Carlotta Grisi

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Carlotta Grisi in the title role of Giselle (1st act), 1842

Carlotta Grisi (born June 28, 1819 in Visinada , Kingdom of Illyria , Austrian Empire as Caronna Adela Giuseppina Maria Grisi ; † May 20, 1899 in Saint-Jean, Geneva , Switzerland ) was an Austrian dancer of Italian descent. It belonged beside Marie Taglioni , Fanny Elssler and Fanny Cerrito of the most important ballerinas of romance .


Carlotta Grisi belonged to a well-known family of musicians: the famous opera singers Giuditta and Giulia Grisi were her cousins. Carlotta's sister Ernestina also appeared as a singer (often with Giuditta).

Carlotta also took singing lessons and was even encouraged by celebrities like Giuditta Pasta and Maria Malibran . She received her ballet training at the La Scala school in Milan . She also took private lessons from Carlo Blasis . She graduated at the age of 13 and made her debut at the Teatro della Canobbiana in Milan on May 19, 1832 in the ballet Le sette reclute by Luigi Astolfi . Then she received a contract from the impresario Alessandro Lanari , who let her dance at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice and at the San Carlo in Naples .

Costume design for Carlotta Grisi and Jules Perrot in Le Zingaro , Paris 1840

In 1834 Jules Perrot became aware of her in Naples , who built her up as a successor to Marie Taglioni and with whom she toured the European capitals as his muse in the following years. They also became a couple privately, but the sources disagree on the question of whether they would marry: according to older authors and Staccioli (2002), Carlotta actually became Perrot's wife, while others believe that she only appeared to be outwardly towards the decency to be, at times called Mme Perrot .

In 1836 she was at the King's Theater in London , and danced in the ballets Le rossignol and Tarantella by André Deshayes , among others . At her last appearance in the English capital she gave (encouraged by the bass Luigi Lablache ) a small sample of her singing skills with the aria "Regnava nel silenzio" from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor . Then she danced until 1837 at the Court Opera in Vienna in ballets by Peter (?) Campilli and Perrot, as well as in Filippo Taglioni's La Sylphide (with music by Schneitzhoeffer ). This was followed by appearances at the Opéra-Comique in Paris , and in 1839 again at the San Carlo in Naples, where she danced in Il Rajàh di Benares ("The Rajah of Benares") by Salvatore Taglioni (Filippo Taglioni's brother).

Perrot got her an engagement at the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris , where she sang and danced in his ballet Le Zingaro (premiere: February 28, 1840: music: Uranio Fontana ) and celebrated a true triumph. Since Fanny Elßler - one of the stars of the Paris Opera - was going on an American tour around this time, the Grisi was now allowed to perform at the Opéra with Lucien Petipa . There she initially danced in pas de deux 'and divertissements created by Perrot in operas such as Donizetti's La favorite (February 21, 1841) and Halévy's La Juive , and even in an inserted pas de deux in Mozart's Don Giovanni .

Carlotta Grisi in the 2nd act by Giselle , 1841

In 1841 Perrot and Jean Coralli , together with their admirer the writer Théophile Gautier and the composer Adolphe Adam, created the ballet Giselle for them , in which she danced the leading role and which became a success of her life. She was praised not only for her virtuoso dance performance, but also for the naturalness and intense drama of her pantomime , especially in the mad scene in Act 1. She has now received a two-year contract from the Opéra with an enormous salary of 27,000 francs . She also danced the Giselle at Her Majesty's Theater in London, for the first time on March 12, 1842, and gave a guest performance there every year until 1850.

The ballets La jolie fille de Gand (Paris 1842), La Péri (Paris 1843) and Perrot's La Esmeralda ( London 1843) followed in the next few years . On July 12, 1844, she danced in the London premiere of the famous pas de quatre by Perrot and Cesare Pugni together with her famous colleagues Marie Taglioni, Fanny Cerrito and Lucile Grahn .

Further successes of Grisi were the female lead roles especially created for her in Joseph Mazilier's ballets Le Diable à quatre (Paris 1845), Paquita (Paris 1846) and Griseldis (Paris 1848), as well as Perrot's La Filleule des fées (Paris 1849). Two roles that were created for her in 1847–1848 probably shed significant light on Carlotta Grisi's charisma and personality: In the Pas de trois Les éléments , premiered in London in 1847 , she embodied fire, alongside Fanny Cerrito as air and Carolina Rosati as water; similarly, Grisi danced the role of summer in the ballet Les quatre saisons ("The Four Seasons") by Perrot and Cesare Pugni (premier: June 13, 1848).

Carlotta Grisi, around 1865, photograph by Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (alias Nadar)

Her last creations in London were Paul Taglioni's ballets Les Métamorphoses and Les Graces , and the purely pantomime role of Ariel in Halévy's opera La Tempesta (all 1850), where she appeared alongside Luigi Lablache.

In 1850 she went on tour via Brussels and Berlin to Saint Petersburg , where Perrot was meanwhile ballet master . She made her debut there on October 8 of the same year as Giselle and later danced in Perrot's ballets Ondine ou La nayade et le pêcheur (1851), La guerre des femmes (1852) and Gazelda ou Les tziganes (1853).

After falling from a staircase, which she suffered in Warsaw in 1855 , Carlotta Grisi had to end her career prematurely. She retired to her villa in St-Jean near Geneva, Switzerland, where she was frequently visited by her old admirer Gautier. Grisi is said to have never married, but had two daughters, one from her relationship with Jules Perrot and one with Prince Leon Radziwill .

She died in Saint-Jean on May 20, 1899.



Web links

Commons : Carlotta Grisi  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual notes

  1. a b c d Carlotta Grisi in: Britannica (English; accessed on January 30, 2021)
  2. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Roberto Staccioli: Grisi , in: Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani , Volume 59, 2002, article on Treccani (Italian; accessed on 13 August 2020)
  3. Grisi Carlotta. In: Austrian Biographical Lexicon 1815–1950 (ÖBL). Volume 2, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna 1959, p. 65.
  4. Constantin von Wurzbach : Grisi, Carlotta . In: Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich . 5th part. Typogr.-literar.-artist publishing house. Establishment (L. C. Zamarski & C. Dittmarsch.), Vienna 1859, p. 357 f. ( Digitized version ).