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I obtained copies of the autobiographies of Georgette, Mary and Maggie. Then, determined to research the background to the opera objectively, I approached it in the manner of detective work, rather than resorting immediately to secondary sources.

It was strange how things fell into my hands once I started looking. In a shop selling old journals and newspapers, I headed for two boxes stacked full of old theatre programmes. I was not so lucky with Georgette Leblanc here. The shopowner and I looked everywhere, but someone — another fan of Georgette?

After reading existing biographies of my three subjects in order to compare these with their autobiographies, I was still left with a feeling of dissatisfaction about Maggie Teyte, and decided to examine her genealogy. This was not an easy task, although obviously made simpler today with access to some of the records on computer. How complicated her background and early life turned out to be, one she was anxious to expunge from her memory.

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Her larger than life character shines out from her handwriting which covers just about everything she could lay hands on. One could sense that her propensity for overacting would influence her singing style.


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Her admirers, from journalists to composers, certainly existed and wrote of their appreciation. Her detractors were often critics disappointed at her influence on the writings of Maurice Maeterlinck, believing it was she who had weaned him away from mysterious Symbolism to a more prosaic stronger image of womanhood.

There I heard the voice I had secretly imagined—full of sinking tenderness, and sung with such artistry as I would never have believed possible' Musica , January , translated by Richard Langham Smith in Debussy on Music London, , Debussy had found his artistic soul mate.

From Beyond the Stave: Georgette, Mary and Maggie

Teyte continues to show about as much emotion as a prison door', Debussy wrote to his friend and publisher Jacques Durand, having witnessed a particularly frustrating rehearsal with the new cast for the season quoted in Opstad, [End Page ] p. Later he came to be delighted with Maggie Teyte's artistry and paid her the rare compliment of accompanying her in song recitals.


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But no one compared, ultimately, to Mary Garden. This was mostly the view of the public too, despite considerable admiration for Maggie Teyte. Ravel, for one, hated the new production.

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