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André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri
Pauline Viardot-Garcia in Orphée
Carte de visite
Pauline Viardot-Garcia (1821-1910), French soprano
Mezzo-soprano Pauline Garcia was born in Paris on 18 July 1821, to a Spanish family of musicians. Originally trained as a pianist, her father, Manuel Garcia, also gave her singing lessons, although her elder sister Maria Malibran was the singer of the family until her untimely death in 1836.
In 1837, at the age of sixteen, Pauline Garcia gave her first concert performance in Brussels. Her opera début was made at Her Majesty's Theatre, London in May 1839, as Desdemona in Rossini's Otello. In 1849 she created FidÞs in Le ProphÞte and later, the title role in Gounod's Sapho.
In 1840, she married Louis Viardot, director of the Théatre Italien in Paris. Her husband later managed her career.
Renowned for her wide range and her dramatic roles on stage, Garcia's performances inspired several composers, including Frederic Chopin, Hector Berlioz and Camille Saint-SaÙns. Extremely intelligent, she spoke fluent French, Italian, Spanish, English, German and Russian, and composed songs in a variety of national techniques. Her career took her to all the best musical venues of Europe, and from 1843 to 1846 she was permanently attached to the Opera in St. Petersburg.
In 1863 Pauline Viardot-Garcia retired from the stage. Due to her husband's public opposition to Napoléon III, she and her family left France and settled in Baden-Baden. After the fall of the Second Empire, the family returned to France where Pauline taught at the Paris Conservatory. She died in Paris on 18 May 1910 and was buried in the cemetery at Montmartre.
She is seen here as she appeared in 1859 when she sang Orpheus at the ThéÔtre-Lyrique in the historic revival of Gluck's Orphée et Eurydice, in Berlioz's version, with Marie Sax as Eurydice. (Paul Frecker)