Maria Felicia Malibran, a Spanish singer, born in Paris, March 24, 1808, died in Manchester, England, Sept. 23, 1886. She was the eldest daughter of the singer and instructor Manuel Garcia, by whom she was taken when nine years old to England, where she remained for a number of years. Her father instructed her in singing, and by her 17th year she had acquired so great a facility that on June 7, 1825, she was enabled to make her debut in London as Rosina in the Barbiere di Seviglia, on the occasion of the sudden departure of Mme. Pasta, who was to have undertaken the part. She sang with success in other operas and at private and public concerts in London, Manchester, and Liverpool, during the same season, giving promise of great future eminence; and in the autumn of 1825 she accompanied her father to the United States as prima donna of an opera company of which he had assumed the direction. She appeared in New York, Nov. 29, in the part of Rosina, the occasion being memorable in musical annals as that which witnessed the introduction of the Italian opera into the United States. Her reception was enthusiastic, and she appeared successively in a number of parts, each of which subsequently became a perfect creation in her hands.
In the midst of her triumphs she was married, March 23, 1826, to Eugene Malibran, an elderly French merchant of New York, reputed to be possessed of considerable wealth. He afterward failed, and Mme. Mali-bran, offended by the readiness with which her husband sought to retrieve his fortunes by her professional labors, surrendered to his creditors the property settled upon her as a marriage dower, and in September, 1827, returned alone to Europe. From Jan. 14, 1828, when she made her first appearance before a Parisian audience, until the close of her life, her career was prosperous and brilliant. She was accustomed to spend the winter in Paris and he spring and autumn in England and the larger continental cities; and on two occasions she made professional tours to Naples, Milan, and other Italian cities. The French courts having in 1835 pronounced her marriage with M. Malibran void, she was married, March 29, 1836, to De Beriot, the celebrated violinist. In April following she was injured by a fall from her horse; but professing to make light of the matter, she appeared in opera in Brussels and at Aix-la-Chapelle during the summer. In September she went to the Manchester musical festival, and, contrary to the advice of her physician, took part in the performances.
A nervous fever set in, which soon proved fatal. - Mme. Malibran was one of the first singers of the age, and her dramatic ability was scarcely less remarkable than her vocal. Her voice a mezzo-soprano approaching a contralto of great volume and purity, had been brought to almost absolute perfection by the severe training of her father; and in the variety and beauty of her vocal embellishments, as well as in the felicity and dramatic propriety with which she interpreted her music, she has rarely be< n equalled. Her range included some of the finest roles, both tragic and comic, in the operas of Rossini, Bellini, and Mozart, including those of Rosina, Semiramide, Tancredi, Desde-mona, Romeo, Zerlina, Ninetta, Cenerentola, and Amina. She also sang with wonderful effect the sublime music of Handel's oratorios, and many choice selections from Gluck and others. Her personal qualities accorded with her lyrical genius, and few women have been more beloved for their amiability, generosity, and professional enthusiasm. Her benefactions amounted to such considerable sums that her friends were frequently obliged to interfere for the purpose of regulating her finances.
Her intellect was of a high order. and the charms of her conversation fascinated all who were admitted into the circle of her intimate friends. She was also an accomplished linguist, speaking fluently and singing in the chief languages of Europe. She composed several songs, nocturnes, and romances, some of which have been published. A memoir of her, by the countess of Merlin (2 vols.), appeared in England soon after her death, and was republished in the United Slate-.