[Meyerbeer, Giacomo. (1791-1864)] Viardot, Pauline. (1821-1910)
"I have to sing two pieces from Le prophète" - Autograph Letter Signed to Narcisse Girard
ALS of the French singer, composer and teacher. [Paris?,] Wednesday, Mai 4 [no year, but either 1853 or 1859]. 1 p. Bifolium with blind stamped initials "P.V." Translated from the French, in full: "My friend, Madame Rose Chéri, gives the performance for her profit next Saturday. I have to sing two pieces from Le prophète there, and I would like to ask you to permit Mr. Victor Chéri and three of his colleagues who complete the quartet just as fill-ins to come to strengthen and conduct the little orchestra of the [Théâtre du] Gymnase." 7.25 x 4.75 inches (19 x 12 cm).
Narcisse Girard (1797-1860) was a French conductor and composer. A friend of Hector Berlioz, he conducted the first performance of the latter's Harold en Italie. Rose Chéri (1824-1861) was a French actress; Victor Chéri (1830-1882), a composer, was her brother. They were both permanently affiliated with the Théâtre du Gymnase. The reference to Meyerbeer's opera Le prophète, first performed in 1849 with Viardot creating the role of Fides, allows to date this letter to either 1853 or 1859 (the only years in the relevant period in which May 4 was a Wednesday).
Pauline Viardot, one of the most important singers of the 19th century, was the dedicatee of Brahms’ Alto Rhapdody and Saint-Saens wrote that it was her voice he had in mind when composing the role of Dalila. Viardot created Meyerbeer's "Le Prophete" (Fides), Orphee in the Berlioz version of Gluck's "Orphee et Euridice," Gounod's "Sapho," and Massenet's "Marie Magdalene" among others.