Female singers and the maladie morale in Parisian lyric theaters, 1830-1850.
"Do you know why dramatic art is disappearing? Why the beautiful flower of our civilization wilts on its stem in our brilliant capital of France?"
"My word, no."
"Because actresses are getting married."
"What a paradox! Then you are not in favor of this laudable, respectable, sacred bond? ... But what about morality?"
"Ha! It is very much a question of morality of these pretty women! Of women artists, exceptional in our social order! What, do you not see that these seductive fairies, these fascinating sylphs, with their enchanting [vocal] organs, naive grace, and voluptuous glances, who bring chaos to your mind and trouble in your heart, are depoetizing themselves at will? [...] I condemn this monomania for marriage, this scandalous neglect of the rights of the public, this maladie morale that takes away all of our pretty actresses and that saps, destroys all of our illusions." (1)
While perhaps tongue-in-cheek, Blanchard's comments underlined an issue that preoccupied a number of critics during the nineteenth century, that is, how theater women's difference from other women could be necessary to theater culture.
The prima donna has long been considered essentially distinct from other women, her ambiguous position in society uneasily tolerated. With hectic performing schedules, difficult working conditions, and various other exigencies of professional theater life, singers often had trouble conforming to dominant social norms. (2) Louis Gentil, Opera employee and author of the infamous Journal d'une habilleuse, claimed that all women wanting to make a career of singing must renounce the sweetness of private life: burdened by the necessity of making a lifetime's wages in a decade or so, female singers had no time for sickness, marriage--even friends. (3) Their existence on the fringes of acceptable feminine behavior--whether by choice or by necessity--has often led to discursive strategies in various media (novels, serial fiction, critical reviews, theatrical works) that represented professional theater women as incapable of fulfilling stereotypical feminine roles. Jean-Jacques Rousseau's vitriolic diatribes against actresses in his Lettre a d'Alembert (1758) made it clear that a woman who performed for others publicly--and, even worse, for money--could not possibly possess any of those qualities so essential to her sex. (4) As Rebecca Pope and Susan Leonardi put it, "What the diva can't be [...] is wife, good woman, true woman. Divahood kills womanhood." (5)
Bad wife, bad mother, bad woman. With the rise of bourgeois morality in postrevolutionary France, women of all classes were increasingly defined by their roles as wives and mothers. Throughout the nineteenth century, women artists faced many challenges in negotiating a space for their creative efforts in gendered public and private spheres. Nancy Reich has suggested that the increased emphasis on the home as the proper sphere of the woman must have caused considerable conflict for the professional woman musician who had to leave and earn a salary. (6) Certainly, female performers were increasingly subjected to the dictates of bourgeois morality and castigated for their failure to conform. And yet there remained an appreciation of their different role in the public sphere. Blanchard and some of his contemporaries felt that theater women occupied an exceptional position in Parisian society; not only should they be exempt from fulfilling the roles prescribed for middle--and upper-class women, bur their place outside ordinary society was actually essential to theater culture.
"The actress must be an actress; the dancer, a dancer in all the meaning of the word [....] She must sublimate herself by dint of danger and obstacles, live the life of her rank and of her caste." (7) So Roger de Beauvoir claimed in his tirade on the infiltration of bourgeois morality in the theater and the ensuing attempts to reform actresses according to dominant social values or moeurs, a term that refers at once to morals, manners, habits, customs, and everyday life. Many theater critics and writers sought to keep theater moeurs distinct from societal moeurs and thereby approached the question of women as public figures accordingly. This article examines the role that matrimony played in the reception of singers and how it affected--and perhaps defined--the eroticized space of the theatrical stage. (8) To contextualize these debates I discuss contemporary marriage laws and the rights afforded to women under the Civil Code and how they impacted the professional and personal lives of female singers at the Academie royale de musique (hereafter, the Opera) and Opera Comique. Drawing on various texts from the period, including Daniel-Francois-Esprit Auber's operacomique L'ambassadrice (1836), I explore how French theater culture viewed and responded to the threat of the maladie morale and the tensions that resulted in the representation of theater women, married or single.
Gender, Marriage, and Morality in the July Monarchy
A strongly delineated gender order emerged out of the political turmoil of the 1789 Revolution and from the shift from Old Regime autocracy to nineteenth-century representative government. The "modern" French woman was to inhabit a private sphere, newly created to contain her, and the "modern" man the public sphere of citizenship. (9) The political regimes were fundamentally gendered: the Old Regime was feminized, associated with the corruption of powerful women--the ruinous influence of Marie-Antoinette and meddling courtesans was often singled out. (10) In the new government model, politics were to be asexual, thus precluding women's involvement (men, of course, were not considered to be sexed beings). (11) Such changes to the gender system were prepared in the late eighteenth century by philosophers and moralists who emphasized the "natural" differences between men and women and argued for the distinctive social roles they should play. The writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Emile, ou De l'education and Lettre a d'Alembert) had a large role to play in the construction of these gender ideologies. Rousseau extolled the traditional, patriarchal family and advocated the exclusion of women from active participation in political life; he defined the natural woman as dependent, subordinate, and imbued with qualities of shame and modesty that made her at the same time chaste and sexually appealing to her husband. (12) We can only speculate on the extent to which his ideas affected the beliefs and attitudes of those who read his works, but his contemporary Mary Wollstonecraft certainly recognized the danger posed to women by the popularity of the philosophe's writings. (13)
The subordination of women in French society was officially entrenched in law with the creation of the Civil Code of 1804, often considered one of Napoleon's greatest achievements. Still deprived of legal functions on account of being female, unmarried women and widows were the least disadvantaged as long as they had an income of their own. The Code was particularly restrictive to married women. Legislation on marriage and the family in the Code had been borrowed almost wholesale from the 1768 "Traite de la puissance du mari sur la personne et les biens de la femme," written by Robert-Joseph Pothier, which began by stating, "The dominance of the husband over his wife consists, by natural law, in the husband's right to exact from her all the duties of obedience due to a superior." (14) Women were obliged by the Code to obey their husbands, they could only live where their spouses elected to reside, and they had little to no control over property and assets. Although the Code originally retained the right to divorce (one of the most significant items of revolutionary legislation on the family, first established in September 1792), a number of restrictions were introduced, and grounds for divorce were reduced to three: degrading criminal sentences, adultery, and physical abuse. (15) The Code enforced disproportionate punishment for the crime of adultery. One of the only "excusable" reasons for murder--for which the murderer received a prison sentence and not the death penalty--was if a husband killed his adulterous wife or her lover upon finding them in flagrante delicto. (16) A man could be charged with adultery if discovered with his lover in the marital home, but he would risk only a fine; a woman charged with adultery faced three months to two years in prison for her first offense (and recidivism doubled prison sentences). James McMillan claims that the laws on adultery were particularly repressive because they were sustained by social custom and convention: the double standard that tolerated male infidelity while prescribing fidelity for women was integral to the bourgeois ethic that became dominant in the postrevolutionary years. (17)
The family was at the heart of the bourgeois social order and increasingly promoted as the ideal throughout the century--even for the aristocracy. The royal family during the Bourbon Restoration failed to project an image of domestic intimacy and the nurturing mother; Jo Burr Margadant has argued that this weakness in their self-presentation was among the problems that led to their eventual demise with the Revolution of 1830. (18) The subsequent regime handled these family symbols more successfully. The "King of the French," Louis-Philippe, proudly showed visitors the bed he shared with Queen Marie-Amelie, a woman who portrayed the image of the bourgeois mother more convincingly. (19) Marriage was viewed as the natural goal of all women during the July Monarchy, regardless of class, even though the kind of marriage--either le mariage de raison (the arranged marriage) or le mariage d'inclinement (the marriage for love)--was under debate. (20) A single woman was thus an object of suspicion, and some married just to escape public rebuke. (21) Women were charged with the task of moral education in the household, a role invested with enormous power as the underpinning of the public (masculine) world and a method for sustaining the domestic model for their daughters. The dissemination of such ideological formations continued through various media in the nineteenth century, including etiquette manuals and magazines such as Journal des femmes. (22) Susan Grogan points out that the emphatic rhetoric asserting appropriate models of female behavior suggests that the ideal was not necessarily reality. Working-class and peasant women could hardly achieve the domestic ideal, and many women from the middle classes remained actively involved in family businesses. (23) "The domestic discourse was clearly not hegemonic as a description of women's lives in the early nineteenth century," Grogan concludes, "but it could not be ignored." (24) Those women who lived outside the norm, however, were aware of their transgression and felt the need to explain and justify their decisions.
"Un mariage sortable": Matrimony in Parisian Lyric Theaters
Un gentil garcon, un bon camarade ... que nous aimons toutes ... et lui qui n'est pas bien avance; toi qui n'as encore que deux mille florins d'appointemens ... c'etait bien, c'etait un mariage sortable.... Car maintenant dans les arts, on epouse toujours, tant il y a de meeurs. (25)
--Charlotte to Henriette in L'ambassadrice, act 1, scene 3
If we are to believe contemporary reports, more theater women than ever were actually conforming to social norms and choosing to get married. Without more precise statistics from earlier periods, it is difficult to confirm the claim that marriage was definitively on the rise, but matrimony was, at the very least, becoming much more visible. (26) A number of well-known singers at different lyric theaters took spouses during this period: Laure Cinti-Damoreau, Henriette Sontag, Julie Dorus-Gras, Mafia Malibran, Giulia Grisi, Jenny Colon, and Pauline Viardot. (27) According to the marriage statistics shown in table 1, about half of the female singers from the Opera and the Opera Comique were married during their careers at these theaters between 1830 and 1850; however, many if not most of the primary singers were married. In table 2 I have listed the details of these marriages and indicated the primary artists with an asterisk.
And yet entering into a marital contract restricted women's professional activities and freedom. A married woman could not act autonomously under the Civil Code. Her husband's permission was required to take up employment, and her earnings became his property. For a singer, this meant that her contracts were legal only with her husband's signature. Legal separation was the only recourse to ending a marriage once divorce was abolished in 1816 under the Restoration. (28) However, even if legally separated, women had to seek permission from their former husbands to perform and sign contracts. (29) A married woman lost her financial independence, as a husband could demand the whole or part of her earnings. In the case of Opera star Rosine Stoltz (1815-1903), her estranged husband, Alphonse-Auguste Lescuyer, insisted on receiving his share of her earnings and deducted 1,250 francs a month from her salary, leaving the singer with the rest (less than 850 francs). The administration was also required to inform Lescuyer of her monthly earnings. (30)
Despite the marital problems encountered by some, marriage remained an attractive option, as it helped to protect a woman's reputation, particularly during performing tours in the provinces or abroad. Former Opera director Nestor Roqueplan speculated that the increase of married singers during the July Monarchy was the result of political and economic changes. He noted that the tendency to marry rose as the aristocracy became increasingly separated from the theater after the Revolution, reinforcing the necessity for economy and strategic positioning. Female artists, left without the financial protection of their once generous admirers, were forced to make a living solely from their art. (31) Certainly with women's increasing professionalization as musicians, singers, and actresses during the nineteenth century, the cultivation of a bourgeois lifestyle that included marriage could provide a stable career foundation. Choosing a partner in the same industry was ideal, as a woman's husband might better tolerate hectic rehearsal, concert, and performing schedules. Such was the reality of many singers, as shown in table 2: Julie Dorus and Jenny Colon married orchestral musicians; Louise Dabadie, Sophie Ponchard, Marie Hebert-Massy, and Marie Potier married fellow singers; and Francoise Laurent, Josephine Glossop, and Rosine Stoltz married men working in the theater industry. F. W. J. Hemmings suggests that the rarity of marriages outside of the theater profession further attests to the social ostracism faced by actors and actresses, particularly during the early nineteenth century. (32)
The maladie morale and Its Victims
French critics and writers in the 1830s and 1840s reacted to the increasing bourgeois influence on the theater, which had far-reaching and, for some, devastating effects. Alberic Second's satirical novel Les petits mysteres de l'Opera (1844) exposed the new reality behind the scenes and disrupted romanticized illusions about the theater. In the story, Second falls asleep during a performance at the Opera only to awake well after its conclusion. He attempts to leave but instead stumbles upon the strange world of the coulisses (backstage)--the fantasy of most theatergoers. During his adventures, he converses with the danseuse Lelia and hears the bad news: the coulisses have become bourgeois. The veteran subscribers find the theater without mystery, novelty, or sensual appeal; the new generation of subscribers is less wealthy and does not enjoy the same privileges of privacy for their amorous trysts. (33) Religiosity has come back in favor, and one sees wedding bands on fingers. And as for the women of the Opera, they are, for the most part, "honest bourgeois women and virtuous citizens." (34)
Le monde dramatique brought these concerns to its public in a series of provocative articles on moeurs dramatiques published during the mid-1830s. (35) The authors recounted the disturbing changes that bourgeois morality had produced on theater women: ordinary, married, the mother of a family, the actress was now as virtuous as a nun, covering both her neck and her behavior in a veil of decency. (36) The names of those recently married were sadly enumerated: Mmes Allan, Volnys, Rossi, Pradher, Doche, Thenard, Lemenil, Dorus-Gras. (37) Critics lamented the loss of their cherished performers to matrimony; they looked with nostalgia to past times when actresses apparently remained single throughout their careers and were sexually promiscuous. By the early eighteenth century, theater women had replaced court ladies as the principal female participants in aristocratic libertinism; details of their affairs were circulated in official police records as well as in pornographic and erotic literature such as La chronique scandaleuse des theatres, which recounted the sexual adventures (both hetero-and homosexual) of female theater performers, including Opera singers Mme Saint-Huberty and Mlles Gavaudan, Maillard, and Joinville. (38)
But the erotic culture of the stage was far from being a distant memory. In reality, some female performers were still pursuing sexually liberal lifestyles, while others preferred la vie bourgeoise. (39) The association of sex with the theater nevertheless continued. Tracy C. Davis has argued that, through the wide availability and continued publication of erotica featuring female performers, Victorian popular culture persisted in ascribing depravity and sexual indiscretion to actresses even while the theater was being morally rehabilitated. (40) Like its counterpart in England, the connection between the actress and scandal was maintained through a wide variety of documents in France. An obvious example from the 1830s is the anonymous Les amours" Galanteries et passe-temps des actrices, ou Confessions curieuses et galantes de ces dames redigees par une bayadere de l'Opera, wherein female singers and actresses from the state and boulevard theaters detailed their most passionate sexual encounters. (41) However, even seemingly benign publications such as the biographical theater dictionary connected eroticism with the stage by promising eager readers intrigue and insider gossip, concentrating on the women's physical beauty and sensuality, and including performers' home addresses in the final pages (which suggested the possibility of a personal encounter). And as Marian Smith has remarked, the mere mention of the dancers' foyer immediately imported all of its alluring qualities to the Opera. (42)
In a bid to protect the theater's erotic culture from encroaching bourgeois values, Roger de Beauvoir championed the single, sexually promiscuous actress as essential to art. He wrote a tribute to the eighteenth-century Opera singer Marie-Josephine Laguerre (1755-83), a woman whose rumored libertine lifestyle was now idealized as part of the "good old days." (43) Beauvoir's article traced her rags-to-riches career path from poor chorister to premiere chameuse and spoke of her excessive lifestyle, which apparently contributed to her death. Far from condemning the artist for alcoholism, the critic defended her, claiming it released her artistic passion. The audience of 1776 would exclaim, "Laguerre will be divine tonight: she is intoxicated]" Beauvoir criticized those who looked upon such singers with disdain and attempted to redeem them by advocating morality in the theaters. What actually suffered under this new moral regime, he insisted, was art:
That is moral, but where is the benefit for art? A singer as the mother of a family, a virtuous tenor as a national guard, that is fine, but where in this narrow circle of thought do we encounter fervor, the inspired actress in the housekeeper who cooks and hangs on to her husband like a court lawyer? Is there any chance for glory and inspiration in this unnatural regularity? Who is the real master, the husband or the public? Sing and perform for one or the other, but choose. (44)
Beauvoir's comments raise fundamental questions about the relation of a performer to her public and between her professional persona and private identity. How do a singer's personality and lifestyle affect her performance style? Does an awareness of her personal life and marital status impact her critical reception?
Richard Sennett argues that the changes occurring in public culture reinforced the dominant perception that an artist's personal and professional personas were practically interchangeable. (45) In eighteenth-century Paris and London, there was a distinct culture of public interaction that organized community life: the artifice of the public persona, the "public man," allowed residents to separate their public behavior from their private, domestic life. With the emergence of liberal capitalism and secularization in the nineteenth century, urban dwellers increasingly retreated from civic life, hiding their subjectivity in public behind a mask and communicating their "authentic self" only through private, domestic, interpersonal relationships. By contrast, public figures (politicians, artists, actors) were to project the very authenticity and expressiveness so carefully guarded by the silent spectator. Transparency and sincerity were expected: politicians, for example, were judged as credible if they aroused "the same belief in their personalities which actors did when onstage." (46)
The practice whereby performers specialized in a particular emploi or role type rather than playing diverse or contrasting roles further strengthened this association, lending weight to the perception that theater women were as wicked as the characters they performed. (47) Theophile Gautier in fact claimed that although domestic qualities were tine for the bourgeoise, they were useless to the actress. (48) Without the tumultuous emotions arising from a liberal lifestyle, virtuous theater women were thought incapable of communicating heightened passion. Actress Mme Vestris defended her colleagues' licentious behavior by claiming that "a woman who must constantly restrain the urging of the heart would soon extinguish the sacred fire that allows the abandon, the delirium of passion, that produces grand effects on stage." (49) These connections between morality on and off the stage put theater women in an awkward position. If the public performance of passion supposedly revealed actual lived experience, those actresses wishing to protect their moral reputation might hesitate to perform "immoral" roles. (50) Rousseau's question--how could a woman playing the role of the amoureuse or the coquette not eventually succumb to the temptation of performing these same roles once offstage?--thus continued to plague this generation of performers. (51) Insisting that one could perform an emotion without ever having experienced it did not rectify the problem. Katherine Kolb Reeve has shown that, at least in Berlioz's criticism, women performers generally faced an impossible situation when it came to the appropriate display of emotion during a performance. (52) The artist had two choices: "She can be sincere, assuming and submitting to the emotions she embodies--in which case she risks her sanity and even her life; or she can 'fake it,' in which case she is a calculating manipulator and a 'prostitute'--and therefore deserves to die." (53) The idea that an honorable woman could perform certain erotic roles threw into question the preservation of social order based on strict gender roles. It also revealed the possibility that idealized qualities such as femininity could be "performed" and not truly "lived."
For some critics, the problem was not just that theater women were modifying their lifestyle and marrying but that these domestic activities began slipping into the printed press. (54) Such publicity wreaked havoc on the erotic culture of the stage and was not universally welcomed. Many late nineteenth-century journalists found themselves in the awkward position of reporting the respectable, uneventful aspects of actresses' daily lives and thus creating a situation where "theater women would lose their aura of sexualized glamour and take on a bourgeois ordinariness." (55) Blanchard lamented that listening to Giulia Grisi (1811-69) would have a much different effect if he knew that she was, in fact, married:
When I listen to our lovely Grisi[, ....] I tell myself she is free, an artist, capricious like all pretty women. In one of the moments of her beatitiful dramatic inspirations, her eyes cross mine, and [...] I tell myself: Maybe! ... Why not? ... Suppose at that very moment I received a grand, printed letter, stating: "Mlle Grisi has the honor to ask you to take part in her marriage[....]" Oh! Then I would renounce dilettantism and all musical faith; I would [...] never put a foot again inside the Theatre Italien. (56)
Actresses were warned: should they marry, they could kiss their public goodbye. For Blanchard, the solution was simple: "All young, pretty, talented actresses should be public domain, not exclusive [property] of a husband; [...] public domain, just as Diane the huntress and Venus of Medicis in our museums are available for our admiration." (57) Within the eroticized space of the theater, this conception of the female singer as "public property" was inherently sexualized. Single and available, she articulated an open territory upon which the (male) spectator could impose fantasies in a play of imagination and desire considered essential to theatrical culture. Once married, however, a woman was considered the property of her husband and consequently lost something of her extraordinary status as a servant of art.
The marital status of male artists did not occasion the same kind of commentary. Theater writers did not question how male performers developed the passions to excel in their roles; they could be excellent fathers and husbands and still perform passion and intrigue. (58) In a rare article on the married male artist, Edouard Monnais directed his comments to the composer, not the performer. (59) He devoted most of the article to describing the ideal qualities of the artist's wife, thus shifting the question of marriage to the issue of spousal suitability. Should the artist's inspiration wither or his works suffer, the fault could then be transferred readily to his wife and her inability to properly support her husband. The singer's husband, however, was frequently the subject of derision, mocked for his relative powerlessness in the face of his wife's celebrity, talent, and socioeconomic and cultural power. (60) In one article on this figure, the mari de la cantatrice passively watches his wife receive compliments from those who are obviously her lovers. (61) Forced to swallow his jealousy and pride to maintain conjugal peace, he steps aside, shares his wife with her admirers, and remains in the shadow of her brilliant career. (62)
The married diva in the last example makes a mockery of the institution of marriage, providing fuel for those conservatives who supported the Civil Code's repressive laws against female adultery. The story thus hints at another reason for advocating against marriage in the theater: to protect the non-theatrical world from the contaminating influences of stage women. Porousness between the stage and bourgeois life created dangerous cross-contamination. Not only did it allow "fallen" theater women to corrupt the cherished image of domesticity, but it also permitted women from the middle classes to slip through and attempt professional careers. (63) Marriage in this case was vital for saving the bourgeois woman from the perils of a public career and for returning her to her proper sphere. In the cautionary tale "Le demon de la melomanie," published in La France musicale in 1848, the amateur female pianist Eugenie Bernard's attempt at a professional career fails miserably, leaving the woman poverty-stricken, ill, and alone in Italy. Thankfully, her fiance, Emile Renaud, arrives and convinces Eugenie that a public career is best left to those women suited to the difficulties of the lifestyle: "The turbulence of the artist's life can suit only a few women with exceptional personalities and characters. Bur what suits all women are the gentle affections, the comfort, and the peace of the home. Those are the elements of happiness that nothing can destroy." (64) Eugenie agrees to abandon her career and returns to the foyer as a married woman, thus sealing the barrier between the two worlds. Catastrophe avoided.
At issue was also the importance of maintaining class distinctions. For Blanchard, Gautier, and Beauvoir, all marriage in the theater appeared to be undesirable; for others, marriage was tolerated as long as theater women kept within their social class. Marriages between singers and aristocrats rarely ever succeeded in serial fiction of the period. In Louise Fusil's "Le prince et la chanteuse," published in La France musicale in 1841 and set in the late eighteenth century, a vain prima donna finds herself ultimately rejected by her princely lover, her former lover, and her impresario. (65) Two French singers stop for the night at a prince's chateau on their travels to an Italian theater in Warsaw. The prince falls for the prima donna, Caroline Nebel, who temporarily renounces her contract to instead enjoy the riches and attentions of her new lover. Their tryst lasts three months. Rumors begin circulating that the prince has married the singer. Horrified by the news, the prince abruptly leaves Caroline, who decides to return to the stage. Bur upon her arrival in Warsaw she finds that she has been replaced as a prima donna at the theater and in the affections of the tenor, Georges Labitte. Caroline pays a high price for her transgression, losing two lovers, her reputation, and her job.
The prima donna fares somewhat better in Edouard Monnais's Portefeuille de deux camatrices, a novel that maintains class distinctions and the division between the theatrical and nontheatrical worlds while flattering the fantasies of the male spectator. Originally published in serial form in La revue et gazette musicale de Paris in 1844 and 1845, the story describes the lives, careers, and amorous adventures of two star singers. (66) Clothilde is a Parisian prima donna and marraine (godmother) to Esther, a recently orphaned girl with a promising voice. The older singer provides Esther with a musical education and, once Esther begins her career in the provinces, counsels her on theater life and moeurs. "Maintain your independence as much as you can. If at all possible, do not get married," cautions Clothilde. "A married woman must be faithful for the honor of her husband, and in the theater, virtue means nothing; we either don't believe in it, or we make a mockery of it." (67) As if to underline the warning, Esther witnesses the catastrophic debut of a female singer--fat, married with three children, rejected completely by the public in Bordeaux. But the singers still cannot escape the influence of bourgeois morality. Clothilde leaves Paris and settles in Italy with the tenor Gaston; the two artists, devoted to the theater and to each other, eventually decide to marry. Clothilde's former protector, the Count de Reval, falls in love with Esther and also proposes marriage. She delays her decision for a year to test the strength of his intentions; his friend Stephen meanwhile tries to dissuade the count from marrying the singer. A year later, ruined by his lifestyle of gambling and mistresses, Stephen changes his mind and fully endorses his friend's union. Esther quits the stage to become a comtesse. The final scene has the two couples reunited in Naples, singing the praises of their newfound domestic bliss.
Monnais's story thus begins by declaring the incompatibility of matrimony with a life in the theater only to end with a double marriage. Only Esther, by far the more virtuous of the two singers, can marry an aristocrat, although in doing so she must abandon her career, thus closing the fissure between the aristocratic and theater worlds. Her class ties, however, are likely not that disparate from those of her husband; Esther had entered the singing profession only because she was orphaned and left without any resources, and her impeccable morality is revealed as exceptional in the theater world (perhaps indicating she is not truly "one of them'). Clothilde must marry according to her social caste, having had a number of lovers (including, of course, Esther's future husband--a clin d'oeil toward the sexual double standard of the July Monarchy). The Count de Reval gets the best of all worlds: sexual adventures with theater women and a marriage with the sole chaste, beautiful, utterly domesticated cantatrice.
A Prima Donna Asserts Her Independence, or Every Person in Her Rightful Place
The issue of matrimony in the theater took center stage--literally--on December 21, 1836, with the premiere of L'ambassadrice at the Opera Comique. (68) The choice of performance location was apt. For most of the nineteenth century, the Opera Comique was considered a family-oriented, bourgeois theater. (69) Proper morality was communicated through plots that typically centered on matrimony. An opera-comique always ended with the triumph of virtue and innocence, the consolidation of social harmony, and a socially appropriate marriage. (70)
With a twist on the standard formula, L'ambassadrice centers on the socially inappropriate marriage of a prima donna, Henriette, to an ambassador, the Duke of Valberg. The plot rang familiar to Parisians--the connection made obvious by the prima donna's given name--and, with their curiosity sufficiently piqued, the public came in droves to the opening performances. Eugene Scribe's libretto took inspiration from the marriage of Count Rossi, an Italian ambassador, to Henriette Sontag, the German-born soprano who sang at the Theatre Italien in Paris in the late 1820s. Their union was initially kept secret, and the count's family was reluctant to accept the singer of comparatively low birth. The king of Prussia conferred the noble title of von Lauenstein on Sontag once news broke of her marriage; her new social title forced her into retirement until the loss of Count Rossi's fortune during the 1848 revolution brought her back on the stage. (71) In the opera-cornique the distinctions between theater and reality were confounded further, as the cast of performers displayed uncanny resemblances to their counterparts onstage. Marie-Julie Boulanger (1786-1850), fifty years old at the premiere, was compelled because of her age to perform the role of the duegne, Mme Barnek, an aging former opera singer and Henriette's aunt. Jenny Colon, the blond, blue-eyed singer who performed in the boulevard theaters and was rumored to have had a number of lovers throughout her career, was the coquettish Charlotte. And finally, Laure Cinti-Damoreau, only recently separated from the tenor Charles Damoreau, was a star singer who was prized for her flawless technique and devotion to her art; she performed the role of Henriette. (72)
The opera-cornique opens with Mme Barnek reading Henriette's fan mail while her niece prepares her role. The seconda donna, Charlotte, enters and reveals that the tenor in their opera troupe, Benedict, is in love with Henriette. In one of many references toward the contemporary marriage debates, Charlotte advocates the union: marriage is de rigueur in the theater, what with all the morality and manners. However, another suitor has piqued Henriette's interest. Het admirer finally reveals himself as the Prussian ambassador and proposes marriage. In an aria that displays many of Cinti-Damoreau's technical capabilities, Henriette weighs the benefits of a socially advantageous marriage against the loss of her reign and glory on the stage. (73)
The seductions of a new social position prevail. Act 2 shows Henriette in a magnificent home waiting for the ambassador's return. Their marriage awaits final approval from the king; in the meantime, the ambassador has presented Henriette to his family but has concealed her true identity and former vocation. The prima donna soon discovers that during his mission to Vienna the ambassador courted Charlotte, Henriette's coquettish replacement; it seems his desire for Henriette began to wane as soon as she stepped off the stage and into the home. The opera troupe, with Charlotte as the new lead, has arrived in town for the theatrical season. Frustrated with stuffy aristocratic manners, devastated by the ambassador's infidelities, and sorely missing the stage, Henriette vows revenge on her future husband and former costar.
In act 3 Charlotte feigns a cold and withdraws from the evening's performance to meet secretly with the ambassador in his box. (See fig. z for an illustration of the staging.) Mme Barnek enters the loge and discovers Charlotte and the duke in a scandalous tete-a-tete. At that moment Henriette surprises everyone by appearing onstage as Charlotte's replacement, disguised as a debutante from Paris. The audience receives the singer enthusiastically; Charlotte is furious; the duke is flabbergasted. Henriette confronts the two during the entracte. Initially upset with Henriette's disregard for aristocratic social etiquette, the ambassador is seduced by her performance and pleads for her forgiveness. Henriette refuses. Destroying the letter that authorizes their marriage as well as the contract assuring her one half of the duke's fortune, she calls for everyone to return to their proper places, she on the stage and the duke in the king's loge. She declares the opera's moral lesson: to achieve glory and happiness, the true artist must never cease being an artist. (74)
L'ambassadrice, an opera-comique performed by opera singers about opera singers performing opera, creates a mise en abyme that breaks the distinctions between theater and reality, between performers and the personas they enact. This reflexive theatricality forces the audience to connect the issues presented in the opera with "real life." What lessons, then, does this opera communicate? At first glance, the opera seems to end in a manner wholly atypical of the genre, as the ambassador's infidelities are exposed and the marriage is annulled. (75) So why did the opera-comique end in this manner, particularly at a theater known for its Cinderella stories? Was it a creative reimagining of what Henriette Sontag should have done? A comment on the impropriety of such a union?
The impossibility of the aristocratic marriage has little to do with Henriette's virtue, as she proves herself to be as honorable and faithful as Esther in Monnais's Portefeuille de deux cantatrices. Instead, it is an inherent incompatibility of a prima donna's talent, lifestyle, and class with aristocratic moeurs that prevents Henriette from exchanging the stage for the salon. While the work satirizes the aristocracy through the figure of the ambassador's sister, Countess Augusta de Fierschemberg, a dull woman who cares only for titles, prestige, and stuffy aristocratic manners, the whole of act z is preoccupied with showing how awkwardly Henriette fits into this lifestyle. Henriette's marriage based on passion is also a problem. Patricia Mainardi bas argued that many plays during this period, particularly those penned by Scribe, portrayed the dangers of a mesalliance (the mixing of social classes), which was often felt to be the result of a mariage d'inclination rather than a mariage de raison (preferred by the bourgeoisie), which assured mutually advantageous financial and property arrangements. (76) In the final ensemble after Henriette's rejection of the marriage contract, the relieved countess repeats the phrase "Chacun enfin reprend son rang" (Everyone finally returns to his or her rank). The opera-comique ultimately suggests that, at least for singers, social class is immutable: a lowborn actress can only perform the countess; she will never truly become one. And neither should she, argued at least one Parisian critic. Theater reviewers took advantage of the opera's reflective theatricality to launch into attacks on prima donnas, theatrical culture, and marriage in the theater. The critic at the Journal des debats wrote a bitter attack against a singer who dared to exchange her reign on the stage for a noble title. He effectively called such a woman a prostitute, having already sold herself to an impresario only to sell herself--this time for nothing--to a husband. (77)
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
Although L'ambassadrice might appear to promote Henriette's independence by letting the singer choose her own path, preferring stardom and glory to domestic confinement, it is not out of concern for her well-being. The opera-comique instead seeks to preserve not only class distinctions but also the erotic culture of the stage by encouraging female performers to stay within the contines of the theater. Confronting the duke in his loge at the opera, Charlotte astutely describes the dynamic so essential to theater culture: "What you love about us [...] is less the woman than the actress.... You adore each night Ninette and Desdemona, but, unfortunately, your passion extinguishes with the play, and even the greatest artist in the world will not find herself loved better than an ordinary woman on the day when, like Henriette, she descends from her throne." (78) Even Henriette has been successfully interpellated into this ideology. She reveals that seeing her admirer in his loge, from which he fixes her with his gaze, vastly improves her performance. (79) L'ambassadrice implies that theater thus functions best when this erotic economy is in place: in this case, the male admirer gazes freely at the single and available female singer, who in turn produces an inspired, passionate performance. The work further insinuates that society at large functions best when singers are confined to the theatrical world and do not meddle in the culture of domesticity or aspire to a class that ultimately does not belong to them.
Marriage and Material Culture: The Work of a Star
Protecting the erotic culture of the stage was an important reason for encouraging female artists to remain single, but it is not the whole story. If we probe a little further, we find that this concern with marriage also reveals anxieties surrounding the increasing economic and culture power of prima donnas. Consider the representation of Opera singer Julie Dorus-Gras. (80) Although generally positive, her critical reception was never overly enthusiastic. (81) Her reputation, however, was impeccable--perhaps overly so. In comparison with her female colleagues, her marital situation and lifestyle drew an inordinate amount of commentary. Charles de Boigne wrote: "The life of Mme Gras passed simply, without stain, without joy, and without children, divided among her husband, her household, and her theater." (82) For Alberic Second, she became the emblem of the Opera's capture by the bourgeoisie. In his novel, Second finds himself at the door to the singer's dressing room just as a boy emerges carrying an empty plate. It turns out that Dorus-Gras ate veal each night before a performance: the more dramatic the role, the richer the cut and larger the portion. (83) Second follows with an anecdote describing the experience of a young man who visited her home in hopes of seeing une femme d'Opera. After being invited in by the servant, he overheard the singer in conversation with her cook, discussing the large order of veal for the week, the different ways that it should be prepared, and how to economize given the rising price of bread. The young man fled, his illusions dashed. (84)
Dorus-Gras was represented as the new married theater woman imagined and feared by Roger de Beauvoir, Henri Blanchard, and their contemporaries, a woman whose main concerns were her home, her fortune, and her domestic duties--not her art. The inspiration for her roles was supposedly drawn from her consumption of rich meat rather than a spirited lifestyle or drink, and only in proportion to the role. Described as "cold" by Charles Maurice Descombes and "lifeless" by Henry Chorley, Dorus-Gras's mediocre dramatic skills were indirectly equated to an equally uninspiring bourgeois lifestyle. (85) And yet, far from being the ideal bourgeoise, Dorus-Gras relentlessly pursued her career for over twenty years, maintained an active performance schedule, and toured extensively. Digging a little deeper, we discover that much criticism centered on her work habits and her ability to earn financial security and independence by working within the new economic system. Boigne claimed that the singer had "her salvation and her fortune at the same time, two things that rarely go together at the Opera." (86) Louis Gentil caricatured the singer as an epargneuse, pointing to curious habits such as washing her own linen to avoid paying a domestic servant and denying herself life's pleasures to assure a more comfortable retirement: "Work and profits!" he exclaimed. "That's her motto." (87) Bitter attacks on singers' salaries regularly accompanied discussions of marriage in the theater. Blanchard claimed that married actresses spoke only of their feux, their husband's feux, and their upcoming conge (holiday) together. (88) All the premiers sujets at the Opera were married or would be soon, declared Roqueplan, and were preoccupied with increasing their capital through investments. (89) For Theophile Gautier, the purchase of a chateau inevitably followed marriage and childrearing. (90) Hector Berlioz scornfully professed that these cantatrices menageres refused to accept anything less than 100,000 francs a year. "What more do you want?" Berlioz demanded. "Why must you have a million francs or more? It's just monstrous, it's a disease." (91) Such comments paralleled the general trend of criticizing artists' rising salaries. Although male singers such as star tenor Gilbert-Louis Duprez drew criticism for commanding high fees, the focus inevitably centered on women. (92) Castil-Blaze's 1855 history of the Opera included a long list of wealthy female singers and dancers titled "Academiciennes devenues grandes ou riches dames." (93) His use of the feminine form precluded the inclusion of any rich academicien. (94)
"And that is how these positive ideas borrowed from society came to depoetize and materialize art," roared Blanchard in the final lines of his attack on married actresses. (95) Thus theater women shouldered the blame for these two often connected developments: rising salaries and the commercialization of art. The phenomenon of the married actress was one indication among many that the theater was changing; it signified the intrusion of material culture and entailed a reconceptualization of singers' work. In his research on film stars, Paul MacDonald discusses the different representations of "star work": acting as complex, psychological, and physically intense, and acting as "organized leisure time." (96) The latter typically focuses on the perks of the profession--such as owning expensive cars, mansions, yachts--and devalues the actual labor of acting. We find a similar discourse here. Critics increasingly concentrated on the advantages of professional singing--high salaries, country homes, good food, domestic comfort--that undermined the singers' artistic contributions. A few spoke up in defense of performers. Memoirs written by those involved in theater administration in the mid-nineteenth century exposed another "truth" behind the scenes. (97) The beautiful, smiling ballerina became a sweaty, injured, exhausted woman offstage. (98) The chanteuse eschewed glamorous balls and soirees to return home early wrapped in warm clothes and using balms to ward off sickness. (99) These images hold a kind of romanticism by showing dedicated performers slaving for their art. Such defense of performers' labor--particularly that of women--seemed to have been a hard sell. Berlioz, for one, scoffed at the idea that art was the primary concern of these "singers of millions." (100) As always, it seems, singers and women fared the worst. One cannot forget that during these same years the hypermasculine, womanizing, public virtuoso, initially derided for turning art into a mere commercial venture, was being transformed into the male genius, the untouchable artiste. (101)
Everyone imagines that our lifestyle is so easy, that we have nothing to do bur enjoy success and pleasure. It's precisely the opposite" we are obligated to fight incessantly, to balance on the edge of an abyss partially obscured by flowers. And once we fall, no one offers a hand to help us out. They laugh at our virtues, they take advantage of our weaknesses, and, on top of all of that, they scorn US.
--Clothilde to Esther about the difficult life of the cantatrice" (102)
These debates on marriage and the materialism of the theater emerged at a time when an increasing number of women were becoming more socially, economically, and artistically powerful. Susan Rutherford claims that during the first half of the nineteenth century the prima donna enjoyed her most influential moment in operatic history with enormous control over artistic, financial, and compositional matters. (103) Such influence was, however, hard earned; it entailed hard work and the careful negotiation of competing pressures. Female artists were increasingly expected to conform to dominant social norms, but they also had to fulfill the spectator's fantasies for licentious women. They had to earn a living, but they were also reprimanded for turning art into a commercial affair.
In one of the articles from Le monde dramatique's series on the actress and moeurs dramatiques, Beauvoir berated theater women for neglecting their first duty: to be beautiful. "There are not enough pretty actresses," he complained. Rather than painting their lips red, they cover their fingers in ink, read novels, and dream of George Sand's glory. "Read your roles less, read Mme Sand less, and paint your nails pink like the women of Pera!" he commanded." (104) Nail and lip painting--the adornment of the female body, already considered superficial--might also be seen as a form of broderie or embellishment, a physical equivalent to melodic ornamentation, which, as Katharine Ellis has shown, was often condemned by critics such as Berlioz for perverting the purity of a musical work; this condemnation fell particularly hard on female singers and was used to justify their failure as "true" artists. (105) The image of the beautiful diva further exposes a tension at the center of discourse on the prima donna of the nineteenth century, one that condescendingly viewed performing women as merely decorative, pretty objects to behold--all the while being essential to the male experience of art, an eroticized interpretive vessel that served as the link between the spectator and the artwork.
Beauvoir's referente to George Sand's perilous influence reveals much about these debates. For Beauvoir and many other nineteenth-century critics, marriage somehow rendered the theater woman mundane and removed her from the special position that she ought to occupy: property of her husband, she was no longer a public servant of art, nor could she freely participate in the erotic culture of the stage. In other words, the actress existed for either her public or her husband. And yet there existed an alternative, perhaps envisaged by those reading George Sand and refusing to paint their nails pink, one eventually proposed by Sand herself in her novel Consuelo (1842-43), inspired by the talented, intelligent, exceptionally skilled, famously not pretty Pauline Viardot. (106) Like many of Sand's heroines, Consuelo embodies an ideal and therefore is burdened by an inherent contradiction: she is at once the perfect woman--chaste, devoted, faithful--and a true artist--proud, independent, free. (107) Her volte and virtue transform her plainness into beauty, her exceptional talent inspires love more than passion, and she succeeds where many others have failed in leading an honorable existente in the theater. Refusing to take part in the theater's erotic culture by insisting that art, not coquetterie, be her only concern, she also refuses the domestic foyer by avoiding marriage with Count Albert until moments before his death. The poor zingarella becomes Countess Rudolstadt, but she insists on keeping the marriage secret, having no interest in wealth nor in titles that would only complicate her one true desire--compelled as artiste and cantatrice--to live her art.
When asked by Count Christian, Albert's father, if she had any attachments that could potentially detract from a union with his son, Consuelo replies simply, "I have a purpose, a vocation, a profession. I belong to the art to which I have been consecrated from my childhood." (108) Perhaps most rebellious was her insistence in placing art at the center of her world. And perhaps she had more real-life counterparts than Viardot. Theater women, more than ever, occupied an exceptional position in society, challenging the perception of the actress as merely a beautiful object of fantasy, performing exclusively for the pleasure of others. Somewhere between--or apart from--the sexually liberal singer and the married bourgeoise lay these women, struggling to negotiate a place for themselves among competing social pressures and choosing to perform not for a husband or the public but perhaps for themselves.
Earlier versions of this article were read at the Seventy-Sixth Annual Meeting of the American Musicological Society in Indianapolis, the Feminist Theory and Music 11 meeting in Tempe, and the Gradual Colloquium at McGill University in Montreal. I am grateful to those who offered comments during those presentations. I would also like to thank my doctoral advisor, Steven Huebner, and the anonymous referees, whose insightful comments encouraged me to go further in my thinking about these issues.
(1.) "Savez-vous bien pourquoi l'art dramatique s'en va? Pourquoi cette belle fleur de notre civilisation s'etiole sur sa tige en notre brillante capitale de France?--Non, ma foi.--Parce que les actrices se marient.--Quel paradoxe! Ainsi vous n'etes point partisan du lien estimable, respectable, sacre? ... Mais la morale cependant....--Eh! il est bien question de morale a propos de jolies femmes! de femmes artistes, exceptionnelles dans notre ordre social! Quoi, ne voyez-vous pas que ces seduisantes fees, ces sylphides prestigieuses, a l'organe enchanteur, a la grace naive, aux regards voluptueux, qui portent le desordre dans nos idees, le trouble dans nos cceurs, se depoetisent a plaisir! Les voila qui deviennent femmes de menage; elles s'appellent madame Allan, madame Volnys, madame Rossi.... Mort et enfer! comme on disait naguere dans une langue passee de mode; je stigmatiserai de mon indignation cette monomanie de mariage, ce scandaleux oubli des droits du public, cette maladie morale qui s'est emparee de toutes nos jolies actrices, et mine, detruit toutes nos illusions" (Henri Blanchard, "Moeurs dramatiques: Les actrices mariees," Le monde dramatique 1 : 53). Note that here and throughout the article, ellipses in square brackets indicate my omission of a word or phrase; all other ellipses are as in the original text. All translations are mine.
(2.) Susan Rutherford discusses how the representation of the prima donna as a siren in the nineteenth century was a way of signifying her unusual position in society, particularly her sensuality, her vocal power, and her position on the public stage (The Prima Donna and Opera, 1815-1930 [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006], 43).
(3.) "No. 84, La prima donna," in Les cancans de l'Opera: Chroniques de l'Academie royale de musique et du theatre, a Paris sous les deux Restaurations: premiere edition critique integrale du manuscrit "Les cancans de l'Opera, ou. Le journal d'une babilleuse, de 1836 a 1848," ed. Jean-Louis Tamvaco (Paris: C.N.R.S. Editions, 2000), 1:504-5. Ernest Feydeau echoed this assertion over thirty years later. He claimed that the prima donna was a slave to her art, and everything else in her life-children, husband, lovers--was bur an afterthought ("Christine Nilsson," Revue international de l'art et de la curiosite, April 15, 1869, 267-86).
(4.) Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Lettre a d'Alembert, ed. Marc Buffat (Paris: editions Flammarion, 2003), 140-44. The moral danger, according to Rousseau, was not restricted only to the woman who chose to prostitute herself through public performance; in fact, she corrupted all of society. He singled out her potentially effeminizing effect on men who shared her company and those who watched her performance onstage. His conclusion: actresses should be banned from theater tout-court. See pages 137-45 for his discussion of women and the theater.
(5.) Susan J. Leonardi and Rebecca A. Pope, The Diva's Mouth: Body, Voice, Prima Donna Politics (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1996), 13.
(6.) Nancy Reich, "Women as Musicians: A Question of Class," in Musicology and Difference: Gender and Sexuality in Music Scholarship, ed. Ruth Solie (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 125-46.
(7.) "Seulement il faut que l'actrice soit actrice; la danseuse, danseuse dans toute l'acception du mot, c'est-a-dire que sa vie, qui ne peut triompher du prejuge, aille au gre du prejuge et des orages! Il faut qu'elle se fasse sublime a force de dangers et d'ecueils, qu'elle vive la vie de son rang et de sa caste, qu'elle n'echappe pas a sa mission par le suicide a la mode, le mariage!" (Roger de Beauvoir, "Des filles d'Opera. 1770. Mademoiselle Laguerre," Le monde dramatique 2 : II). Roger de Beauvoir, nom de plume of Edouard-Roger de Bully (1809-66), was a French writer and critic. His passionate stance against the marriage of actresses became rather ironic in hindsight: he married the actress Leocadie Doze in 1847. They legally separated less than two years later.
(8.) Here I am borrowing Lenard Berlanstein's term, which served as a chapter title: "The Erotic Culture of the Stage," in his Daughters of Eve: A Cultural History of French Theater Women from the Old Regime to the Fin-de-Siecle (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), 104-34. Berlanstein, however, is not alone in identifying this essential element of theater culture. The pervasive connection of eroticism to the Victorian theater is a central concern in Tracy C. Davis's monograph, published a decade prior. See her Actresses as Working Women: Their Social Identity in Victorian Culture (London: Routledge, 1991).
(9.) Susan K. Foley, Women in France since 1789: The Meanings of Difference (Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 2.
(10.) James F. McMillan, France and Women, 1789-1914: Gender, Society and Politics (London: Routledge, 2000), 27.
(11.) Foley, Women in France, 7.
(12.) Susan Okin argues that Rousseau's definition of the "natural" woman ignored sociocultural influences on gender formation and even went against his own philosophy of the natural. See her article "Rousseau's Natural Woman," Journal of Politics 41, no. 2 (1979): 393-416.
(13.) Paul Thomas, "Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Sexist?," special issue, "Constructing Gender Difference: The French Tradition," Feminist Studies 17, no. 2 (1991): 196.
(14.) "La puissance du mari sur la personne de la femme consiste, par le droit naturel, dans le droit qu'a le mari d'exiger d'elle tous les devoirs de soumission qui sont dus a un superieur" (cited in Patricia Mainardi, Husbands, Wives, and Lovers: Marriage and Its Discontents in Nineteenth-Century France [New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003], 6-7). Mainardi claims that the Civil Code was, in many ways, more restrictive toward women than the Old Regime had been, as it essentially reestablished puissance paternelle and puissance maritale, in addition to closing off any legal loopholes offered by the former legal codes. See her discussion of marriage laws and customs from the Old Regime to the Restoration in "Introduction: To Laugh or to Weep," 1-19.
(15.) McMillan, France and Women, 37.
(16.) Jean-Francois Tetu, "Remarques sur le statut juridique de la femme au XIXe siecle," in La femme au XIXe siecle: Litterature et ideologie (Lyon: Presses universitaires de Lyon, 1979), 5-17.
(17.) McMillan, France and Women, 39. Mainardi explores the increasingly strict attitudes toward female adultery in the nineteenth century and declares that one of the main causes was the Code, which abolished primogeniture and instituted equal inheritance, thereby requiring husbands to pass their property on to all children conceived within a marriage--even those conceived in adulterous relationships.
(18.) Jo Burr Margadant, "The Duchesse of Berry and Royalist Political Culture in Postrevolutionary France," in The New Biography: Performing Femininity in Nineteenth-Century France, ed. Jo Burr Margadant (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 33-71.
(19.) Foley, Women in France, 47.
(20.) For a rich examination of nineteenth-century French perceptions of adultery, the debate over arranged marriages and marriages of mutual inclination, and their representation in conduct manuals, novels, plays, caricatures, and painting, see Mainardi, Husbands, Wives, and Lovers.
(21.) McMillan quotes the case of a female author who claimed that "the problems facing a woman who wanted to make her way independently in the world were so great that even a mediocre husband was preferable to none" (France and Women, 58).
(22.) The literature offers insights into bourgeois ideals and aspirations, although Foley cautions that such prescriptive material cannot be taken as a sure guide to social reality (Women in France, 30). Such magazines frequently published articles that reinforced the cultivation of particular feminine ideals. For example, Midevil claimed that the most important qualities for a woman were moderation, patience, and resignation, all of which allowed her to cater better to the needs of her husband and her children ("Philosophie, metaphysique et morale. 3e article. De la vertu," Journal des femmes 2 [September 15, 1832]: 119-21).
(23.) Recent scholarship cautions against strict application of the concept of separate spheres; public and private spaces often intermingled, and many women moved with relative freedom from the private to semiprivate and even into the public, professional sphere. For an excellent review of the background of the term "separate spheres" and the changing academic trends in its usage, see Linda Kerber, "Separate Spheres, Female Worlds, Woman's Place: The Rhetoric of Women's History," Journal of American History 75 (1988): 9-39.
(24.) Susan Grogan, "'Playing the Princess': Flora Tristan, Performance, and Female Moral Authority during the July Monarchy," in Margadant, The New Biography, 72-98, 78.
(25.) "A nice boy, a good friend ... whom we all like ... and he who has not made it very far; you who only earn two thousand florins ... it was good, it was a fit marriage.... Because now in the arts, we always marry, as there is so much morality" (Eugene Scribe and Henri de Saint-Georges, libretto, Daniel-Francois-Esprit Auber, music, L'ambassadrice, opera-comique en trois acres [Paris: Marchant, editeur, 1836]).
(26.) A cursory look at the marital status of female singers at the Opera from the mid-eighteenth to the early nineteenth century tentatively confirms the assertion that most singers were unmarried (at least during their careers). Definitive statistics are difficult to obtain, as biographical information on many of these singers is scant. Often the only indication we have of marital status is the (sometimes inconsistent) use of the title Mademoiselle or Madame.
(27.) Laure Cinti-Damoreau (1801-63, nee Montalant) married Charles Damoreau in 1827; Henriette Sontag (1806-54, nee Gertrud Walpurgis Sonntag) and Count Carlo Rossi were married in 1828; Julie Dorus-Gras (1805-96, nee van Steenkiste, known as Dorus) wed Simon Victor Gras in 1833; Maria Malibran (1808-36, nee Garcia) married Charles de Beriot (her second husband) in 1836; Giulia Grisi (1811-69) married Count Gerard de Melcy in 1836; Jenny Colon (1808-42) wed the flautist Gabriel Leplus in 1838; and Pauline Viardot (1821-1910, nee Garcia) and Louis Viardot married in 1840. Cinti-Damoreau was legally separated in 1834, and Giulia Grisi's marriage ended unhappily, although she was unable to get a divorce; she later took as companion the Italian tenor Mario de Candia.
(28.) Initially established by law in France in 1792 and inscribed in the Civil Code, a divorce was granted by mutual consent (a simple declaration in front of a police officer sufficed) or if one of the spouses cited grounds of adultery or extreme cruelty. See Tetu, "Remarques sur le statut juridique," 12-14.
(29.) Charles Constant adds that husbands had the right to revoke their permission at any time (Code des theatres: A l'usage des directeurs, des artistes, des auteurs, des maires et adjoints de la magistrature et du barreau contenant un expose des principes juridiques [Paris: A. Durand et PedoneLauriel, editeurs, 1882]). The Opera Comique soprano Mme Capdeville-Horn failed to obtain legal separation from her husband but was granted the ability to sign her own contracts without his intervention ("Nouvelles," La revue et gazette rnusicale de Paris, September 4, 1842, 366).
(30.) Mme Stoltz, lettres autographes, engagement, piece 15, F-Pn, Departement de Musique. Stoltz's contract assured her a salary of 3,000 francs a year and 300 francs in feux (a performance bonus), with six feux guaranteed per month; in effect, the Opera could guarantee Stoltz a salary of only 833*33 francs a month after her husband's deduction. In 1842 a new agreement specified that Lescuyer could only deduct zoo francs monthly from Stoltz's salary: this new agreement held until Stoltz's retirement from the theater in 1847.
(31). Nestor Roqueplan, Les coulisses de l'Opera (Paris: Librairie nouvelle, 1855), 33-36.
(32.) F. W. J. Hemmings, The Theatre Industry in Nineteenth-Century France (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 204-5. Annette Lebrun (1810?-70?), a contralto who sang at the Opera and the Opera Comique, was one of the few exceptions. She married the marquis de Montreal (Castil-Blaze, Theatres lyriques de Paris: L'Academie imperiale de musique, histoire litteraire, musicale, choregraphique, pittoresque, morale, critique, facetieuse, politique et galante de ce theatre, de 1645 a 1855 [Paris: Castil-Blaze, 1855], 2:334-36).
(33.) Alberic Second, Les petits mysteres de l'Opera (Paris: G. Kugelmann, 1844), 158.
(34.) "Quant a vos femmes d'Opera de 1844, ce sont, pour la plupart, d'honnetes bourgeoises et de vertueuses citoyennes" (Second, Les petits mysteres, 222).
(35.) Blanchard, "Les actrices mariees"; Roger de Beauvoir, "Des belles actrices," Le monde dramatique 1 (1835): 276-78; Beauvoir, "Les belles actrices: 2e article," Le monde dramatique 1 (1835): 337-38; Beauvoir, "Des filles d'Opera'; "Moeurs dramatiques: Des actrices d'esprit," Le monde dramatique 2 (1835): 12-13; "Moeurs dramatiques: Des actrices d'esprit (suite)," Le monde dramatique 2 (1835): 41-44.
(36.) "De nos jours, helas! l'actrice est reguliere, mariee, mere de famille, elle merite le prix Monthyon. Elle a un notaire, un chateau, un mari et des enfans. Elle joue a la Bourse, elle vir retiree chez elle, elle a un agent de change qui fait ses affaires; son grand derangement, celui que la medisance lui reproche, consiste en un souper chez Very ou un voyage a Calais. L'actrice est vertueuse comme une soeur de charite, elle couvre son cou et sa conduite du voile scrupuleux de la decence; la cornette blanche du couvent, le confessionnal et St-Sulpice l'attendenr un jour" (Beauvoir, "Des belles actrices," 276).
(37.) Mme Allan-Despreaux (1810-56), nee Louise Rosalie Ross, dite Despreeaux, actress at the Comedie-Francaise and the Gymnase, married the actor Allan in August 1832; Mme Volnys (1810-76), nee Jeanne Louise Baron, actress at the Gymnase, married Claude Francois Charles Jody, dite Volnys, an actor, in September 1832; Mine Rossi was Henrierte Sontag (see note 27); Mme Pradher (1800-1876), nee Felicite More, Opera Comique singer, married the composer Pradher in November 1820; Mme Doche (1798-1836), nee Anne Dussert, actress, married Doche, the chef d'orchestre at the Vaudeville, in March 1830; Mme Thenard (1809-61), nee Gabrielle Raymonde Bousigues, Opera Comique singer and then ata actress ar the Vaudeville, married etienne Thenard, an Opera Comique singer, in April 1827; Mme Lemenil [Lemesnil] (d. 1887), nee Elisa Clarisse Gougibus, an actress at the Gaite and Palais-Royal, married the actor Lemenil. For information on Mine Dorus-Gras, see note
(37.) The biographical information on the acrtesses was taken from Henry Lyonner, Histoire du theatre: Dictionnaire des comediens francais (ceux d'bier): Biograpbie, bibliographie, iconograpbie, 2 vols. (Geneva: Bibliotheque de la Revue universelle internationale illustree, 1912).
(38.) Berlanstein claims that novels written about libertinism in the eighteenth century often erased the role played by theater women, as the authors apparently felt it was unacceptable to show the intimate connections between the aristocracy and stage women. According to records kept by the Parisian police of the official lovers of actresses from the royal theaters, all bur a handful of actresses between the ages of seventeen and forty had at least one lover, and almost half of those above the age of forty had lovers (Berlanstein, Daughters of Eve, 39-43, 53; see also La chronique scandaleuse des theatres, ou Les aventures des plus celebres actrices, chanteuses, danseuses, figurantes, etc., ler cahier [n.p., n.d.]).
(39.) Anne Martin-Fugier explores the private lives of theater women in a chapter in her monograph, noting that some actresses took many lovers, while others had lifelong companions (whom they somerimes married). See the chapter "A la ville," in her Comediennes: Les actrices en France au XIXe siecle (Paris: Seuil, 2001; Paris: Editions complexe, 2008), 191-240.
(40.) Tracy C. Davis, "The Actress in Victorian Pornography," special issue, "Performance in Context," Theatre Journal 41, no. 3 (1989): 294-315; and Davis, Actresses as Working Women.
(41.) Les amours: Galanteries et passe-temps des actrices, ou Confessions curieuses et galantes de ces dames redigees par une bayadere de l'Opera (A. Couillopolis, [1830s?]). It goes without saying that such scandalous material on the sexual adventures of male theater performers is virtually nonexistent.
(42.) Marian Smith, "About the House," in Reading Critics Reading: Opera and Ballet Criticism in France from the Revolution to 1848, ed. Roger Parker and Mary Ann Smart (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 215-36, 217.
(43.) Beauvoir, "Des filies d'Opera." Marie-Josephine Laguerre was a French soprano who joined the Opera as a chorister in 1771-72. By 1776 she was singing main roles. As a reminder of how modern sources continue to reproduce negative stereotypes of female singers with the continued association with scandalous women, Julian Rushton claims in his Grove Music Online article that her early death "was apparently the result of loose living; at the second performance of Piccinni's Ipbigenie, she was incoherent through drink and was imprisoned until the following performance" ("Laguerre, Marie-Josephine," Oxford Music Online, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/15831).
(44.) "Cela est moral, mais ou est le profit pour l'art? Une cantatrice mere de famille, un tenor vertueux et garde-national, cela est bien, mais ou rencontrer l'elan dans ce cercle etroit d'idees, l'actrice inspiree dans la femme de menage, qui fait sa cuisine, et s'accroche a son mari comme un avocat du palais? Y a-t-il dans cette regularite factice, des chances de gloire et d'entrainement? Quel est le vrai maitre du mari ou du public? chantez et jouez pour l'un ou pour l'autre, mais choisissez" (Beauvoir, "Des filies d'Opera," 10).
(45.) Richard Sennett, The Fall of Public Man (New York: Knopf, 1977; New York: Norton, 1992).
(46.) Sennett, Fall of Public Man, 196.
(47.) A number of theater companies used the role-type system, including the Opera Comique. Role types were often designated by the names of characters or artists, such as "Dugazon," "Martin," and "Trial," typically referring to the name of the performer who created the type. Use of the role-type system allowed an efficient identification of vocal and dramatic profiles and was particularly important in provincial theaters where there was a rapid turnover of artists. For information on the role-type system at the Opera Comique, see Olivier Bara, "The Company at the Heart of the Operatic Institution: Chollet and the Changing Nature of Comic-Opera Role Types during the July Monarchy," in Music, Theater, and Cultural Transfer: Paris, 1830-1914, ed. Annegret Fauser and Mark Everist (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 11-28. The criticai practice that connected a singer's personality with her dramatic capacities continued throughout the nineteenth century. Consider E.D.'s comments in 1869 on Christine Nilsson's portrayal of Marguerite from Gounod's Faust: "Mlle Nilsson est une actrice en meme temps qu'une cantatrice a la condition toutefois que les roles seront d'accord avec son temperament et--si j'ose m'exprimer ainsi--avec le type de sa figure. Ne lui demandez ni les rugissements de la passion ardente, ni les violences, ni les coleres, ni tous les transports de l'ame humaine agitee, remuee, secouee. La femme ne connait aucune de ces crises et l'artiste ne s'en rend meme pas compte intellectuellement" ("Trois portraits: Mlle Nilsson," La chronique illustree, no. 41 [Match 11, 1869]).
(48.) "[T]outes ces qualites domestiques, fort bonnes pour des bourgeoises, ne valem rien pour des comediennes" (Theophile Gautier, Histoire de l'art dramatique en France depuis vingt-cinq ans [Paris: Edition Hetzel, 1858], 1:126).
(49.) Berlanstein, Daughters of Eve, 75-76. Mme Vestris, nee Francoise-Marie-Rosette Gourgaud (1743-1804), was the sister of Comedie-Francaise actor Jean-Baptiste-Henri Gourgaud, known as Dugazon (1746-1809).
(50.) Gautier felt that the situation under the bourgeois moral order could become fatal to theatrical art should actresses starr refusing certain compromising roles or performing conditions--or even to perform at all (Histoire de l'art dramatique, 1:50).
(51.) Rousseau, Lettre a d'Alembert, 143-44.
(52.) Katherine Kolb Reeve, "Primal Scenes: Smithson, Pleyel, and Liszt in the Eyes of Berlioz," 19th-Century Music 18, no. 3 (1995): 211-35.
(53.) Reeve, "Primal Scenes," 226, emphasis in original.
(54.) Berlanstein places the birth of celebrity culture in the eighteenth century, stating that it grew in tandem with the public sphere: "The theatergoing public and the underground reading public knew a good deal about theater women's personal lives and were eager to know more" (Daughters of Eve, 57). The widespread publication of private details of artists' lives, however, did not begin until the second half of the nineteenth century. Richard Sennett compares the different treatment of the French actresses Rachel and Sarah Bernhardt, who led careers a generation apart. Even though the public knew of Rachel's private life (including her relationship with Opera director Louis Veron), they still "separated the actress from the private woman." With Sarah Bernhardt, who began her career in the 1860s shortly after Rachel died, interest in her private life was widespread (Sennett, Fall of Public Man, 211-12.).
(55.) Berlanstein, Daughters of Eve, 112.
(56.) "Lorsque j'entends notre belle Grisi (vous comprenez ce mot notre, qui permet, entretient l'espeance), je me dis elle est libre, artiste, capricieuse comme toute jolie femme. Dans un des intervalles de ses belles inspirations dramatiques, son regard a rencontre le mien, elle y a vu l'appreciation de son admirable talent, le culte que je professe pour sa personne, me1ange de grace naive, enfantine, d'impeuosite italienne, d'audace, de fierte, de cette folie si poetiquement musicale qu'elle deploie toura-tour dans Desdemona, Semiramide ou Anna Bolena; et alors je me dis: Peut-ere! ... Pourquoi pas? ... Dites, si vous voulez, que je suis pourvu d'un incommensurable amour-propre, que m'importe? Eh bien! supposez qu'en ce moment je recoive une grande lettre imprimee, et ainsi conque: Mademoiselle Grisi a l'honneur de vous faire part de son mariage avec M. Mathieu, du Vaudeville; ou M. Hyacinthe, des Varietes; ou meme M. Dupont, de l'Academie royale de musique (ceci sans porter le moindre prejudice a la reputation et au talent de ces estimables artistes), oh! alors j'abjure le dilettantisme et toute religion musicale; je me fais vaudevilliste ou funambuliste, et ne mets plus le pied au TheatreItalien" (Blanchard, "Les actrices mariees," 53). Grisi, of course, married Count Gerard de Melcy the following year.
(57.) "Pour moi, je le soutiens, tout actrice jeune, jolie, ayant du talent, doit etre du domaine public, et non de celui d'un mari exclusivement; je dis du domaine public, comme dans nos musees la Diane chasseresse, la Venus de Medicis sont livrees a notre admiration" (Blanchard, "Les actrices mariees," 53-54). Beauvoir echoed this idea elsewhere: "[V]ous n'avez qu'un maitre, un maitre vrai, le public! Il est votre maitre et votre sultan" ("Des filles d'Opera," 11).
(58.) Berlanstein, Daughters of Eve, 110.
(59.) Paul Smith [Edouard Monnais], "Esquisses de la vie d'artiste. III. Le mariage," La revue et gazette musicale de Paris, April 17, 1842, 164-66.
(60.) Berlanstein remarks that a husband was given two choices: "Either tolerate the admirers who would inevitably surround his wife, or withdraw and give her 'the most complete liberty.'" He claims that some husbands were rumored to have even managed their wives' love affairs for profit (Berlanstein, Daughters of Eve, 109).
(61.) "Croquis de moeurs musicales: Le mari de la cantatrice," Le menestrel, no. 22 (April 28, 1839).
(62.) In another article, the husband similarly forfeits his independence, career, identity, even masculinity to support his wifi. See A. Specht, "Moeurs musicales: Le mari de la cantatrice," La revue et gazette musicale de Paris, November 14, 1841, 495-97. Nestor Roqueplan claimed that the husband of a theater woman typically gave up his career to manage hers. See his discussion of les petits menages in Les coulisses de l'Opera, 83-92.
(63.) Katharine Ellis reveals the problems encountered by female pianists when they brought a domestic feminine accomplishment onto the public stage. See her "Female Pianists and Their Male Critics in Nineteenth-Century Paris," Journal of the America, Musicological Society 50, nos. 2/3 (1997): 353-85. Annegret Fauser highlights the issue of class in addition to gender in her examination of women composers and performers. See her "'La Guerre en dentelles': Women and the 'Prix de Rome' in French Cultural Politics," Journal of the American Musicological Society 51, no. 1 (1998):
83-129, and "Creating Madame Landowska," Women & Music 10 (2006): 1-23. Margaret Miner has found that "opera-house mysteries" (her term) also operated as cautionary tales warning women not to attempt professional careers ar the Opera unless they possessed true genius. See "Phantoms of Genius: Women and the Fantastic in the Opera-House Mystery," 19th-Century Music 18, no. 2-(1994): 12.1-35.
(64.) "Les agitations de la vie d'artiste peuvem convenir a quelques femmes d'une organisation et d'un caractere exceptionnels. Mais ce qui convient a toutes, ce sont les douces affections, l'aisance et la paix du foyer domestique. Ce sont la des elements de bonheur que rien ne peut detruire" (C.V., "Le demon de la melomanie," La France musicale, January 23, 1848, 30). This short story is also discussed in Ellis, "Female Pianists," 353-55.
(65.) Louise Fusil, "Le prince et la chanteuse," La France musicale, October 10, 17, 1841, 346-48, 360-62.
(66.) Paul Smith [Edouard Monnais], Portefeuille de deux cantatrices (Paris: M. Schlesinger, ). The work was originally published as a feuilleton in La revue et gazette musicale de Paris from October 6, 1844, to May 18, 1845.
(67.) "Garde tant que tu pourras ton independance. Ne te marie que si tu ne peux faire autrement, parce qu'une retome mariee doit etre vertueuse pour l'honneur de son mari, et qu'au theatre on ne tient nul compte de la vertu; on n'y croit pas, ou on la tourne en ridicule" (Smith, Portefeuille de deux cantatrices, 19).
(68.) L'ambassadrice enjoyed an immediate success. It was performed almost one hundred times in its first year and regularly until about 1860.
(69.) Lodoys Sibille declared that "L'Opera-Comique, par cette raison qu'il est genre national, plait infiniment a la classe bourgeoise, qui ne veut entendre chanter a ses filles que des airs d'operacomique" ("Spectacles de Paris. Physiologie du spectateur," Le monde dramatique 2 : 137-40, 138). Olivier Bara claims that the Opera Comique reoriented itself toward the middle bourgeoisie and became a family-oriented theater by presenting works that reflected their moral values, emphasizing good taste and moderation (Le theatre de l'Opera-Comique sous la restauration: Enquete autour d'un genre moyen [New York: Georg Olms Verlag, 2001], 205). Still, Steven Huebner reminds us that although the Opera Comique had slightly fewer aristocratic and more upper-bourgeois subscribers (those in the liberal professions and negociant business sector), it was only of marginally lower status than the Opera and the Theatre Italien ("Opera Audiences in Paris, 1830-1870," Music and Letters 70 : 206-25).
(70.) Bara, Le theatre de l'Opera-Comique, 333. This is true of opera-comique for much of the nineteenth century, but beginning in the 1850s some operas-comiques became much more serious and sometimes tragic.
(71.) For contemporary biographical material on Sontag, see Ellen Clayton, Queens of Song (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1865), 286-304; Marie Escudier and Leon Escudier, "Mine Sontag," in Vie et aventures des cantatrices celebres; precedes des Musiciens de l'Empire; et suwies de La vie anecdotique de Paganini (Paris: E. Dentu, 1856); and Theophile Gautier, L'ambassadrice: Biographie de la Comtesse Rossi (Paris: F. Sartorius, 1850).
(72.) The male roles held much less interest than the female roles. At the premiere, M. Moreau-Sainti performed the role of the duke of Valberg, M. Roy that of Fortunas, and M. Couderc the role of the tenor Benedict.
(73.) "Dieu! que viens-je de lire?" (Scribe and Saint-Georges, L'ambassadrice, act 1, scene 12).
(74.) Such doubts on the prima donna's ability to forever silence her voice, her desire for glory, and her love for the stage were expressed in 1835 with reference to Sontag's marriage to the Count Rossi in Blanchard's "Les actrices mariees," 53: "Croyez-vous que la charmante Sontag, qu'on nomme maintenant la comtesse de Rossi, ne regrette pas le temps ou sa voix pure, flexible et hardie, enlevait tous les suffrages, arrachait des cris d'enthousiasme aux Parisiens dans la Cenerentola et la donna Arma du Don Giovanni, qu'elle nous disait d'une maniere si poetique et si digne de Mozart? La croyez vous plus heureuse d'etre la femme de je ne sais plus quel obscur diplomate, ambassadeur de Prusse, que lorsqu'elle s'enivrait du parfum des fleurs qu'on lui jetait, et de l'encens des louanges delicates que lui prodiguait l'elite de la societe europeenne?"
(75.) The critic Edouard Lemoine suggested, however, that Henriette and Benedict were likely to marry. There is no indication in the livret or the score, so any suggestion of an impending marriage was likely communicated in the mise epr scene (Lemoine claimed that Henriette threw Benedict a promising look) and encouraged by the critic's familiarity with the genre's typical denouement ("Theatre de l'Opera-Comique: L'ambassadrice, opera-comique eu 3 actes de MM. Scribe et Saint-Georges, nausique de M. Auber," Le siecle, December 25, 1836).
(76.) See Mainardi's chapter "For Money or for Love: Theatrical Alternatives," in Husbands, Wives. and Lovers, 119-48. She claims that the bourgeoisie would bring their sons and daughters to Scribe's plays to educate them on the dangers of marriages of passion and the mesalliances and unhappiness that would ultimately result. See pages 131-38, where she discusses Scribe and Varney's two-act vaudeville Le mariage de raison, which premiered at the Theatre du Gymnase on October 10, 1826.
(77.) "Je ne sais rien de pius faux et de plus malheureux qu'un pauvre femme qui echange ainsi sa gloire et sa puissance de chaque soir, contre une gloire pius vaine encore, contre une puissance plus futile! Elle se vendait par contrat a un impresario; elle se donne pour rien par contrat, et un contrat eternel, a un mari!" ("Theatre de l'Opera-Comique," Journal des debats, December 26, 1836). Other critics, however, took exception to the opera's suggestion that people were bound to their social class. See J. J. J. Diaz [Henri Blanchard], "Theatre de l'Opera-Comique: L'ambassadrice, opera comique en trois actes, musique de M. Auber, libretto de MM. Scribe et Saint-Georges (premiere representation)," La revue et gazette musicale de Paris, December 25, 1836, 462-63.
(78.) "Tenez, monsieur le duc, je me suis dit souvent que ce que vous aimez en nous, vous autres grands seigneurs, c'etait moins la femme que l'actrice[.] ... [V]ous adorez chaque soir Ninette, Desdemorte, mais, par malheur, votre passion tinir souvent avec la piece, et la plus grande artiste du monde ne sera pas pius aimee qu'une femme ordinaire le jour ou, comme Henriette, elle descendra du trone" (Scribe and Saint-Georges, L'ambassadrice, act 3, scene 2).
(79.) "Ecoutez Benedict ... a vous qui etes mon ami ... je dirai franchement ce que j'eprouve ... malgre moi, le soir, je le cherche des yeux.... Et quand je ne le vols pas, la salle me semble vide. [...] [M]ais c'est que quand il est la, au balcon, il me semble que je chante mieux ... et puis, un applaudissement de lui me fait plus plaisir que tous ceux de la salle entiere" (Scribe and Saint-Georges, L'ambassadrice, act 1, scene 17).
(80.) Julie Dorus-Gras (nee Vau Steenkiste, dite Dorus) was trained at the Conservatoire de Paris in the early 1820s. She sang first in the chambre de roi and later as premiere chanteuse at the Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels, and she then debuted at the Opera in 1830. Premier sujet at the Opera until 1845, she continued performing in concerts for several years after her retirement.
(81.) Contemporary biographical articles on the singer attested to her extraordinary vocal skills and mediocre acting skills. See Escudier, "Etudes sur les artistes contemporains. Deuxieme serie. Artistes francais. 9e etude. Mme Dorus-Gras," La France musicale, March 8, 1840, 101-3; Etienne Arago, "Mme Dorus-Gras (dans Robert le diable)," in Galerie des artistes dramatiques (Paris: Marchant, 1841-48); X. Eyma and A. de Lucy, "Cantatrices: Mme Dorus-Gras. 7e livraison," in Ecrivains et artistes vivants (Paris: Bureau du journal "Outre-mer," 1840), 163-88; and M. le Vicomte de Pontecoulant, "Mme Dorus-Gras," in Actrices celebres contemporaines (Paris: Bureau de la direction, 1844).
(82.) "La vie de Mme Gras s'est ecoulee pure, sans tache, sans joie et sans enfants, entre son mari, son menage et son theatre" (Charles de Boigne, Petits memoirs de l'Opera [Paris: Librairie nouvelle, 1857], 167).
(83.) Second, Les petits mysteres, 221.
(84.) Second, Les petits mysteres, 218-25.
(85.) See, respectively, "Nouvelles de Paris," Courrier des theatres, June 22, 1832; and Henry Fothergill Chorley and Ernest Newman, Thirty Years' Musical Recollections (1862; New York: A. Knopf, 1926), 87.
(86.) "Elle a fait son salut et sa fortune en meme temps, deux choses qui marchent rarement de front a l'Opera" (Boigne, Petits memoirs, 167).
(87.) "[D]u travail et des profits! Voila sa devise!" ("No. 24. Mme Dorus-Gras. [Travail et profit!]," in Tamvaco, Les cancans de l'Opera, 1:12.3). Dorus-Gras sang for fifteen years at the Opera; during the last few years of her service, she earned around 50,00 francs a year and negotiated two months of conge each year so that she could go on lucrative provincial and foreign tours.
(88.) A feux was a kind of performance bonus given to artists each time they performed in addition to the regular salary they received. Blanchard, "Les actrices mariees," 54. 89. Roqueplan, Les coulisses, 36-37.
(90.) Gautier, Histoire de l'art dramatique, 1:49.
(91. "Mais quel besoin d'avoir tant d'argent quand on n'est qu'une cantatrice? Quand vous avez maison de ville, maison de campagne, l'aisance, le luxe, le sort de vos enfants assure, que vous faut-il donc de pius? Pourquoi ne pas se contenter de cinq cent mille francs, de six cent mille francs, de sept cent mille francs? Pourquoi vous faut-il absolument un million, pius d'un million? C'est monstrueux cela, c'est tine maladie" (Hector Berlioz, "Madame Stoltz et Madame Sontag," in Les grotesques de la musique [Paris: Librairie nouvelle, 18591, 243).
(92.) For example, the Nouvelles de Paris section in the journal Courrier des theatres was filled with bitter statements about Duprez's salary when he was hired by the Opera in 1837.
(93.) Castil-Blaze, Theatres lyriques de Paris, 334-36. The list begins with female performers in 1684 and continues with those currently in the theater in 1855.
(94.) Neree Desarbres published a similar list of women who married into the upper classes and became rich. He claimed that men sometimes married grandes clames but rarely became millionaires like the women (Desarbres, Sept ans a l'Opera: Souvenirs anecdotiques d'un secretaire particulier [Paris: E. Dentu, editeur, 1864], 175-80).
(95.) "Et c'est ainsi que les idees exclusivement positives s'etant emparees de la societe, viennent materialiser l'art et le depoetiser" (Blanchard, "Les actrices mariees," 54).
(96.) Paul MacDonald, "Supplementary Chapter: Reconceptualising Stardom," in Stars, by Richard Dyer (1979; London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1998), 176-200, esp. 194-99. His discussion of the two conceptualizations of star work, with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro prized for their intellectual film acting, while Sharon Stone is shown riding a limousine three hundred yards to her expensive trailer, tellingly demonstrates the role of gender in evaluating the work of actors.
(97.) Consider the memoirs and anecdotes written by those involved in the theater that began appearing around the 1850s: Boigne, Petits memoirs; Roqueplan, Les coulisses; Charles Sechan, Souvenirs d'un homme de theatre, 1831-1855 (Paris: Calmann Levy, 1883); Second, Les petits mysteres; Louis Desire Veron, Memoires d'un bourgeois de Paris, 6 vols. (Paris: G. de Gonet, 1853); Tamvaco, Les cancans de l'Opera.
(98.) "Mais la danseuse! Apres son pas, elle n'est pas mime une gravure apres la lettre! Epuisee, haletante, presque morte, elle se soutient a peine; elle souffle comme une machine a vapeur; son visage, peint a la colle, a deteint et ressemble a un arc-en-ciel; son corsage est mouille, souille par la sueur; sa bouche grimace, ses yeux sont hagards; quel spectacle!" (Boigne, Petits memoirs, 33, emphasis in original).
(99.) "Ils n'imagineront jamais que la chanteuse, ayant passe la journee a filer des sons (exercice tellement odieux aux voisins, qu'il est une cause de resiliation de bail), chante peniblement le soir dans trois ou cinq actes, sort furtivement de son theatre, enveloppee de vetements chauds, et va se refugier dans son lit, contre les maux de gorge, extinctions de voix, et autres calamites qui affligent la gent musicienne" (Roqueplan, Les coulisses, 6).
(100.) Berlioz, "Madame Stoltz et Madame Sontag," 245. Choristers and orchestral musicians were, for Berlioz, exempt from this snide remark. He dedicated his Grotesques to the choristers at the Opera, whom he depicted as underpaid and overworked and, along with the instrumentalists, the true servants of art.
(101.) Franz Liszt is, of course, the prime example. For a discussion of the changing attitudes toward virtuosity and its relation to art in the nineteenth century, see Richard Leppert, "Cultural Contradiction, Idolatry, and the Piano Virtuoso: Franz Liszt," in Piano Roles: Three Centuries of Life with the Piano, ed. James Parakilas (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999), 22-81; Lawrence Kramer, "Franz Liszt and the Virtuoso Public Sphere: Sight and Sound in the Rise of Mass Entertainment," in Musical Meaning: Toward a Critical History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 68-99; Katharine Ellis, "Liszt: The Romantic Artist," in The Cambridge Companion to Liszt, ed. Kenneth Hamilton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 1-13; and James Deaville, "A Star Is Born? Czerny, Liszt, and the Pedagogy of Virtuosity," in Beyond the Art of Finger Dexterity: Reassessing Carl Czerny, ed. David Gramit (Rochesrer, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2008), 52-66.
(102.) "Le monde s'imagine que notre existence a nous est la plus facile de tomes, que nous n'avons qu'a nous abandonner au courant des succes et des plaisirs. C'est precisement le contraire: nous sommes obligees de lutter sans cesse, de nous retenir sur le penchant d'un abime que les fleurs nous cachent plus ou moins; et une fois que nous y somnles tombees, personne ne nous tend la main pour en sortir. Si l'on rit de nos vertus, on profite de nos faiblesses, et on nous meprise par-dessus le marche" (Smith, Portefeuille de deux cantatrices, 19).
(103.) Rutherford, The Prima Donna and Opera, 162. Some excellent studies detailing the social history of theater performers and their contributions to musical and theatrical culture have appeared over the last two decades. A nonexhaustive list (apart from those already cited) includes John Rosselli, Singers of Italian Opera: The History or a Profession (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992); Karin Pendle, "A Night at the Opera: The Parisian Prima Donna, 1830-1850," Opera Quarterly 4, no. 1 (1986): 77-89; Mary Ann Smart, "The Lost Voice of Rosine Stoltz," Cambridge Opera Journal 6 (1994): 31-50; Smart, "Roles, Reputations, Shadows: Singers at the Opera, 1828-1849," in The Cambridge Companion to Grand Opera, ed. David Charlton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 108-28; Hilary Poriss, Changing the Score: Arias, Prima Donnas, and the Authority of Performance (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009); Jennifer Anne Dawson, "Danseuses as Working Women: Ballet and Female Wage Labor at the Paris Opera, 1830-1860," PhD diss., University of California, 2006; Rachel Cowgill and Hilary Poriss, eds., The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).
(104.) "[M]ais nous avons trop peu de belles actrices. La plupart sont de veritables bas-bleu, qui au lieu des levres roses de Boucher veulent avoir de l'encre aux doigts, lire des romans, et rever la gloire de Mme Sand. [...] Lisez moins vos roles, lisez moins Mme Sand, et peignez-vous les ongles en rose comme les filles de Pera!" (Beauvoir, "Des belles actrices," 278).
(105.) Katharine Ellis, "Berlioz, the Sublime, and the Broderie Problem," in Hector Berlioz: Miscellaneous Studies, ed. Fulvia Morabito and Michela Niccolai (Bologna: Ut Orpheus Edizioni, 2005), 29-59.
(106.) George Sand, Consuelo, ed. and annotated by Robert Sctrick (1842-43; Paris: Phebus, 1999).
(107.) Consuelo finds herself burdened by her devotion to others, her love for her art, and the difficulties of balancing the idealized qualities of a woman with that of an artist: "Si je suis nee pour pratiquer le devouement, Dieu veuille donc oter de ma tete l'amour de l'art, la poesie, et l'instinct de la liberte, qui font de mes devouements un supplice et une agonie; si je suis nee pour l'art et la liberte, qu'il ote donc de mon coeur la pitie, l'amitie, la sollicitude et la crainte de faire souffrir, qui empoisonneront toujours mes triomphes et entraveront ma carriere" (Sand, Consuelo, 697).
(108.) "Mais, monseigneur, reprit Consuelo stupefaite, j'ai un but, une vocation, un etat. J'appartiens a l'art auquel je me suis consacree des mon enfance" (Sand, Consuelo, 459). The following passage further underscores het dedication to het att and, more than her reluctance, her inability to leave her vocation for the domestic sphere. Consuelo continues: "Je n'ai encore eprouve que d'horribles souffrances dans cette carriere orageuse [the professional theater]; mais je sens pourtant que je serais temeraire si je m'engageais a y renoncer. C'a ete ma destinee, et peut-etre ne peut-on pas se soustraire a l'avenir qu'on s'est trace. Que je remonte sur les planches, ou que je donne des lecons et des concerts, je suis, je dois etre cantatrice. A quoi serais-je bonne, d'ailleurs? ou trouverais-je de l'independance? a quoi occuperais-je mon esprit rompu au travail, et avide de ce genre d'emotion?" (Sand, Consuelo, 459-60).
TABLE 1. Marriage statistics for female singers at the Opera and the Opera Comique, 1830-1850 Total singers Married singers Unmarried singers 66 32 34 Note: Eight singers at the Opera and the Opera Comique married after their tenure at these theaters; many continued their careers in the provinces or abroad. TABLE 2. Married singers, 1830-1850 Singer Husband's name Approximate and profession date of marriage Aurelie Beaussire Beaussire 1844 (nee Lemercier) * Marie-Julie Boulanger Frederic Boulanger, (nee Halligner) voice instructor 1810 Marie Desiree Clari (Conservatoire) Horn 1840 Capdeville * Marie-Virginie Casimir Casimir Compans, 1820 (nee Dubois) composer * Jeanne-Anais Castellan Enrico Giampetro, 1840 singer * Laure Cinti-Damoreau Charles Damoreau, 1827 (nee Montalant) singer (Opera Comique) * Jenny Colon Gabriel Leplus, 1838 flautist (Opera Comique) * Louise Zulme Dabadie Henri-Bernard 1822 (nee Leroux) Dabadie, singer (Opera) * Julie Dorus-Gras Simon Victor Gras, 1833 (nee Van Steenkiste) violinist (Opera) * Eugenie Garcia Manuel Garcia, fils, 1835 (nee Mayer) singer and vocal pedagogue * Josephine Glossop Joseph Glossop, 1827 (nee Bonneau-de-Meric) impresario at La Scala * Augusta Gosselin Gosselin, ballet 1829 (nee Mori) dancer (Opera) 1835 Marie Hebert-Massy Hebert, singer (nee Gicomasci) (Opera Comique) * Eliza Julian Van Gelder, piano 1844 Augustine Eugenie professor Dejean 1847 Jullienne Frangoise Laurent Laurent, inspector 1831 (nee Grandidier) (Theatre Franais) Clara Lavry(nee Leroux) Lavry 1829 * Louise Lemonnier Louis-Auguste 1810 (nee Regnault) Lemonnier, singer (Opera Comique) Marie Clara Margueron Margueron 1832 Marie Caroline Morin Morin, Conservatoire 1838 (nee Lebrun) professor * Ce1estine Nathan Andre-Eugene- 1839 Antoine Treilhet, painter Cecile Pijon Charles Ponchard, 1848 (dite d'Halbert) singer (Opera Comique) * Sophie Ponchard Louis Ponchard, 1820 (nee Callault) singer (Opera Comique) Marie Potier Henri Potier, singer 1837 (nee de Cussy) (Opera Comique) Fe1icite Pradher Louis-Barthelemy 1820 (nee More) Pradher, pianist and composer Cornelie Quiney Baptiste 1827 * Giovanna Rossi-Caccia Carlo Caccia, 1840 (nee Rossi) sculptor * Rosine Stoltz Alphonse-Auguste 1837 (nee Victoire Noel) Lescuyer, regisseur * Anna Thillon (nee Hunt) Claude Thillon, 1836 voice instructor and conductor * Delphine Ugalde Ugalde, musician 1847 (nee Beauce) * Pauline Viardot Louis Viardot, 1840 (nee Garcia) writer and theater director Anna Widemann Fritz Widemann 1835 (nee Jung) Note: Asterisks denote primary artists.
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|Publication:||Women & Music|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2012|
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