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 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 schooling with Gilbert Duprez in Paris. After polishing his art with Duprez, Sylva made allegedly his debut in Nantes in 1868, then went to Lyon in 1968 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 5 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 during 1875. During the period from 8th October 1875 to 5th January 1876, Sylva sang at La Monnaie in Robert le diable, La Juive, Le trouvère, L'africaine, and La reine de Saba. In 1879, Sylva sang first at Covent Garden, then La Monnaie. His great reputation opened for him the doors of the Bolshoi in Moscow and the Imperial Theatre 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 stayed in Berlin until 1902. Sylva retired probably after his Berlin career. During the First World War, Sylva stayed in Berlin during 1914 and 1915, before going back to Belgium. He stayed there until probably 1918. Sylva went back 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 Tour, 1885-1886
Philadelphia(21/26/31 December, Tannhäuser; 22 December, 30 December, Le prophète);
Chicago (15/17/20 March, Rienzi; 23/25/27  March, Tannhäuser);
St. Louis (30 March. Tannhäuser; 1/3 April, Rienzi); 
Cincinnati (6 April, Rienzi);
Cleveland (8 April, Rienzi; 10 April, Tannhäuser)

Sylva at the Théâtre Royal in Anvers
Season 1873/4

Sylva at the Théâtre Royal in Gand
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
   October or November 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
   Beginning 1884            Nerone
7  October 1884              Robert le diable
28 October 1884              L'africaine
3  November 1884             Robert le diable
   November or December 1884 Le prophète
                             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    Idomeus
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

4.10.1894 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)

23.3.1895 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 u.(Friedensboten)-Robert Philipp (Herold)

4.5.1895 Kienzl: Der Evangelimann (world premiere)/Karl Muck-Josef Mödlinger (Friedrich Engel)-Bertha Pierson (Martha)-
Marie Goetze (Magdalena)-Paul Bulß (Johannes Freudhofer)-Eloi Sylva (title role)-Julius Lieban (Xaver Zitterbart)-
Franz Krolop (Anton Schnappauf)-Emil Stammer (Friedrich Aibler)-Martha Kopka (Dessen Frau)-Martha Hönsch (Frau Huber)-
Robert Philipp (Hans)-Rudolf Krasa (Nachtwächter)-Helena Verena (Eine Lumpensammlerin)-Walter Beck (Ein 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 (premiere)/Karl Muck-Emil Stammer (Richard Löwenherz)-Ludwig Fränkel (Prinz Johann)-
Eloi Sylva (title role)-Theodor Schmidt (Cedric)-Adrnne 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)

15.5.1897 Verdi: Aida/Josef Sucher-Franz Krolop (König)-Marie Goetze (Amneris)-Ida Hiedler (title role)-
Eloi Sylva (Radames)-Josef Mödlinger (Ramphis)-Baptist Hoffmann (Amonasro)-Marian Alma (Bote)-
Henny Pohl (Priesterin)

31.3.1898 August Bungert: Odysseus' Heimkehr (premiere)/Franz Schalk-Josefine Reinl (Athene)-Baptist Hoffmann (title role)-
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.

18.6.1898 Auber: Die Stumme von 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) u. Ballettmitglieder

Quelle: Apollini et Musis-250 Jahre Opernhaus Unter den Linden, Propyläen Verlag, Berlin 1992 (Hrsg: 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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