Friday, September 03, 2010

The Influence of Viardot

While writing about all those mezzo-soprano heroines in French opera, I could not help wondering about the influence of Maria Malibran's younger sister Pauline Viardot on French composers.  If we are to believe Wikipedia, then we must surely find that she:
  • was the inspiration for Charles Gounod's Sapho,
  • was the inspiration for the heroine of the novel Consuelo by George Sand,
  • was the inspiration for Camille Saint-Saëns Samson et Dalila but never sang the role,
  • created the role of Fides in Meyerbeer's Le prophète,
  • was the on again, off again inspiration for Dido in Berlioz' Les Troyens,
  • sang Orphée in Gluck's opera Orphée et Eurydice over 150 times, apparently in a variety of languages,
  • and came out of retirement to do the first performance of the Brahms Alto Rhapsody.
The other famous mezzo-soprano operas came after her retirement in 1863, but she had set the trend.


Lucy said...

Have you read Jessica Duchen's novel, Songs of Triumphant Love? Viardot's music and under-explored history are of importance enough to the characters to almost become characters themselves, I thought.

Dr.B said...

She was an unusual woman who wished she was a pianist. Mother wouldn't have it.

Haven't read the book but will look into it.