Lorenzaccio

Definition

Theater

  • A romantic tragedy written in 1834 by the French poet and playwrightAlfred de Musset; he was helped with its construction bythe writer George Sand, at that time his mistress.

    Musset had taken a strong dislike to the theater when hisfirst play flopped in 1830; as a result he wrote Lorenzaccioto be read rather than staged. It was not produced until 1896, whenSarah Bernhardt indulged her desire to play the hero, Lorenzode' Medici. Having toured America to raise money, she gave an acclaimedperformance at the Renaissance Theatre, Paris, as Lorenzo, a Renaissancenobleman whose search for goodness and beauty ends in debauchery andmurder. The critic Jules de Tillet, not a Bernhardt lover, wrote "shegave full life to the part of Lorenzaccio, a part no one dared approachbefore her." However, owing to its extreme length and confusingplot the play closed within two months, leaving Bernhardt with heavylosses. In 1911 she decided to revive it, although aged 66 and a great-grandmother.Unfortunately she insisted on playing opposite her young lover, LouTelegen, a former prize fighter, trapeze artist, gigolo, and self-confessedmurderer. He was also a bad actor with a heavy Dutch accent, and theaudience at the Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt in Paris wasbrutally frank, groaning and laughing throughout his performance.

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