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Célestine Galli-Marié, soprano, seen here as ‘Mignon‘
Carte de visite
Célestine Galli-Marié (1840-1905) - French mezzo-soprano
Bizet's original Carmen, Galli-Marié was born in Paris into a family of musicians in November 1840. Her stage debut was at Strasbourg in 1859. She was a stalwart of the Opéra-Comique, starring there in Ambroise Thomas's "Mignon" a role she created in 1866 and continuing to sing at the theatre for ten years after the premiere of "Carmen." The role of Carmen called for a great actor and then a great singer. Galli-Marie was endowed with a superbly beautiful voice described as a "high mezzo-soprano" and ideal for Bizet's "Carmen" which premiered in Paris on 3 March, 1875. It is the opera role which gave hallmark to her career. "Carmen" was to become the best loved opera in the world, but it was not an instant success. On the evening of the thirty-third performance, Galli-Marie collapsed as she left the stage, but she would recover to perform other stage roles. Bizet was rumored to have been infatuated with the singer, but more likely it was her excellence in performing his opera. Galli-Marie also created roles in operas by Gevaart, Guiraud, Maillart, Masse, and in Massenet's "Don Cesar de Bazan." Most of her performances were in France, Belgium and Italy. She died on 22 September 1905.
(Kindly contributed by T. Max Hochstetler, June 2007)