ELÍAS REIS E SILVA, Brazilian tenor, was born in Recife (Pernambuco) in 1895.
He was married to the Brazilian dramatic soprano CARMEN GOMES (1900-1955).
I have no information about his musical education or the exact date for his debut, but he appears on 27 July 1922 in a solo concert at the Instituto Musical Verdi, in Montevideo (Uruguay). The program informed that his wife was the pianist in that concert.
In February and March of 1928 he appeared as first tenor in a National Opera Company that gave performances in Säo Paulo (Brazil) at the Municipal, Coliseu, Capitolio, Colombo and other theatres. The Company included only Brazilian singers and Reis e Silva was considered the "star" of all the performances, "a conscientious and intelligent artist, endowed with great vocal resources".
In April/May 1928 he sang at the Teatro Säo Pedro in Porto Alegre. His repertory included Il Trovatore, Tosca, Rigoletto, La Boheme, Il Guarany, La Traviata and Aida.
This national company gave later performances in Pelotas. In 1929 Reis e Silva sang at the Teatro Santana in Säo Paulo in Il Guarany, Pagliacci and Il Trovatore, with Brazilian singers Carmen Eiras, Gilda Colombo, Lina Barberi, Giovanni Faini, Ernesto de Marco, Joao Athos, Salvador Perrotta and other members of the same national company.
Reis e Silva sang for the first time in Buenos Aires, at the Teatro Marconi, from September to November in 1931. His performances there were Il Trovatore, La Gioconda, Aida, Tosca, Pagliacci, La Forza del Destino, Cavalleria Rusticana, Otello and Andrea Chenier. His wife, Carmen Gomes, was the soprano in almost all the performances. At his debut in Il Trovatore (26 September 1931) Reis e Silva obtained a personal triumph and was warmly received by public and critics: "Reis e Silva has an outstanding high register. He reaches, effortless, the D and so demonstrated it in the second act duet with Leonora and in "la Pira" where he gave a C of such sonority and duration that was perhaps an excess. It must be also considered that this singer owns a privileged throat of such strength that he sang "la Pira" three times, without showing any sign of being tired. On the contrary, in each encore his highest notes seemed more bright and clear. His phrasing is not so much remarkable as his high notes, but even so he sings very well and moves easily on stage" ("El Diario", 28 September 1931). He was to return to Argentina only once more, in 1938.
In 1933 the tenor sang in national companies at the Teatro Joäo Caetano (Rio de Janeiro), Teatro Säo Pedro and Cine-Teatro Avenida (Porto Alegre). Teatro Municipal and Casino Antarctica (Säo Paulo). Reis a Silva was the organizer and musical director of these seasons and he sang namely with Carmen Gomes as his partners. His repertory was the usual one: Il Trovatore, Aida, Tosca, Pagliacci, Otello and Il Guarany.
In 1934 Reis e Silva sang for the first time at the Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro on its reopening season. He inaugurated the season singing the role of Fabiano in Maria Tudor by Gomes, on August 15. The other parts were sung by Carmen Gomes, Antonieta de Souza, Asdrubal Lima and José Perrotta. On September 19 he sang his successful Manrico in Il Trovatore with an international cast that included Gina Cigna, Ebe Stignani, Victor Damiani and José Santiago Font.
At the Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro he sang again in 1935, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1950. He sang namely his usual repertory and in casts formed basically with Brazilian singers (Il Trovatore, Aida, Tosca, Pagliacci, Cavalleria Rusticana, La Forza del Destino, Andrea Chenier, Carmen and La Boheme). I must, however, mention some exceptional performances:
1935 (August 7, September 8): Fosca (by Gomes) (Role: Paolo) with Carmen Gomes, Giuseppe Danise, Nerina Ferrari.
1935 (November 23): Il Guarany (by Gomes) (Role: Pery) with Carmen Gomes, Siilvio Vieira and Joäo Athos.
1937 (September 12): Il Trovatore, with Margherita Grandi, Nini Giani, Armando Borgioli and Corrado Zambelli.
1937 (September 21): Lucrezia (Ottorino Respighi) (Role: Bruto) with Maria Caniglia, Nini Giani, Víctor Damiani, Silvio Vieira.
1939 (June 18): Descobremento de Brasil (by Eleazar de Carvalho) (Role: Pero Vaz de Caminha) with Carmen Gomes, Silvio Vieira, Alexandre de Lucchi.
1944 (September 15): Odalea (Condor) (by Gomes) (Role: Condor): with Maria Helena Martins, Sara Cesar, Maria Augusta Costa, Americo Basso, José Perrotta.
1946 (September 8): La Forza del Destino with Zinka Milanov, Martha Lipton, Gino Bechi, Giacomo Vaghi and Gerhard Pechner.
1946 (September 15): Salvator Rosa (by Gomes) (Role: Salvator Rosa) with Heloisa de Albuquerque, Paulo Fortes, Carla Caputi, Americo Basso.
In 1935 Reis e Silva sang again at the Teatro Säo Pedro in Porto Alegre
5 October Tosca with Carmen Gomes and Giuseppe Danise
12 October Il Trovatore with Carmen Gomes, Rina Gallo Toscani, Victor Damiani and Giorgio Lanskoy.
13 October Carmen with Gabriella Besanzoni, Iracema Follador, Victor Damiani and Giorgio Lanskoy.
15 October Pagliacci with Nerina Ferrari, Victor Damiani and Mario Girotti.
Reis e Silva sang at the Teatro Municipal in Säo Paulo in the 1933 season, from July 12 to July 24, singing Aida, La Boheme, Il Guarany, Pagliacci, Tosca, Il Trovatore and Otello. He sang again there in 1941 and 1942. In this last season at the Municipal he sang Il Trovatore with an international outstanding cast that included Norina Greco, Vera Eltzova, Leonard Warren and José Perrotta.
As we have seen Reis e Silva was a tenor that made an outstanding career mostly in his own country. As far as I have been able to find out , out of Brazil he only sang in Argentina in 1931 and 1938, and in Chile in 1938.
From January to March 1938, Reis e Silva was in Argentina singing in the open air Summer Season of the Teatro Colón, that took place in the Palermo Gardens in Buenos Aires. He sang in Andrea Chenier, Rigoletto and Pagliacci.
He visited Chile only once, in September 1938. He sang at the Teatro Municipal in Santiago:
Aida: Carmen Gomes, Conchita Velázquez, Alberto López, Joaquín Alsina
Carmen: Conchita Velazquez, Amanda Cetera, Alberto López
Il trovatore: Carmen Gomes, Conchita Velázquez, Carlos Ramírez, Joaquín Alsina
September 8, 13
Cavalleria Rusticana: Carmen Gomes, Eugenio Dall'Argine
The reviews were not good: "He sang under unfavourable conditions due to a strong cold" and "He did not please the audience. His voice was throaty and of limited volume"
In 1946 he sang in Säo Paulo for the last time, but now at the Teatro Santana, Il Trovatore with Graziella Salerno, Gilda Rosa, Joaquín Villa and Americo Basso.
The last performance of Reis e Silva at the Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro (and probably in his career) was on May 1st, 1950. He sang Manrico in Il Trovatore with Nadir de Mello Couto, Maria Henriques, Paolo Fortes and Carlo Walter
Reis e Silva died in Rio de Janeiro, on the 1st November 1958.
In RA Format
He made only one commercial record (78 rpm) for the Brazilian Victor Company:
Il Guarany (Gomes): Duet-Part.1- Sento una forza indomita Victor Nº 91500 (a)
Il Guarany (Gomes): Duet-Part 2- Ma, deh, che a me togliese Victor Nº 91500 (b)
with Carmen Gomes and the Brazilian Victor Concert Orchestra.
Recorded in 1929.
Edward Smith published two LPs in 1977 with highlights of operas sung by Reis e Silva in
Rio de Janeiro, for his label Unique Opera Recordings:
UOR-279 Salvator Rosa (Antonio Carlos Gomes). Role: Salvator Rosa
with Heloisa de Albuquerque (Isabella), Paolo Fortes (Masaniello),
Carla Caputi (Gennariello), Americo Basso (Daca D'Arcos). Tino Cremagnini,
conductor. Live performance: 25 September 1946 Rio de Janeiro.
UOR-344 Condor (aka Odalea) (Antonio Carlos Gomes). Role: Condor
with Maria Helena Martins (Odalea), Marfia Augusta Costa (Adin), Sara César
(Zuleida), Americo Basso (Almanzor), José Perrotta (Mufti).
Eleazar de Carvalho, conductor. Live performance: 15 August 1944 Rio de Janeiro.
I would like to thanks Daniele Godor for the picture.
I would like to thanks Juan Dzazopulos for biographical notes and discography.