing, was sent by Mlle. De l’Enclos to Luigi Motto, 12 Foster Road, Chiswick, London, W. In the 1911 Census for that address, Luigi Motto (1894-1968) is recorded as a music student. He subsequently became a noted ‘cellist and sometime member of The Mozart Concert Party.)

The Tivoli music hall, London, week beginning Monday, 3 January 1910
‘The holiday programme at the Tivoli contains the names of several of the chief music-hall favourites. Miss Marie Lloyd, with her inimitable wink, Mr. Gus Elen, in excellent voice, Mr. George Formby, the Lancashire comedian, who becomes more of an artist the longer he sings, and last but not least (in one sense) Little Tich, all combine to keep the audience in the best of humours… . One of the newcomers to the Tivoli, Mlle. Améliè de l’Enclos, is described on the programme as a phenomenal soprano vocalist, and well deserves the title. She has, to begin with, quite a pleasant and well-trained voice. But over and beyond and far above it she produces some extraordinary vocal harmonics which reach to a positively dizzy height. They are much more like the notes of a flute than a human voice, and of course this part of her performance is merely a variety of trick-singing. But for all that it is not only astonishing, but also, which is a different thing, agreeable to listen to.’
(The Times, London, Tuesday, 4 January 1910, p. 11c)

‘Some Close-range Studies of Personalities of the Week [beginning Monday, 21 November 1910] …
‘A Marvellous Singer
‘Mlle. Amelie de l’Enclos, who is singing at the Tivoli, is able to reach C sharp in alt.’
(The Sphere, London, Saturday, 26 November 1910, p. 181)

* * * * *

‘What are the utmost limits of the human voice? Since, years ago, Mme. Patti reached G in altissimo, doctors of music have been asking themselves this question. As a matter of fact, no singer seems to have exceeded Mme. Patti’s range, although she herself seldom touched that not, her real top note being E flat. Since then, however, several singers have astonished the world by reaching G in alt. even more easily than Mme. Patti.
‘A few days ago a young singer, Miss Florence Macbeth, who has been hailed as ”a second Patti,” appeared at the Queen’s Hall and astounded the critics with her phenomenal voice, which ranges from low G sharp to the G in alt. – three octaves – which she can sing with a clear note.
‘Miss Macbeth was born in Minnesota, and is not the first American nightingale who has astonished the world. Miss [Ellen] Beach Yaw as one of the first to break all musical records on the other side of the Atlantic, and there is a passage in Mozart’s ”Magic Flute” which took her to F, but Miss Yaw demonstrated that she could sing a note higher than that – G.
‘Then there was Miss Editha Helena, a young American diva, who sang at the Empire, London, some time ago, and who claimed to have the greatest vocal register ever possessed by a woman. She could sing with perfect musical intonation (in addition to the two octaves of the ordinary good soprano) F in the altissimo, and even climb to the remote altitudes of the A above F. Besides, this, she could take the low G, and could thus, like Miss Macbeth, sing three octaves, a vocal achievement unprecedented in the whole history of music.
‘In 1910 Mlle. Camille Obar appears at the London Coliseum, and astounded the critics by raising her voice above the level of the C – that ”high C” which is commonly supposed to mark the limit of the ordinary soprano’s efforts in the ”top note” business. As one critic put it, ”The dictionaries of music contained no name for Mlle. Obar’s vocal sky-rockets.” In the same year another French lady, Miss Amelie de l’Enclos, appeared in London and showed that she could reach the four-line C and C sharp, her voice retaining its marvellous purity at this great range.
‘One of the most wonderful singers who ever appeared on the London stage is undoubtedly Miss Florence Smithson, whose song, ”Light is my Heart,” was one of the chief numbers of ”The Arcadians” at the Shaftesbury Theatre. When she first sang the song she set all musical London discussing the wonderful note – F in alt. – which she reached, and not only rendered with astonishing purity and sweetness and without apparent effort, but held with undiminished strength for 24 bars.
‘Naturally the question arises, How do these phenomenal voices compare with the great prima donne of to-day and yesterday? Tetrazzini‘s trill on E flat in alt. has been her greatest and most admired effort. Mme. Melba is credited with an F sharp, Nordica sings C sharp, Calve sings B flat, while Mme. Eames and Mme. Sembrich each easily attain E. Christine Nilsson was able to touch G, and Jenny Lind even an A – ranges, of course, which are phenomenal, and rarely to be found among concert singers.’
(The Advertiser, Adelaide, South Australia, Saturday, 19 July 1913, p. 6h)


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