23 March 1880 Kelstrup (Zealand) – 19 September 1969 København
Niels Jacob Hansen, often just Niels Hansen, was first a house painter (or an upholsterer, depending on sources). He then
studied singing with Valdemar Linke in Copenhagen and Jean de Reszke (1911/12) in Paris and made his debut
as Rodolfo at the Royal
Opera Copenhagen on November 27th, 1909. As late as 1942 – when he was 58 – he still played the same part at
the Royal Opera... and did well, according to reviews. Hansen spent most of his career at the that house, for more than 40
years from 1909 to the end of 1949, all the time singing major roles. In 1912 he started his recording career, and in 1918 he
was appointed Kongelig Kammersanger. He made guest appearances in 1914 and 1939 at the opera
in Stockholm and in 1932 at the opera in Warsaw.
He was also highly regarded as an oratorio and concert singer. In their youth, he and Lauritz Melchior sang together in the "Bel Canto" male choir, where Hansen was the tenor soloist and
Melchior a bass! That choir, with Hansen and Melchior, also made a great number of recordings.
Hansen's repertory included: Rodolfo, Cavaradossi, Lenskij, Lohengrin, Manrico, Alfredo, Radames, Pinkerton, Florestan,
Parsifal (1914, premiere in Danish), Canio, Turiddu, Tamino, Max, Stolzing, Tannhäuser, Siegfried, Pedro, Faust,
José, Hoffmann, Dmitrij, David (Saul og David by C. Nielsen), Otello... For many years, he had considerable difficulties
when singing dramatic parts, but eventually, he managed to make them his own.
Reference 2 (relevant page no longer online)
Reference 4: Kutsch & Riemens
The fantastic Danish website The Discographer has a two-part
discography of Hansen, including his earliest recordings as a "Bel Canto" choir soloist, and with incredibly many label
scans and spectacular photos (plus a long Hansen biography in Danish). Since I'm always eager to preserve
good online material also in case the original websites disappear one day, I'm copying that discography on my server –
© The Discographer:
Discography, pt. 1 (until 1916)
Discography, pt. 2 (from 1917)