Célestine Galli-Marié


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(b Paris, Nov 1840; d Vence, nr Nice, 22 Sept 1905). French mezzo-soprano. She was taught by her father, Félix Mécène Marié de l'Isle, a double bass player who became a tenor at the Opéra and eventually a conductor. She made her début in Strasbourg in 1859 as Célestine Marié, but shortly after married a sculptor named Galli (who died in 1861) and took the professional name Galli-Marié. Emile Perrin, director of the Opéra-Comique, engaged her after hearing her in a performance of Michael Balfe's The Bohemian Girl in Rouen. She first appeared at the Opéra-Comique to considerable acclaim as Serpina in Giovanni Pergolesi's La serva padrona (1862) and sang there regularly until 1885, creating the title roles of Mignon (1866) and Carmen (1875), as well as creating important roles in works by François-Auguste Gevaert, Ernest Guiraud, Aimé Maillart, Victor Massé, Jules Massenet and Emile Paladilhe (who was her lover). Though principally associated with the Opéra-Comique, she toured in France and Europe, singing in the Italian première of Carmen at Naples and performing in London with a French company at Her Majesty's Theatre in 1886, as well as in Spain. With her return to the Opéra-Comique as Carmen in 1883 the work finally achieved the success in Paris it had enjoyed elsewhere in Europe. Her last appearance in the capital was in this, her most famous role, in a performance with Melba (Micaëla), Jean De reszke (Don José) and Jean Lassalle (Escamillo) in December 1890 at the Opéra-Comique, to raise funds for a monument to Bizet. She was praised for her intelligence, natural acting ability (as both comedian and tragedian) and musicianship; her voice was not distinguished for its range or volume, but for the warmth of its timbre.

From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.

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