Marie-Madeleine Jossier

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Entry by Jean-Philippe Van Aelbrouck, 2004

Marie-Madeleine Jossier, born around 1650, was a singer at the Royal Academy of Music in Paris. She married one of Louis XIV's footmen, Christophe Cartillier, also known by the surname Cartilly, and the couple moved to the Faubourg Saint-Germain. Marie-Madeleine was hired in late 1670 to sing the title role of Pomona in Cambert and Perrin's opera, with François Beaumavielle as Vertumnus. The opera was first performed on March 3, 1671 and ran successfully for several months.

It seems that this was Marie-Madeleine Cartilly's only role at the Opera, as her name does not feature in any subsequent performances at the Music Academy. She was probably one of the artists excluded from the troupe when Lully decided to bring in a number of new talents, in which case her only option would have been to sing in private salons until she was able to find a more promising professional engagement. However, openings in professional troupes were few and far between, since Lully was very jealous of the privilege which granted him the exclusive right to stage operas. Marie-Madeleine began singing and acting in private concerts and salons, taking part, for instance, in a performance of the tragedies Sédécias and Zénobie in the home of a certain M. de Filz in the Faubourg Saint Germain in September 1673. She also frequented Parisian salons alongside the poet and musician Charles Dassoucy. In Brussels, in May 1682, she played the role of Medea in Lully's Thésée. Christophe Cartillier had their daughter Marie-Marthe baptized in the same city on April 4, 1683. Her godfather was Charles-Henri of Lorraine, Prince of Vaudémont (although his officer of the chamber Sylvestre de La Roche stood in for him at the font). The couple also baptized three other children, Guillaume-Mathieu on June 26, 1686, Anne-Isabelle-Charlotte on June 9, 1685, and Jean-Sylvestre-Joseph on December 15, 1686. Marie-Madeleine Cartilly sang in a few more performances at the Opéra du Quai au Foin in Brussels, including a show of comedies and ballet staged on November 6, 1685, in which she took on the role of Flora, and the prologue of the tragedy Géta by Nicolas de Péchantré, on August 25, 1687. Two years later, when this opera house in Brussels closed down, she returned to France with part of the troupe of actors and singers, who were given a group passport on May 3, 1689. Marie-Madeleine returned to Brussels after the death of her husband, and on April 5, 1695, she married her daughter Marie-Marthe's godfather, Sylvestre de La Roche. The composer Pietro Torri, musician at the court of the Elector Maximilian Emmanuel of Bavaria, was one of the couple's witnesses.

Marie-Madeleine Cartilly died in Paris in 1717, where she had come "to cure herself of her infirmities and breathe her native air", as her former neighbors, the Brochet sisters, wrote. That same year, a court case, heard in Châtelet, opposed the Cartillier and the de La Roche sides of the family in an inheritance dispute. Two accounts giving the facts of the trial are preserved in the French National Library. Marie-Hélène de La Place and her husband François de Monhers, a Parisian burgher, called as a witness Jean-Baptiste Grimberghs, former bourgmestre des Nations, tax collector for the city of Brussels, and one-time director of the Théâtre de la Monnaie. In the presence of a Brussels lawyer, he declared that thirty years earlier he had known the Cartillys very well, at which time they lived near Le Sablon and Marie-Madeleine Cartilly sang at the Opera and taught music to several "persons of quality".

Nothing is known of Marie-Madeleine Cartilly's career between 1673 and 1682. The Parfaict brothers included her in their eighteenth-century dictionary of Paris theaters, but no contemporary accounts of her performances survive. Her career in Paris and Brussels has been reconstituted through the archives, offering a glimpse into the life led by an itinerant singer and actress during the reign of Louis XIV.

(translated by Susan Pickford)

Selected bibliography

- Liebrecht, H. Histoire du théâtre français à Bruxelles. Paris, Champion, 1923, p.101.

- Nuitter, C. et Thoinan, E. Les Origines de l'opéra français. Paris, Plon, Nourrit et Cie, 1886, p.162-165.

- Parfaict, Claude et François. Dictionnaire des théâtres de Paris. Paris, Rozet, 1767, t.II, p.58-59.


- «Cartilly (Mlle), premiére Actrice de l'Académie Royale de Musique, joua d'origine le role de Pomone, dans l'Opéra de ce nom. Elle étoit grande, et point jolie. On ignore sa vie, et le tems de sa mort, qu'on peut présumer être arrivée peu de tems après la représentation de cette piéce, à moins qu'on ne veuille conjecturer qu'elle s'étoit retirée avant l'année 1672.» (C. et F. Parfaict, Dictionnaire..., voir supra, choix bibliog.).

Marie-Madeleine Jossier
Spouses Christophe Cartillier, dit Cartilly
Sylvestre de La Roche
Also known as Mademoiselle Cartilly
Birth date After 1650
Death 1717
Biographical entries in old dictionaries
Dictionnaire Cesar - Calendrier électronique des spectacles sous l'Ancien Régime et sous la Révolution.
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