France's pioneering black opera star Christiane Eda-Pierre dead at 88


By AGENCY

In this file photo taken on Nov 25, 1983, French soprano Christiane Eda-Pierre performs in Olivier Messiaen's opera 'Saint-Francois d'Assise' at Paris' Opera. The French soprano passed away at the age of 88. Photo: AFP

Christiane Eda-Pierre, a French soprano who broke ground as the country's first black woman to make her mark on the international opera stage, has died at 88, her family told AFP on Monday (Sept 7).

She died of natural causes at her home in Deux-Sevres, western France, on Sunday (Sept 6).

Born on March 24,1932, in France's Caribbean territory of Martinique, Eda-Pierre was steeped in the arts from an early age - her aunt Paulette Nardal, an author and journalist, was the first black female student at the Sorbonne.

She learned to read music from her mother, a piano teacher, while still a young child.

"Her first experience with opera was through her grandfather, who knew all sorts of arias from ensembles which would stop for performances in Saint-Pierre or Fort-de-France while travelling between Europe and the United States," her biographer Catherine Marceline told AFP.

After arriving in Paris for piano studies in the late 1950s, she made the acquaintance of the Swiss baritone Charles Panzera, who proposed to help her get into the rigorous Conservatoire de Paris music school.

"My eyes nearly popped out of my head because I thought, 'Me, a black girl, in the Conservatoire, it's just not possible'," she recalled in a 2013 podcast.

She soon made her debut at the Opera de Nice in southern France, performing in Bizet's The Pearl Fishers alongside Gabriel Bacquier, the French bass-baritone who died in May.

That led to a series of major roles in Paris, including the prestigious Opera Garnier, before she embarked on tours that brought her to arts capitals including London, New York and Vienna.

A highlight of her career was a triumphant turn in a 1977 production of The Tales Of Hoffmann directed by Patrice Chereau.

Her experiences made her a steadfast promotor of black artistes in all fields.

"She would say that the more often you put them on stage, the more normal it would eventually be," said Marceline. – AFP

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
   

Did you find this article insightful?

Yes
No

Next In Entertainment

Actor Aeril Zafrel tests positive for Covid-19
Actors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steve Martin get Covid-19 vaccine
Chrissy Teigen is the only celebrity US President Joe Biden follows on Twitter
Korean actress Park Min-young credits ‘Busted!’ for landing her smarter roles in dramas
From J. Lo to Katy Perry, watch all the Inauguration Day performances here
Darth Vader voice actor James Earl Jones never spoke as a child
TV review: ‘The Rook’ paints itself into a grim corner
Move aside 'Queen's Gambit', French series 'Lupin' is out to get your crown
‘I was so inspired by Michelle Yeoh’ says Asian American actress Olivia Munn
Malaysian rocker Awie, 52, welcomes sixth child

Stories You'll Enjoy