Monday, July 20, 2009
PAULINE VIARDOT - THE FORGOTTEN DIVA?
Pauline Viardot (nee Garcia - July 18, 1821-May 18, 1910) was a French mezzo-soprano and composer of Spanish descent. Described as the greatest diva of the 19th century.
Born Michelle Ferdinande Pauline Garcia to a Spanish opera family. Her father, Spanish tenor Manuel del Populo Vicente Garcia, taught her piano and gave her singing lessons. As a girl, she travelled extensively and was fluent in five languages. After the death of her father, her mother, soprano Joaquina Sitchez, took over her singing lessons and demanded that she concentrate on her voice, rather than the piano. Young Michelle aspired to be a concert pianist.
To cut a very long and colourful story short (worth reading at Wikipedia), she had a wonderful career, a very happy marriage (despite the purported relationship with the Russian novelist, Ivan Turgenev), four children and mixed with the likes of Franz Liszt, George Sand, Chopin, Gounod, Berlioz, Saint-Saens, Clara Schumann, Johannes Brahms, to name but a few.
She died at the age of eighty-nine and is interred in the Montmartre Cemetery, Paris.
Although forgotten for a while, she is once more lauded and deserves her imprint in the annals of opera history.
I came across this charming story when searching for something else entirely but that's another post........