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Mathilde Marchesi

Mezzo Soprano & Singing Teacher
Mathilde Marchesi in 1897
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Biography

Mathilde Marchesi was a mezzo-soprano and singing teacher. She was born on 24 March 1821 and died on 17 November 1913, in London. Marchesi was a student of Manuel Garcia II, whom she studied with in Paris.

Shortly after, in 1844 she commenced a professional performing career in Opera and Recital. It was five years later in 1849 that Marchesi retired from performing to pursue teaching.  

Marchesi was professor of voice at the Vienna Conservatory, and also had a well known studio in Paris for some time. She is famous for being one of the best teachers of female singers, particularly sopranos.

Marchesi emphasised the blending of registers in her teaching, saying that: “[vocal registers are] the Alpha and Omega of the formation and development of the female voice, the touchstone of all singing methods, old and new.”

Among other teachings was the importance of singers understanding the lyrics, to which Marchesi suggested that “Singers too often sing the voice part, but not the text. Identify yourself with what you sing. Declaim the words before you sing them.”

Perhaps some of the best is advice from Marchesi is to the singing teacher – 

“A teacher must… be born with a general musical talent; with a special disposition, and genius for singing; genius for grasping composition (without which style cannot be taught); with a strong pathological sense, with psychical insight, with patience “à outrance,” (the principal teaching virtue); with love of imparting, imagination, complete literary historical, and musical historical education, and complete mastery of at least four of the principal living languages, as you cannot teach masterpieces if you do not know the spirit in which they were created. Important, also, is the special gift that lies in the ear—of discerning the real nature of the voice—all its possibilities, and its future line in Art.”

Mathilde Marchesi

Sources

  1. “Truths for Singing Teachers and Students”
  2. Mathilde Marchesi’s Teaching Principles
  3. Overtones of Bel Canto, by Berton Coffin, p. 23.

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