By Carrie Wilson
I’m very happy to have you know this important article by my colleague, Carrie Wilson, the esteemed singer, actor, and Aesthetic Realism consultant. “Mary Garden; or, Can a Woman Love and Still Be Free?” has in it new understanding of one of the world’s great operatic performers–and of women today. -Anne Fielding
Mary Garden, who lived from 1874 to 1967, and who introduced modern French opera to America, had a remarkable ability to give herself to a character. People felt she was the person she portrayed. The critic Merle Armitage writes of the audience’s wonder:
“…that the woman who sang Thaïs one night was the same body and mind which assumed such ethereal qualities as Melisande a few nights later.”
And in her autobiography Miss Garden herself says of the characters she played:
I had them all in me, in my very flesh and blood. If only someone could tell me about that. I must confess it has always been a mystery to me.
In an Aesthetic Realism lesson, Eli Siegel explained to an actress: “It is what you already are that enables you to take on somebody else….We are of everything.” To see and welcome this oneness of self and world is, I have learned, the same as wisdom for oneself.
In his lecture “Mind and Intelligence,” Mr. Siegel has these sentences I wish Miss Garden could have heard:
Music, the arts, are intelligence, because when the arts are authentic they always are free and they always are precise, accurate. There is a beautiful mingling of limitation and the infinite.
As a singer, Mary Garden was able to put precision and freedom together. In 1902, the composer Claude Debussy chose her to create the role of Melisande in his opera Pelleas et Melisande….more