Opera: Mary the First

"What a triumph! I have never seen such enthuiasm as I did that night when I finished. There were curtain calls and curtain calls, and they all shouted and threw their programs and little roses and handkerchiefs on the stage. Because, you see, they didn't know who in the world I was."

She was Mary Garden, and as debuts go, her magical performance at Paris' Opéra Comique that night might have been staged by her fairy godmother. The year was 1900, and Mary, Scotland-born and Chicago-reared, was an impoverished young soprano who haunted rehearsals at the Comique. Her moment came when,...

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