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André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri
Adelaide Ristori in Médée
Carte de visite
The Italian actress Adelaide Ristori paid her first professional visit to Paris in 1855. Her début in the part of Francesca was rather coldly received, but she took the city by storm in the title role of Alfieri's Myrrha. Furious partisanship was aroused by the appearance of a rival to the great Rachel, and the very different acting styles of the two actresses. The fiery, Latin gesticulations of the Italian contrasted strongly with the controlled, restrained, introverted technique that Rachel had popularized since her début as a seventeen-year-old in 1838. Paris was divided into two camps, with playgoers fighting at gallery doors over the merits of their respective favourites.
The playwright Ernest Legouvé originally wrote Médée for Rachel, but when she broke her contract in order to nurse her dying sister, the part was offered to Ristori instead. When the play opened in Paris in 1856, it was a huge success, a triumph that was repeated when Ristori took the play to London. In 1857 she visited Madrid, playing in Spanish to enthusiastic audiences, and in 1866 she paid the first of four visits to the United States, where she proved equally popular, particularly in Giacometti's Elizabeth, an Italian study of the English sovereign. She finally retired from professional life in 1885, dying in Rome in 1906.
She is seen her as the sorceress Medea, who killed her own children to avenge herself on their father, Jason.