Lecouvreur, Adrienne

Lecouvreur, Adrienne

(ädrēĕn` ləko͞ovrör`), 1692–1730, French actress. With Michel BaronBaron or Boyron, Michel
, 1653–1729, one of the first great French actors. A protégé of Molière, he acted at the Hôtel de Bourgogne and at the Comédie Française.
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 she helped change the traditional acting techniques of the French stage to a simpler, more natural style. She was extremely popular from her debut at the Comédie Française in 1717. Her love for Maurice de SaxeSaxe, Maurice, comte de
, 1696–1750, marshal of France, one of the greatest generals of his age. He was the illegitimate son of Augustus II of Poland and Saxony and Countess Maria Aurora von Königsmark.
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 ended in tragedy; her mysterious death was ascribed to poisoning by her rival, the duchesse de Bouillon. The Church's refusal to grant Lecouvreur a Christian burial resulted in a bitter poem by her friend Voltaire. She is the subject of a play by Scribe and Legouvé and of the opera Adriana Lecouvreur by Francesco Cilea.

Bibliography

See biography by J. Richtman (1971).

Lecouvreur, Adrienne

 

(also, A. Le Couvreur). Born Apr. 5, 1692, in Damery; died Mar. 20, 1730, in Paris. French actress. Daughter of an artisan.

Lecouvreur studied declamation in Paris with the actor Legrand, acted in provincial theaters, and made her debut in 1717 at the Comédie-Française in Paris. Some of her best roles were in Corneille’s tragedies, including Emilie in Cinna, Roxanne in Iphigénie, and Cornélie in La Mort de Pompée. Her other important parts included the title role in Racine’s Phèdre and Angélique and Alcmène in Molière’s Georges Dandin and Amphitryon.

Lecouvreur continued M. Baron’s pioneering work; she was the first French actress to introduce realistic traits in her performance, to abandon the classic declamatory style that was concerned with external effects, and to adopt a natural, flowing manner. She made an early attempt to reform stage costumes, wearing ordinary dresses instead of a court costume. Lecouvreur’s acting paved the way for the actors of enlightened classicism, including H. L. Lekain.

WORKS

Lettres d’Adrienne Lecouvreur. Paris, 1892.

REFERENCE

Istoriia zapadnoevropeiskogo teatra, vol. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1959.
Rivollet, G. Adrienne Le Couvreur. Paris, 1925.
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