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Mary Garden

Mary Garden (20 February 1874 – 3 January 1967) was a Scottish operatic soprano with a substantial career in France and America in the first third of the 20th century. She spent the latter part of her childhood and youth in the United States and eventually became an American citizen, although she lived in France for many years and eventually retired to Scotland, where she died.

Described as "the Sarah Bernhardt of opera", Garden was an exceptional actress as well as a talented singer. She was particularly admired for her nuanced performances which employed interesting uses of vocal color. Possessing a beautiful lyric voice that had a wide vocal range and considerable amount of flexibility, Garden first arose to success in Paris during the first decade of the 20th century. She became the leading soprano at the Opéra-Comique; notably portraying roles in several world premieres, including Mélisande in Claude Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande (1902). She worked closely with Jules Massenet, in whose operas she excelled. Massenet notably wrote the title role in his opera Chérubin (1905) for her.

In 1907, Oscar Hammerstein convinced Garden to join the Manhattan Opera House in New York where she became an immediate success. By 1910 she was a household name in America and Garden appeared in operas in several major American cities; including performing with the Boston Opera Company and the Philadelphia Opera Company. Between 1910 and 1932 Garden worked in several opera houses in Chicago. She first worked with the Chicago Grand Opera Company (1910–1913) and then joined the Chicago Opera Association in 1915, ultimately becoming the company's director in 1921. Although director for only one year, Garden was notably responsible for staging the world premiere of Sergei Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges before the company went bankrupt in 1922. Shortly thereafter she became the director of the Chicago Civic Opera where she commissioned the opera Camille by 28-year-old composer Hamilton Forrest. She sang roles at the Civic Opera until 1931, notably in several United States and world premieres.

Additionally, Garden appeared in two silent films made by Samuel Goldwyn.

After retiring from the opera stage in 1934, Garden worked as a talent scout for MGM. She also gave lectures and recitals, mostly on the life and works of Claude Debussy, until 1949. She retired to Scotland and in 1951 published a successful autobiography, Mary Garden's Story.

Her voice is preserved on a number of recordings made for the Gramophone Company (including some with Debussy at the piano), Edison Records, Pathé, Columbia Records and the Victor Talking Machine Company between 1903 and 1929.

Birth and Death Data: Born February 20th, 1874 (Aberdeen), Died January 3rd, 1967 (Inverurie)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1911 - 1929

Roles Represented in DAHR: soprano vocal

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 28 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BVE-36731 10-in. 10/25/1926 At dawning (I love you) Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with piano vocalist, soprano vocal  
Victor BVE-36732 10-in. 10/25/1926 Annie Laurie Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with piano vocalist, soprano vocal  
Victor BVE-36733 10-in. 10/25/1926 Over the steppe Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with piano vocalist, soprano vocal  
Victor CVE-36734 12-in. 10/25/1926 Depuis le jour Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, soprano vocal  
Victor CVE-36735 12-in. 10/26/1926 Dieu de grace Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, soprano vocal  
Victor BVE-36753 10-in. 11/3/1926 My ship and I Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with piano vocalist, soprano vocal  
Victor BVE-37329 10-in. 12/24/1926 At parting Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with piano vocalist, soprano vocal  
Victor BVE-40733 10-in. 11/22/1927 Afton water Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with piano vocalist, soprano vocal  
Victor BVE-40734 10-in. 11/22/1927 Ma belle enfant, ne chante pas Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with piano vocalist, soprano vocal  
Victor BVE-40735 10-in. 11/22/1927 Somewhere a voice is calling Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with piano vocalist, soprano vocal  
Victor CVE-40736 12-in. 11/23/1927 Depuis le jour Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with piano vocalist, soprano vocal  
Victor CVE-48957 12-in. 4/5/1929 In the gloaming Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with organ vocalist, soprano vocal  
Victor CVE-56801 12-in. 11/7/1929 Jock o' Hazeldean Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with organ vocalist, soprano vocal  
Victor BVE-57524 10-in. 11/4/1929 Beau soir Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with piano vocalist, soprano vocal  
Victor BVE-57525 10-in. 11/4/1929 Clair de lune Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with piano vocalist, soprano vocal  
Victor BVE-57526 10-in. 11/5/1929 En vain pour eviter Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, soprano vocal  
Columbia 19886 10-in. 5/17/1912 John Anderson, my Jo Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, soprano vocal  
Columbia 19887 10-in. 5/17/1912 Comin' thro' the rye Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, soprano vocal  
Columbia 19888 10-in. 5/17/1912 Jock o' Hazeldean Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, soprano vocal  
Columbia 19889 10-in. 5/17/1912 Annie Laurie Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, soprano vocal  
Columbia 19890 10-in. 5/18/1912 Irish love song Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, soprano vocal  
Columbia 19891 10-in. 5/18/1912 Blue bells of Scotland Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, soprano vocal  
Columbia 30695 12-in. 3/14/1911 Quel est donc ce trouble charmant Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, soprano vocal  
Columbia 30696 12-in. 3/14/1911 Sempre libera degg'io Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, soprano vocal  
Columbia 30699 12-in. 3/21/1911 Le jongleur de Notre Dame Mary Garden Soprano vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, soprano vocal  
(Results 1-25 of 28 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Garden, Mary," accessed August 7, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/102667.

Garden, Mary. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved August 7, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/102667.

"Garden, Mary." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 7 August 2020.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/102667

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