Malibran, Marie Felicita



Brilliant and popular opera-singer; born in Paris; coming from a family of famous musicians. Her father, Manuel Garcia, was a singer and teacher, as was her brother Manuel, and her sister, Pauline Viardot, was an opera-singer, composer and teacher. At the age of three she went to Italy, where at the age of five she took a child's part in Paer's opera, Agnese, which was being performed at Naples. At the age of seven she studied solfeggio with Panseron of Naples, and piano with Herold. In 1816 she was taken back to Paris, and in 1817 to London, where she stayed for two years and a half, learning English during this time. When she was fifteen years old her father took charge of her vocal training and proved a very stern but proficient teacher. Her voice was by no means a perfect one, and great credit is due Garcia for the remarkable mastery of it, which he taught her. In 1824 she made her debut before a musical club which her father had just organized. Two months later her father accepted a position as principal tenor in London and started a singing class, in which he continued his daughter's education. In 1825 Malibran made her debut in opera. Her first role was that of Rosina in the Barber of Seville, which she sang with such success that she was immediately engaged for the remainder of the season. When the season was over she came to America under the management of her father, who sought to introduce Italian Opera in New York. During her stay in this city she sang roles in the operas, Otello, Romeo, Don Giovanni, Tancredi, and Cenerentola; also in two operas written for her by her father, entitled L'amante astuto, and La Figlia dell' aria. She was received with the greatest enthusiasm by her New York audiences, and had many extravagant admirers, among them François Eugene Malibran, a supposedly wealthy and middle-aged merchant, whom she married in 1826. It was a very unhappy marriage, and when her husband went into bankruptcy, in 1827, she left him and returned to Paris, where in 1828 she appeared in the role of Semiramide. Her ability was at once recognized and she was warmly received. She signed a contract with the Italian Opera Company for that season, and during 1829 appeared in London. In 1830 and 1831 she sang with the Italian Opera Company in Paris, and it was during this period that she met Charles de Beriot, the violinist, whom she later married. She toured Italy in 1832, in the spring of 1833 sang in London, later that year went back to Italy, remaining there until 1835, when she sang again in London, afterward making an extended tour of Italy. In 1836 her marriage to Malibran was annulled by the courts at Paris and immediately she married De Beriot, and went with him to a villa they had previously built near Brussels. In April, 1836, she went to London, and while there fell from her horse, sustaining injuries which afterwards proved fatal. She returned to Brussels, then to Aix-la-Chapelle, where with her husband she gave two concerts. In September, 1836, she went to England to sing at the Manchester Festival, but while there she was taken ill of a fever brought on by the injuries she had received in the accident, and, though she fulfilled her engagement, she died a few days later. According to critics who heard her, Malibran's power lay not alone in her voice but in her remarkable originality and style and in her wonderfully magnetic personality. Her delightful mental powers constituted half her charms.