Maria Garcia Malibran was the 'superstar' of nineteenth-century opera - a singer whose colorful career and new vocal style epitomized the age of bel canto. Her roles in works by Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti performed in the leading opera houses of six countries, a flexible three-octave vocal range, and an impulsively effective acting style made her the object of fierce adulation. Malibran's short and frenetic life - she died suddenly while on tour at age 28 - and her wildly successful career are documented with reviews of her performances and extracts front her prolific correspondence. Her letters give an intimate view of her vivacious personality, her friendships, and her liaisons. Among her correspondents were Vincenzo Bellini, Giuditta Pasta, and Lafayette, who as a friend attempted to create a French divorce law to allow Maria to marry Charles de Bériot, father of her illegitimate son.In addition, we are given a vivid picture of other members of the Garcia family, a remarkable troupe of singers headed by Manuel Garcia, who created the lead role in Rossini's Barber of Seville. He also led the family troupe in the first American performances of Italian opera and gave Maria an arrogant and dictatorial tutelage that shaped her superb vocal skills.
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Howard Bushnell, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, carried out extensive research in six languages for this biography and has included much unpublished material, including the Malibran death mask which he located. Elaine Brody is a Professor of Music at New York University and the author of several books on music.
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