García Viardot (1821-1910) was born in Paris to an acclaimed
Spanish opera family, the great Garcias. Initially
back-staged by her beautiful sister Maria Malibran the
famous mezzo soprano / soprano, Pauline became eventually
herself a celebrated
mezzo soprano in Europe. She took later an interest in
composing. In 1840, she married Louis Viardot,
director of the Théatre Italien in Paris.
In act 4 of Chopin and The Nightingale, Pauline Viardot
and Jenny Lind sing
(a) Viardot's arrangement “La Beauté”, duo
inspired by Chopin’s Mazurka in G major, Op. 67, no. 1; and (b)
Meyerbeer's duo "La mère grand" which they performed for
Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace on 30 May 1856.¹
Pauline Viardot knew Chopin, George Sand and Jenny Lind
- Paris 1836-1840.
Icons of Europe's research
concludes that Chopin played a major role in the 15-year
old Pauline Garcia's transformation from a budding
concert pianist in 1836 to an international mezzo
soprano in 1839.
- Paris and Nohant 1841-1842. Jenny Lind
studied singing under Chopin,
while Pauline Viardot made arrangements of some of his
- Bonn 1845. Like many
other artists and musicians, Pauline Viardot and Jenny Lind were
present at the unveiling of Beethoven's statue in Bonn.
Chopin had received an invitation, but did not come.
Jenny Lind was invited to sing at a private party
organized by the Prussian king.
- London 1847. Jenny Lind wrote
to Amalia Wickmann: “Give my warm
greetings to Viardot. Tell her that I have never
doubted that she is a splendid and magnificent woman,
and that it never occurred to me to compare her with the
vast majority of ordinary artists, that is, with most of
the women singers today. I am delighted that we
shall see each other in London”. - Ware and Lochard,
Lost Letters, London 1966 (p. 55).
- London 1848. Both Chopin
and Jenny Lind wrote to their friends about Viardot's
lack of success at the Italian opera in London.
In parallel, Viardot corresponded with George Sand
about Chopin (who left Sand in 1847).
- Paris 1849. Chopin wrote
to Solange Clésinger on 13 April: “There is a great
deal of talk … and about Mme Viardot, who, in the
mother’s part, is to make everybody weep” [referring to
Meyerbeer's opera Le prophète].
- Paris 1849. At Chopin's
funeral at La Madeleine, Viardot sang to Mozart's
Tuba Mirum. She and the soprano were hidden
- London 1856. Jenny Lind
and Pauline Viardot performed Meyerbeer's duo La mère
Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace on 30
- Paris 1859. Pauline
Viardot sang the title role of Gluck's opera Orphée,
directed by Hector Berlioz at Théâtre Lyrique. The
idea to stage this opera a month after the 10-year
anniversary of Chopin's death may well have originated
from Jenny Lind, who had initiated a cult of
Orpheus symbolism (e.g. his tomb at Père-Lachaise).
¹ Photo: Brussels premiere, 11
Daniel Blumenthal, piano
Biljana Staffansson, soprano
Ljiljana Jovanovic, soprano
Cecilia Jorgensen, narrator
Brussels Warsaw Toronto NewYork
Research by Cecilia Jorgensen, Icons of Europe.
Copyright © 2007 Icons of Europe B-1380 Lasne.