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Ballet by John Neumeier based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas
Lady of the Camellias
Neumeier very subtly uses the tragic 19th Century story of the title heroine Marguerite and her lover Armand Duval by reflecting it against the fate of another couple from an earlier century, Manon Lescaut and her lover Des Grieux.
Music: Frédéric Chopin
Choreography and Staging: John Neumeier
Set and Costumes: Jürgen Rose
3 hours | 2 intermissions
Stuttgart Ballet, Stuttgart, November 4, 1978
Premiere in Hamburg:
The Hamburg Ballet, February 1, 1981
1981 Munich 1987 Berlin (East), Copenhagen 1995 Dresden 1996 Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo 1997 Fukuoka, Nagoya, Omiya, Osaka, Tokyo 2001 Palermo 2003 St. Petersburg 2004 Baden-Baden 2007 Los Angeles 2009 Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Nishinomiya, Yokohama 2012 St. Petersburg 2014 Vienna
In the Repertory:
American Ballet Theater
Ballet de l'Opéra National de Paris
Bavarian State Ballet
Corpo di Ballo del Teatro alla Scala
Dresden Semperoper Ballet
Dutch National Ballet
Marguerite Gautier has died. The contents of her luxurious apartment are to be disposed of by auction. Nanina, her faithful servant, takes leave of the familiar apartment for the last time. Curious visitors, buyers, acquaintances and friends of the deceased enter, among them the older Monsieur Duval, to examine the appointments. A young man - Armand Duval - rushes desparately into the room: He collapses. Duval recognizes his son and lovingly supports him. Overcome by memories Armand begins to tell his story.
It begins in the Theatre-des-Variete, during a performance of the ballet Manon Lescaut, the famous drama of a rococo courtesan torn between love of luxury and love itself. Marguerite Gautier - one of the most beautiful and desirable courtesans in Paris - was in the audience. Moved by Manon's plight but disgusted by her infidelity, she refused to accept Manon as her own reflection. Armand, who had admired Marguerite from afar, was introduced to her for the first time that night. As he followed the ballet he feared that his own future may reflect Des Grieux's tragic fate.
After the performance Marguerite decided to amuse herself - by inviting Armand to her apartment. Marguerite used Armand to annoy the boring young Count N. A coughing fit overcame Marguerite. Armand offers his help and, overcome by emotion, confessed his love for her. Although touched by his passionate declaration, Marguerite aware of her fatal illness and consequent need for luxury kept him at a distance.
However, their relationship deepened. Hurrying from ball to ball, from admirer to admirer Marguerite continued her luxurious life, but Armand was always waiting for her - even following her to the idyllic country house the Duke had put at her disposal.
In the country, Marguerite continued her turbulent way of life at the Duke's expense. Inevitably, a confrontation took place between the Duke and Armand. For the first time Marguerite made a choice, defending her lover in the presence of everyone and rejecting a life of wealth and security. The Duke left indignantly. Armand and Marguerite were alone at last.
Overcome by the thought that this happiness is long past, Armand collapses anew. His father, deeply affected, remembers with some shame the role tat he played in the story.
Hearing of the life that his son was leading, he visited Marguerite in her country house unbeknownst to Armand, and demanded that she leave Armand. Marguerite proved her deep and sincere love for Armand by giving him up. Armand tells his father how he found the house empty on his return.
He waited for Marguerite in vain until Nanina brought him a letter from her saying that she must break off with him and return to her former life style. Unbelieving, he hurried to Paris and found her - in the arms of the Duke.
Some time later they met by chance on the Champs-Elysees. Marguerite is accompanied by another beautiful courtesan, Olympia, to whom Armand immediately paid court, trying to strike back at Marguerite out of his deep sense of hurt.
Deathly ill Marguerite visited one last time to bag him to stop humiliating her. Their passion ignites once more. But, a nightmare vision of Manon tortured Marguerite when they fall asleep. On waking, she decided to honor her promises and silently left her beloved Armand for the second time.
Later he publicly offended her at a grand ball by handing her an envelope full of money - "payment" for her service. Deathly ill, she collapsed.
Armand has reached the end of his story. He will never see Marguerite again. Deeply moved, his father leaves, as Nanina returns and gives Armand Marguerite´s diary. Reading, Armand seems to accompany Marguerite on her last visit to the theatre. Again she views a scene from the ballet “Maon Lescaut”. This time it is one in which Manon, impoverished like herself, dies in the arms of her faithful lover Des Grieux. Ill and despairing, Marguerite leaves the theatre, but the characters from the ballet follow her into a feverish dream. As the phantom lovers blend with her own memories, her identification with Manon seems complete. Deserted and longing to see Armand again, Marguerite confides her last thoughts to the diary, which she gives to Nanina for Armand.
Marguerite dies alone.
Armand silently closes her diary.