Manuel Garcia: the birth of a legend

Manuel García, the legendary tenor and voice teacher, was born on this day in Seville in 1775. His son, also Manuel García, recorded his teaching in A complete treatise on the art of singing (1847), and in doing so, revolutionized the teaching of singing.

James Radomski, in his excellent biography Manuel García (1775-1832): Chronicle of the Life of a bel canto Tenor at the Dawn of Romanticism (2000), notes that García the Elder was born on the eve of revolution (France & America), a fitting beginning for a legend. Timing, as they say, is everything, and Garcia had a knack for it; after experiencing much success as a singer, he traveled to Naples at the age of 36 and began study with the tenor Giovanni Anzani, an Italian singing master schooled in the secrets of bel canto. (It seems the old master lived next door.) Whether their meeting was by chance or design, this is when the fireworks really took off, both vocally and historically.

The appellation of García being a revolutionary is born out, considering that García's teachings, as transmitted through his son, are still a force to be reckoned with.


I learn something new every time I read your post. James Radomski's book sounds so interesting. I love bel canto tenors. I've always prefer the singers from the golden age. I love their sound, it sounds more authentic. Recently I heard Alessandro Valente (much, much later than Manuel Garcia) version of Puccini's Non piangere, Liù (from Turandot) and I thought what a romantic voice he's got. It moved me to tears as I listened to his voice in late summer evening on a terrace with a glass of drink in my hand. Although the recording quality sound scratchy, it is to me far more superior and authentic compared to later singers.