Mary Garden en
Mary Garden, was a Scottish-American operatic soprano with a substantial career in France and America in the first third of the 20th century. She spent the latter part of her childhood and youth in the United States and eventually became an American citizen, although she lived in France for many years and eventually retired to Scotland, where she died. Described as "the Sarah Bernhardt of opera", Garden was an exceptional actress as well as a talented singer. She was particularly admired for her nuanced performances which employed interesting uses of vocal color. Possessing a beautiful lyric voice that had a wide vocal range and considerable amount of flexibility, Garden first arose to success in Paris during the first decade of the 20th century. She became the leading soprano at the Opéra-Comique; notably portraying roles in several world premieres, including Mélisande in Claude Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande. She worked closely with Jules Massenet, in whose operas she excelled. Massenet notably wrote the title role in his opera Chérubin for her. In 1907, Oscar Hammerstein convinced Garden to join the Manhattan Opera House in New York where she became an immediate success. By 1910 she was a household name in America and Garden appeared in operas in several major American cities; including performing with the Boston Opera Company and the Philadelphia Opera Company. Between 1910-1932 Garden worked in several opera houses in Chicago. She first worked with the Chicago Grand Opera Company and then joined the Chicago Opera Association in 1915, ultimately becoming the company's director in 1921. Although director for only one year, Garden was notably responsible for staging the world premiere of Sergei Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges before the company went bankrupt in 1922. Shortly thereafter she became the director of the Chicago Civic Opera where she commissioned the opera Camille by 28-year old composer Hamilton Forrest. She sang roles at the Civic Opera until 1931, notably in several United States and world premieres. Wikipedia [ - ]
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- Garden was a major figure in the development of American Opera.
- In 1883, when Garden was nine, the family emigrated from Glasgow, Scotland to New York, and then moved to Chicopee, MA, where a fourth sister, Helen, was born in 1884.
- Garden was by all accounts a child given to theatrical performances from an early age and she greatly enjoyed her singing and violin lessons in nearby Springfield.
- On 11th June 1886, at the age of 12, she gave her first public performance at the Chicopee Town Hall, singing a character song, 'Little old woman' and playing violin selections from 'The Bohemian Girl'.
- In 1889, the family returned to Aberdeen, Scotland for a year, where Garden attended St Margaret's School for Girls and was taught the piano by a noted organist, Walter Smith.
- Back in America later that year they moved to the Hyde Park area of Chicago.
- In 1894, Garden was introduced to the wealthy Florence Mayer, wife of the junior member of the dry goods firm Schlesinger and Mayer, who was greatly impressed by her singing and became her much-needed patron.
- In 1895, she moved in with the Mayers and in May 1896, they paid for her to accompany Mrs Duff to study in Paris.
- There, Garden studied singing with the Marquis Ange-Pierre de Trabadelo, a distinguished teacher and composer of romantic songs.
- In April 1898, Trabadelo announced that he had done as much for her as he could, and placed her in the hands of Lucien Fugere, the bass-baritone of the Opera-Comique.
- In the spring of 1897 she met the Californian soprano Sibyl Sanderson and they became friends.