The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Marie Saxe

Marie Saxe

A carte-de-visite portrait of the Belgian soprano Marie Saxe (1834-1907).

In 1859, Hector Berlioz adapted a version of Gluck's opera Orfeo ed Euridice [French version: Orfée et Eurydice], first performed in Vienna in 1762. Pauline Viardot-Garcia sang the role of Orfeus, which Berlioz had adapted for a female contralto. A daring concept which proved to be an enormous success, the production ran to 124 performances in two seasons.

Marie Saxe sang the role of Eurydice, although Berlioz thought her ‘as ignorant as a carp of everything to do with Art.’ At one point during rehearsals, when Berlioz kept stopping the orchestra to give instructions to the chorus, Saxe turned to Viardot and disapprovingly asked ‘That’s Monsieur Gluck, isn’t it?’ ‘No, it’s one of his friends,’ came the response. ‘Well, he’s got a nerve – in his absence.’

Photographed by Disdéri of Paris.


Code: 123052
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© Paul Frecker 2019