Life and career
Berbié was born Jeanne Bergougne, in Villefranche-de-Lauragais, Haute-Garonne, France, and studied piano and voice at the Music Conservatory in nearby Toulouse. She made her professional operatic debut at the Capitole de Toulouse in 1954, as Nicklause in Les contes d'Hoffmann. She sang throughout France in the standard mezzo roles of the French repertory, such as Siebel in Faust, Urbain in Les Huguenots, the title role in Mignon and Carmen, etc. She made her debut at the Paris Opéra in 1959, as Concepcion in L'Heure espagnole, and the same year at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, as the sorceress in Dido and Aeneas.
Berbié also enjoyed a successful career abroad, appearing at La Scala in Milan, The Royal Opera House in London, the festivals of Glyndebourne and Salzburg, the Liceu in Barcelona, etc. She sang Maffio Orsini at Carnegie Hall in New York, in the famous 1965 concert version of Lucrezia Borgia, opposite Montserrat Caballé as Lucrezia, and countryman Alain Vanzo as Gennaro.
Berbié was especially appreciated in Mozart roles, such as Cherubino in Nozze di Figaro, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, both Dorabella and Despina in Cosi fan tutte. She also won considerable acclaim in Rossini roles, singing Isabella in L'Italiana in Algeri, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Angelina in La Cenerentola, and Malcolm in La Donna del Lago.
Berbié was also active as a teacher at the Paris Conservatory from 1983, and continued to sing actively into the 1990s.
- Roland Mancini and Jean-Jacques Rouveroux, (orig. H. Rosenthal and J. Warrack, French edition), Guide de l’opéra, Les indispensables de la musique (Fayard, 1995). ISBN 2-213-59567-4