Alice Brusten alias Nyza Bladel
Maria Catharina Elisabeth Brusten, called Alice in daily life, was born at seven in the morning on July 12, 1885, in Wijchmaal, Limburg, as the fifth child of Pieter Hendrik “Henri” Brusten, who was a shop keeper, and of Maria Jonkers. At the time of her birth she already had two sisters and two brothers. After her, no less than seven additional children were born in the family.
She married Mauritius Amandus Ghislenus “Maurice” Van Bladel, who was born in Antwerp on February 12, 1886, and used his last name in her stage name “Nyza Bladel” (also written as Nisa, Niza and Nysa). Maurice was the son of Josephus Van Bladel, who was a timber merchant born in the Belgian city of Geel, and of Anna Dapsens, who was born in the Belgian city of Tournai. His parents also got married in Tournai on July 7, 1897. Maurice was a writer and left out “Van” from his last name, making him better known as “Maurice Bladel”. Some of his books were: “Vampires”, “Le Vitrail de Feu”, “Le Temps des Victoires” and a study about the life and work of Georges Eekhoud. He also wrote poems, one of which was entitled “Ballade”. This poem was sang by Lina Bianchini in the Royal French Theater in Antwerp. At the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Maurice Bladel won a bronze medal in the art category literature, for his poem “La Louange des Dieux”. Maurice Van Bladel also corresponded with the famous Flemish writer Michel De Ghelderode.
Nyza Bladel was a student of Coppine Armand, who was a teacher at the conservatory of Liège. She debuted on February 12, 1920 in “Tosca” in the Royal French Theater in Antwerp. She sang in the Opera of Lyon, France, in 1922-1924 and in The Mint in Brussels, Belgium, in the seasons 1926-1927, 1927-1928 and 1928-1930.
Opera of Lyons
In 1923, Nyza Bladel participated in a concert for the occasion of the opening of the Bourse du Travail in Nantes, France. In april 1924, Nyza Bladel sang in the Opera of Monte Carlo the part of Hélène in “Faust et Hélène” from Lili Boulanger. In that same piece, the Irish tenor John O’Sullivan had the part of Faust, and Louis Arnal had the part of Méphisto.
Nyza Bladel also sang in Verviers, Belgium. More specifically on April 10, 1926 in “La Juive”. On May 17, 1926, she sang in “Les Huguenots”. And on May 24, 1926 and January 26, 1928, she sang the part of Sélika in “L’Africaine”. Also in Toulouse, in January 1926, Nyza Bladel sang in the Théâtre du Capitole in “Faust”, in “Messaline”, and in “Lohengrin”, in which she sang the part of Elsa.
Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse
Robert Pénavayre, president of Classic Toulouse, wrote in June 2010 in an e-mail to Ewan Van Minnebruggen: “Vu le niveau d'excellence du Capitole en matière de distribution vocale, Nyza Bladel devait être un soprano de grande qualité”. In the French press, Nyza Bladel was praised highly with terms like “radiant” and “dazzling”. The audience loved her, which was reflected in standing ovations and by the flowers that were being thrown onto the stage.
Also in 1926, Nyza Bladel sang in the Royal French Theater in Antwerp in “Aïda”.
The French Royal Theater in Antwerp
In 1927, in The Mint in Brussels, she sang the part of Marguerite Charles Gounod’s “Faust”. One year later, in 1928, she sang the part of Béatrix in “Béatrix” by Lilien Ignace, and also the part of Donna Anna in Mozart’s “Don Juan”. In this last opera, the American tenor John Charles Thomas sang together with her.
John Charles Thomas and his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The newspaper article was published in “Le Gaulois” on May 24, 1927.
On October 19, 1929, Nyza Bladel sang in “Il Trovatore”, and on January 26, 1930 in “Hérodiade”. In the years 1928, 1929 and 1930, she sang the part of Salomé in The Mint in Brussels in “Salomé” from Richard Strauss. Also in The Mint, she sang the part of Venus in “Tännhauser”.
1924 Program of the Monte Carlo Opera. Nyza Bladel is shown on the left page, in the lower right corner.
The Mint in Brussels
Nyza Bladel in the part of SalomĂŠ.
Publicity for performances in Lyon and Monte Carlo
On Thursday January 9, 1930, she sang in the Grand Theater of Bordeaux the part of Tosca in “La Tosca”, a part she also sang in The Mint in Brussels and in the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse.
Grand Theater of Bordeaux
In December 1930, she performed again in the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse in “Salomé”.
These articles were ublished in “L’EXPRESS DU MIDI” (edition Toulouse) in December 1930. In “Cavalleria Rusticana” Nyza Bladel sang the part of Santuzza.
Hilda Sterckx told Ewan Van Minnebruggen that there are no recordings of any of the performances of Nyza Bladel. Although she was invited to travel to the United States to make a recording, this never happened, allegedly because her husband did not approve of this.
On the left and above two newspaper advertisements are shown which were published in “Le midi” on January 23, 1926.
Another opera house where Nyza Bladel performed, was the Théâtre Graslin in Nantes, France, in “Des Huguenots”, and more specifically the part of Valentine. The date of this performance is unknown.
Théâtre Graslin in Nantes
Besides all the above mentioned opera houses, Nyza Bladel also performed in Calais, France. According to family history, Alice Brusten deliberately smoked cigars for her voice. Depending on the part, it happened at times that Nyza Bladel appeared on stage with barely any clothes on. In the magazine “New Outlook” of 1928 was written: “Nyza Bladel wore some jewels, a long train and absolutely nothing else.” According to Hilda Sterckx, a man that put his hand on the shoulder of Nyza Bladel, immediately got slapped in his face by her. According to Josée Tyerman, who, during her youth was living with her aunt Alice for a while, her house was situated in the Rue de Liedekerke no. 112 in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode. The large house, which is now a protected monument, was built in 1864 in neoclassical style and was rebuilt in 1899 in art nouveau style by the architect Léon Govaerts, who lived in this house for a while himself. Today, the former house of Maurice Van Bladel and Alice Brusten is a retirement home.
The house of Maurice Van Bladel and Alice Brusten.
The house of Maurice Van Bladel and Alice Brusten.
Maurice Van Bladel
Maurice Van Bladel died on February 14, 1968, in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, two days after his 82nd birthday. Upon requesting his death certificate at the civil registration of Saint-Josse-tenNoode, it was noted that this certificate is no longer in the possession of this municipality, but has been moved to the national archives in Brussels.
The date and place of death of his wife, Alice, is unknown. Alice and Maurice had no children.
Written by Ewan V Minnebruggen with the assistance of his wife Caroline Linden