The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Pauline Viardot-Garcia

Pauline Viardot-Garcia

The 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. After his death in 1832, she was taught by her mother. Her elder sister Maria Malibran was the singer of the family until her untimely death in 1836.

She's seen here dressed as the eponymous hero of Gluck’s Orphée, in a costume designed by Delacroix.

Based on the myth of Orpheus, the opera in its original version was titled Orfeo ed Euridice [French version: Orfée et Eurydice] and the role of Orpheus was sung by a castrato. It was first performed in Vienna in 1762.

In 1859, Hector Berlioz wrote a version of the opera – in four acts – especially with Pauline Viardot in mind, adapting the score for a female contralto. A daring concept which proved to be an enormous success, the production ran to 124 performances in two seasons.

Photographed by Disdéri.


Code: 123056
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