Viardot-Garcia, Michelle Pauline

1821-

 

Born in Paris; the daughter of the famous singer and teacher, Maurice Garcia, sister of Madame Malibran and mother of Mme. Heritte-Viardot. At the age of three her father took the family on a trip to America, and her earliest remembrance of her father's voice was hearing him sing at the command of a band of bandits who robbed them in Mexico. While in Mexico, at the age of four, she received lessons on the piano from Marcos Vega, organist of the Mexico Cathedral. At the age of six she could speak fluently in French, Spanish, Italian and English, and later in German. At seven she was in Paris again and studying under Meysenberg and Liszt and harmony under Reicha. Both of her parents had instructed her, and when her father died she began studying voice with one of his favorite pupils, Adolph Nourrit, the tenor. Her first appearance in public was in 1837 at Brussels in a concert given by her brother-in-law, De Beriot it being his first appearance after the death of his wife, Mme. Malibran. Pauline's voice resembled her sister's in quality. The concert was a great success and she spent the next year touring Germany with De Beriot, also singing in Paris Her first London appearance was in 1839 at Her Majesty's Theatre, where she sang until the following autumn, when she went to Paris. There she sang in Rossini's operas and was enthusiastically received. In 1840 she married M. Viardot. He resigned the Opera management, and they spent years touring through Italy, Spain, Germany, Russia and England. She returned to Paris in 1849 to take the part of Fides in Meyerbeer's Prophete, for which part she had been specially chosen, and which she played more than two hundred times. In 1859 she achieved a triumph as Orphee at the Lyric Theatre, and two years later sang possibly her greatest girt in Alceste. Her roles include esdemona, Cenerentola, Rosina, Norma, Arsace, Camilla, Anina, Romes, Lucia, Maria di Rohan, Ninette, Leonora, Azucena, Donna Anna, Zerlina, Rahel, Iphigenie, Alice, Isabelle. Valentine, Fides, and Orphee. In 1862 Mme. Viardot retired from the Opera and went to live in Baden-Baden. She took up teaching, and also produced her operettas, Le Dernier Sorcier L'Ogre, and Trop de Femme. In 1871 she returned to Paris. For many years she was a professor of singing at the Paris Conservatory, and she devoted much time to composition. She has had many famous pupils, among them Artot, Maria Brandt, Orgeni and Antoinette Sterling. Schumann dedicated to her his Liederkreis, a collection of songs. Mme. Viardot has published several collections of songs, and vocal transcriptions of some of Chopin's mazurkas and waltzes. Other compositions are twelve romances for piano, twelve Russian melodies, six pieces for violin and piano, and a polonaise for four hands. Her singing exercises are much used by teachers.