Eloi Sylva

Picture of Eloi Sylva

Titus in Berlin
Eloi Sylva was born on November 29th, 1843 in Gramont, Belgium. From 1852 to 1858, Sylva went to school at the Saint-Joseph school. Sylva left school at 15 years old, and joined his father's workshop. Apparently, Sylva was singing while working there, when the Count de Launoy, an art patron, overheard him and offered to pay for Sylva's vocal training. Sylva left his village for Brussels. There he studied with Cornélis and graduated in 1866. After the death of his father, Sylva decided to leave Gramont forever. Count de Launoy advised him to complete his training with Gilbert Duprez in Paris. After polishing his art with Duprez, Sylva allegedly made his debut in Nantes in 1868, then went to Lyon in 1869 and finally to Lille in 1871. Sylva made his Paris debut, Salle Le Peletier, on May 15th, 1872 in Robert le diable. While in Paris, Sylva created L'esclave. This opera in five acts was composed by Membrée. It was created at Salle Ventadour, Paris, on July 15th, 1874 with Sylva, Lassalle, Gailhard, Bataille and Mauduit.

Sylva sang at the Palais Garnier, Paris, in La Juive and Freischütz in 1875. From October 8th, 1875 to January 5th, 1876, Sylva sang at La Monnaie in Robert le diable, La Juive, Il trovatore, L'Africaine, and La reine de Saba. In 1879, Sylva sang first at Covent Garden, then La Monnaie. His great reputation opened him the doors of the Bolshoj in Moscow and the Imperial Theater in St. Petersburg in 1877. In 1885, Sylva sang at the Met in New York and toured with the company. Sylva moved to Berlin in 1889. Later he became a Kammersänger. Sylva sang in Berlin until 1902. Sylva probably retired after his Berlin career. During the First World War, Sylva stayed until 1915, before going back to Belgium. He stayed there until probably 1918, then he returned to Berlin, where he died on September 7th, 1919.

Sylva's minimum chronology

Sylva at La Monnaie
4  September 1879  L'Africaine	
14 September 1879  Robert le diable
2  October 1879    Le trouvère	
13  October 1879   Jérusalem	
13  November 1879  Le prophète	
30 December 1879   Lohengrin
15 March 1880      Der Freischütz
   August 1880     La muette de Portici
   September 1880  Le prophète
   October 1880    Aida
21 December 1980   La Juive
28 December 1880   La Juive
9  March 1881      Les vêpres siciliennes

Sylva at the Metropolitan Opera House
27 November 1885   Le prophète
9  December 1885   Le prophète
11 December 1885   Tannhäuser
6  January 1886    Tannhäuser
23 January 1886    Le prophète
5  February 1886   Rienzi
8  February 1886   Rienzi
10 February 1886   Rienzi
12 February 1886   Tannhäuser
17 February 1886   Rienzi
20 February 1886   Rienzi
27 February 1886   Rienzi
1  March 1886      Rienzi
3  March 1886      Tannhäuser

Met on tour, 1885/86
21/26/31 December  Tannhäuser
22/30 December     Le prophète
15/17/20 March     Rienzi
23/25/27 March     Tannhäuser
St. Louis:
30 March	   Tannhäuser
1/3 April	   Rienzi
6 April		   Rienzi
8 April		   Rienzi
10 April	   Tannhäuser

Sylva at the Royal Theater in Antwerp
Season 1873/74

Sylva at the Royal Theater in Ghent
31 March 1876 	   Le trouvère

Sylva at Covent Garden
17 April 1879  	   Robert le diable
28 April 1879  	   Il trovatore
3 May 1879	   Tannhäuser
16 June 1879	   Norma
5 July 1879	   Le prophète
1 June 1882	   Lohengrin
6 June 1882	   L'Africaine
20 June 1882	   Le prophète
Sylva in Lille
30 April 1872      Robert le diable
3 March 1872       Concert
14 October 1873    Le trouvère
4 October 1874     Robert le diable
6 October 1874     Le trouvère
9 October 1874     La Juive
24 April 1875      Le trouvère
26 April 1875      Robert le diable
10 July 1875       Concert

Sylva in St. Petersburg
1877               Il trovatore
9 January 1878     Robert le diable
26 January 1878    Le prophète
23 February 1878   La Juive
Oct or Nov 1878    Robert le diable
4 November 1878    Le prophète
December 1878      Le prophète
8 January 1879     Tannhäuser
21 January 1879    La Juive
October 1882       Robert le diable
October 1882       L'Africaine
19 November 1882   Jérusalem
26 December 1882   Le roi de Lahore
8 January 1883     Les huguenots
February 1883      Le prophète
4 October 1883     L'Africaine
25 October 1883    Robert le diable
22 November 1883   La Juive
early 1884         Nerone
7 October 1884     Robert le diable
28 October 1884    L'Africaine
3 November 1884    Robert le diable
Nov or Dec 1884    Le prophète
Nov or Dec 1884    Il trovatore
22 December 1884   Nerone
February 1885      Poliuto

Sylva in Moscow
21 October 1877    Robert le diable
23 December 1877   L'Africaine
30 December 1877   Le prophète
May 1884           Il trovatore
May 1884           Les huguenots ?
Private Theater
late 1887          La muette de Portici
1 December 1887    Il trovatore
23 January 1888    Norma
23 February 1887   Lohengrin

Sylva in Berlin, Unter den Linden
1 February 1890    Otello
5 December 1890    Tannhäuser
5 September 1891   Robert le diable
21 October 1891    Cavalleria rusticana
15 November 1891   Titus
5 December 1891    Idomeneus
19 March 1892      Der Freund Fritz
15 January 1892    Genesius
5 December 1892    Der Bajazzo
13 January 1893    Die Hexe
11 October 1893    Mara
17 February 1894   I Medici
4 October 1894     Der Prophet
23 March 1895      Rienzi
4 May 1895         Der Evangelimann
23 October 1895    Fidelio
26 November 1895   Ivanhoe
21 May 1896        Ingo
15 May 1897        Aida
31 March 1898      Odysseus Heimkehr
18 June 1898       Die Stumme von Portici

Premieres in Berlin

4 October 1894 Meyerbeer, Der Prophet:
Josef Sucher/Eloi Sylva (Johann von Leyden), Marie Goetze (Fides), 
Ida Hiedler (Bertha), Julius Lieban (Jonas), Rudolf Krasa (Mathisen), 
Josef Mödlinger (Zacharias), Franz Krolop (Graf Oberthal)

23 March 1895 Wagner, Rienzi:
Karl Muck/Eloi Sylva (title role), Ida Hiedler (Irene), Emil Stammer (Colonna), 
Marie Goetze (Adriano), Ludwig Fränkel (Orsini), Josef Mödlinger 
(Raimondo), Kurt Sommer (Baroncelli), Rudolf Krasa (Cecco del Vecchio), Emilie Herzog, 
Marie Dietrich, Adrienne Weitz, Bertha Anita Krainz, Marie Deppe, Therese Rothauser 
(Friedensboten), Robert Philipp (Herold)

4 May 1895 Kienzl, Der Evangelimann (world premiere):
Karl Muck/Josef Mödlinger (Friedrich Engel), Bertha Pierson (Martha), 
Marie Goetze (Magdalena), Paul Bulß (Johannes Freudhofer), Eloi Sylva 
(Mathias), Julius Lieban (Xaver Zitterbart), Franz Krolop (Anton Schnappauf), 
Emil Stammer (Friedrich Aibler), Martha Kopka (Aiblers Frau), Martha 
Hönsch (Frau Huber), Robert Philipp (Hans), Rudolf Krasa (Nachtwächter), 
Helena Verena (Lumpensammlerin), Walter Beck (Knabe)

23.10.1895 Beethoven, Fidelio:
Felix v. Weingartner, Franz Betz (Don Fernando), Josef Mödlinger (Don Pizarro), 
Eloi Sylva (Florestan), Ida Hiedler (Leonore), Emil Stammer (Rocco), Marie Dietrich 
(Marzelline), Robert Philipp (Jaquino), Kurt Sommer, Rudolf Krasa (Gefangene)

26.11.1895 Sullivan, Ivanhoe:
Karl Muck/Emil Stammer (Richard Löwenherz), Ludwig Fränkel (Prinz Johann), 
Eloi Sylva (Ivanhoe), Theodor Schmidt (Cedric), Adrienne Weitz (Lady Rowena), Josef 
Mödlinger (de Beaumanoir), Paul Bulß (du Bois Gilbert), Robert Philipp 
(de Bracy), Franz Krolop (Bruder Tuck), Kurt Sommer (Locksley), 
Rudolf Krasa (York)-Ida Hiedler (Rebecca), Marie Goetze (Ulrica)

15 May 1916, 1897 Verdi: Aida
Josef Sucher/Franz Krolop (König) Marie Goetze (Amneris), Ida Hiedler (Aida)-
Eloi Sylva (Radames), Josef Mödlinger (Ramphis), Baptist Hoffmann (Amonasro), 
Marian Alma (Bote), Henny Pohl (Priesterin)

31 March 1898, August Bungert: Odysseus' Heimkehr,
Franz Schalk, Josefine Reinl (Athene), Baptist Hoffmann (Odysseus), Marie Goetze 
(Penelopeia), Therese Rothauser (Telemachos), Emil Stammer (Laertes), Josef 
Mödlinger (Eumäos), Henny Pohl (Eurykleia), Rudolf Krasa (Mentor), 
Robert Philipp (Hyperion), Eloi Sylva (Antinoos)-Hermann Bachmann (Eurymachos) u.a.

18 June 1898 Auber: La muette Portici (at the Kroll opera theater)
Josef Sucher, Franz Naval (Alfonso), Emilie Herzog (Elvira), Marian Alma (Lorenzo), 
Eloi Sylva (Masaniello), Baptist Hoffmann (Pietro), Rudolf Krasa (Borello), Rudolf 
Berger (Selva) und Ballettmitglieder

Source: Apollini et Musis: 250 Jahre Opernhaus Unter den Linden, 
	Berlin 1992 (ed.: Georg Quander)


The Belgian collector Alfred de Cock had in his possession a cylinder sung by Sylva from Le prophète (Roi du ciel). Unfortunately he exchanged the cylinder with late collector Bill Violi without taking note of the cylinder number. The whereabouts of the cylinder are now unknown.
I wish to thank Pierre Duré, Alfred de Cock, Tom Kaufman and Guido Bathe for their help.

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