Marie Delna 1875-1932

Marie Ledant, dite Marie Delna, était une mezzo-soprano française née le  3 avril 1875 à Paris.

Elle était issue d’une famille ouvrière du Marais à Paris, et devient orpheline à l’âge de 15 mois. Elle et sa sœur grandirent d’abord avec leur grand-mère maternelle à Longjumeau puis, à partir de 1881, avec les grands-parents paternels, qui tenaient le Café du Panorama à proximité de la gare de Meulan.  Les premiers cours de chant de Marie lui furent donnés par sa grand-mère. Elle travailla ensuite avec Rosine Laborde qui la fit chanter dans divers concerts privés. Découverte à l’âge de 14 ans pour sa voix exceptionnelle par Leon Carvalho le directeur de l’Opéra Comique, ce dernier lui conseilla de prendre le nom de Delna, anagramme de Ledant et à 17 ans, elle triompha dans la reprise des Troyens à Carthage de Berlioz à l’Opéra Comique. Sa carrière était lancée.

Marie Delna

Jules Massenet la choisit pour créer Charlotte dans son Werther, en janvier 1893. Quelques mois après elle créa Marcelline dans l’attaque du Moulin d’Alfred Bruneau et, en avril 1894, elle chanta Miss Quickly dans la première française de Falstaff supervisée personnellement par Giuseppe Verdi. Elle créa Marion dans La Vivandière de Benjamin Godard à l’Opéra-Comique, le 1er avril 1895, rôle qu’elle chantera à de nombreuses reprises dans sa carrière, notamment à la Gaîté Lyrique. Elle créa aussi La Lépreuse de Lazzari. En 1896 elle chanta le rôle d’Orphée dans Orphée et Eurydice de Gluck à l’Opéra Comique.

Différentes tenues de scène de Marie Delna

Elle commença alors une carrière internationale qui la mena à Covent Garden pour la première anglaise de L’Attaque du Moulin, puis à Milan (1898-1900). Le 7 avril 1898, elle participa à la première mondiale de Quattro pezzi sacri (Quatre pièces sacrées), recueil d’œuvres chorales de Verdi. Elle créa le rôle de Guenièvre dans Lancelot de Victorin de Joncières le 7 février 1900. Entre temps elle a chanté le rôle de Fidès dans Le Prophète de Meyerbeer et celui de Cassandre dans la première à Paris de La Prise de Troie, ainsi que de La favorite de Donizetti et de Samson et Dalila de Saint-Saëns.

Elle chanta pour la première fois Carmen salle Favard en 1900. Avec Orphée, Carmen est le rôle qu’elle chantera le plus au cours de sa carrière. Dans une reprise de Falstaff donnée en mémoire de Verdi, elle chanta le rôle de Miss Quickly et puis celui de la sorcière Grignotte dans Hänsel und Gretel d’Humperdinck, puis le rôle de Margard du Roi d’Ys de Lalo.

En 1903 alors qu’elle chantait Carmen au théâtre de la Monnaie de Bruxelles, elle se maria subitement avec un admirateur belge, le marquis Prier de Saône, un riche industriel, et se retira de la scène pour ne réapparaitre ensuite que sporadiquement à Monte-Carlo, New-York et Paris, jusqu’en 1922.

Elle a chanté pour les troupes française lors de la première guerre mondiale. Elle a été promue officier des Palmes académiques en 1900 et chevalier de la légion d’honneur en 1928.

A cause d’une générosité proverbiale, la fin de sa vie est marquée par des difficultés financières qui l’obligèrent à vendre son hôtel particulier de Montmorency pour louer une maison à Villemomble. Elle mourut dans la gêne le 27 juillet 1932 à l’hôpital de la Pitié et est enterrée au cimetière du Père-Lachaise (division 89).

Nous disposons de plusieurs enregistrement qui révèlent une voix de mezzo voire alto couvrant trois octaves, un doux légato et une diction parfaite. D’après l’un de ses partenaires elle aurait eu l’habitude de gonfler exagérément ses graves. Elle devait son immense succès, obtenu tant auprès du public que des critiques musicaux, autant à sa voix profonde de mezzo qu’à son sens aigu des attitudes et à son jeu de tragédienne lyrique. Gounod parlait de sa “voix de pourpre et d’or”.

Tombe de Marie Delna au cimetière du Père-Lachaise

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