French Toast 

Here's to Marie-Stéphane Bernard, a native Parisian, who began her violin and voice studies in France; pursued her passions at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome; is actively touring in leading soprano roles throughout the great opera halls of Europe; and lives in downtown Memphis. That's right — Memphis. Cheers!

"My husband also travels extensively," Bernard says. "We needed a city that had good airline service. We were also looking for a place with a rich history and friendly people. Memphis had that."

On Thursday, August 18th, Bernard makes her Bluff City debut at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, performing a selection of work by French composer Jacques Offenbach in celebration of the gallery's epic Jean-Louis Forain retrospective, "La Comédie parisienne."

"It was very smart of them to do this," says Bernard, who has sung the work across three continents and describes the program as a "little trip through Offenbach's compositions."

"It is a wonderful opportunity to hear work that is unusual and very French," Bernard says. "What appeals to me is that the compositions are funny and light. They have a wonderful rhythm."

Bernard is especially attuned to that rhythm and to Offenbach's theatricality, having sung Métella in Offenbach's La Vie Parisienne 270 times at the Opéra Comique in Paris. She sang the lead role in La Périchole in more than 80 performances.

Marie-Stéphane Bernard in concert at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Thursday, August 18th, at 7 p.m. Concert is open seating and free with museum admission.

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