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Diva Image #1: Mary Garden
by David for group historicalziegfeld Oct 2, 2010

At the beginning of the 20th century three opera singers from the English speaking world ascended to the most rarified heights of stage stardom: Mary Garden--from England--Nellie Melba--from Australia--and Geraldine Farrar--from the United States. Each became the obsessive focus of publicity and photography, and projected some of the most potent images of feminine personality published from 1890-1920. Mary Garden rocketed to stardom as the tragic heroine of Debussy's revolutionary opera, "Pelleas & Melisande". Her pre-raphaelite femininity had an almost mystical tenderness to it--one of the deep moments of the feminine mystique in modern musical art. Yet garden was hardly tied to the soft side of stage womanliness. Within a three year period she place courtesan and saint, a trouser role and Richard Strauss's ancient voluptuary, Salome. Her imperious presentation in Tosca added a further note of force to her range of impersonation. Her ability to communicate a multitude of distinct personalities caused motion picture producers in the late 1910s to view her as a possible screen star, and she, like her rival Geraldine Farrar, played the lead in multiple motion pictures, including lensings of famous stage roles such as Thais. Samuel Goldwyn saw her as a supreme melodramatist, and the stills from his 'Thais' and "Secret Sinner" she her in all her magnificent extremity. In the images below, Rudolph Eickemeyer lensed her as Melisande, Herman Mishkin as Salome and Thais, and Greta Dupont as the merry minstrel of Notre Dame. David Shields

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