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|Freifrau von Heldburg|
|Ellen Franz, called Helene, Freifrau von Heldburg. Portrait by Oskar Begas, 1870.|
|Spouse||Georg II, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen|
|"Helene" Ellen Franz|
30 May 1839|
|Died||24 March 1923
|Burial||Meininger Park Churchyard|
Ellen Franz (30 May 1839 – 24 March 1923) was a German pianist and actress.
On 18 March 1873 she married—as his third wife—Duke Georg II of Saxe-Meiningen in the Villa Feodora in Bad Liebenstein. Because of her bourgeois origin, the Duke ennobled her shortly before their marriage, as Baroness von Heldburg, the title by which she was henceforth known. This morganatic marriage annoyed the German Emperor Wilhelm II so much that he decided not visit the Schloss Altenstein after his reconstruction in 1889 by work of Georg II because of his aversion towards Helene.
Development of Meiningen Theatre
The Duke and she designed, together with the Director Ludwig Chronegk, the "Meiningen Principles" (Meininger Prinzipien) a profund theater reform and made the world-famous Meiningen Ensemble (Meininger Hoftheater). Besides, Helene performed big changes in the dramaturgy and was responsible for commitment and cast decisions and the education of young students. Her husband Georg II led together with Chronegk the direction and formed appropriate sceneries and costumes.
After the death of her husband in 1914, Helene retired to her countryseat, the Veste Heldburg, where she died nine years later, aged eighty-three. She was buried near the Duke Georg II in a common grave arrangement on the Meininger Park Churchyard (Meininger Parkfriedhof).
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