Feminine Musique

Pauline Garcia-Viardot

Pauline Garcia-Viardot, a nineteenth century French mezzo-soprano and composer, was born in Paris to a glamorous Spanish opera family, the great Garcias. As a young woman, she was overshadowed by her beautiful older sister, Maria Malibran, but her father, Manuel del Popolo Vicente Garcia, made Pauline his favorite and trained her on the piano and also gave her singing lessons. After his death in 1832, her mother took over. After her sister's death, Pauline was assigned to take over as a professional singer, never mind the fact that she had a flawed, second-tier voice and subpar looks. Her vocal range was from F3 to C6. Renowned for her wide range and her dramatic roles on stage, Viardot's performances inspired composers such as Frederic Chopin, Hector Berlioz, Camille Saint-Saens, and Giacomo Meyerbeer. She spoke fluent French, Italian, Spanish, English, German and Russian, and composed songs in a variety of styles.

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