World-premiere: October 24, 2008
The moving destiny of Dumas’s Marguerite, Verdi’s Violette and Cukor’s Camille got its new ballet version (after several versions on the music by Chopin) by the Ballet of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb. The famous English choreographer Derek Deane staged for the first time his choreographic version of this celebrated story about a young Parisian courtesan who had brought many powerful men of her time to their knees. Although everybody knows at least one version of this story in prose, drama, opera or on film there are few who know that the real lady of the camellias, Alphonsine Plesis, is buried on Montmartre cemetery in Paris. This courtesan of fascinating beauty was very famous in her time, but deep inside she remained tender as a camellia, lost in the world Dumas called the demi-monde. The story goes that she always carried camellias; white until the twenty-fifth of the month, and red from the twenty-fifth on. As a woman who has strayed, the society condemned her, particularly when she found her true love in a young nobleman and had to renounce it. When she broke with the man she loved immensely, she withdrew from the society and died at the age of twenty-three devastated by tuberculosis and loneliness. Derek Deane staged his ballet version of this world-known story on the music of the contemporary American composer Carl Davis.