Levasseur, Rosalie (actually, Marie-Rose-Claude-Josèphe)

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Levasseur, Rosalie (actually, Marie-Rose-Claude-Josèphe)

Levasseur, Rosalie (actually, Marie-Rose-Claude-Josèphe), esteemed French soprano; b. Valenciennes, Oct. 8, 1749; d. Neuwied am Rhein, May 6, 1826. She was the illegitimate daughter of Jean-Baptiste Levasseur and Marie-Catherine Tournay, who married when she was 11. She made her debut under the name Mile. Rosalie in the role of Zaide in Campra’s L’Europe galante at the Paris Opéra (1766), and continued to appear in minor roles there until 1776. Taking the name Levasseur, she took on major roles there, gaining success as Eurydice and Iphigenia. She then was chosen over her rival, Sophie Arnould, to create the title role in the first Paris staging of Gluck’s Alceste (1776). She was greatly admired by Gluck, who chose her to create the title roles in his Armide (1777) and Iphigénie en Tauride (1779); she likewise created roles in works by Philidor, Piccinni, and Sacchini, remaining at the Opéra until 1788. She was the mistress of Count Mercy-Argentau, the Austrian ambassador in Paris, who used his influence to promote her career.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Levasseur, Rosalie (actually, Marie-Rose-Claude-Josèphe)

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