Death of a soaring French soprano, 88

Death of a soaring French soprano, 88


norman lebrecht

September 07, 2020

The phenomenal coloratura soprano Christiane Eda-Pierre has died at her home in central France at the age of 88.

Raised in Martinique, she made her debut in Nice in Bizet’s Pearl Fishers and burst to intenational attention as Lakmé at the Aix-en-Provence festival in 1958.

She went on to sing at Covent Garden, the Met, Vienna, Salzburg, Moscow and beyond. Solti and Karl Böhm were among her admirers. She sang opposite Pavarotti and Domingo.


From 1977 she taught at the Paris Conservatoire. In 1983 she created the role of the Angel in Olivier Messiaen’s opera Saint François d’Assise.



  • Warren Jones says:

    Memories! Ms. Eda-Pierre sang Ilia in our Idomeneo production in San Francisco, under John Pritchard (not yet Sir John), in the late 1970’s. I remember her statuesque quality–she was a veritable goddess in that long flowing white costume designed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, and she had the ability to dominate the stage and show the strong and multi-faceted character that eludes so many people that essay the part. Her elegant and “spot-on” musicianship and vocalism remains in my ear; the way that she began the opera, with that long recitative and her very dramatic rendition of “Padre, germani”; her immediate and telling engagement with the very forceful Carol Neblett, who was the Elettra–these are some of my most vivid memories of my time under Kurt Herbert Adler, who brought Ms. Eda-Pierre to our country and introduced her to American audiences. Rest in peace, Christiane……

  • NorCalMichael says:

    A magnificent singer with a voice of great beauty and a brilliant technique. I’m sad to learn of her passing, but what an important life and career she had. She is greatly respected in France as a vocalist and teacher.

    It was the celebrated recording of Grétry and Philidor arias that first brought her to my attention. I had never heard of either, but fell immediately in love with that record, which finally was reissued on CD a few years ago. Mozart in French, it seemed upon first hearing! It’s still a must-hear for those unfamiliar with it it.

    She made relatively few commercial recordings, nearly all for Philips in the 1970s. There’s also some Rameau on Erato and a good amount of 20C music, including works by Charles Cheynes written specifically for her. Her version of Mozart’s “Schon lacht der holde Frühling,” recorded as an add-on to Colin Davis’s complete Entführung for Philips, is a particularly brilliant piece of singing. Rumor is that Radio France has many older things in their archives, which hopefully will start to appear in reissues. There used to be clips from the mid-1970s Opéra de Paris production of Entführung on YouTube, but they appear to be taken down. Never have I heard such a substantial voice sail through “Ach, ich liebte” so fleetly and with such a lovely tone.

    As you may discern, I’m a big fan.

    RIP, Mme Eda-Pierre, and thank you.

    • Edgar Self says:

      Many thanks, Michael and Warren Jones, for your eloquent and knowing recollections of this great singer and of San Francisco Opera in her time.

      I’ve never heard anything by Fr. Andre Gretry that doesn’t enchant, from Felix Mottl’s “Cephale et Procris” suite that Desire Defauw recorded with Chicago Symphony introducing me to him, or Beecham’s “Air de Ballet” from “Zemire et Azor” to “Einem Bach der fliesst” by Schwarzkopf and, in French, Gerard Souzay. Its onomatopeias work as well in his French as in her German with Gerald Moore.

      Farewell then to a marvelous singer and a life well lived.

    • Bruce says:

      I bought that Gretry and Philidor recording too! I had never heard of her, or those composers, either. She was wonderful. I was 15 I think. When I saw her on TV (!) at the Met (!!) singing with Pavarotti (!!!), I almost felt proud, as if I had “discovered” her, haha.

      Glad to see she lived this long, and is not forgotten.

  • AndrewB says:

    Madame Eda Pierre was a sumptuous soprano and a lively personality . She mentored a generation or two of fine singers, several of whom I enjoyed working with very much. A long life very well spent.