Julie d'Aubigny

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Julie d’Aubigny
Mademoiselle Maupin de l'Opéra (Julie d'Aubigny).jpg
"Mademoiselle Maupin de l'Opéra".
Anonymous print, c. 1700.
Died1707 (age c. 33)
Spouse(s)Sieur de Maupin
RelativesGaston d'Aubigny (father)

Julie d'Aubigny (French: [ʒyli dobiɲi]; 1670/1673–1707), better known as Mademoiselle Maupin or La Maupin, was a 17th-century opera singer. Little is known for certain about her life; her tumultuous career and flamboyant lifestyle were the subject of gossip, rumor, and colourful stories in her own time, and inspired numerous fictional and semi-fictional portrayals afterwards. Théophile Gautier loosely based the title character, Madeleine de Maupin, of his novel Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835) on her.

Early life[edit]

Julie d'Aubigny was born in 1673[1] to Gaston d'Aubigny, a secretary to Louis de Lorraine-Guise, comte d'Armagnac, the Master of the Horse for King Louis XIV. Her father, who trained the court pages, took care of her education teaching her academic subjects of the type given to boys but also trained her in fencing in which she gained competence from the age of 12, competing successfully against man.[2][3] In 1687, the Count d'Armagnac had her married to Sieur de Maupin of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and she became Madame de Maupin (or simply "La Maupin" per French custom). Soon after the wedding, her husband received an administrative position in the south of France, but the Count kept her in Paris for his own purposes.[3]


Also around 1687, d'Aubigny became involved with an assistant fencing master named Séranne. When Lieutenant-General of Police Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie tried to apprehend Sérannes for killing a man in an illegal duel, the pair fled the city to Marseille.[4]

On the road south, d'Aubigny and Sérannes made a living by giving fencing exhibitions and singing in taverns and at local fairs. While travelling and performing in these impromptu shows, La Maupin dressed in men's clothing but did not conceal her sex. On arrival in Marseille, she joined the opera company run by Gaultier de Marseilles [fr] (1642-1696), singing under her maiden name.[3]

D'Aubigny left for Paris and again earned her living by singing. Near Poitiers, she met an old actor named Maréchal who gave her singing lessons. Together with a new lover, the singer Gabriel-Vinvent Thévenard, she went on to Paris where Thévenard was engaged with the Opéra on condition d'Aubigny should also be admitted. As a result, she began performing there when she was just 17.[4]

Opera and adult life[edit]

The Paris Opéra hired La Maupin in 1690, having initially refused her. She befriended an elderly singer, Bouvard, and he and Thévenard convinced Jean-Nicolas de Francine, master of the king's household, to accept her into the company. She debuted as Pallas Athena in Cadmus et Hermione by Jean-Baptiste Lully the same year. She performed regularly with the Opéra from 1690 to 1694,[4] first singing in major productions as a soprano, and later in her more natural contralto range. The Marquis de Dangeau wrote in his journal of a performance by La Maupin given at Trianon of Destouches' Omphale in 1701 that hers was "the most beautiful voice in the world".[5]

In Paris, and later in Brussels, she performed under the name Mademoiselle de Maupin because singers were addressed as "mademoiselle" whether or not they were married. In Brussels, she performed at the Opéra du Quai au Foin.[3]

Until 1705, La Maupin sang in new operas by Pascal Collasse, André Cardinal Destouches, and André Campra. In 1702, André Campra composed the role of Clorinde in Tancrède specifically for her bas-dessus (contralto) range. She sang for the court at Versailles on a number of occasions, and again performed in many of the Opéra's major productions. She appeared for the last time in La Vénitienne by Michel de La Barre (1705).[1][3]

She retired from the opera in 1705 and took refuge in a convent, probably in Provence, where she is believed to have died in 1707 at the age of 33.[3][4]

Gautier's Mademoiselle de Maupin[edit]

The fictional Mademoiselle de Maupin, from Six Drawings Illustrating Théophile Gautier's Romance Mademoiselle de Maupin by Aubrey Beardsley, 1898

Théophile Gautier, when asked to write a story about d'Aubigny, instead produced the novel Mademoiselle de Maupin, published in 1835, taking aspects of the real La Maupin as a starting point, and naming some of the characters after her and her acquaintances. The central character's life was viewed through a romantic lens as "all for love". D'Albert and his mistress Rosette are both in love with the androgynous Théodore de Sérannes, whom neither of them knows is really Madeleine de Maupin. A performance of Shakespeare's As You Like It, in which La Maupin, who is passing as Théodore, plays the part of Rosalind playing Ganymede, mirrors the cross-dressing pretense of the heroine. The celebration of sensual love, regardless of gender, was radical, and the book was banned by the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice and authorities elsewhere.[6]

Opera roles created[edit]


Apart from Gautier's Mademoiselle de Maupin, La Maupin has been portrayed many times in print, stage and screen, including:

  • Labie, Charles and Augier, Joanny (1839), La Maupin, ou, Une vengeance d'actrice: comedie-vaudeville en un acte Mifliez, Paris. (In French.)
  • Madamigella di Maupin (1966), film. (In Italian.)
  • Evans, Henri (1980) Amand and its sequel (1985) La petite Maupin, France Loisirs, Paris. (In French.)
  • Dautheville, Anne-France (1995), Julie, chevalier de Maupin J.-C. Lattes, Paris. (In French.)
  • Julie, chevalier de Maupin[7] (2004), television mini-series. (In French.)
  • Gardiner, Kelly, 2014, Goddess,[8] Fourth Estate/HarperCollins, Sydney (in English)
  • La Maupin, the Musical[9] (2017), debuting at 2017 Fresh Fruit Festival in New York City.
  • Revenge Song: A Vampire Cowboys Creation (2020), a play that premiered at the Geffen Playhouse in 2020 [10]


  1. ^ a b Parfaict, F & C (1757). Dictionnaire Des Theatres De Paris, Volume 3. Paris: Lambert. pp. 350-352 - archive.org
  2. ^ Rogers, Cameron (1928). Gallant Ladies. New York: Harcourt, Brace.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Julie d'Aubigny: La Maupin and Early French Opera". Los Angeles Public Library. 28 June 2022. Retrieved 4 June 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d "Julie d'Aubigny: the (true) life story". Kelly Gardiner. 11 May 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  5. ^ Gilbert, Oscar Paul (1932). Women In Men's Guise. London: John Lane.
  6. ^ Johnson, Karyn. "Mademoiselle de Maupin, Théophile Gautier, Penguin Classics". curledup.com. Retrieved 4 June 2022.
  7. ^ "Julie, chevalier de Maupin (TV Movie 2004) - IMDb". IMDb.
  8. ^ "Goddess by Kelly Gardiner". Archived from the original on 2014-07-04.
  9. ^ "La Maupin". Field Musicals. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  10. ^ https://www.playbill.com/article/world-premiere-of-qui-nguyens-revenge-song-a-vampire-cowboys-creation-begins-february-4


  • La Borde, J-B de (1780), Essai sur la musique, iii, 519 ff
  • Campardon, E (1884), L'Académie royale de musique au XVIIIe siècle, ii, 177 ff

External links[edit]

Media related to Julie d'Aubigny at Wikimedia Commons