Personalities | Manuel Garcia | Early Romantic | Opera

1775–1832, Spanish

The Spanish tenor, composer and teacher Manuel Garcia founded a remarkable family of eight singers in four generations. He was best known for interpretations of Rossini – notably Otello – and created the part of Norfolk in Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra. The role of Count Almaviva in Il barbiere was written for Garcia. After some six years performing in Paris and London between 1819 and 1825, Garcia went to New York, where he introduced American audiences to Italian opera. Performances of Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, La Cenerentola and Otello and Mozart’s Don Giovanni were Garcia family affairs, with casts that included Manuel’s wife, son and 16-year-old daughter Maria, later the famous Malibran. Later, while touring Mexico, the scores of Il barbiere, Otello and Don Giovanni were stolen by bandits, but Garcia saved the day by rewriting them from memory. A handsome man of great vitality, Garcia wrote several zarzuelas and popular Spanish songs.

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