Maria Gay

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Maria Gay (13 June, 1879 - 20 July, 1943) was a Catalan opera singer, a mezzo-soprano born as Maria de Lourdes Lucia Antonia Pichot GironÚs. She has sometimes been referred to as Maria Gay Zenatello.

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Maria Gay

According to one story, young Maria was arrested for singing revolutionary or nationalist songs. She defiantly continued to sing them in prison, with a voice so fine she was offered a chance to study bel canto.

In 1897 she married Catalan composer Juan Gay Planella.

In 1902 she debuted in the title role of Carmen in Brussels. She was a hit in the role and became one of the best regarded interpreters of "Carmen" of her era. She reportedly shocked and mesmerized audiences, portraying the gypsy girl as a impudent, magnetic, but coarse and unrefined peasant, eating an orange and spitting out the seeds before singing the famous Habanera.

In 1906 she debuted at Milan's La Scala, where she met tenor Giovanni Zenatello. Gay and Zenatello would live together the rest of their lives, and were often described as husband and wife, although they may never actually have gotten married, and legally Maria Gay may still have been married to Juan Gay Planella until his death in 1926.

She made a series of gramophone records for the Columbia Phonograph Company.

Gay and Zenatello worked to find, help train, and promote promising young singers. Their most famous find was Lily Pons, who the couple managed until Pons and the couple had a falling out.

Gay and Zenatello set up a home in Manhattan, New York City in 1936, where she lived the rest of her life.

Maria Gay was buried in Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.

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