La Dame aux Camélias
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|The Lady of the Camellias|
Poster for a performance of the theatrical version, with Sarah Bernhardt (1896)
|Written by||Alexandre Dumas, fils|
|Date premiered||2 February 1852|
La Dame aux Camélias (literally The Lady of the Camellias, commonly known in English as Camille) is a novel by Alexandre Dumas, fils, first published in 1848, and subsequently adapted for the stage. La Dame aux Camélias premiered at the Théâtre du Vaudeville in Paris, France on February 2, 1852. The play was an instant success, and Giuseppe Verdi immediately set about putting the story to music. His work became the 1853 opera La Traviata, with the female protagonist, Marguerite Gautier, renamed Violetta Valéry.
In the English-speaking world, La Dame aux Camélias became known as Camille and 16 versions have been performed at Broadway theatres alone. The title character is Marguerite Gautier, who is based on Marie Duplessis, the real-life lover of author Dumas, fils.
Summary and analysis
Written by Alexandre Dumas, fils, (1824–1895) when he was 23 years old, and first published in 1848, La Dame aux Camélias is a semi-autobiographical novel based on the author's brief love affair with a courtesan, Marie Duplessis. Set in mid-19th century France, the novel tells the tragic love story between fictional characters Marguerite Gautier, a demimondaine, or courtesan, suffering from "consumption" (tuberculosis), and Armand Duval, a young bourgeois. Marguerite is nicknamed la dame aux camélias (French for 'the lady of the camellias') because she wears a red camellia when she's menstruating and unavailable for making love and a white camelia when she is available to her lovers.
Armand falls in love with Marguerite and ultimately becomes her lover. He convinces her to leave her life as a courtesan and to live with him in the countryside. This idyllic existence is interrupted by Armand's father, who, concerned with the scandal created by the illicit relationship, and fearful that it will destroy Armand's sister's chances of marriage, convinces Marguerite to leave. Up until Marguerite's death, Armand believes that she left him for another man. Marguerite's death is described as an unending agony, during which Marguerite, abandoned by everyone, regrets what might have been.
The story is narrated after Marguerite's death by two male narrators, Armand and an unnamed frame narrator. Some scholars believe that Marguerite's illness and Duplessis's publicized cause of death, "consumption", was a 19th-century euphemism for syphilis. Dumas, fils, is careful to paint a favourable portrait of Marguerite, who despite her past is rendered virtuous by her love for Armand, and the suffering of the two lovers, whose love is shattered by the need to conform to the morals of the times, is rendered touchingly. In contrast the Chevalier des Grieux's love for Manon in Manon Lescaut (1731), a French novel by Abbé Prévost referenced at the beginning of La Dame aux Camélias, Armand's love is for a woman who is ready to sacrifice her riches and her lifestyle for him, but who is thwarted by the arrival of Armand's father. The novel is also marked by the description of Parisian life during the 19th century and the fragile world of the courtesan.
Since its debut as a play, numerous editions have been performed at theatres around the world. The role of the tragic Marguerite Gautier became one of the most coveted amongst actresses and included performances by Sarah Bernhardt, Eleonora Duse, Margaret Anglin, Gabrielle Réjane, Tallulah Bankhead, Lillian Gish, Dolores del Río, Eva Le Gallienne, Isabelle Adjani, Cacilda Becker, and Helena Modrzejewska. Bernhardt quickly became associated with the role after starring in Camellias in Paris, London, and several Broadway revivals, plus the 1911 film. Dancer/Impresario Ida Rubinstein successfully recreated Bernhardt's interpretation of the role onstage in the mid-1920s, coached by the great actress herself before she died.
Of all Dumas, fils's theatrical works, La Dame aux Camélias is the most popular around the world: According to 19th century book The Century, "not one other play by Dumas, fils has been received with favor out of France".
Amongst many adaptations, spin-offs and parodies, was "Camille," "a travesty on La Dame aux Camellias" by Charles Ludlam, staged first by his own Ridiculous Theatrical Company in 1973, with Ludlam playing the lead in drag
In 1999 Alexia Vassiliou collaborated with composer Aristides Mytaras for the contemporary dance performance, La Dame aux Camélias at the Amore Theatre in Athens.
In addition to inspiring La Traviata, La Dame aux Camélias has been adapted for approximately twenty different motion pictures in numerous countries and in a wide variety of languages. The role of "Marguerite Gautier" has been played on screen by Sarah Bernhardt, María Félix, Clara Kimball Young, Theda Bara, Yvonne Printemps, Alla Nazimova, Greta Garbo, Micheline Presle, Francesca Bertini, Isabelle Huppert, and others.
Films entitled Camille
There have been at least eight adaptations of La Dame aux Camélias entitled Camille. See Camille (disambiguation).
Other films based on La Dame aux Camélias
In addition to the Camille films, the story has been the adapted into numerous other screen versions:
- Kameliadamen, the first movie based on the work. Kameliadamen was a 1907 Danish silent film directed by Viggo Larsen and starring Oda Alstrup, Larsen, Gustave Lund and Robert Storm Petersen.
- La Dame aux Camélias, a 1911 French language silent film, directed by André Calmettes and Henri Pouctal. It stars Sarah Bernhardt.
- La Signora delle Camelie, a 1915 Italian language silent film. It was directed by Baldassarre Negroni. It stars Hesperia, Alberto Collo and Ida Carloni Talli.
- La Signora delle Camelie, a 1915 Italian language silent film. It was directed by Gustavo Serena. It stars Francesca Bertini and Serena.
- Camille (1915), a 1915 English language silent film that stars Clara Kimball Young and Paul Capellani.
- Camille (1917), an English language silent film starring Theda Bara.
- Arme Violetta (1920), a German language silent film starring Pola Negri.
- Camille (1921), an English language silent film starring Alla Nazimova and Rudolph Valentino, directed by Ray C. Smallwood.
- Damen med kameliorna, a 1925 Swedish language film adapted and directed by Olof Molander, starring Uno Henning and Tora Teje.
- Camille (1926), an English language silent film starring Norma Talmadge and Gilbert Roland, directed by Fred Niblo.
- La Dame aux Camélias (1934), the first sound adaptation, was a French language film adapted by Abel Gance and directed by Gance and Fernand Rivers. It starred Yvonne Printemps and Pierre Fresnay.
- Camille (1936), an English-language film starring Greta Garbo, directed by George Cukor. Garbo's performance won best actress at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards and was nominated for an Academy Award.
- A 1944 Spanish language version was produced in Mexico. It was adapted by Roberto Tasker, directed by Gabriel Soria, and starred Lina Montes and Emilio Tuero.
- La Dame aux Camélias, a 1953 French language film adapted by Jacques Natanson and directed by Raymond Bernard, starring Gino Cervi, Micheline Presle and Roland Alexandre.
- Camelia, a 1954 Mexican film adapted by José Arenas, Edmundo Báez, Roberto Gavaldón and Gregorio Walerstein. It was directed by Gavaldón, and stars María Félix.
- La mujer de las camelias, a 1954 Argentine film adapted by Alexis de Arancibia (as Wassen Eisen) and Ernesto Arancibia, and directed by Ernesto Arancibia. It stars Zully Moreno.
- Ahed El Hawa, a 1955 Egyptian film adaptation starring Mariam Fakhr El Dine.
- The Lady of the Camellias, a 1976 UK television serial, starring Kate Nelligan.
- Camille was a 1984 TV movie that starred Greta Scacchi, Ben Kingsley, and Colin Firth.
- La Dame aux Camélias, a 1981 French language film adapted by Jean Aurenche, Enrico Medioli and Vladimir Pozner, and directed by Mauro Bolognini. It stars Isabelle Huppert.
- Dama Kameliowa , a 1994 Polish language film
- Moulin Rouge!, a 2001 film by Baz Luhrmann, loosely based on the story, with Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor in lead roles.
- Kamelyalı Kadın, 1957 Turkish film starring Çolpan İlhan.
- Lady of the Camellias is a ballet by John Neumeier with music by Frédéric Chopin, created for Marcia Haydée, then prima ballerina of the Stuttgart Ballet. It premiered at the Staatstheater Stuttgart in 1978.
- Lady of the Camellias is a ballet by Val Caniparoli with music by Frédéric Chopin. It premiered with Ballet Florida at the Raymond Kravis Center in 1994.
- Marguerite and Armand is an adaptation created in 1963 by renowned choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton specifically for Rudolf Nureyev and prima ballerina assoluta Dame Margot Fonteyn.
- Veronica Paeper created a ballet Camille based on The Lady of the Camellias which has been staged several times since 1990.
- "Alexandre Dumas fils". online-literature.com. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
- Lintz, Bernadette C (2005), "Concocting La Dame aux camélias: Blood, Tears, and Other Fluids", Nineteenth-Century French Studies, 33 (3-4): 287–307, JSTOR 23537986,
- Dumas, fils, Alexandre (1986) , La Dame aux Camélias, translated by David Coward, UK: Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780191611162
- The Century. January 1879. p. 60.
- Wolf, Matt (May 27, 2008). "In 'Marguerite,' an all-too-dark musical". New York Times. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
- Marguerite Gautier at the Internet Movie Database
- skyler58 (1 June 2001). "Moulin Rouge! (2001)". IMDb. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
- "Kamelyali kadin (1957)". IMDb. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
- "John Neumeier biography". Hamburg Ballet. Retrieved 11 December 2010.
- Ferguson, Stephanie (14 February 2005). "La Traviata". London: Guardian. Retrieved 11 December 2010. Staged as La Traviata for Northern Ballet Theatre in Leeds, UK in 2005.