La Dame aux Camélias (Lady of the Camellias)
Ballet choreographed by John Neumeier, Artistic Director of The Hamburg Ballet
Music of Frédéric Chopin
Premiered in 1978
In the Prologue, Marguerite Gautier, a famous courtesan in Paris, has died. Her possessions are to be sold at auction. The young Armand rushes to her side. Also there is his father to whom Armand begins to tell his story.
In the theater a performance of Manon Lescaut was staged, Marguerite saw herself in the character, but was determined not to follow the same fate. Armand, who loved Marguerite from afar, was in attendance. He also feared his life becoming as one of the characters, Des Grieux.
Meeting Armand for the first time at the performance, Marguerite invited him to her apartment. Here, after noticing the symptoms of her illness, Armand confessed his love for her.
Marguerite initially pushed him away so as not to have to forgo the luxurious life to which she was accustomed. Still their relationship grew.
Despite continuing her decadent ways at the Duke's expense, Armand was always there for her. Armand's father, unable to bear his son's relationship with the courtesan, sought to end the relationship. A confrontation between the Duke and Armand ensued. Marguerite, defending Armand, chose love and rejected her life of wealth and comfort.
Later, without Armand's knowledge, the Duke demanded that Marguerite leave his son. Following the Duke's wishes, she left Armand and returned to her former lifestyle. Armand returned to an empty house. He immediately went to Paris where he found Marguerite with the Duke.
Much later, Marguerite and Armand happened upon each other on the Champs-Elys?es. Margurite was accompanied by another courtesan whom Armand began to pursue for the sole purpose of getting back at Marguerite. Marguerite begged him to stop pursuing the girl and they were reunited. But, visions of Manon tortured Marguerite as she slept.
On waking, she left Armand for a second time. His emotional wounds reopened, Armand publicly humiliated her at a ball by giving her an envelope of money - "payment" for her services. Then she collapsed.
Armand has now reached the end of his narrative. Once Armand is alone Marguerite's diary is brought to him. In it, he learns of her sincere love for him. He imagines accompanying her on her last visit to a performance of Manon Lescaut. In the ballet, Manon dies of exhaustion and poverty in the arms of her faithful lover Des Grieux. Armand silently closes her diary.?See also: Lady of the Camellias - Paris Opera Ballet