The Lady of the Camellias

Ferenc Liszt
Choreographer and Stage Director
Tiit Härm
Eldor Renter
Lighting Designer
Klaus Gärditz

“The beauty of hope and love” – with these words the stage director himself characterises the dominant idea of the ballet. Its plot is based on the tragic love story of a Parisian courtesan and the romantic young man Armand Duval.

Eldor Renter and Tiit Härm have taken as the basis of their libretto the words of Marie Duplessis, the heroine’s prototype who has said that she admired this short moment, which contained the entire life for her. For her, life is like a kaleidoscope. And, maybe it is necessary to turn it faster in order to make it more complete? The kaleidoscope was a fashionable entertainment in the time of Alexandre Dumas.

Marie Duplessis was a lover of the writer Alexandre Dumas. She became the prototype of Marguerite Gautier, the heroine of the novel “The Lady of the Camellias“. Marie died of tuberculosis when she was 23. Because of this disease the scent of roses or hyacinths made her dizzy. “I like sugared grapes because they have no flavour and camellias because they have no scent.” Marie, who had not received any education in her childhood, took an interest in literature and poetry, learned to play music, acquired refined manners and had the reputation of the most elegant woman in Paris.

Tiit Härm has for the first time put this story to the music of Ferenc Liszt: “As a matter of fact, Liszt himself had had relationship with Marie Duplessis, the prototype of Marguerite Gautier, therefore his music embodied all these nuances of feelings that he himself had experienced because this had been the greatest love of Ferenc Liszt.”

Ferenc Liszt was a Hungarian composer, piano virtuoso, teacher, conductor, and essay writer, one of the greatest exponents of the musical romanticism. But he never composed music for the ballet “The Lady of the Camellias“, therefore the score has been compiled from his symphonic poems.

The first meeting of Marie Duplessis with the renowned composer took place in the crowded foyer of one of the boulevard theatres. The deep affection started to develop when Liszt was giving her piano lessons. Gradually, his respect to Marie who showed delicate taste and perfectly understood all the latest developments in music, evolved into a strong affection. “Poor soul Mariette Duplessis, – wrote Liszt after the death of the courtesan – she was the first woman in my life with whom I really fell in love.”

Photo Gallery

* In the galleries photos are from productions by Tiit Härm while working at the National Opera "Estonia". Photo: Harri Rospu.
  • Approximate running time 2 h
  • Presented with one interval
  • Age category: K-16
The world premiere took place on February 2, 2006, at the Estonian National Opera

  • .......... (Marguerite Gautier)
  • .......... (Armand Duval)
  • .......... (Georg Duval - Armand's father)
  • .......... (Count de Giray)
  • .......... (Saint-Gaudens)
  • .......... (Gaston Rieux)
  • .......... (Olympe, courtesan)
  • .......... (Anais, courtesan)
  • .......... (Nanine, Marguerite's maid)