Mary Garden

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Mary Garden (February 20, 1874 - January 3, 1967) was a popular operatic soprano in the first third of the 20th century.

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Mary Garden

Mary Garden was born in Aberdeen, Scotland. Her family moved to Chicago, Illinois, USA in her childhood. She showed promise as a young singer, and after training with the best in Chicago was sent to Paris to receive further instruction there. She made her public debut in April of 1900, in Gustave Charpentier's Louise at the Opéra-Comique. Two years later, Claude Debussy selected her to play the female lead at the Opéra-Comique debut of his Pelléas et Mélisande. Garden's performances met with considerable critical acclaim. She also created a sensation as Salomé in Richard Strauss's Opera of that name.

Mary Garden first performed in the USA at the Manhattan Opera House in 1907 in the title role in Thaïs.

She starred at the Chicago Civic Opera from 1910 through 1931, the year in which she retired from the operatic stage. She stayed active giving recitals, lectures, and master classes for another 2 decades.

Garden was known a dramatic example of the diva archetype, and had a number feuds with various musical colleagues. Her flamboyant personal life was often the subject of as much media attention as her public performances, and some of her affairs were made scandals by the newspapers.

Mary Garden made a number of gramophone records between 1903 and 1929, for G & T, Columbia and Victor. Her recordings continue to be reissued and are of interest to historic opera lovers, although Garden herself was said to have been generally disappointed with the results of her work in the recording studio.

Her autobiography, "Mary Garden's Story", was published in 1951.

Mary Garden died in Aberdeen, the city of her birth.

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