Célestine Galli-Marie (Célestine-Laurence Marie de L'Isle) as Carmen. Carmen premiered at the Opera-Comique (3 Mar 1875) with Galli-Marie in the title role. The world had to teach the beauties of “Carmen” to the French. It was at first given at the Opera-Comique and failed. The French are slow at learning and assimilation. “Carmen” was too incomprehensible and too original for their lazy ears. The opera was afterward played with so much success in America and Germany that the French at last concluded there must be something in it. It was a great victory for Bizet, when for the second time “Carmen” was given at the Opera- Comique, with Galli-Marie in the title role. Galli-Marie had been the inimitable Mignon and afterward was the inimitable Carmen. Galli-Marie had long ago retired from the stage, but has once more consented to appear for the unique performance given for the benefit of Bizet’s statue. The De Reszkes, Lasalle and Melba will also take part. Neither has ever has even sang “Carmen” in France, and the demand for seats could fill a hall the size of the Coliseum of Rome. Mme. Bizet, who has been offered a box will witness the glorification of her husband’s worth, which will be given with so much the more éclat because it was so long ignored by his compatriots. (Emma Bullet, 28 Dec 1890)
Marie Van Zandt (8 Oct 1858 - Cannes: 31 Dec 1919). American soprano. Two birth dates and locations have been attributed to her: Texas: 8 Oct 1861 and New York: 8 Oct 1858. I'll stick to the latter from The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. She is seen here in her world premiere role of Lakmé (Opéra- Comique: 14 Apr 1883), which was specially written for her by Delibes. It was reported that her success in this role caused her jealous Opéra-Comique colleagues to wrongfully accuse her of being drunk on stage. Van Zandt studied with her mother, Jennie Van Zandt, and in Milan with Lamperti. Her debut was in Turin (1879) as Zerlina. "We have had French opera at the Gaiety Theatre; but it has only served to show the remarkable natural talent of Mlle Van Zandt, whose sole extraordinary qualification is an agile soprano voice with a range that includes E natural in alt. She is supported by a company of striking examples of the defects of the French school of singing, from which she is herself by no means free." Bernard Shaw, Our Corner, July 1885.

Famous First Roles - Page 2

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