EDUARD DE DECKER : arias and Lieder

18 Euros, click here to order the CD

Two years ago we paid attention to the publication of a biography – in Dutch - of this once famous and legendary Flemish bass. Now at last a CD has become available with several of his commercial and live recordings.
Both the biography (18 Euros) and the CD are published by the ANZ, a Flemish singing organization.  The biography –in Dutch -was written by his son Paul.  The book faithfully retraces the career of his father, photos abound and every role his father has sung is illustrated with reviews. The book has a repertory list (3 pages!!) of the roles he performed at the Antwerp Royal Flemish Opera, a discography but no index.

Click here to order the biography.

(book cover featuring De Decker as King Philip + De Decker as Wotan)

De Decker was born in Terhagen a village not far from Antwerp in 1904 and died in Antwerp in 1970. He had one daughter and two sons. De Decker was one of the few Belgian male singers of his time who also had an international career. After having studied at the Antwerp conservatory with Arthur Steurbaut he made his debut at the Royal Flemish Opera in Antwerp on 6 December 1932. Initially he started with some minor roles but before too long he was offered the big boys : Mephisto in Gounod's Faust and the four villains in Les contes d'Hoffman, several others would follow.

In 1941 he went to Strassbourg (direction Hans Rosbaud) and two years later he had a three year contract for the Vienna State opera in his pocket. A contract which never materialized because of the bombing of the theatre and the evolution of the war with the Russians heading for Vienna. During the war (1943) he also performed Wotan in Prague under Karl Elmendorff.

After the war he sang at the Antwerp and Ghent opera houses and he crossed the Atlantic in 1950 for performances (Faust, Rosenkavalier, Meistersinger) at the New York City opera. For the Meistersinger performances he was coached by Wagnerian legend Friedrich Schorr.

(De Decker, Schorr and Frances Yeend)

De Decker  sang opposite other stars such as Schwarzkopf, Dermota, Hotter, Cavelti, Francis Yeend, Hans Beirer and Rose Bampton.
Other appearances included a one year stay in Frankfurt in 1952 under maestro Solti, two guest appearances at the Munt/Monnaie (Rheingold), Rotterdam, Baden-Baden (Wagner concert under Hans Rosbaud,1949) and Oslo (1952) amongst others. His roles included the major bass roles with a preference for the Wagnerian parts but he also appeared in oratorio (Bach, Franck, Tinel, Haydn..) and recitals.

In 1956 he was appointed as a teacher of ‘lyrical art’ at the Antwerp conservatory. His most famous student was the Flemish bass Piet Bruninx.  
De Decker said good-bye to the stage in November 1964 singing the role of Father Manten in the world premiere of Willem van Saeftinge by Frederic Devreese(Antwerp Royal Flemish opera)
De Decker recorded various song repertoire but no opera for Columbia, Polydor and the Ronnex label.

(in the title role of Flor Alpaerts's opera "Shylock", a portrait, De Decker's son Paul receiving praise for the book on his father)

The present CD includes arias from Fliegende Hollander (Daland’s aria), king Philip’s soliloquy  and “Non più andrai” from Nozze di Figaro. Wether he sings these arias in the orginal German, Italian or in his native Dutch (Don Carlos) De Decker’s enunciation is always excellent.
The remainder of the CD is filled with Flemish art songs most of them with orchestral accompaniment  and the famous Ludwig Fischer song “Im tiefen Keller”. On the Polydor song recordings his pianist is the renowned accompanist of Heinrich Schlusnuss : Sebastian Peschko

I cannot recommend this CD enough to every collector of vocal recordings or lovers of the bass voice. It is a unique release and a worthy memento of a once brilliant artist. The voice is a resonant, dark-coloured basso cantante with exemplary diction. For over two decades his fine acting coupled with his powerful bass voice made him the leading exponent of the major Wagnerian bass/bass baritone roles in his home country.  

(De Decker rehearsing and as Boris)


To his tribute operanostalgia prepared two youtube clips with repertoire different from the CD release.

In our most recent clip you can hear him sing the famous Brogny cavatina "Si la rigeur", Schumann's "2 Grenadiere" (in Dutch), Flégier's "Le cor" and Mozart's "Non più andrai" from Le nozze. This clip has been illustrated with photos from the collection of his son Paul.

Click here to listen

Our second clip has De Decker sing more Mozart. Leporello's catalogue aria (again in Dutch!!) and Sarastro's aria in German

Click here to listen

Rudi van den Bulck (February 2016)