Henri Thomas

Henri Thomas sings Mignon: Elle ne croyait pas
In RA format
Henri Thomas was the brother of Eustase Thomas-Salignac.
Henri Thomas is one of those early French singers about whom absolutely nothing seems to be known. He made a lot of Berliner records; 83 of them are documented, many operatic excerpts and even more mélodies, all recorded between 8 December 1898 and 8 May 1899, all in French, but all in London, so he must have lived there at the time. On the records, his name is given as "J. Thomas", however, libraries holding copies of his records, discographers since the times of Alan Kelly, and record sellers alike agree that his name was Henri Thomas, without giving any reasons.

He is an exponent of the era in which records were sold at bicycle stores, which means that they didn't necessarily feature professional opera singers. Henri Thomas may have been a concert singer (the large number of songs that he recorded points in that direction), or perhaps a chorister.

If indeed he was a brother of Eustase Thomas-Salignac, as site founder François Nouvion wrote (unfortunately without giving any sources), that opens up a third possibility: he may also have been a male Jackie Callas, or in other words: a sibling of a famous singer intent on singing, too, in spite of blatant amateurism. His recordings certainly don't exclude that option: while the voice production is agreeable enough, his sense of measure leaves a lot to be desired, and makes him sound quite amateurish. But of course, also without being related to Thomas-Salignac, he may well have been an amateur; with all due caution, that (fourth) possibility is the one that I currently favor.

I wish to thank Richard J. Venezia for the recording.

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