Manuel García (tenor)

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Manuel García

Manuel del Pópulo Vicente Rodriguez García (also known as Manuel García the Senior; 21 January 1775 – 10 June 1832) was a Spanish opera singer, composer, impresario, and singing teacher.


García was born in Seville, Spain, on 21 January 1775. In 1808, he went to Paris, with previous experience as a tenor at Madrid and Cadiz. By that year, when he appeared in the opera Griselda in Paris, he was already a composer of light operas. He lived in Naples, Italy, performing in Gioachino Rossini's operas. These included the premières of Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra, in which he portrayed The Duke of Norfolk and The Barber of Seville, in which he portrayed the role of Count Almaviva. In 1816, he visited Paris and London, England. Between 1819 and 1823, he lived in Paris, and sang in operas such as The Barber of Seville, Otello, and Don Giovanni, often appearing at London's King's Theatre too. In the same period he presented new French-style operas of his own composition at the Paris Opera, the Opéra-Comique and the Gymnase-Dramatique.

His elder daughter was the celebrated mezzo-soprano Maria Malibran, and his second daughter was Pauline Viardot, a musician of consequence and, as a singer, one of "the most brilliant dramatic stars" of her time.[1] His son, Manuel Patricio Rodríguez García, after being a second-rate baritone, became a world-famous vocal pedagogue, "the leading theoretical writer of Rossini vocal school".[2]

In 1825, he and his company, four of eight of them Garcías, were recruited by a New York vintner Dominick Lynch, Jr. (1786–1857), who had been encouraged by Italian opera librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, then a professor of Italian at Columbia College, to introduce New Yorkers to Italian Opera. They staged the first performances (a total of about 80) of Italian opera in New York.[3] The García family took all the main parts in performances of The Barber of Seville, with García as Almaviva, his second wife Joaquina Sitchez (also called "la Briones") as Berta, Manuel Jr. as Figaro, and Maria as Rosina; Pauline was still very young at this time. Da Ponte particularly insisted on the company billing Don Giovanni, of whose libretto he was the author, and Mozart's opera was given its first American unabridged performance on 23 May 1826 in the presence of its librettist, with García singing the title role, la Briones as Donna Elvira, Maria as Zerlina, and Manuel Jr. as Leporello.[4]

They also performed in Mexico, and García recounted in his memoirs that while on the road between Mexico and Vera Cruz, he was robbed of all his money by brigands.

García had planned to settle in Mexico, but following political troubles, in 1829 he had to return to Paris, where he was once again very warmly welcome by the public. His voice, however, was being impaired by age as well as fatigue, and, never ceasing to compose, "he soon dedicated himself to teaching, for which he seems to have been specially gifted".[5] After having his last appearance on stage in August 1831, he died on 10 June the following year and was buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery. His funeral oration was delivered by François-Joseph Fétis, who "honoured him above all as a composer, remarking that his best works remained unpublished – as is still true today".[5] In 1836, Franz Liszt wrote a Rondeau fantastique sur un thème espagnol, S, 252, for piano, based on García's song "El contrabandista".

According to James Radomski, "García's dynamic perfectionism left its impact on three continents and his legacy, in the hands of his children, was carried into the 20th century".[5]

Artistic features[edit]

García in the title role
in Rossini's Otello

Despite his Spanish origins, Manuel García became a paragon of the Italian-style tenor of the early 19th century. According to John Potter, it was mainly after coming to Italy in 1812 and meeting “the highly respected tenor and teacher Giovanni Ansani that he acquired the skills that would enable him to cope with Rossini. Ansani taught him how to project, and perhaps how to achieve the heavier sound that Mozart had recognized in all Italian singers as long ago as 1770, and presumably gave him the pedagogical rigour that would enable him to teach so authoritatively”.[6] In fact, his "voice was, according to Fétis, a deep tenor":[7] indeed, his singing had baritonal characteristics and has been presently referred to as baritenore, mainly in Italy.[8] García possessed, however, an unusual vocal compass: although he was also able to cope with real baritone roles, the parts written for him by Rossini generally tend to be higher than those written for other baritonal tenors like Andrea Nozzari or Domenico Donzelli,[8] and, according to Paolo Scudo's testimony,[9] it was García, and not Gilbert-Louis Duprez, the first singer able to utter the “C from the chest”. Given his artistic background, however, García is not reported to have ever sung it in public.

Despite his range, he cannot be regarded as a tenore contraltino. He had, for instance, in his repertoire the role of Lindoro in L'italiana in Algeri, but, when he had to confront "the extremely high tessitura and the mainly syllabic writing of [his entrance aria] 'Languir per una bella', he transposed the aria down a minor third, performing it in C major instead of E flat".[10] García was also able to master falsetto vocal phonation to such a point that, in a tonadilla of his, El poeta calculista, he could perform a duet with himself, where he sang both the tenor and the soprano parts.[11]

Having an extravagant, even violent, personality and despotic attitudes even towards his children (who were also his pupils), he transported onto the stage something of his personal character, making his performances as Otello and Don Giovanni memorable, but he also succeeded in bridling his exuberance and in getting the style under perfect control, so that he could render his Mozart Count Almaviva a real, proud and elegant, grandee of Spain.[11]

Salon operas[edit]

In his final years, García wrote five salon operas to showcase the talents of his students. In 2006 and 2015, the critical editions of two of these operas, L’isola disabitata and Un avvertimento ai gelosi, edited by Teresa Radomski, were published by A-R Editions. L’sola disabitata received its modern premiere at Wake Forest University in 2005, followed by its first European staging in Spain in 2010. Un avvertimento ai gelosi was performed in Spain in 2016.[1] The North American premiere of Un avvertimento ai gelosi took place at Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2016. A subsequent performance took place at the Caramoor Summer Music Festival in 2017, with Bel Canto Young Artists in the principal roles.[2] The cast featured Shirin Eskandani (Sandrina), Kyle Oliver (Berto), Joshua Sanders (the Count), Rob McGinness (Don Fabio), Madison Marie McIntosh (Ernesta), and Sean Christensen (Menico), with music director Timothy Cheung at the piano. This performance also was conducted based on the critical edition edited by Teresa Radomski.

Roles created and significant performances[edit]

The following is a selected list (mainly drawn from the L'Almanacco di Gherardo Casaglia) which intends to note significant moments in Manuel García's career after his arrival in Italy. The symbol (*) indicates premieres, while the symbol (**) marks other notable performances, especially involving premieres in towns and theatres.

Role Opera Genre Composer Theatre Performance date
Achille Ifigenia in Aulide tragedia-opera (2nd version) [performed in Italian] Christoph Willibald Gluck Naples, Real Teatro San Carlo 15 August 1812 (**)
Achille Ecuba tragedia per musica Nicola Antonio Manfroce Naples, Real Teatro San Carlo 13 December 1812 (*)
Oitone Gaulo ed Oitone melodramma serio Pietro Generali Naples, Real Teatro San Carlo 9 March 1813 (*)
Califfo Isaun Il califfo di Bagdad opera comica Manuel García Naples, Real Teatro San Carlo 8 November 1813 (*)
Egeo Medea in Corinto melodramma tragico (1st version) Simon Mayr Naples, Real Teatro San Carlo 28 November 1813 (*)
Endimione Diana ed Endimione cantata Manuel García Naples, Real Teatro San Carlo 9 February 1814 (*)
Almaviva Le nozze di Figaro opera buffa Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Naples, Teatro del Fondo della Separazione March 1814 (**)[12]
Alceo Partenope festa teatrale Giuseppe Farinelli Naples, Real Teatro San Carlo 15 August 1814 (*)
Don Rodrigo Donna Caritea, regina di Spagna dramma serio per musica Giuseppe Farinelli Naples, Real Teatro San Carlo 16 September 1814 (*)
Dallaton Tella e Dallaton, o sia La donzella di Raab[13] opera seria Manuel García Naples, Real Teatro San Carlo 4 November 1814 (*)
Ermindo La gelosia corretta commedia per musica Michele Carafa Naples, Teatro dei Fiorentini di Napoli carnival 1815 (*)[14]
Enrico V La gioventù di Enrico Quinto opera Ferdinand Hérold Naples, Teatro del Fondo della Separazione 5 January 1815 (*)
Ataliba Cora[15] opera seria Simon Mayr Real Teatro San Carlo di Napoli 27 Marzo 1815 (*)
Norfolk Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra dramma per musica Gioachino Rossini Naples, Real Teatro San Carlo 4 October 1815 (*)
Almaviva Almaviva ossia L'inutile precauzione (Il barbiere di Siviglia) dramma comico Gioachino Rossini Rome, Teatro della Torre Argentina 20 February 1816 (*)
Lindoro L'italiana in Algeri melodramma buffo Gioachino Rossini Paris, Salle Louvois du Théâtre-Italien 1 February 1817 (**)
Torvaldo Torvaldo e Dorliska dramma lirico semiserio Gioachino Rossini Paris, Salle Louvois du Théâtre-Italien 21 November 1820 (**)
Giocondo La pietra del paragone melodramma giocoso (revision) Gioachino Rossini Paris, Salle Louvois du Théâtre-Italien 5 April 1821 (**)
Otello Otello dramma tragico per musica (1st version) Gioachino Rossini Paris, Salle Louvois du Théâtre-Italien 5 June 1821 (**)
Norfolk Elisabetta regina d'Inghilterra dramma per musica Gioachino Rossini Paris, Salle Louvois du Théâtre-Italien 10 March 1822 (**)
Florestan Florestan ou Le conseil des dix opéra Manuel García Paris, Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique 26 June 1822 (*)
Osiride[16] Mosè in Egitto azione tragico-sacra (3rd version) Gioachino Rossini Paris, Salle Louvois du Théâtre-Italien 20 October 1822 (**)
Ilo Zelmira dramma serio per musica (2nd version) Gioachino Rossini London, King's Theatre in the Haymarket 24 January 1824 (**)
Agorante Ricciardo e Zoraide dramma per musica (1st version) Gioachino Rossini London, King's Theatre in the Haymarket 24 March 1824 (**)
Idreno Semiramide melodramma tragico Gioachino Rossini London, King's Theatre in the Haymarket 15 July 1824 (**)
Almaviva Il barbiere di Siviglia dramma giocoso Gioachino Rossini New York, Park Theatre 29 November 1825 (**)
Otello Otello dramma tragico per musica (1st version) Gioachino Rossini New York, Park Theatre 7 February 1826 (**)
Narciso Il turco in Italia dramma buffo per musica (opera buffa, 2nd version) Gioachino Rossini New York, Park Theatre 14 March 1826 (**)
Don Giovanni Don Giovanni opera buffa Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart New York, Park Theatre 23 May 1826 (**)
Ramiro La Cenerentola melodramma giocoso Gioachino Rossini New York, Park Theatre 27 June 1827 (**)

Selected works[edit]

The following lists are drawn from The New Grove Dictionary of Opera (article: "García, Manuel", by James Radomski), with possible details from different sources.


  • La maja y el majo[17] (tonadilla, Madrid, 1798)
  • La declaración (tonadilla, Madrid, 1799)
  • El seductor arrepentido (opereta, Madrid, 1802)
  • Quien porfía mucho alcanza (opereta, Madrid, 1802)
  • El luto fingido (opereta, Madrid, 1803)
  • El criado fingido (opereta, Madrid, 1804)
  • El padrastro, o Quien a yerro mata a yerro muere (Madrid, 1804)
  • El poeta calculista (monologue, Madrid, 1805)
  • El cautiverio aparente (opereta, Madrid, 1805)
  • El preso (monologue, Madrid, 1806)
  • Los lacónicos, o La trampa descubierta (opereta, Madrid, 1806)
  • Los ripios del maestro Adán (opereta, Madrid, 1807)
  • Il califfo di Bagdad (opera buffa, Naples, 1813)
  • Talla e Dallaton, o sia La donzella di Raab (opera seria, Naples, 1814)
  • Le prince d’occasion (opéra-comique, Paris, 1817)
  • Il fazzoletto (opera buffa, Paris, 1820)
  • La mort du Tasse (tragédie lyrique, Paris, 1821)
  • La meunière (opera comica, Paris, 1821)
  • Florestan, ou Le conseil des dix (opéra, Paris, 1822)
  • Les deux contrats de mariage (opera buffa, Paris, 1824)
  • Astuzie e prudenza (London, 1825)
  • L'amante astuto (comic opera in two acts, New York, 1825)[18]
  • Il lupo d'Ostenda, o sia L'innocente salvato dal colpevole (New York, 1825)
  • La figlia del aria (semi-tragic opera in two acts, New York, 1826)[19]
  • La buona famiglia (New York, 1826)
  • El Abufar, ossia La famiglia araba (Mexico City, 1827)
  • Un'ora di matrimonio (opera buffa, Mexico City, 1827)
  • Zemira ed Azor (Mexico City, 1827)
  • Acendi (Mexico City, 1828)
  • El gitano por amor (Mexico City, 1828)
  • Los maritos solteros (Mexico City, 1828)
  • Semiramis (Mexico City, 1828)
  • Xaira (Mexico City, 1828)

Unperformed (or privately performed)

  • Un avvertimento ai gelosi
  • Le cinesi
  • Il finto sordo
  • L'isola disabitata
  • I tre gobbi
  • I banditi, o sia La foresta pericolosa
  • Don Chisciotte (opera buffa in two acts)[20]
  • La gioventù d'Enrico V
  • L'origine des graces
  • Le tre sultane
  • El Zapatero de Bagdad




  1. ^ According to Franz Liszt, who also declared that, with her, the world had finally found a woman composer of genius (quotations from back-cover notes of Michael Steen's book Enchantress of Nations: Pauline Viardot, Soprano, Muse and Lover. Thriplow, Cambridge: Icon Books Ltd., 2007, ISBN 978-1-84046-843-4)
  2. ^ Celletti, p. 172
  3. ^ Susan T. Sommer, New York, in Stanley Sadie (ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, Grove (Oxford University Press), New York, 1997, III, p. 586.
  4. ^ Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "Manuel García". L'Almanacco di Gherardo Casaglia (in Italian). To be more precise, there had been previous performances of both Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro, "but in much shortened versions and in wretched English translations by Henry Rowley Bishop". Since the García company lacked a suitable Don Ottavio, Da Ponte himself had to look for a local tenor to perform the role (Sheila Hodges, Lorenzo Da Ponte: The Life and Times of Mozart’s Librettist, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 2002, p. 193, ISBN 978-0299178741).
  5. ^ a b c Radomski, Grove, p. 347
  6. ^ Potter, p. 45
  7. ^ Radomski, Grove, p. 347. According to Radomski, "it is possible that [García’s voice] was a baritone with a highly developed falsetto"; which seems however rather inconsistent with Caruselli and Celletti’s stating that Rossini's vocal writing for García is usually higher-pitched than for other baritenors (cf. below)
  8. ^ a b Caruselli, p. 506; Celletti, pp. 165–166
  9. ^ Paolo Scudo was a major critic of the Revue des Deux Mondes – cf. Caruselli, II, p 398 (article: "Duprez")
  10. ^ Celletti, p 166, note 1 (translation by Frederick Fuller)
  11. ^ a b Caruselli, II, p. 506
  12. ^ Source: performance printed libretto, Le Nozze di Figaro, Dramma Giocoso in quattro Atti. Rappresentato in Napoli la Prima Volta Nel Real Teatro del Fondo Nel Mese di Marzo del 1814 /(la Musica è del Celebre Mozart). Napoli: Tipografia Largo del Castello, 1814 (cited by Italianopera – Libretti a stampa)
  13. ^ Title so reported by Radomski, Grove (p. 346).
  14. ^ Source: (accessed 16 October 2010).
  15. ^ It was, in fact, a rearrangement of the dramma per musica Alonso e Cora, premièred at Milan's La Scala on 26 December 1803.
  16. ^ Jean Mongrédien, Le Théâtre-Italien de Paris. Chronologie et documents, Lyon, Symétrie, 2008, V: 1801-1831, p. 11, ISBN 978-2914373357
  17. ^ The score printed in 1973 (Madrid, ed. José Subirá) and James Radomski's article in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, state the title as El majo y la maja. The present page reports the version later given by the 2008 critical edition by Juan de Udaeta: Manuel García, La maja y el majo; La declaración; Quien porfía mucho alcanza; El poeta calculista, Madrid, Iberautor/ICCMU, 2008, ISMN 979-0-69219-033-2.
  18. ^ Libretto (1825): The cunning lover. L'amante astuto. Opera comica. In due atti. Poesia del Signor Rosich. Musica del Signor Manuel Garzia. New York: E.M. Murden (for the New-York Theatre) (accessible online in Paolo Rosich, the librettist of L'amante astuto, also sang the role of Anacleto at the New York premiere.
  19. ^ Paolo Rosich, the librettist of La figlia del aria, also sang the role of Timoteo at the New York premiere.
  20. ^ For this work cf. (in Spanish) Mengíbar, Andrés Moreno Don Chisciotte de Manuel García, "Melómano La revista de música clásica" (Orfeo Ediciones).


  • (in Italian) Caruselli, Salvatore (ed). Grande enciclopedia della musica lirica. Rome; Longanesi & C. Periodici S.p.A.
  • (in Italian) Celletti, Rodolfo (1983): Storia del belcanto. Fiesole; Discanto Edizioni
  • Potter, John (2009). Tenor, History of a voice. New Haven and London; Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-11873-5
  • Radomski, James (2000): Manuel García (1775–1832); chronicle of the life of a bel canto tenor at the dawn of romanticism. Oxford; New York: Oxford Univ. Press. ISBN 0-19-816373-8
  • Radomski, James (1997): "García, Manuel (del Pópulo Vicente Rodríguez)", in Stanley Sadie (ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, Grove (Oxford University Press), New York. Vol. Two, pp. 345–347. ISBN 978-0-19-522186-2
  • Radomski, Teresa (Ed.) (2006): L'isola disabitata. Partitur. Middleton, Wisc.: A-R Ed., Serie: Recent researches in the music of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; 42. ISBN 0-89579-594-9; ISBN 978-0-89579-594-6

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne. {{cite encyclopedia}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)

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