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Pauline Viardot (pronounced ;18 July 1821 – 18 May 1910) was a leading nineteenth-century French mezzo-soprano, pedagogue, and composer of Spanish descent.
Born Michelle Ferdinande Pauline García, her name appears in various forms. When it is not simply "Pauline Viardot", it most commonly appears in association with her maiden name García or the unaccented form, Garcia. This name sometimes precedes Viardot and sometimes follows it. Sometimes the words are hyphenated; sometimes they are not. She achieved initial fame as "Pauline García"; the accent was dropped at some point, but exactly when is not clear. After her marriage, she referred to herself simply as "Mme Viardot".
She came from a musical family and took up music at a young age. She began performing as a teenager and had a long and illustrious career as a star performer.
Michelle Ferdinande Pauline García Sitches was born in Paris. Her father, Manuel, a tenor, was a singing teacher, composer and impresario. Her godparents were Ferdinando Paer and Princess Pauline Galitsin, who provided her with her middle names. She was 13 years younger than her sister, Maria, also a diva. Her father trained her on the piano and also gave her singing lessons.
As a little girl, she travelled with her family to London, New York City (where her father, mother, brother and sister gave the first performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni in the United States, in the presence of the librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte) and Mexico.