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NARIA DUCHÊNE-BILLIARD, Contralto * 1884 – ?;

06 Jul

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Maria Duchêne-Billiard (1884 – ?) was a French contralto of the Metropolitan Opera from 1912 to 1916. She portrayed such roles as Amneris in Aida, Giulietta in The Tales of Hoffmann, Lola in Cavalleria rusticana, Maddalena in Rigoletto. She sang the role of the Old Woman in L’amore dei tre re, Rosette in Manon, Schwertleite in Die Walküre, and the Solo Madrigalist in Manon Lescaut among others.

Biography
She was born in 1884. She made her debut at the Met on March 16, 1912 as La Cieca in Amilcare Ponchielli’s La Gioconda with Emmy Destinn in the title role, Enrico Caruso as Enzo, and Arturo Toscanini conducting.

She appeared in the American premiere of Boris Godunov as the Nurse in 1912 with Arturo Toscanini conducting.

On March 12, 1913 she was to sing the role of Giulietta in Les Contes d’Hoffmann when she fainted and her role was taken over by madam Fremsted who had sung the role when it premiered in the United States.

With the company she notably portrayed the role of the Peasant Woman in the United States premiere of Gustave Charpentier’s Julien on February 26, 1914.

Her mother, Elizabeth Duchêne (1859–1915) died in 1915 of pneumonia just as Maria was about to take the stage as Lola in Cavalleria rusticana.

Her final and 166th performance with the Met was as Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera in an out of town performance at the Boston Opera House on April 18, 1916. Details of her life after leaving the Met are unknown.

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Posted by on July 6, 2018 in Contraltos

 

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