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Program for Laure de Marcellus

Friday, April 8, 2022 at 8 pm

download a copy of this program here.

Laure de Marcellus, mezzo soprano
Alberto Urroz, piano


Pauline Viardot García (1821–1910)
Les filles de Cadix

Charles Gounod (1818–1893)

Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849), arr. P. Viardot García
Plainte d’amour
Faible coeur!

Ruperto Chapí (1851–1909)
En la Playa
En Toledo

Pauline Viardot García
Canti Populari Toscani
    Chanson Villageoise

Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924)
Chanson du pêcheur Op. 4, No. 1

Pauline Viardot García
La Japonaise

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921)
La Brise
Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix (arr. A. Urroz)

the texts of the songs in their original language, as well as in English translation, are available here.

About the music

It is no exaggeration to say that Pauline Viardot García is perhaps the most important female musical figure of all time. Daughter of the tenor Manuel García and the soprano Joaquina Briones, sister of the Malibrán and of the influential singing teacher Manuel Patricio García, inventor of the laryngoscope, she was admired throughout Europe and respected by all the composers of her time. She was a singer, pianist, composer, and spoke and wrote Spanish, French, Italian, English and German fluently. The likes of Liszt, Berlioz, Saint-Saëns, Wagner, Chopin, Massenet, Schumann, Brahms, Gounod and Meyerbeer admired her and composed works for her.

The songs by Fauré, Gounod, Saint-Saëns and Chapí in this program were all dedicated to her, and the role of Dalila was written for her, but in many instances she played an even more decisive role in the compositions and careers of these musicians, helping them to compose, write scores, and even direct rehearsals in their absence! She studied music with her tyrannical and perfectionist father from an early age. Her career initially focused on composition and piano, and she was a student of Franz Liszt. But after the tragic death of her sister Maria, Pauline was assigned to step into her sister’s shoes: “Close the piano, from now on you will sing”, said her mother. At the age of 18, she made her debut in London in Rossini’s Desdemona, the iconic role of the deceased Maria.

Louis Viardot, director of the Italian Theater in Paris, decided to entrust her with Rossini roles in which she triumphed. Per the advice of Georges Sand, Pauline married Viardot, 21 years her senior, in a union that the novelist considered very advantageous for the young woman. Viardot resigned from his position to accompany his wife throughout Europe and manage one of the most beautiful careers of all time. In St. Petersburg, Pauline met Ivan Turgenev, with whom she was to have a lifelong relationship, a relationship perhaps consented to by Louis: the novelist accompanied the singer and the businessman in their travels with disconcerting naturalness and built a dacha in their garden.

What is really extraordinary about Pauline is to find so many musical and artistic skills and knowledge gathered in one person. Intellectual, studious, passionate about her profession in all its aspects, she won the love of the public and the respect of her colleagues in a world dominated by men. Her piano teacher, Franz Liszt, declared: “With her, the world has finally found a woman composer of true genius”. It is this genius of inspiration, both in her music and in that of others, that our program seeks to illuminate.

About the musicians

Laure de Marcellus’ velvety tone and compelling stage presence have delighted critics and audiences alike. She perfected her skills at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, where she sang under the baton of conductors such as C. Thielemann, M. Jurowski and Sir Lawrence Foster. She made her debut as Carmen at the Fêtes de Genève. She has performed as Dalila in Geneva and Annecy.  She sang Brangäne with the Norddeutches Philharmonie. Ms. de Marcellus has performed in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, Serbia, Singapore, the United States and Germany.

Laure de Marcellus was born in Geneva, Switzerland and studied at the Zurich Conservatory, Tel Aviv and New York. She currently resides in California.

For many years, her collaboration with pianist Alberto Urroz has resulted in recitals in Spain and the United States, with programs featuring many classical, romantic, and contemporary composers. These recitals are the result of years of friendship and a shared passion for the genre. They enjoy mixing art forms and have performed with dancers and in unusual venues, involving their audiences in the stories and poetry they present.

Tonight’s recital, which explores the fascinating Pauline Viardot Garcia and her global influence on Romantic music, is the program for their first joint recording, a CD to be released in the spring of 2022 by Centaur Records.

The greatness of Pauline’s artistic genius is evident in the passionate music she wrote and the music she inspired, and we are honored to be able to contribute in our humble way to making sure that her name is once again known to all as it deserves. This album was recorded during Covid’s first year, against the backdrop of the isolation and lack of direct human interaction it brought, and through the distances and challenges we had to overcome to make it happen, it is our tribute to what music brings to all of us: a connection to our true selves and to each other.

Alberto Urroz performs regularly in Europe, Asia and America. His successful debut at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 2008 has given a new impetus to his international career. He is in demand as a soloist, teacher and lecturer at important venues and cultural institutions. His love for the music of Scarlatti has been crystallized in tribute recitals to the Neapolitan composer and in the recording of a selection of his sonatas, featured in France Musique and Piano Journal. Equally appreciated as a soloist, chamber music pianist and accompanist, he recently performed the complete Brahms sonatas for violin and piano with Vadim Tchijik and gave recitals dedicated to Pauline Viardot with the mezzo-soprano Laure de Marcellus. Founder and artistic director of the Mendigorria International Music Festival and the Shigeru Kawai Madrid Piano Competition, president of the EPTA in Spain, Urroz is a professor of piano at the Alfonso X el Sabio University, Musical Arts and the Arturo Soria Conservatory in Madrid.

He has studied in Madrid, Tel Aviv and New York with Joaquín Soriano, György Sándor, Pnina Salzman and Oxana Yablonskaya. In 2017, Dr. Urroz received the honorary award for the best doctoral thesis in Arts and Humanities from the University Alfonso X el Sabio for his thesis on the process of teaching and learning piano technique.

This concert would not have been possible without the generous donations of multiple donors to our fundraising campaign, and we would like to thank them wholeheartedly for their support.

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