Personalities | Marthe Le Rochois | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera
c. 1658–1728, French
Soprano Marthe Le Rochois, who was born in Caen in northern France, may have been a pupil of the French composer and singer Michel Lambert and afterwards of Lambert’s son-in-law, Jean-Baptiste Lully. Lully greatly admired Le Rochois, who made her debut at the Paris Opéra in 1678 and remained a performer there for the next 20 years. Le Rochois created several roles in Lully’s operas, including parts in Proserpine (1680), Persée (1682), Amadis de Gaule (1684) and Roland (1685). In 1686, she was also the first soprano to sing the title role in Armide et Rénaud, Lully’s opera set at the time of the Crusades. Rochois appears to have been one of those stage performers who lack obvious physical attractions yet have a certain fascination for their audiences. In Le Rochois’ case, her advantages were vivacity and a sensual aura, which enabled her to outclass the many more obviously beautiful singers of her day.
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