The recording we thought was lost forever

20th October 2017 6:50 PM
RARE FIND: A professional photograph of Australian opera singer Molly de Gunst. RARE FIND: A professional photograph of Australian opera singer Molly de Gunst. contributed

A RARE recording of one of Australia's most famous opera singers has been unearthed in a Bundaberg garage.

For decades, all previous recordings of Bundaberg opera singer Molly de Gunst were believed lost to the world.

But a relative living in Bundaberg phoned Our Glad Association president Leonie Egan after reading a NewsMail article about Gladys Moncrieff.

"A couple of weeks ago the NewsMail put in a wonderful article about how we have been donated Gladys's memorabilia from Sydney,” Miss Egan said.

"Kay de Gunst (a relative) read this article and said if you're collecting for Gladys's stuff why don't you collect some of Molly's.”

Miss Egan was only too happy to oblige.

NATION'S SONGBIRD: Gladys Moncrieff memorabilia on display to celebrate her 125th birthday.
NATION'S SONGBIRD: Gladys Moncrieff memorabilia on display to celebrate her 125th birthday.

Visiting the old family home at FE Walker St, Miss Egan found a box of Molly's things tucked away in a garage collecting dust and to her surprise, made one of the greatest discoveries in her life.

"We went through them all and found a little cassette with a seven-minute recording of Molly singing Ritorna Vincitor from Verd's Aida, one of the major dramatic soprano operas.”

Miss Egan could barely contain her excitement at the find and proved definitively that Molly and Gladys's were different types of singers.

"This recording shows why Molly was so well known and respected,” she said.

Further research revealed an original disc survives in the Callaway Centre archives at the University of Western Australia.

Molly, born in 1905, attended South Bundaberg State School, and even then, her talented voice hinted at her future career.

From December 1927 to 1937 de Gunst appeared as the soprano soloist for almost every performance of the Messiah in Sydney.

On April 18,1932, she was called at short notice to play the leading role in Aida.

In further great news for the association, Miss Egan said Bargara Removals had agreed to collect Glady's memorabilia from Sydney free of charge.

It comes as Miss Egan renews her push for a Moncrieff museum to celebrate the famous singer.

"Gold Coast are trying to claim her as their own because she spent the last decade of her life there,” she said.

"Bundaberg needs to act now before it's too late.”

When the NewsMail approached Bundaberg MP Leanne Donaldson about this she appeared open to the suggestion of doing something more to honour Gladys.

"I think we should celebrate the women of our community and our 'Glad' would definitely fit the criteria,” she said.

"If the community would like something to recognise and celebrate this fine lady then maybe we need to have a discussion.”

A Bundaberg Regional Council spokesman said the passion of Miss Egan and the Our Glad Association promoting the immense talent of Gladys Moncrieff was to be commended.

"Preserving fragile items of heritage and cultural significance requires particular expertise and council has directed the association to seek contact with the Queensland Museum and in particular their regional museums officer,” he said.

To listen to a copy of the Molly's song, visit www.ourglad.com/ gladys-moncrieff-music.