Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Maria Gay

Today we feature a picture of Maria Gay, an opera legend, or so I am told. She was a Mezzo Soprano and was one of the all time best interpreters of Carmen. I am not sure what a Mezzo Soprano is and not sure what  Carmen is either. In any case, you can hear her sing below.


  1. A mezzo soprano is a lower soprano voice. Carmen is an Opera about a Spanish girl named Carmen who worked in, of all places, a cigarette factory.
    You have doubtless heard some of the music without realizing it. The Toreador Song music is often used in cartoons and commercials.
    I wonder what role she was playing. Obviously not Carmen. She looks like Cleopatra.

  2. I guess you can describe the character of Carmen as a sort of femme fatale.
    Back in the fifties they remade it on film as Carmen JOnes. THe singing was english (though I am not sure if most if any of the words were the actual italian interpretation) the music was Bizet's.
    Carmen was pretty much a girl who would go after a guy who didn't want her...once she got him and he fell, she would dump him.
    In the meantime the poor guy ruins the life he previously had and is so enraged that he kills her.
    How many times do we see this story played out in the news nowadays.
    Human nature amongst some has not changed.

  3. I would assume that Gay is pictured here playing a part in Verdi's Aida.

  4. Thanks for returning the link to Elizabeths site

  5. Maria Gay has a beautiful voice, the tone of the piece is a bit tragic. When going to the Opera, do they give you an English translation? Thats a novice question I'm sure but I'd be so much more interested if I could follow the story word for word as well.

  6. Among my buddies there are only three kinds of opera: horse, soap, and grand ole. I like the first and third kind.
    Glad to see Opera Week continuing.

  7. Curious about opera but don't have the big bucks to attend the Met in NYC? They have Met in HD. Live performanced are broadcast in HD in participating movie theaters! More information here, including what's coming up in the new season, which starts September 26:

  8. @Dave 107, the Baltimore Opera always has English surtitles projected above the stage, so you can follow the story line. The plot in also printed in the program. I have no idea what the prices are for the Met, but both our symphony and opera are priced "for the people". You can get a box seat if you want to pay for it, but the majority of the seats are quite reasonable.

  9. The role of Carmen in Bizet's opera doesn't call for the kind of high notes that only sopranos can reach, so it can be sung by either a soprano or mezzo soprano.

    While Maria Gay is singing the card song here, she is looking at a deck of cards with two other gypsy girls who are using cards to tell their fortunes and learn their futures. When Carmen examines the cards, she sees only death in her future. (She is, in fact, killed at the end.) Maria Gay's lower register is perfect for this aria. I hadn't heard of her before and was very interested to listen to this recording.

    If anyone wants to try opera on a CD, a really good first opera is Puccini's La Boheme. There are several good recordings. You might want to start with the version on the London Label (421 049-2) with Freni and Pavarotti, the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Herbert von Karajan. It has very up-to-date sound.

    An excellent older version stars Jussi Bjorling and Victoria de los Angeles on the EMI label (77774 72358) with the R.C.A. Victor Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham.

    Be sure to get a good version because there are a lot of inferior ones floating around!

    Can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring! As you can tell, I'm an opera fanatic!

  10. I came across this blog by accident. Maria Gay was actually my auntie!!! Her real name was Maria Pichot, and took up Gay after her first husband.
    She was my grandfather's sister. She is buried in New York. You'll find another photo of her, along with her family, in the heading of my blog. Thank you very much for posting this!! Congratulations for your blog.