José Lens

1897 Mohiville – 21 December 1964 Bois-Boursu

Picture of José Lens

José Lens sings Lucia di Lammermoor: Bientôt l'herbe des champs
In RA format
Lens was one of the major stars in Belgian operatic history; outside Belgium, in sharp contrast, he's barely known. He studied voice with Jules Massart, among others. He had a long career at the Théâtre de la Monnaie, from 1926 to 1953, and sang an enormous number of performances there. For the first years, he sang secondary parts like Pang, Nathanael (Contes d'Hoffmann), the Innkeeper (Rosenkavalier) or Brighella (Ariadne auf Naxos), but soon, he became a (perhaps: the) leading tenor of the troupe, and sang Turiddu, Grigorij, Albert Herring, Julien, Gounod's Faust, Don José, Don Carlo, Sándor Barinkay, Roland (Esclarmonde), Florestan, Alain (Grisélidis), Edgardo, Pinkerton (probably the role that he sang most often), Stolzing, Masaniello, Pollione, Canio, Parsifal, Assad (Die Königin von Saba), Richard Coeur de Lion, Herodes, Tannhäuser, Mime (Siegfried), Pedro, Hauptmann (Wozzeck), and a lot of other roles, not least in contemporary operas. His stage acting was particularly impressive.

Lens sang also, as a guest, at every other important Belgian opera theater, plus a lot in the French provinces and in Algeria, in Switzerland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. After his 1955 retirement, he was a voice teacher.

Reference 1: La Monnaie archives, reference 2, reference 3, reference 4: Kutsch & Riemens

I want to thank Georges Cardol for the picture.

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