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!