Personalities | Rosalie Levasseur | Classical Era | Opera

1749–1826, French

For 10 years, between 1766 and 1775, Rosalie Levasseur, who appeared in cast lists as Mlle Rosalie, played minor roles, starting with Zäide in L’Europe galante by André Campra (1660–1744). In 1775, however, she caught the eye and the interest of the Austrian ambassador to Paris, Count Florimond Claude de Mercy-Argenteau, who decided to promote her talents. Mercy-Argenteau also made Rosalie Levasseur, as she once more became, his latest mistress. The ambassador’s efforts on her behalf were brilliantly successful. Levasseur became principal soprano at the Opéra and sang the title role in the first Paris performance of Gluck’s Alceste. In addition, she created leading roles in Armide and in Iphigénie en Aulide. Levasseur had a powerful, but somewhat inflexible, voice, although it certainly suited the music of Gluck, who was both her teacher and her friend. As an actress, however, Rosalie Levasseur was considered the most outstanding of her time.

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