Elisabeth Frandin

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Elisabeth (Elisa, Lison, Elisabeta) Combi (de Frandin)

Also Known As: "Elisabet", "Elizabeth", "Elisa", "Lison", "Elisabeta", "Elisabetta"
Birthplace: Helsinki, Finland
Death: January 24, 1911 (51)
Milan, Lombardy, Italy
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Hippolyte Frandin and Pauline de Frandin
Wife of Carlo Combi
Sister of Hippolyte Frandin

Occupation: Finnish-French operatic soprano and mezzo-soprano
Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Elisabeth Frandin

Elisabeth ("Elisa", "Lison" in France, "Elisabeta") Frandin was a Finnish-French operatic soprano and mezzo-soprano with a very succesful international career. She was born in Helsinki, Finland.

She was active on stage from 1881 until the train accident in 1893. She sang often in the first premieres, ao. in France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Argentina, Cairo, and St. Petersburg. She created many roles, and is best remembered for creating the role of Mallika in the World Premiere of Lakmé by Delibes, and creating the role of Musette in the World Première of La Boheme by Leoncavallo. After leaving the stage she lived in Italy concentrating in teaching. She died in Milan in 1911.

Studies and moving to Paris

Her parents were French. Her father's family had a Piedmontese origin. Her father was the Consul of France in Finland, He died in September 1862, when Elisabeth was 3 1/2 years old. After basic musical education in Helsinki, Finland, she was eager to move to Paris inspite of young age. She studied singing and declamation at the Conservatoire National de Paris, her main teacher being the famous bass Louis-Henri Obin. Obin was the principal French bass of his time, and sang the role of Filip II in the World Premiere of Verdi's Don Carlos. Obin was related to many Parisian opera house directors. His contacts were useful to young and talented Frandin. In the Conservatoire she received the First Prize of the Opera in 1880.


In 1881 she made her debut in Cairo as Mignon, Carmen, and Rosa Friquet (Mailart's "Les Dragons de Villars ). In 1882 she was engaged at the Opera-Comique in Paris, where she was the first performer of Mallika in the world premiere of Lakme by Delibes. So, she was the first to sing the famous Flower Duet, with Marie van Zandt. After the Opéra-Comique she performed in Paris at the Théâtre Folies-Dramatiques. In the following years she devoted herself to numerous guest appearances in Italy, Spain and Germany. She sang Carmen in Cairo in the First Premier of Bizet's Carmen in Feb 1882. In November 1883 she sang in Italian at the Carcano in Milan as Mignon. She sang in Argentina, Rome, Naples, at Teatro Regio di Parma, Trieste Harmony in 1884, where she brought Carmen for the first time. She performed all the major lyrical parts in ao. Mefistofele (Boïto), La Navarraise (Massenet) , Cavalleria (Massenet), Pagliacci, Amico Fritz, Martyr (Samara), Massenet's Salome, Herodias, Aida and Margherita of Mephistopheles. In 1886 she was Salome in Bologna, in the Italian premiere of the revised, 4-act version of Massenet's Hérodiade.

Voice and presence

Her voice was of limited extension, very soft, insinuating, melodious. She had a sculptural figure, elegant, correct. She was dressed with taste. She had strong possession of the scene. She was a charmful person. Far from any affection, she interpreted her parts in a very personal way, full of effect and unfailing success, always fascinating the audience. Arturo Toscanini described the famed mezzo-soprano Lison Frandin, after hearing and conducting her in the title role of Carmen and Mignon, - slender, with close-set eyes and cascading blond hair - as "a beautiful woman" who sang those two roles "as I've never [again] heard them, and I conducted [Mignon] many times with her. Aaahhhhh, that scene when she starts to cry, when she asks for alms from passersby - everyone wept! She was an artist." (Toscanini: Musician of Conscience)

Train accident and teaching

On the night of 27 November 1893 she was in a disasterous train accident on the Milan-Brescia railway line, with 40 victims (it.wikipedia). According to a French obituary : "A remarkable artist, whose terrible accident prematurely broke the brilliant theatrical career..." The insurance gave her an indemnity of 100,000 francs, having lost all the theater equipment and jewels in the disaster. It took her several months to recover, but she remained partly ill the rest of her life. In a year or two, she was able to tour Europe as a recitalist. She made a farewell comeback to the stage at Teatro la Fenice in Venice in May 1897 singing Musette in the World Premiere of La Boheme by Leoncavallo. After leaving the stage she lived in Italy concentrating in teaching. In 1906 she opened a 'School of singing and performing arts' in Milan. Mme Frandin had married Mr. Carlo Combi in Italy a long time ago. She died in Milan January 24, 1911 at the age of 51.


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Elisabeth Frandin's Timeline

April 7, 1859
Helsinki, Finland
January 24, 1911
Age 51
Milan, Lombardy, Italy