The Skylarks (Part 4)

Hariclea Darclée (born Hariclea Haricli; June 10, 1860–January 12, 1939) was a celebrated Romanian operatic soprano. She possessed an agile, powerful, and beautiful voice that was wielded with a fine technique. An extremely handsome woman, Darclée's stage presence was as elegant and refined as her singing. Although universally admired, she displayed a coldness of temperament that at times diminished her conviction in the more passionate verismo repertory. A singer of prodigous talent, her repertoire ranged from coloratura soprano roles to heavier Verdi roles, including many in the Franco-Italian lyric repertory.

She was born in Brăila to a family with Greek roots. Her father, Ion Haricli, was a landlord in the Teleorman district. Her mother, born Aslan, was a relative of the noble Mavrocordatos family. She began her studies in Iaşi, making her professional appearances as a concert performer in 1884. She continued her studies in Paris under Jean-Baptiste Fauré. She married a young officer, Iorgu Hartulari, and became known for a while as Hariclea Hartulari-Darclée, Darclée being the nom de théâtre she adopted when she made her debut at the Paris Opéra in 1888 as Marguerite in Charles Gounod's Faust. In 1889, she replaced Adelina Patti as Juliette in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, to increasing acclaim.

In 1890 Darclée scored a great success in her La Scala debut as Chimène in Massenet’s Le Cid, and was immediately engaged by all the leading Italian theatres. Between 1893 and 1910 she appeared frequently in Moscow, St Petersburg, Lisbon, Barcelona, Madrid and Buenos Aires. She embarked on a world tour, that lasted a full 30 years, until her last performance in 1918. In between she created Glinka's La vie pour le Tsar outside Russia (1890), the Italian premiere of Massenet's Le Cid (1891), the world premiere of Gomes's Condor (1891), the second ever perfomance of Mascagni's L'Amico Fritz (1891), the world premiere of Mascagni's I Rantzau (1892), the world premiere of Catalani's La Wally (1892), the first performances in Spain of Massenet's Manon (1894) and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci (1895), the Argentine and Uruguayan premieres of Puccini's La Bohème (1896), the world premiere of De Lara's Amy Robsart (1897), the world premiere of the opera version of Mancinelli's Ero e Leandro (1897), the world premiere of Mascagni's Iris (1898), the world premiere of Puccini's Tosca (1900), the Argentine and Uruguayan premieres of Leoncavallo's Zaza (1902), the Spanish premiere of Massenet's Thaïs (1906), the world premiere of Catargi's Enoch Arden (1906), the important revival of Pacini's Saffo in Italy (1911), a historic Italian performance of Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier (1911), and the Portugese premiere of Saint–Saëns's Prosperine (1914). Her final performance in 1918 was in the second act of the opera that should have marked her debut, almost 30 years earlier, in 1888: Gounod's Roméo et Juliette.

Darclée was the mother of composer Ion Hartulary Darclée (1886-1969) who was known particularly as a writer of operettas. Started in 1997, the Hariclea Darclée National Voice Competition is held every two years in Brăila.