On 24th December 1907, 48 gramophone records were buried in the basement of the Paris Opera.
The instructions were to leave them there for 100 years.
The project was the brainchild of Alfred Clark, founder and president of EMI's ancestor, the International
Gramophone Company. His aim was to enlighten the citizens of the 21st century as to "the voices of the principal singers of our time and the interpretations they gave of some of the most famous pieces from the lyric and dramatic repertoire."
The 48 records, released by the Compagnie du Gramophone in the first years of the 20th century, were unearthed in December 2007 and then restored with enormous care by the technicians of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, in collaboration with EMI Classics.
Now the contents of the so-called 'Urnes de l'Opera' are being released by EMI Classics in partnership
with the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, the Opera National de Paris and the Association pour le Rayonnement de l'Opera national de Paris.
These musical treasures from the early days of the record label are introduced with a visionary speech from Firmin Gemier, the celebrated actor and director who founded France's Theatre National Populaire in 1920.
The voices of such legendary figures as Adelina Patti, Nellie Melba, Enrico Caruso, Mattia Battistini,
Emma Calve, Fyodor Chaliapin, Reynaldo Hahn and Marcel Journet regain their youth - much as the Faust of Leon Campagnola (known as 'The French Caruso') finds himself rejuvenated by the matchless Mephistopheles of Pol Plancon.