Lucy Arbell

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Lucy Arbell
Lucy Arbell photographed by Paul Nadar.jpg
Carte de visite of Lucy Arbell by Paul Nadar [1]
Born
Georgette Wallace

(1878-06-08)8 June 1878
Le Vésinet, France
Died21 May 1947(1947-05-21) (aged 68)
Bougival, France
OccupationOpera singer

Lucy Arbell (néeGeorgette Gall, Georgette Wallace) (8 June 1878 – 21 May 1947) was a French mezzo-soprano whose operatic career was mainly centred in Paris and who was particularly associated with the composer Jules Massenet. [2]

Life and career

Arbell reprising the title role of Jules Massenet's Therese (which she created) for the 1911 Paris premiere. Lucy Arbell in Massenet's Therese.jpg
Arbell reprising the title role of Jules Massenet's Thérèse (which she created) for the 1911 Paris première.

Georgette's father was Edmond Richard Wallace (1840–1887), son of Sir Richard Wallace, the renowned art collector and philanthropist.

Arbell made her stage debut as Dalila at the Paris Opéra on 23 October 1903. She also sang there as Amneris in Aida , Madalena in Rigoletto , Uta in Sigurd , Fricka in Die Walküre and Thérèse . [3]

Arbell in the role of Queen Amahelli at the Theatre de l'Opera (Palais Garnier), during the creation of Bacchus in 1909. Photograph by Paul Nadar. Lucy Arbell as Queen Amahelli in Massenet's Bacchus, wide view.jpg
Arbell in the role of Queen Amahelli at the Théâtre de l'Opéra (Palais Garnier), during the creation of Bacchus in 1909. Photograph by Paul Nadar.

She had a close association with the late operas of Massenet, creating roles in Ariane (Perséphone), Thérèse (title role), Bacchus (Queen Amahelli), Don Quichotte (Dulcinée) in Monte-Carlo and Paris, Roma (Postumia), and Panurge (Colombe). [2] She had a close relationship with Massenet as well; the critic Rodney Milnes describes Arbell as "gold-digging", charging that her blatant exploitation of the composer's honourable affections caused his wife considerable distress and even strained Massenet's devotion (or infatuation as Milnes characterises it). After the composer's death in 1912, Arbell pursued his widow and publishers through the law courts, seeking to secure a monopoly of the leading roles in several of his late operas. [4]

As a singer she is described as having a strong, vibrant 'mezzo-contralto' and a vivacious personality. [2] She may have been a talented actor, but her voice was considered by some critics to be mediocre; the roles created for her included extensive passages of declamation, something not usually seen in the operas of the period. [5]

At the Opéra-Comique she sang Charlotte ( Werther ) up to the 1920s, [6] but largely fell into oblivion after Massenet's death in 1912. [5]

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References

  1. "Person: Paul Nadar". www.getty.edu. J. Paul Getty Museum. Archived from the original on 28 March 2019. Retrieved 21 May 2022.
  2. 1 2 3 Forbes, Elizabeth (2001). "Arbell, Lucy [Wallace, Georgette]". In Sadie, Stanley (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Opera . London and New York: Macmillan. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.41893. ISBN   0-935859-92-6. OL   1731732M. Archived from the original on 23 January 2022. Retrieved 21 May 2022.
  3. Gourret, Jean (1987). Dictionnaire des Cantatrices de l'Opéra[Dictionary of cantratrices of the Paris Opera] (in French). Paris: Editions Albatros. ISBN   978-2-7273-0164-6. OCLC   419855564.
  4. Milnes, Rodney; Thompson, Kenneth; Wright, Stella J. (1992). "Massenet, Jules (opera) (Emile Frédéric)". In Sadie, Stanley (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Opera . Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.O903057. ISBN   0-935859-92-6. OCLC   56695643. OL   1731732M. Archived from the original on 21 May 2022. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  5. 1 2 Branger, Jean-Christophe (2019). "'There Must Be Something There That We Don't Know About': Massenet and Lucy Arbell". Cambridge Opera Journal . 30 (2–3): 186–218. doi:10.1017/S0954586719000065. S2CID   203423662.
  6. Wolff, Stéphane (1953). Un demi-siècle d'Opéra-comique (1900–1950)[Half a century of comic opera (1900-1950)] (in French). Paris: André Bonne. OCLC   903310825. OL   21921713M.