Best Singer of the Contest:  ƒ 1000, Jeroen Bosch Medal of the City of Den Bosch, Appearance in the Final Concert, Radio Broadcast, Honorary Medal, Diploma
1st prize: ƒ 1000, Appearance in the Final Concert, Radio Broadcast, Honorary Medal, Diploma
2nd prize: ƒ 500, Honorary Medal, Diploma
Honorary Medal:  
Honorary diploma: All semi-finalists received a diploma
Ladislav Mráz Bass-Baritone CZE
1st prize: Elly Ameling Soprano  NL
1st prize: Edna Graham Soprano  UK
1st prize: Halina Łukomska Soprano  PO
1st prize: Ursula Boese Alt GE
1st prize: Not awarded    
2nd prize: George David Galliver Tenor UK
1st prize: Ladislav Mráz Bass-Baritone TCH
2nd prize: Günther Wilhelms Baritone GE
Sukupova Burešová Soprano CZE
Thelma Godfrey Soprano UK
Ludwig Kevehazi Bass HUN
John Noble Baritone UK


Elly Ameling 

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  • Mayor Loeff & Elly Ameling, 1956

Photos: IVC, EMI, Philips, Sony

With Elisabeth (Elly) Sara Ameling (8th February 1933 in Rotterdam) the IVC discovered one of the greatest artists it was to produce in the span of 60 years. Winning the IVC, and subsequently also the Concours International de Musique in Geneva in 1958, provided a trampoline for Ameling's career.


Mozart: Vesperae de Dominica 'Laudate dominum'
Elly Ameling (soprano), Brabants Orkest – Hein Jordans (conductor)
IVC Final Concert, Casino Den BOSch, April 23, 1956

She was not only a great soprano within the realm of song and oratorio, but she also combined the right mix of talent, ambition and determination to become the greatest Dutch Lieder interpreter in the post war era. In vocal terms her strong points were a perfectly placed voice with a creamy timbre and a soft edge, while still very focused – ethereal. Apart from these intrinsic qualities in terms of sheer natural beauty of her instrument, she was also an immaculate interpreter. Her singing conveyed Schubert's love and pain, while one could float in Debussy, or obtain a different position on what matters most in life while listening to her in Wolf. It has been argued that it wasn't the greatest voice, that she didn't have the most beautiful timbre of all, but Ameling's voice the went straight to one's heart. She made anything she touched credible. In short, she was the sort of singer one would notice while doing the dishes. Ears would open; one stopped working for a minute and waited for the moderator to say which singer had been performing. That is the Ameling phenomenon summarized in a few lines and both the IVC jury of 1956 and the press recognized all these qualities right from the start. De Tijd:

'She proved a true discovery, with a light, gently flexed soprano that shone radiantly in the Jewel aria from Faust. Her musical intelligence in Wolf's 'Mausfallen Spruchlein' was heart warming, imbued with a delightful, pointed charm.'

Mahler: Symphony 4 In G 'Das Himmlische Leben'
Elly Ameling (sopraan), Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest Haitink, Bernard (1986, PHILIPS 4203 502)


A shrewd artist, she never went beyond her boundaries and her late radio recordings of the 1980's and early 1990's show her still in full control. Should there be a few minor scratches here and there, she compensated for those with an even deeper level of interpretation. When she bade farewell to the stage in 1995, her career spanned a full 40 years, during which she had remained The Netherlands's most prominent Lieder and oratorio soprano.

World famous

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From the 1960's onwards, Ameling practically monopolized the song repertoire in The Netherlands in terms of recordings. Likewise, she was first on the list when Dutch radio and television were looking for a soprano in anything from Schubert to Wolf, from Ravel to Debussy, from Hahn to Schumann and from Bach at Christmas to Bach at Easter. Throughout the 1970s she was almost 'omnipresent'. She performed in virtually every major cultural center in the world, from Tasmania to Iceland, from Nairobi on the Equator to Finland in the Arctic Circle. Her repertoire (songs and vocal works with orchestra) reaches from Monteverdi and Bach via Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Wolf, Debussy and Richard Strauss to composers of this century like Britten, Poulenc, Menotti and Gershwin. She has recorded more than 150 LP's and CD's. Many of them were awarded with an Edison (4x), the Grand Prix du Disque (3x) and the Preis der Deutsche Schallplattenkritik. She rarely sang in opera, but there are Dutch radio recording of Maillart's Les dragons de Villars (a 1957 recording that also features IVC 1954 winner Hans Wilbrink). In 1958 she was one of the Drei Knaben in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, in the famous live broadcast that Bernard Haitink organized around star tenor Fritz Wunderlich. Of special interest among the outstanding cast was IVC 2nd Prize winner Albert van Haasteren as Sarastro. She also sang Ilia in Mozart's Idomeneo, once in concert and twice on stage, once in Scheveningen (1973), and once in Amsterdam (1976).


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Elly Ameling was awarded an extra Edison for her entire phonographic oeuvre in 1995, when she bade farewell to the stage. Since then, she has been in demand throughout the world for master classes. At a certain point, she also accepted advanced post-graduate students, who had the proper basis but needed the finishing touch. While we are still working on a discography of her more than 150 vinyl recordings in her biography at 401DutchDivas, we refer here to three superb anthologies. One contains her EMI studio recordings in the ICON series (8CD 'Elly Ameling The Dutch Nightingale'). The second one was published by the Dutch broadcasting corporation on the occasion of her 75th birtday, and contained her live radio recordings made between 1957-1991 (5CD 'Elly Ameling 75 Jaar'). The third one was made in cooperation with Dutch Radio on the occasion of her 80th birthday in 2012 (5CD 'Elly Ameling 80 Jaar').

Ladislav Mráz

Ladislav-MrazCzech bass-baritone Ladislav Mráz (25 September 1923-7 May 1962) had a splendid career in Czechoslovakia from 1943 until his untimely dead in 1962, at age 39.Mráz studied singing at the Prague Conservatory with Hilbert Vávra and Mrs. E. Fierlingerová. He made his professional opera debut at the opera house in Tábor in 1943. From 1944-1946 he sang in Plzeň. By 1946 he was engaged by the Prague State Opera, after which he transferred to the Prague National Theatre (1948-1950). Somehow, he had difficulty finding his true calling there, for onwards he shifted back and forth between the theatres, returning to the State in 1950, and from there again the National Theatre in 1953.

Mráz in the Netherlands

By the time he came to Den Bosch for the Third IVC he was already an established local star in his own right. In hindsight, his participation seems puzzling, perhaps imbued by extra musical reasons, such as the chance to visit the West. Knowing his background, his First Prize and his being awarded the prize for best singer of the contest in Den Bosch seems no more than logical – not winning it would in fact have been embarrassing for a singer with his standing at the time, even though he was of course completely unknown here. Regardless, it would be a gross overstatement to call him an IVC 'discovery.' Some critics also mentioned this in their reports, along with very favorable reviews of his performances at the IVC, starting from the semi finals. Among them H. Hn. for De Tijd:

'A very stylish singer. He gave the aria from Händel's Joshua exactly what it needed, and sang Brahms 'Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht' with complete understanding'.

Brahms: 'Der Tod das ist die kühle Nacht'
Ladislav Mráz (bass-baritone), 10" Supraphon, late 1950's

Having mentioned his stature in his homeland, the IVC victory certainly spurred his foreign career, most notably within The Netherlands. He appeared there in many concerts and recitals, performing as a soloist in such works as Johann Sebastian Bach's St Matthew Passion and Johannes Passion, and Ludwig van Beethoven's 'Ninth Symphony.' He also made a number of appearances on Dutch radio and television, among them as the protagonist in Verdi's Falstaff.

Operatic repertoire

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Mráz remained with the National Theatre ensemble until his death in 1962, at the height of his stage career in Prague in 1962 at the age of 38, while negotiating debuts in Bayreuth and the United States. He is remembered as an impressive bass-baritone, a wonderful actor and a sensitive interpreter of Lieder and oratorio. His voice is preserved on a number of recordings made on the Supraphon label, including complete recordings of Bedřich Smetana's The Devil's Wall and Antonín Dvořák's The Specter's Bride. Upon his death Supraphon released an LP portrait of Mráz that included arias his most beloved Chech radio recordings, including Faust, Béatrice et Bénedict, Prince Igor, The Lantern (Novák), Der Freischütz, and Die Meistesrsinger. A rare 10" disc provides a German language survey of Lieder by Schumann and Brahms.

Halina Łukomska

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Halina Łukomska (born April 29, 1929 in Suchedniów, Poland) studied at the State Academy Opera in Poznań (1951-1954), at the Conservatory in Warsaw, and later also with Giorgio Favarettiego in Siena (1958) and Toti dal Monte in Venice (1959-1960). From 1960 onwards, her concert career too wing, and she performed in many European cities such as Amsterdam, Bergen, Salzburg, Vienna, Berlin, Edinburgh, London, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Paris, Florence and Venice. Outside Europe she appeared in the United States, Mexico and Israel, with orchestras under the baton of Hermann Scherchen, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Igor Markevitch, Witold Lutosławski, Pierre Boulez, Claudio Abbado, Zubin Mehta, Michael Gielen, and Bruno Maderna.

Among her rare opera parts we mention her 1967 and 1971 appearances in Amsterdam, respectively in Monteverdi's Orfeo and L'incoronazione di Poppea, and her Xenia in Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov (EMI 1976). Otherwise her repertoire consisted mainly of 18th Century oratorio and songs. Łukomska was best known for her widely acclaimed interpretations of modern repertoire. Among them Debussy's 'Cinq poèmes de Baudelaire & Ariettes oubliees' (with Jerzy Godziszewskim issued by Polish Recordings Company), songs of Alban Berg, Webern's 'Cantata I and II', Boulez's 'Pli selon pli' (recorded for Columbia Records with the BBC National Orchestra conducted by the composer). Łukomska's art, marked by an immaculate intonation, is perhaps best appreciated in the songs written for her, including those by her husband Augustyn Bloch.

Augustyn Bloch: Ayelet, Jeptha's daughter
Halina Łukomska (soprano)
(LP Intersound ISPV 108)


Łukomska made numerous recordings for radio and recordings for record companies Philips, Columbia, EMI, Polish Records, Harmonia Mundi. A survey of her recordings can be found here

Halina Łukomska's recording career started in 1956, with the first IVC Gala Concert 45RPM, which featured her in 'Je suis Titania' from Thomas's Mignon (the B-side had Edna Graham). Her second IVC 45RPm was a coupling with Elly Ameling, and Łukomska singing 'Hallelujah' from Mozart's 'Exultate Jubilate'.

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Thomas: Mignon 'Je suis Titania’
Halina Łukomska (soprano), Brabants Orkest – Hein Jordans (conductor); IVC Final Concert, Casino Den Bosch, April 23, 1956 (45RPM Philips)


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Another 45RPM recording followed, on the Polish Muza label with Bach-Gounod's and Schubert's 'Ave Maria', Mozart's 'Alleluja', and Bizet's 'Agnus Dei'. This collector's item was followed by numerous recordings, both in Poland where she promoted the work of native composers, and internationally. Among others, she recorded Boulez's 'Pli selon pli' in 1969 under the composer's baton. Together with Heather Harper she recorded most of the soprano parts in Anton Webern's opus 1-31 (1969-70, reissued on Sony Classical) Alban Berg's 'Altenburg Lieder opus 4' (1968); Handel: 'Silete venti' (Harmonia Mundi, 1962); a Collection of Songs by Karol Szymanowski (issued on CD in 1990); Johann Christian Bach's 'Confitebor tibi Domine' (Harmonia Mundi 1973); 'Five songs' by Witold Lutosławski (EMI Collected Edition); Klaus Huber's 'Soliloquia Sancti Aurelii Augustini' (Grammont 1979); Xenia in Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov (EMI 1976).

David Galliver (Tenor)

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English lyric tenor George David Galliver (1925, Bristol, UK – July 2001) was educated at the Shrewsbury School. He served his country in the Navy before going to New College, Oxford, from 1947 to 1950, where he studied French and German. Meanwhile, Arthur Kranmer and Lucie Manen educated him in singing. His earliest performances seem to date back to 1950, when a local paper from Wolverhampton predicted him a great future based on a concert performance there, and an earlier appearance in Berlioz's Les Troyens! By 1952 he first appeared at the Three Choirs Choral Society Festival with the London Bach Choir in J.S. Bach's St. Matthews Passion. Apart from Bach he was also renowned for his singing in Mozart operas. By the time he came to the IVC he had already established a name for himself in England, where he would become a much-loved tenor. Galliver's most notable achievements after the 1956 IVC were a Glyndebourne Festival appearance in1957, followed by a 1958 appearance in Elgar's The Dreams of Gerontius, conducted by Sir John Barbirolli, and attended by Pope Pius XII. In 1959 he repeated his Dreams of Gerontius appearance before H.M. The Queen. By 1960, he reached the USA, where he sang in oratorio and recitals.

Händel: Acis and Galatea 'Would you gain the tender creature'
David Galliver (Damon), Philomusica of London – Sir Adrian Boult. (CD Decca 4362 272 / CD Chandos CHAN 3147)


In the mid 1960's David Galliver moved to Australia and during the eighteen years in which he was the Elder Professor of Music at Adelaide University (1966-1984). David Galliver was Associate of the Royal College of Music. He passed away in July 2005.

Edna Graham


Edna Graham (August 16, 1925, Christchurch, New Zealand – May 26, 2005) was a near child prodigy in a popular children's choir in New Zealand, which was conducted by her mother, a trained musician. Edna travelled to London in 1947, to study at the Royal Academy of Music, on a scholarship awarded to her by her country. Her career got a head start in 1952, when she joined the Carl Rosa Opera Company. Next, Graham was chosen by Sir Thomas Beecham to sing the title role in the first performance of Delius's Irmelin at the New Theatre, Oxford, on 4 May 1953. From Oxford, Graham went to Glyndebourne where she debuted that summer as one of the three Naiads in Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos. Her repertoire at the time included operatic and non-operatic works ranging from J.S. Bach to Alban Berg. A 1953 concert appearance includes arias from Rigoletto, The tales of Hoffmann, La traviata, and Otello, in addition to which she also sang two songs by the then famous Dutch composer Richard Hageman, 'Do not go my love', and 'Miranda.' Graham's Covent Garden début took place during the 1954/55 season as Olympia in Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann. She excelled by means of a technical ease and a facility that well suited the mechanical nature of the 'girl'.

EDNA-GRAHAM-3From Naiad to the IVC and from there to Zerbinetta

Her impressive chronology by the time she came to Den Bosch made the IVC victory and the subsequent 45RPM Philips release of 'Sempre libera' from La traviata appear like mere trophies in her curriculum.

Verdi: La traviata 'Sempre libera'
Edna Graham (soprano), Brabants Orkest – Hein Jordans (cd)
September 1956, IVC Final Concert

Just around the time of her IVC participation Graham was scheduled as Queen of Night at Covent Garden, which part would become her signature role. During the summer of 1957 she returned to Glyndebourne where she progressed from Naiad to Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos. That she was already studying this part when she participated in the IVC is clear of her stunning rendering of the aria during the semi finals there on September 18, 1956. De Tijd wrote:

'She has a perhaps very loud voice, but her excellent technical mastery gives her great possibilities for the future.'

In 1959 Graham sang Madame Silberklang in Mozart's The Impresario and Fiorilla in Rossini's Il turco in Italia, both at Hintlesham Hall in Suffolk. In June she created the part of Jenny in The Borderline by Wilfrid Mellers at the Scala Theatre in London. Graham rejoined the Carl Rosa in 1960 for a London season at the Prince's Theatre, singing Olympia. The following year she sang Lida in Verdi's La battaglia di Legnano with the Welsh National Opera. Onwards she toured the UK and Ireland, but apart from appearances with Holland Park Opera as Rosina in The barber of Seville and the Countess in The marriage of Figaro, she was absent from London. She sang with Limerick Grand Opera in Ireland, she toured with Imperial Opera, she gave concerts of Puccini arias in Rome.' In 1972, after ten years of touring, she left the stage and accepted an engagement with the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford, where she taught singing whilst also appearing in over 250 school performances. She died in London on May 26, 2005, after she lost her battle with brain cancer. Her last will specified that only her favorite student was allowed to sing at the funeral, where no religious music was allowed to be played.

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Edna Grahaam's official discography seems to be comprised of her 1956 IVC Gala Concert recording of 'je suis Titania,', and her rendition of Casilda on Sir Malcolm Sargent's EMI recording of Gilbert & Sullivan's The Gondoliers.

John Noble (baritone)

John-Noble-1A perfect example of the IVC seeking singers that had already achieved a certain performing level was English baritone John Noble (2 January 1931 – 21 March 2008). When Ralph Vaughan Williams heard him as the Pilgrim in the 1954 production of The Pilgrim's Progress, he exclaimed 'This is what I meant'. By the time EMI recorded the opera in 1970 under Sir Adrian Boult, Noble was called upon to repeat his interpretation.

What was best for Vaughan Williams in 1954, failed to impress the IVC jury enough to even make it to the finals. Noble received but an honorary medal, which in part explains why emerging singers rather sooner than later stop competing, since the further they are into their careers, the more they can lose in terms of reputation; at one point the risk of losing simply outshines the chance to win. Noble was born in Southampton as the son of a gardener. While studying geography at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, he also studied singing with the baritone Clive Carey. Singing too prominence when he joined the choir of St John's College for a postgraduate year.

John-Noble-2For Noble, the mentioned 1954 Dennis Arundell production of The Pilgrim's Progress at the Cambridge Guildhall opened the doors to a career as a soloist. According to Vaughan Williams's wife Ursula Noble brought 'a touching and dedicated dignity as the Pilgrim'. The composer's opinion has already been mentioned. Noble still spend a year teaching geography before he joined the BBC singers. Thereupon, he made a distinct career as a concert singer, among others with the Ambrosian Singers, excelling in Bach's passions (a.o. as Jesus), Händel, Elgar, Britten, Delius, Tippett and Vaughan Williams. He was renowned as the vicar in Benjamin Britten's Albert Herring for the English Opera Group, recorded under the composer by Decca in 1964. His operatic work further included the title role in Alan Bush's Wat Tyler at Sadlers Wells, London (1974). Apart from making numerous recordings, Noble also appeared in over 200 broadcasts for the BBC.

For Noble there wasn't really a 'post career' phase, since he continued appearing in concert until his final illnes. He did however accept a teaching post at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, and he had a flourishing teaching practice until he died of pancreatic cancer on March 21, 2008, at the age of 77. (Based on the obituary published in the Guardian, 2008)

Günther Wilhelms

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Virtually nothing is know about the German bass Günther Wilhelms, other than that he had an extensive career in Germany, and appeared on a number of fascinating live recordings, such as the 1951 Lohengrin with Peter Anders, Trude Eipperle, Helena Braun and Josef Greindl, under Ferenc Fricsay, Cologne 1951. Wilhelms was one of the four Noblemen of Brabant, a small role but for a beginning bass it was already an achievement to sing with such an illustrious cast in a South German radio broadcast. In the same year he appeared as Silvano (Christiano?) in the complete German language recording of Verdi's Un ballo in Maschera, with Lorenz Fehberger, a very young Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Walburga Wegner, Anny Schlemm, and Martha Mödl, under Fritz Busch. He also had a very small part in the legendary 1951 recording of Pfitzner's Palestrina, with former IVC jury member Julius Patzak in the title role. In 1967 he again appears in the 'Magnificat' of Schütz, recorded with the Spandauer Kantorie under Helmuth Rilling. What we know of him to date is what H. Hn. wrote in De Tijd about his participation in the IVC 1956 semi finals:

'And there was Günther Wilhelms from Münster, a light and gracious baritone with a pointed, perhaps slightly over-mannered aria from Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro'.

Schütz: 'Magnificat Anima Mea Dominum'
Günther Wilhelms (bass), Elisabeth Speiser (soprano), Kurt Huber (counter-tenor), Josef Schmalhofer (tenor), Spandau Kantorei, Helmuth Rilling, 1967.
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Ursula Boese

Contralto Ursula Boese (July 22, 1933, Hamburg, Germany) studied at the Hamburg Musikhochschule. While still studying, she first appeared in concert in 1955, the year prior to her IVC debut. She did so with success in, among others, Bach's Weihnachtsoratorium, which was recorded.

J.S. Bach: Weihnachtsoratorium 'Schlaf mein liebster'
Ursula Boese (alt), December 1955
(LP MMS/ Schola Antiqua GR-4)

With Boese we have yet another example of a talent that had already begun her career, as is testified by her 1955 MMS recording of Bach's Weihnachtsoratorium. Her honorary medal at the IVC acknowledged her potential, although in hindsight her spectacular career would of course have merited a real prize. Her IVC semi final showpiece in September 1956 was Fricka's scene from Das Rheingold. At the time, most members of the press agreed with the jury's verdict that her impressive and very promising voice was still in need of a finishing touch. That she soon found a solution to any then existing vocal limitations is clear from her spectacular rise to fame immediately afterwards. The following audio sample shows her in that very Rheingold scene, exactly 3 years later, but now as a coming diva at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden:

Wagner: Das Rheingold 'Um des Gatten Treue besorgt'
Ursula Boese (Fricka, as performed previously at the IVC 1956 semi finals), Hans Hotter (Wotan), Covent Garden Orchestra - Franz Konwitschny (conductor), London, September 18, 1959.

For those not familiar with Ursula Boese, we refer to the at least 30 broadcast recordings that are easily available with her. Post the IVC medal she made a swift rise to contralto fame in Germany, culminating in her 1958 debut at the Bayreuth Festival as Floßhilde in Der Ring des Nibelungen. The 1958-1959 season also saw her Bayreuth appearance as Knappen in Parsifal, and as Roßweiße in Die Walküre. Further performance in Bayreuth included Floßhilde (1962), 2nd Norn (1959 and 1965), and Fricka and as Grimgerde in Der Ring des Nibelungen (1965), and as the alto solo in Parsifal (1959 and 1962).

Hamburg State Opera

Hamburg-State-OperaBoese sang in Hamburg all the main contralto parts in, among others, Arabella, Giulio Cesare (with Joan Sutherland), Menotti's Help! Help! The Globolinks, Jenufa, Glinka's Ruslan und Ludmilla, Lortzing's Zar und Zimmermann, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Elektra, La traviata, Der fliegende Holländer, to name just the parts that were broadcast and therefore exist in (pirate) recordings. She also made guest appearances at Covent Garden, La Scala, The Rome Opera, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, the Vienna State Opera and the Grand Opéra in Paris, and sang at the Holland Festival. Further landmarks in her career were guest performances with the Hamburg State Opera at the Metropolitan Opera New York (1966). She was also valued as a concert singer, particularly renowned for her Bach interpretations.

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Boese's recordings include the major contralto parts in Bach's Weinachtsoratorium (MMS), Kienzl's Der Evangeliemann (DGG), Richard Strauss's operas Salome (DGG), Berg's Lulu (DGG), Mendelssohn's Midsommernachtstraum (DGG), Beethoven's 'Ninth Symphony,' Penderecki's Die Teufel von Loudlun (Philips), Wagner's Parsifal (Philips). There is also an ultra rare recital LP with her song repertoire, while she can be seen on DVD in, among others, her Hamburg performances of Help! Help! The Globolinks, Zar und Zimmermann, and Die Meistersinger.

Nothing is known of what happened with Honorary medal winning sopranos Sukupova Burešová, and Thelma Godfrey. Likewise all information is lacking for the medal winning bass Ludwig Kevehazi. Any info on these artists is welcome. Of the featured artists, we would also welcome more photos and audio/video material.