Cher Public

“Mary Garden Sad” (actual headline)

“I found Miss Garden… with her head resting on her hand, in a pose of interesting melancholy. In the mysterious atmosphere of the room, adorned with strange bibelots and with the setting sun forming a mystic halo around her head, she appeared almost like the ghost of Mélisande, while the languorous Anglo-Saxon accent of her voice rendered her sad speech the more interesting.” [New York Times]

  • actfive

    Clearly, Mary is sad about coloraturafan.

    • Camille

      Just now thinking the same, actfive.

  • Orlando Furioso

    When it launched, I thought, “There is no way La Cieca is going to get a weekly feature out of this premise.” Clearly, I was utterly wrong.

    • I felt the same way. The series is just delightful!

  • damekenneth

    Yes, Orlando, this weekly gift from the gods is much more than I’d bargained for as well.
    As a psychoanalyst, I’m particularly delighted by the idea of Mary’s “interesting melancholy.” Would that all case reports I had to read were something like this one: “In the mysterious atmosphere of the room, adorned with strange bibelots and with the setting sun forming a mystic halo around her head, she appeared almost like the ghost of Melisande, while the languorous Anglo-Saxon accent of her voice rendered her sad speech the more interesting.” It casts, perhaps, a more sanguine light on things that she will endeavor to “get flimsy material,” in order to “astonish” the Americans. It gives one hope this interesting melancholy must be not so very deep after all.

  • Belfagor

    Obviously you have not read her memoirs. There is much grist for the mill there.
    I seem to remember her commenting on both Massenet and Puccini being attracted to her, and commenting on their moustaches……..

    Mind you I vividly remember my grandma saying ‘A kiss without a moustache is like an egg without salt’. My grandfather did not have a moustache. And I found out a little later, that one’s grandma is always right.

  • Will

    There is indeed a great deal about Mary Garden which should keep this delightful thread simmering for quite some while. In particular she charmed and defanged the evangelist Billy Sunday over her upcoming performances as Salome. Do check out YouTube’ clips of Billy Sunday in action--his style a combination of carnival barker and baseball pitcher is a real hoot. Mary “seduced” him by taking him out for ice cream.

  • Camille

    Well, sorry to say I am not charmed by Mary Garden, not entirely, as she marched into Sybil Sanderson’s home a day or two after she died and filched, yes! the woman FILCHED a goodly amount of her cobra chewells. She! Already the beneficiary of ropes and ropes of pearls, with which the doomed Sybil baptised her at her Thaïs prima assoluta! Ingrata!

    Mary, Mary quite contrary had quite a tart tongue, too, when it came to describing M. Massenet! I’ll go dig up the book so that I might quote her for it shall surely Make ianw2’s Day!!!

    Bis später!

    • Camille, this is the wrong thread but I wanted to make sure you saw the reply. Brooklynpunk responded to my inquiry on Facebook with the following:


      • Camille

        Wrong threading is a way of life here on the Box and where would all Cieca’s children be without it?

        Thank you, my prince, for that you most assuredly are. I am very happy he has managed to get through what must have been a harrowing and challenging experience.

    • Will

      Mary writes of visiting Sybil a day or so before the end and finding her in bed with a man sitting by, smoking a cigar that was smelling up the room. Mary rebuked him but Sybil said it was OK with her.

  • havfruen

    Does anyone know what section of the NYTimes this appeared in those many years ago? “Gossip”,”arts”, or were there even sections?

  • laddie

    A new name for our favorite Sunday Pelleastrean, “The Ghost of Mélisande.”

  • bluecabochon

    I can’t get over that headdress she is wearing, from CLEOPATRA, according to Google.

  • Camille

    While doing a little research on some parfums, I was delighted to come across these two devoted to and named for the Diva du Martedi

    And this one.

    • Baltsamic Vinaigrette

      Her family emigrated from Scotland, I see.

      Perhaps she is related to Graeme Garden, he of The Goodies fame..?

      SENSITIVE VIEWER WARNING: a Goodies fan died laughing at the following clip. His widow wrote and thanked them for making his last minutes on earth so enjoyable:

  • Camille

    Mary Garden Natoma…17159.18206.0.20411.….0…

    I absolutely did not know she had sung Natoma. There is a nice excerpt from the same on YouTube with Risë Stevens singing.

    • Krunoslav

      It was at the Manhattan Opera’s invited-audience dress rehearsal of NATOMA that Garden-- in fill Native American make-up and costume--

      descended on the theatrically clueless John McCormack, playing Lieutenant Paul Merrill (the Pinkerton role) who turned, saw her, and said in a theatre-filling voice, “Christ Almighty, Mary-- ye scared the *bejesus* out o’ me.”

      This anecdote from my late gay great-uncle; and I’ve read it somewhere, too…

      • Camille


        He apparently recovered from his fright as he was able to sing his Address in a very fine fashion:

        It would seem, sadly, that Natoma was the Turducken of its times, but golly, what would it sound like to us today; not half bad, mebbe? Kind of really makes me feel badly for Victor Herbert, the author of so many a fine and gracious tune.

    • Camille

      The more I consider this photo of Marie Jardin als Natoma, the more I remember I have seen it before, but wrongly presumed it not to be an operatic character but Marie dressed up in her Hallowe’en costume, and probed no further. At last, it’s been sorted out!

  • jatm2063

    Fabulous woman!

    It’s interesting that the press then are just like the press now. They barge into people’s personal lives and have no concept of boundaries between personal and professional lives.

    She handled it wonderfully well, put a stop to the rumor immediately, all the while building up her own mystique. Masterfully done.