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Mary Garden (1874 - 1967)

Mary Garden’s parents, both of whom were Scottish, emigrated to America when Mary was nine years old, eventually settling in Chicago when she was fourteen. Showing promise as a singer, she studied with Sarah Robinson-Duff in Chicago with the financial support of patrons David and Florence Mayer. With their continuing help, in 1896 she moved to Paris where she studied with Mathilde Marchesi, Jacques Bouhy, Trabadello and Lucien Fugère. After the Mayers withdrew their assistance in 1899, Garden was coached by the American soprano Sybil Sanderson, through whom she met Massenet and Albert Carré, the director of the Opéra-Comique. Carré invited her to join the company of the Opéra-Comique, where she made her unexpected stage debut in 1900 as Charpentier’s Louise, taking over when the scheduled soprano Marthe Rioton fell ill after the first act.




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