3.12.10

The Lady of the Camelias - Montmartre Cemetery


I will again revert to the Montmartre Cemetery – probably not for the last time. This time I would like to mention two tombs, somehow linked to each other, although not in the same corner of the cemetery (see map at the end of the post).

The first tomb today is that of Marie Duplessis (real birth name Rose Alphonsine Plessis) (1824-47), better known as the The Lady of the Camelias. She was a courtesan, with a reputation of being discreet, intelligent, witty… , mistress to a number of prominent and wealthy men. She died in her home at the age of 23 of tuberculosis in the presence of two Counts, who had been her lovers, one Swedish and the other one actually her husband, Edouard de Perregaux – she married briefly before and had become Countess.
Among her lovers, for about a year, was Alexandre Dumas fils (junior) (1824-95), who obviously really loved her. (I already made a post about him, his father Alexandre Dumas and his grandfather, General Thomas Alexandre Dumas.) Alexandre Dumas fils is basically known for one novel, soon also to become a theatre play, “The Lady of the Camelias”, which tells the story of Marie Duplessis.
Alexandre wrote the novel more or less immediately after Marie's death and it was published a year later, in 1848. Most of the characters in the book could be easily recognized and the novel was a great success. Alexandre transformed it to a theatre play in 1852, again a great success. Marie is “Marguerite Gautier” and Alexandre would more or less pretend to be “Armand Duval” (A.D.).






Guiseppe Verdi saw the play, bought the rights and a year later “La Traviata” (the fallen woman) had its premiere at the Fenice Theatre in Venice. “Marguerite Gautier” had become “Violetta Valéry”. It’s since then one of the most played operas. Let’s listen to an extract from Ziferelli’s filmed version with Teresa Stratas and Placido Domingo.

Many leading actresses have played “Marguerite Gautier”, - often referred to as “Camille” in its English version – on the stage: Sarah Bernhardt, Lilian Gish, Vivien Leigh, Isabel Adjani…
Some twenty films have also been made, including one version with Sarah Bernhardt (1911), one with Rudolf Valentino as “Armand” (1921) and one with Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor (1936).


“The Lady of the Camelias” has also been created as a ballet, one especially for Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev, with music by Franz Liszt, who was one of Marie’s lovers.

I have "stolen" some photos (white frames), mainly from Wikipedia, but if there is a copyright problem I will immediately withdraw them.

I wish you a nice weekend!

30 comments:

Maddalena said...

Hi, Peter!

Since I haven't been to Paris yet, it will be a pleasure to me reading your blog and having an opportunity to visit Paris this way.

I am glad too, I found your blog :-)

~Sarafina~ said...

More more more!!! Fantastic! Absolutely love these photos!!

Aitor Artaiz said...

Excellent! This has been one of the best post I have ever read. You have a poetic way to look at things. You start front a cold grave and find the beautiful young women full of life who was buried more than 150 years ago. Thanks for this post

lakeviewer said...

Rich, fabolous!

V Rakesh said...

Very interesting!

Do have a wonderful weekend!

Olivier said...

un vrai article encyclopédiste sur la dame aux camelias

joanny said...

Peter:

Fascinating journey you are taking us on, beauty, music, culture, dance theater Opera, literature -- all inspired by the charm and beauty of this one petite lady, who died way before her time, but has been immortalized never-the-less.
I wonder who painted that portrait of her on her grave site?

Merci and have a wonderful week end;;;
joanny

ALAIN said...

Tu as fait le tour de la question.

Cergie said...

MAIS ! Le dame aux Camélias est trop vielle pour toi ! Et en plus elle est morte !

hpy said...

Saloperie de maladie. Et elle revient! Elle est même déjà revenue.

SusuPetal said...

Thank you, Peter, a fascinating post!

Catherine said...

Morte à 23 ans et on parle encore !
Tu ne m'oteras pas de l'idée que mieux vaut mourir à un âge raisonnable et dans l'anonymat.

Qu'en aurais-tu pensé Marie ?

Catherine said...

Tu as raison ! Mais comment donc as-tu deviné ? Tu m'épates, tu m'épates, tu m'épates !
Tu photographierais AUSSI mentalement ?

Simony said...

What a lovely story Peter!
So sad to die so young, imagine how many more men she could had met if she had lived longer...
It was a short but intense life, agree?

delphinium said...

ahhhhhh le fameux Liszt. :-)) Dis donc, tu en connais du beau monde toi.

Anonymous said...

Comme toujour, un article formidable et surtout une Traviata épatante (maintenant je vais voir tous les vidéo, je ne savais pas que ca existait au Youtube. Merci pour la découverte)!
Hana de Prague

Olga said...

These two last posts are delightful!
I loved the music, the pictures, the photos, and the stories. Thank you very much.

Starman said...

Considering her age at her death, Mme. Duplessis certainly left her imprint upon the world.

wockley said...

I love your posts! x

caterpillar said...

She was so young and so beautiful.... Thank you for sharing this...each post feels like a story told....

Hanny said...

Thank you Peter. This series has been very good!

Virginia said...

At 23 she died with two lovers? Well bless her heart! :)

Sciarada said...

Ciao Peter, honor and respect for this woman who was able to bring these artists to create, these masterpieces!
A good weekend to you!

"All things French" said...

Bravo! for this amzing post. the video clip of la Traviata is so stunning with that fabulously opulent set and costumes so rich and vibrant - I have watched it over and over.
I Love the history of these notable people.
Merci Beaucoup
xx
Dianne

rauf said...

tuberculosis was such a deadly disease until mid 20th century. Rose Alphonsine was born two years after John Keats died of same disease. So sad she too died so young. Some times beauty becomes one's enemy.
Thank you Peter. i never heard of her. Incredibly beautiful she was.

Trotter said...

Hi Peter! What a fabulous post!! Everything about the Lady and much more... And the Traviata video is excellent also, even with Domingo... ;) This season we'll have the Carmen at S. Carlos in Lisbon, but no Verdi... :-(
What a shame the the Lady died at the age of twenty three...

Blogtrotter Two is in the Valley of Kings! No photos allowed inside the tombs, sorry… Enjoy and have a great week!

Cezar and Léia said...

A very interesting post full of emotion today! My mommy loves this flower and I'm enchanted by the romantic feeling here in your blog!
Have a nice week ahead,stay warm, it's so cold these days!
Hugs
Léia

PEDROHUELVA said...

cuanto personaje ilustre, descansa en los campos santos de Paris.

es normal y predecible. Tanto encanto, tiene esta ciudad que hasta la muerte se ve como belleza.

gracias por compartir.

Catherine said...

Dear Peter,
Thank you for this great resource. I used this as a resource for my course on Operatic adaptations of literature in which I teach "La Dame aux Camelias" the novel, and then have the students watch La Traviata. Your pages was a great resource for the backstory, which I couldn't find elsewhere.

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