t h e   r o s a   t r o u p e


Marie Roze

The soprano Marie Roze was born Marie Hippolyte Ponsin in Paris on 2 March 1846 of a family who recognized her musical inclination. After a period in England to learn the language she studied under Auber at the Paris Conservatoire, made her debut at the Opera Comique in 1865, and later sang at the Opera. The Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71 disrupted her career but she patriotically remained in the city. When the conflict ended she made her London debut with J.H.Mapleson’s company as Marguerite in Faust at Drury Lane on 30 April 1872. She remained with Mapleson and in the summer of 1874 married the American bass Giulio Perkins, who died suddenly in February 1875 leaving her a widow after less than a year of marriage.

The career continued and, probably by arrangement with Mapleson, she briefly sang for Rosa making her debut as Camilla in Herold’s Zampa at the Theatre Royal, Hanley, on 14 March 1876. The transfer to English opera posed no problems as she was fluent in English. The leading soprano roles in Bohemian Girl, Faust, Trovatore and Freischütz followed with nineteen appearances before the short spring season ended on 20 May. She subsequently sang in Britain and America, married Mapleson’s son, returned to Britain in 1881 and rejoined the Carl Rosa in the autumn of the following year.

Roze resumed as Leonora in Beethoven’s Fidelio at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Liverpool, on 8 September 1882. She remained until 1888 with a final farewell three years later in 1891/92. She sang twenty four roles in about 800 performances during her Rosa years. This included four company premières, the British English-language premiere of Mefistofele (Boito) in 1884, and British premières of Manon (Massenet) in 1885 and Galatea (Masse) in 1887. The Manon première at Liverpool on 17 January was the most important. The illustration shows her in the title role.

Marie Roze

However the roles which she created were overshadowed by a role which she might have created. She claimed that Bizet had her in mind for Carmen but she declined as she had misgivings about the nature of the role. The uncertainties proved fleeting and from 1879 Carmen became her signature role. There were around 300 performances with the Rosa including the additional Carmen company created for her in 1891. This most popular artist sang what was probably her last Carmen at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool on 27 February 1892 with a company farewell two weeks later on 12 March in Daughter of the Regiment at the Theatre Royal Manchester. The concert platform followed with teaching in Paris and a last British tour in 1894. Her son Raymond was a musician and composer who died in 1920. Marie Roze herself died in Paris on 2 June 1926. The illustration shows her grave at Père Lachaise cemetery.

© 2019 John Ward

If you use the information on this page, please acknowledge the Carl Rosa Trust: www.carlrosatrust.org.uk