Catherine-Nicole Lemaure


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(b Paris, 3 Aug 1704; d Paris, 1786). French soprano. Entering the Paris Opéra chorus in about 1719, she sang Astraea in the 1721–2 revival of Lully's Phaëton in December, and was promoted to sing Libya in January. She quickly came to sing such principal parts as Hippodamie in the première of Mouret's Pirithoüs and the title role in Lacoste's Philomèle (both 1723). Her temperament was capricious and volatile, however, and she left the Opéra without warning in 1725 after a performance of Destouches and Lalande's Les élémens. She returned in 1726, only to cause an uproar when her rivalry with Marie Pélissier caused acrimonious disputes among ‘les politiques de l'Opéra’ during the opening run of Francoeur and Rebel's Pirame et Thisbé. Lemaure disappeared again in 1727–30, returning to sing in Campra's Hésione. She sang Oriane (Lully's Amadis, 1731) with triumphant success, created Iphise (Montéclair's Jephté, 1732) and sang the title role in Destouches’ Issé (1733 revival), in which she was considered ‘miraculeuse’ by J. -B. Formont. She sang Iphigenia in the 1734 revival of Desmarets’ Iphigénie en Tauride. Threatened with imprisonment if she did not appear in the 1735 revival of Jephté, Lemaure deliberately sang poorly and was hissed by the parterre. When she refused to continue, she was escorted (still in costume) to Fort l'Evêque, where she was detained overnight before returning the following day to take up her role with better grace. Her 1740 performances of Iphise and Oriane were greeted with enthusiastic ovations, and in 1744 she supplanted Pélissier as Iphise in Rameau's Dardanus, a role Pélissier had created.


From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.

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