Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The denouement????

If you've popped in for the first time today, you need to know that we started the day with a bit of a mystery, based on a vintage photo I bought on Friday. Follow the thread of the story here if you want the background...Now, the above lady is Mlle. Desclauzas. She was born in 1840, and had a very sweet, light mezzo-soprano voice. She rose to great popularity in character roles for comic opera (opéra-bouffe) in both France and America. A lot of my best results from Google searches for her come from the New York Times Archive pages - what a wonderful resource!Here she is (above) in one of her film roles. Early reviews describe her as 'a verry pretty woman' (yes, that's the NYT spelling) with a 'deliciously fresh' voice. Later on she is described in her comic character roles as 'very jolly', although I did find one unfortunate review when she had lost her voice on the night of the performance!Now to my mystery photo. The name 'Desclauzas' is all over the photo, but apparantly this woman is Madame Harles. She has a vague similarity to the famous singer, but lacks her pert little nose and chirpy expression, in my opinion.This, then, is my conclusion, but I will be really interested to see if any of you come up with alternative theories:
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Mlle. Descaluzas was popular, in the way that Music Hall stars were in the UK at this time. Her famous roles are still called 'the Desclauzas roles' - I found a lovely write-up of a woman who still specialises in these roles today (very pretty!).
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There was no TV and people 'made their own entertainment' back in those days! Therefore, I assume we're looking at the evidence of an early 'lookalike/soundalike' event, where the Municipal Theatre of Valence put on an event, maybe a comptition, at least twice. Women who could sing (and perhaps look) like Mlle. Desclauzas, came along in their best dresses, performed, got their photos taken, and maybe won a prize. Who knows? But that seems reasonable, although Google can't give me any evidence of it.
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Alternative 'denouements' welcome! (I never knew until I got to France that this word literally means 'unknotting', but that's a good word for the resolution of a mystery, isn't it?)

9 comments:

Mrs. Cozy Home said...

This is fascinating!! I think your theory is sound -- or perhaps maybe an amusement to dress up to get your photo taken, as your favorite star?

Very cool...

Melanie said...

Hi Floss, thank you so much for your kind comment on my site. xxxx

Country Cottage Chic said...

Perhaps she was the understudy in a production? Or playing the part of the famous singer in a provincial production?

Who knows!

The Whispering Poppies said...

Rather like a lookalike playing the part of Julie Andrews in a revamped version of "The Sound of Music" on Broadway! =) (Though I don't intend to compare Julie Andrews to Mlle. Desclauzas!)

Olga said...

Desclauzas seems to be a very rare name, I tried to investigate, and Google images seems to have a big number of her pictures or at least pictures of her lookalikes ;)...

Jeannette said...

A puzzle.....love them. Hope you wil solve it for us.
And...feeling better allready? Hope so!

Glenda/MidSouth said...

Is it not amazing what we can find out on the internet. I kind of like the idea that the other one might be an understudy or look a like. :)
Glenda

Shabby Chick said...

That's a fascinating idea but why not I suppose?! Like you say they had even less than us to entertain themselves and lookalikes are so popular now. Very interesting.

Mel xxx

Melanie said...

Hi Floss, thank you for leaving another lovely comment on my site, it really means alot to me, thank you so much. xxxx