Marie Roze was an extremely popular singer both in Britain and the USA. Having spent part of her childhood in Britain, she was entirely confident when asked to sing most of her later roles in English.
She studied at the Paris Conservatoire, one of her teachers being Auber. Her debut, in 1865, was in a revival of Hérold’s 1826 opera Marie at the Opéra-Comique, following that with roles in La Dame Blanche, Fra Diavolo, Le Pré aux Clercs and Joseph. Auber cast her in the premiere of one of his last operas, Le Premier Jour du Bonheur. Her debut at the Opéra followed in 1869, as Marguerite. She is said to have inspired Bizet, who had her in mind when he composed Carmen – but she was singing abroad when the premiere took place.
She first sang in London in 1872, at Drury Lane, and was a leading member of J H Mapleson’s company at Her Majesty’s for the next decade. She also toured widely in Britain with both Mapleson and Carl Rosa, and in the USA under Strakosch and Carl Rosa. In 1885 she sang the title role in the British premiere of Manon, first in Liverpool, with Carl Rosa, then in London later that year. It remained one of her most successful roles, along with Carmen and Marguerite, though her range extended from popular British operas and works of the bel canto school to the more lyrical works of Verdi and Wagner. The Carl Rosa organisation established a second touring company in 1891. It was described as the Carmen company, and that opera dominated the repertoire, with Roze in the lead, singing several performances every week.
Her first husband was an American musician called Perkins, who died not long after their 1874 marriage. Her second husband was one of the sons of Colonel James Henry Mapleson (known as James, 1830-1901). This son, named and known as Henry, was also styled Colonel (d.1927). Harold Rosenthal, editing a 1966 edition of The Mapleson Memoirs (by Mapleson senior), confuses them. The modern biographer of Col James Mapleson deals with the matter at some length. The problem seemingly arose because journalists of the day referred to them both as Colonel Mapleson, and to distinguish them one has to go by context. For more detail, see Susie Timms – Mapleson: Victorian Opera Impresario (Bezazzy Publishing, 2007).
Roze and Mapleson seem to have separated in the late 1880s, when a story broke in the press to the effect that Mapleson had contracted a marriage to an American woman in New York as a young man and had never obtained a divorce prior to ‘marrying’ Roze. Roze’s sister was quoted as saying Roze had not known about the prior marriage. Roze spent the last years of her life teaching in Paris.
Roze’s son, Raymond Roze (1875 – 1920), was a trained musician and sufficiently accomplished to perform on his mother’s farewell tour in Scotland in 1894.
Courtesy: Opera Scotland