Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Born Today February 1: Germaine Delavigne


French poet and librettist Louis Marie Germaine Delavigne was born on this date in Giveny (Eure) France.  He was the son of a Royal forest surveyor and was the brother of Casimir Delavigne a famed theatrical figure of his time, who was also a poet.  After his studies at the Napoleon High School, he went to the court of Louis-Phillipe I, as keeper of the furniture.  Inspired by his brother's poetry, he began a dramatic career of his own.  He became a frequent collaborator of Eugéne Scribe (page in French, can be translated), who was a class mate of Delavigne's in Paris.  The partnership produced a number of opera libretto's (or libretti) and a quantity of plays.  Only one film has ever been produced from his work; coming in 1916 The Dumb Girl Of Portici is actually a fairly important film by historical standards.  Based on one of Delavigne's libretto's, the film was co-directed by Lois Weber, one of the earliest female film directors, together with her husband of the time Phillips Smalley--the film was made through Universal.  It stars the premiere Russian ballerina of the time: Anna Pavlova. The film survives in two prints: one, a 16 mm print housed at the New York Public Library and the second, a 35 mm print by the BFI.  The later of the two dates from 1920.  Material from both sources were used in a restoration in 2015 that runs 112 minutes.  Delavigne died on 30 November in 1868 at the age of 78 in Montmorency, France.  

Still from the film showing Palova as "Fenella" (1916)


Wikipedia France (can be translated)


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