La Champmeslé



  • (Marie Desmares; 1642 - 98), Oneof France's first tragic actresses, famous for creating the traditional'touching voice' of the Paris stage. She became the mistress of Racineand, according to contemporary gossip, several of the nobility. Shebegan acting at the Théâtre du Marais in Paris and in1665 married the actor Charles Chevillet Champmeslé (1642 - 1701),who had written several light comedies. In 1670 both joined the Théâtrede l'Hôtel de Bourgogne.

    La Champmeslé created many famous roles, includingthe heroines of Racine's Bérénice (1670) andPhedre (1677). She was particularly celebrated for her beautifulvoice. One contemporary wrote that "She shows so much art inthe use of it...her heart really seems to be full of the passionwhich is only in her mouth." In 1680 the Champmesléswere founding members of the Comédie-Française,where she became the leading lady, playing opposite Michel Baron (1653 - 1729)until her death.