July 18, 1821: Michelle Ferdinande Pauline Garcia (Viardot) is born at 83 rue de Richelieu in the 2me Arrondissement of Paris, Kingdom of France, the last of three children born to Manuel del Popolo Vicente Garcia, a singer and composer, and María Joaquina Sitchès, a singer.
December 13, 1837: Pauline Garcia (16) makes her singing debut at the Hôtel de Ville in Brussels in a charity concert before King Léopold, the Queen, and other members of the court and diplomatic corps. It is extremely successful.
May 21, 1838: Pauline Garcia (16) performs a concert with the violinist Charles de Bériot before King Friedrich Wilhelm III and the Prussian court in Berlin. It is a glittering success.
May 9, 1839: Pauline Garcia (17) makes her operatic debut as Desdemona in Otello by Gioachino Rossini (47) in Her Majesty's Theatre, London.
April 18, 1840: Pauline Garcia (18) marries Louis Viardot, a writer and director of the Théâtre Italien, in the Mairie of the 2me Arrondissement, Paris.
October 5, 1843: Louis and Pauline Viardot (22) depart Paris to travel to St. Petersburg. She has signed a contract with the Imperial Opera for the 1843/1844 season.
November 3, 1843: Pauline Viardot (22) gives her first performance with the Imperial Opera in St. Petersburg.
November 13, 1843: Pauline Viardot (22) meets Ivan Sergayevich Turgenev for the first time, in an apartment on Nevsky Prospect, St. Petersburg. He will be an artistic and sexual force in her life for decades.
May 7, 1844: Louis and Pauline Viardot (22) purchase a chateau in Rozay-en-Brie, Seine et Marne, 60 km east-southeast of Paris. It is named Courtavenel.
August 11, 1845: Today begins three days of celebrations surrounding the unveiling of the Beethoven (†18) monument in Bonn. Attenders include King Friedrich Wilhelm IV and Queen Elisabeth of Prussia, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Famous musicians include Louis Spohr (61), Giacomo Meyerbeer (53), Hector Berlioz (41), Franz Liszt (33), Pauline Viardot (24), and Jenny Lind. This evening, during dinner, a small concert is given, directed by Meyerbeer and featuring Jenny Lind.
October 19, 1846: Pauline Viardot (25) takes part in a command performance before King Friedrich Wilhelm IV at Sans Souci, Potsdam.
April 16, 1849: Le prophète, a grand opera by Giacomo Meyerbeer (57) to words of Scribe and Deschamps, is performed for the first time, at the Paris Opéra. Pauline Viardot (27) takes the part of Fidès. Among the singers is a young chorister named Léo Delibes (13). It features the first use of electric light at the Opéra, in creating the illusion of a sunrise. In the audience is Hector Berlioz (45) (who calls it “matchless magnificence”) and a very ill Frédéric Chopin (39). Over the first ten days of the production, the Opéra will take in 9,000-10,000 francs per performance, an unprecedented amount. The composer will receive from his publisher the highest amount ever paid for a score.
October 30, 1849: A funeral in memory of Fryderyk Chopin takes place in the Church of the Madeleine attended by 3,000 people by ticket only. The crush of carriages stretches as far as the Place de la Concorde. A special dispensation is received from the Archbishop to allow women to sing in the Madeleine in order that Mozart’s (†57) Requiem may be performed. The soprano is Pauline Viardot (28). There is no elegy. Pallbearers include Giacomo Meyerbeer (58) and Eugène Delacroix. Chopin’s heart has been removed and transported in a funeral urn to the Church of the Holy Cross, Warsaw, while the rest of his mortal remains are laid to rest in the Père-Lachaise Cemetery, Paris before 4,000 people who walk the five kilometers from the church.
June 25, 1853: A performance of Benvenuto Cellini in an Italian translation conducted by Hector Berlioz (49) at Covent Garden before Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and King Georg V and Queen Marie of Hannover is hissed from beginning to end by a group opposed to foreign composers and musicians in what is considered an Italian house. Berlioz cancels a performance scheduled for tomorrow. Also in the audience are Crown Prince Carl Alexander of Weimar, Pauline Viardot (31), Louis Spohr (69), and George Eliot.
July 20, 1857: Pauline Viardot (36) gives birth to her fourth child, and only son, Paul Viardot, at the Viardot chateau Courtavenel in Seine et Marne. It is possible that the child is the son of Ivan Turgenev, although Louis Viardot is recorded as the natural father.
November 18, 1859: A new production of Christoph Willibald Gluck's (†72) Orfeo ed Euridice opens in the Théâtre-Lyrique, Paris. In the title role is Pauline Viardot (38). Hector Berlioz (55) took many of the rehearsals, and the choreographer is Lucien Petipa. Viardot's costume is designed by her friend Eugène Delacroix. To the astonishment of those involved, it is a smash hit.
January 25, 1860: Richard Wagner (46) conducts the first of three concerts of his music in Paris. Attending today at the Théâtre-Italien are Daniel Auber (77), Hector Berlioz (56), Valentin Alkan (46), Charles Gounod (41) and Pauline Viardot (38). The audience is enthusiastic but the press is merciless. Heard tonight for the first time is the Prelude to Tristan und Isolde with the concert ending composed by Wagner. Alkan leaves at intermission, later saying “Wagner is not music; it’s a sickness.” Viardot writes, "Wagner has just given a concert which exasperated three quarters of the audience and delighted the rest. Personally, I found a lot of it painful, even though I admired the vehemence of his musical feelings in certain instances. But the diminished sevenths, the discords and the crude modulations made me feverish, and I have to say that I find this sort of music loathsome and revolting." (Kendall-Davies I, 413-414) See 12 March 1859.
September 6, 1862: Louis Viardot signs a contract to puchase a house at 281 Dettenbachtal in Baden-Baden (now Fremerbergerstraße, however the house no longer stands). He and his wife Pauline Viardot (41) will shortly move there from Paris.
May 24, 1868: L'Ogre, an operetta by Pauline Viardot (46) to words of Turgenev, is performed for the first time, in Baden-Baden. The librettist mimes the lead role, while someone in the wings sings the part.
August 13, 1869: Le Dernier sorcier, an operetta by Pauline Viardot (48) to words of Turgenev, is performed for the first time, in a little theatre and concert hall in the garden of the Viardot residence in Baden-Baden.
May 5, 1883: Louis Viardot, husband of Pauline Viardot (61), dies in their home at Bougival, at the age of 83.
May 18, 1910: 03:00 Michelle Ferdinande Pauline Garcia Viardot dies in her apartment in the Boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris, Republic of France, aged 89 years and ten months.
May 20, 1910: A funeral in memory of Pauline Viardot takes place in the Church of Sainte-Clotilde, Paris. Among the attenders are Camille Saint-Saëns (74), Jules Massenet (68), and Gabriel Fauré (65). Fauré's Pie Jesu from the Requiem is part of the music performed. Her mortal remains are laid to rest in the family tomb in Cimitière de Montmartre.