Navigation – Plan du site

AccueilActes des colloques41Shakespearian actresses in the worldEast-West Dialogue on Reconfiguri...

Shakespearian actresses in the world

East-West Dialogue on Reconfiguring Shakespearean Gender Identities in the 19th-Century Theatre

Madalina Nicolaescu et Oana-Alis Zaharia

Résumés

Cet article étudie les stratégies de réécriture des modèles de féminité dominants associés aux héroïnes tragiques de Shakespeare, telles qu’elles furent mises en œuvre par le théâtre roumain du dix-neuvième siècle. Cet article s’intéresse aux rôles tenus par Aristizza Romanescu, la principale comédienne de l’époque, et à son utilisation du jeu d’acteur d’Ernesto Rossi. Il se penche sur l’appropriation sélective que fit Romanescu de modèles occidentaux et sur ses subtiles transgressions des limites imposées aux actrices shakespeariennes. Un aspect important de l’étude du dialogue est-ouest sur la scène roumaine concerne l’utilisation de traductions scéniques dans les performances de Romanescu.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

I. “To understand Shakespeare is to understand the world”1

  • 1 Monatschrift für Theater und Musik, April 4, 1860, p. 204, quoted in Sonia Bellavia, La voce del Ge (...)
  • 2 Ernesto Rossi (1827-1896) was, along with his fellow Italian actor, Tommaso Salvini, among the most (...)

1In the spring of 1878, one year after the declaration of Romania’s independence from the Ottoman Empire, the famous Italian actor Ernesto Rossi was having a resounding success with his Shakespeare representations on the foremost stage of the National Theatre in Bucharest.2

  • 3 The process of delinking from the Ottoman Empire started in 1829 and was concomitant with the proce (...)
  • 4 Constantin I. Nottara, Amintiri. [Memoirs], Bucharest, Editura de Stat pentru Literatură și Artă, 1 (...)
  • 5 Aristizza Romanescu, 30 de ani. Amintiri. [30 Years. Memoirs], Bucharest, Editura de Stat pentru Li (...)
  • 6 Petre I. Sturdza, Amintiri. 40 de ani de teatru. [Memoirs. 40 Years in the Theatre], Bucharest, Edi (...)

2Like elsewhere in Eastern Europe, Rossi was welcomed as a celebrated Shakespearean actor, a global star of the 19th century, providing the Romanian public the much-desired link to European culture. At a time when the Romanian public was endeavouring to disentangle itself from the Oriental legacy and was eager for multiple encounters with Western culture3, Rossi made Shakespeare a popular and canonical figure on Romanian stages, adding the weight of an enormous cultural and public capital. Young male actors, the future stars of the Romanian theatre, watched his performances breathlessly, trying to capture and further imitate his every movement, his every inflection and intonation.4 So did a burgeoning actress, Aristizza Romanescu, who described her experience of incorporating Rossi’s model in strikingly similar terms to that of her male colleagues.5 Moreover, Romanescu was inspired less by Rossi’s female partner, Enrichetta Cattaneo, and more by Rossi himself and his acting style. Her reliance on a male model to be incorporated in the fashioning of theatrical femininity was ground-breaking. Romanescu’s use of Rossi was integral to a cosmopolitan practice of 19th-century Romanian actors to selectively adopt acting styles from several European cultural centres. Actors ritually undertook educational tours to Vienna, Paris, and London to get “enlightened” on the best theatrical practices, as a contemporary actor put it.6 At the same time, Romanian actors were not indiscriminate admirers of Western theatres. They duly admired the latter’s professionalism but often found the playacting too cold, too artificial and opted for the more energetic and more realistic style of Italian actors, starting with Rossi, and continuing with Eleonora Duse, Ermete Novelli and Ermete Zacconi.

  • 7 Bellavia, op. cit., p. 80.
  • 8 Rossi, Quarant’anni di vita artistica, Florence, Niccolai, 1887, quoted in Bellavia, op. cit., p. 7 (...)

3Ernesto Rossi fascinated the public (and often infuriated English and German critics) with the “violent realism” (realismo violento)7 he employed in order to give shape to a frightening psychological truth – what he called verità spaventosa.8 The mobility of his countenance, the expressiveness of his gestures, the nuanced, multiple vocal effects, all left an indelible impression on his audiences. By means of exquisite physicality, he graphically projected complicated emotional states on the stage. His productions of Hamlet, Othello, Romeo and Juliet and King Lear made Shakespeare both a canonical and a popular figure on East-European stages. It is worth pointing out, however, that with respect to Shakespeare performances, Rossi’s Italy was itself marginal and his idiosyncratic style and theatrical language were both praised and contested in the English and German theatres.

4The fascination of Romanian actors with Rossi did not subside for all their subsequent exposure to the dominant theatrical traditions in the West. Aristizza Romanescu, for example, underwent lengthy training at the Comédie Française (1881-1884) under the guidance of famous actors François Delaunay and Edmond Got. She worked with Ellen Terry in London (1881) and undertook yearly study trips to Vienna. Her early assimilation of Rossi’s style enabled her to keep a distance from the entrenched conventions she was taught at the “centre” and opt for models that were deemed idiosyncratic, such as Charlotte Wolter at the Burgtheater. Wolter erupted as a “force of nature” in Vienna and became famous for her role as Lady Macbeth. However, directors found that her overpowering physical presence and stunning use of voice had to be repeatedly kept in check so as not to transgress against the traditions of acting at the Burgtheater.

  • 9 On the margins copying the centre see Pascale Casanova, The World Republic of Letters, trans. M. B. (...)

5In this paper we set out to investigate how Aristizza Romanescu, building upon Rossi’s formative influence, selectively adopted Western acting models in a manner that would enable her to maximise her impact on the Romanian stage and create powerful Shakespearean female figures that could vie with or even outshine the performance of the male roles. In this process, rather than merely copying “the centre”,9 she aimed to expand and rewrite the received interpretations of female Shakespearean roles, thereby at times transgressing against the gender definitions dominant on the Romanian stage. The focus of our investigation will be placed on Romanescu’s approach to refashioning what was called at the time “Shakespeare’s ingénues”, Ophelia and Juliet.

6Before proceeding to the discussion of the ways Aristizza Romanescu created her roles by reworking models (male and female), we would like to specify a few obstacles encountered in our research which have limited the range of evidence we would have liked to adduce in favour of our arguments. The gender and cultural biases of Romanian theatrical reviewers determined them to relegate female performances as secondary, as support roles and provide only superficial comments or descriptions. Furthermore, reviewers lacked the adequate vocabulary to articulate the novelty of Romanescu’s acting. Our endeavour to put together the different pieces of her theatrical personality was further hampered by the inexistence of a theatrical archive that would have included her letters, rehearsal notes or comments on the play text. We could therefore only rely on memoirs, her own as well as those of her acting partners, in addition to reviews and articles in the press of the time.

II. Aristizza Romanescu’s Ophelia

  • 10 Paul de Saint Victor, Les Deux Masques: Comédie et tragédie, vol. 3, chap. VII, Paris, Calmann Levy (...)
  • 11 Saint Victor, op. cit., p. 113-114, (our translation).
  • 12 Paris-Artiste II.20 (1884), p. 1, (our translation).
  • 13 Idem.
  • 14 România liberă 08.2169 (3 October 1884), p. 2.

7Aristizza Romanescu’s performance of Ophelia in 1884, at the National Theatre in Bucharest, made a staggering impression partially due to her capacity to navigate among multiple theatrical styles and traditions. What were the cultural expectations of the role in Romania, in the early 1880s? The public was well familiar with 19th-century French critical literature on Ophelia, most quoted of which was Paul de Saint Victor who presented her as “une fleur frappée par la grêle” [“a flower struck by hail”]10: “On se l’imagine presque transparente, éclairée, de la tête aux pieds, d’une douce lumière d’aurore boréale” [We can imagine her almost transparent, illuminated, from head to toe, by the gentle light of the aurora borealis.].11 Romanian critics concurred with the French ones and conceived of Ophelia as the fragile, chaste, and graceful virgin, a sweet angelic figure, full of tender and yet passionate love for Hamlet. In theatrical terms her role overlapped with that of the conventional figure of the ingénue, best represented in France by Suzette Reichenberg, who was described as “la plus parfaite des ingénues de la Comédie Française” [“the most exquisite ingénue of the Comédie Française”].12 Théophile Gautier insisted on the traits of the ingénue in his description of Reichenberg: “Elle a la tenue chaste, le regard honnête, le sourire pur et charmant de l’emploi; toute sa personne respire ce je ne sais quoi tout plein d’innocence et de candeur qui enchante… C’est une fleur, un sourire, un printemps...” [She has the chaste demeanor, the honest look, the pure and charming smile required by the role; her entire being exudes this innocent ‘je ne sais quoi’ full of candor... She is a flower, she is a smile, she is spring...”].13 These French critical views were translated into Romanian and published in 1884, the year of the first performance of Hamlet in Bucharest, the Romanian audience being eager to keep abreast of the latest trends in Paris.14

  • 15 Literatorul I.13 (13 April 1880), p. 201.
  • 16 Epoca 01.027 (17 December 1885), p. 3.
  • 17 Monatschrift für Theater und Musik, April 4, 1860, p. 205, quoted in Bellavia, p. 97.

8An intertext to this reading of Ophelia was George Sand’s article on Hamlet, the translation of which had been published in a prestigious avant-garde journal Literatorul four years before the performance of the play. To Sand, “poor and beautiful Ophelia arouses a brief interest only in her madness scene”.15 Ophelia compares unfavourably with Hamlet even in her madness, which unlike his, is purely personal, whereas his grief is universal. In a similar vein, Romanian literary critics presented Ophelia as a mere flitting, secondary figure, “a pretext, an accident”16 meant to stir Hamlet’s emotions and thoughts. This view was partially derived from the above-quoted French sources as well as from Rossi’s / Cattaneo’s earlier performance of the role in 1878. Working with a curtailed Italian version of the play by Giulio Carcano, Rossi had envisaged Ophelia’s role as a dolce fanciulla (a sweet little girl), radically compressing and suppressing her lines. The mad scene was cut to the bone, her songs were left out, she was hardly a mad figure. The only madness worth representing on the stage was Hamlet’s madness, that is Rossi’s embodiment of it. Cattaneo’s Ophelia was definitely not a tragic figure. Romanian reviewers might well have noticed the compression of her lines in Rossi’s production, but the overall impact on the public was too strong to leave any room for complaints. The Viennese critics, however, watching this performance in the 1860s and 1870s and relying on a long theatrical tradition of performing Hamlet, strongly objected to Rossi’s alteration of Ophelia’s role.17

  • 18 Romanescu, op. cit., p. 57.
  • 19 Idem.

9Aristizza Romanescu endeavoured to negotiate and rewrite these views. Although she could not forsake the image of a tender and vulnerable young girl entirely, Romanescu, inspired by Rossi’s violent stage realism, added a more rebellious tone to it. Her first departure from the dominant views on the role came out in the choice of Sarah Siddons as a model, whom Romanescu considered in her Memoirs to be one of “the greatest of all English Shakespearean actresses”.18 Romanescu designed her own costume after a portrait of Sarah Siddons as Ophelia19 thereby harnessing the latter’s cultural capital to counter the current expectations of the role.

Figure 1: Sarah Siddons as Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, circa 178520

Figure 1: Sarah Siddons as Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, circa 178520
  • 21 Florence Mary Wilson Parsons, The Incomparable Siddons, New York, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1909, p. 126

10Sarah Siddons’s Ophelia was anything but a fragile fanciulla like Cattaneo’s. Instead, she was a compelling figure, glaring at the court. Siddons is said to have been “no mere dishevelled ballad-singer, but [she] made the utmost of the character and gave peculiar tragic power to the ‘rue for you’ addressed to Queen Gertrude. Earlier in the scene, her look and gesture so electrified the Queen, when she seized her arm, that the startled lady, Mrs Hopkins, old stager though she was, forgot her words.”21

Figure 2: Aristizza Romanescu as Ophelia, Hamlet, 188422

Figure 2: Aristizza Romanescu as Ophelia, Hamlet, 188422

11Romanescu’s dark look did not exactly match Siddons’s glare but neither did she confirm the traditional take on Ophelia as a broken spirit. The novelty in her negotiation of the role was that it introduced a questioning, contesting and reproachful stance that threatened to acquire rebellious political overtones.

  • 23 William Shakespeare, Hamlet, ed. G. B. Hibbard, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987 reissued 2008 (...)
  • 24 Romanescu, op. cit., p. 57.

12Romanescu combined the English model with Rossi’s graphic style that relied heavily on body movement, even on pantomime, to give expression to deeper anger, while at the same time following the text closely and carefully taking up all the cues Shakespeare provided. As she explained in her Memoirs, she set out to produce a theatrical embodiment of what Horatio described Ophelia’s madness to be. The beating of her chest, the winks and nods and odd gestures are described in Act 4, scene 5,23 and were amplified to provide a compelling image of Ophelia’s madness.24 Moreover, all of Ophelia’s lines that had been previously left out in Rossi’s production, including her song, were now recuperated.

  • 25 William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Œuvres dramatiques de Shakespeare, trans. Pierre Letourneur, vol. 2, P (...)
  • 26 William Shakespeare, Hamlet, tragedie in 5 acte si 13 tablouri, trans. Grigore Manolescu, The Natio (...)
  • 27 Hamlet, op.cit., 4.5.43.
  • 28 Idem, 4.5.28.
  • 29 Hamlet, G. Manolescu (trans.), p. 82.
  • 30 Keith Hitchins, A Concise History of Romania, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014, p. 115.
  • 31 Romanescu, op. cit., p. 139-140.
  • 32 Romanescu, op. cit., p. 56.

13Her approach to a non-conventional Ophelia further maximised the departures of the Romanian stage translation, itself based upon Pierre Letourneur’s French version of Hamlet.25 The Romanian indirect translation had been penned by Romanescu’s co-star Grigore Manolescu and included remarkable changes in the Shakespearean text, such as the words Ophelia darted to Claudius in Act 4, scene 5, “God will judge you” [Dumnezeu o să vă judece!],26 which is a surprising over-translation of the French version, “Que Dieu soit à votre table!” [“God be at your table!”].27 Furthermore, the line Ophelia addressed to the Queen “Say you? Nay, pray you, mark me!”28 was turned into a warning in the Romanian text: “What say you? Take good heed of my words” [“Ce spui? Te rog ia seama bine!”].29 Romanescu’s mad Ophelia feels free to assume the position of a judge, thereby widely overstepping not only the definition given to the Shakespearean heroine in 19th-century Europe, let alone on Romanian stages, but also the gender definition circulated in Romania. The historian Keith Hitchins pointed out that Romanian women were in the same position as children, deprived of political and social rights, totally dependent on fathers and husbands. As such, women had to be meek and subservient, any assertive action being looked upon as rebellious.30 Since there is no comment on the stage translation of Hamlet in Romanescu’s Memoirs, we cannot state for a fact whether it was she who had initiated these changes. However, she did mention that she was in the habit of slightly altering translations in order to make them suit her dramatic purpose31 and that she had read the play in French three times before the performance, carefully pondering on each and every line of the text.32 Therefore, we may well presume that she had a hand in the change of the text. What this move suggests is that for all her awe of the Bard her desire to look for means to make her acting more forceful was the stronger.

III. Aristizza Romanescu’s Juliet

  • 33 Romanescu, op. cit., p. 72-73.

14The scarcity of comments on the Hamlet translation has been compensated by a trove of resources (articles and letters33) on the Romanian version of Romeo and Juliet that Aristizza Romanescu used for her portrayal of Juliet, two years later, in 1886. These materials have enabled us not only to document her stance on the issue of Shakespeare translation (i.e. her adamant insistence on the importance of using an unabridged version of the play based on the English original), but also to infer the mindset that underpinned her performance of Juliet.

  • 34 Henry James qtd. in Marvin Carlson, The Italian Shakespearians: Performances by Ristori, Salvini, a (...)
  • 35 Lisanna Calvi, “Shakespeare in 19th-century Italy: Ernesto Rossi’s Romeo and Juliet”, Shakespeare e (...)
  • 36 William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, ed. René Weiss, Arden Shakespeare, London, Bloomsbury Publis (...)

15When Romanescu decided to play Juliet for the first time on the Romanian stage, the public still remembered Rossi’s 1878 production, which, as in the case of Hamlet, was a “scandalously mutilated”34 adaptation of Shakespeare’s text.35 Rossi’s stage version omitted numerous significant scenes featuring Juliet (her first scene with the Nurse, their emotional scene in the aftermath of Tybalt’s death as well as Juliet’s “Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds” soliloquy).36

  • 37 William Shakespeare, Romeo si Julieta, trans. Dimitrie Ion Ghica, Bucharest, Tipografia Curtii Rega (...)
  • 38 România liberă 09.2490 (November 13 1885), Bucharest, p. 2.
  • 39 Adelaide Ristori (29 January 1822-9 October 1906) was a renowned Italian tragedian.

16These changes were designed to emphasise and augment Romeo’s / Rossi’s part to the detriment of Juliet, now a mere support role. Romanescu rejected this curtailed, indirect version and insisted on using the recently published retranslation of the play from the original by Dimitrie Ion Ghica.37 Most relevant to our argument is the fact that the version Aristizza Romanescu fiercely defended included all the scenes Rossi had previously cut. A rigorous reader of Shakespeare herself, she justified her audacious action in an article putting forth textual arguments in favour of her choice of translation.38 The role was a huge triumph. She was later asked to give a solo performance of the Juliet scenes in Bucharest, being welcomed as a Romanian Adelaide Ristori.39

  • 40 România liberă 10.2802 (December 12 1886), p. 2.
  • 41 Die Presse 44.153 (June 5 1891), Vienna, p. 11.

17What Aristizza did by employing an unabridged version of the play involved a reversal of hierarchy. She turned Juliet’s role into a major part radically departing from the way Rossi designed it for his partner, Enrichetta Cattaneo. The latter had played a diminished role as a fanciulla, the conventional ingénue, hardly the dramatic agent that we tend to associate Juliet with. Unlike her, Romanescu became the leading figure, grabbing the audience’s attention and sympathy by her impressive representation of the emotional range of the character. She reinvented the role of Juliet on the Romanian stage, highlighting the transition from the innocent, childish and carefree woman-child (vierge-enfant) in the first two acts to a confident and powerful woman who plays a dominant role in all the significant scenes in the play. One reviewer was surprised to notice that in this production Romeo himself was relegated to a secondary position.40 The Viennese critics watching her performance, in 1891, at the Karltheater, were impressed with her commanding presence on the stage, calling her a Romanian Wolter. They particularly emphasised the fact that she had become not merely the male star’s equal, his “émule”, but the most valuable member of the company.41

  • 42 Henry James qtd. in Carlson, op. cit., p. 143.
  • 43 Voinţa naţionala. Ďiar naţional-liberal, 03, no. 0480, March 6, Bucharest, 1886.

18Most memorable was her creation of the potion scene as a scene within the scene. She first delivered the lines at a fast pace yet clearly articulating every word when describing the terror she anticipated in the tomb. The scene was expanded with a mute play: the movement from the table, where the potion was, to her bed, at the back of the stage, was elaborated on so as to include physical details embodying her hallucinations. She built up a whole sequence of emotions starting from fear and dread in the tomb to elation at the prospect of her reunion with Romeo.42 The audience was struck with the hyper-realism à la Rossi, whose influence could still be tracked in the physical embodiment of psychological processes bordering on insanity. Like Rossi she made use of what critics called the pantomime placed between lines and even between words, as well as abrupt shifts in tone and voice.43

Figure 3: Aristizza Romanescu as Juliet, Romeo and Juliet, 188544

Figure 3: Aristizza Romanescu as Juliet, Romeo and Juliet, 188544
  • 45 Aidé quoted in Carlson, op. cit., p. 143.
  • 46 Idem.

19Figure 3 showing Juliet behind a chair is the only photograph preserved of Romanescu’s Juliet. This photo is highly relevant to our discussion as Romanescu takes over one of Rossi’s much-discussed stage movements in Hamlet. Aidé, a reviewer of the American journal The Academy, was dismayed to see Rossi in the closet scene ducking behind a chair at the sight of the ghost, “dodging away from the phantom, even creeping around to hide behind the Queen.”45 Aidé’s final judgement was: “nothing more ignoble can be conceived”.46 Romanescu effects a theatrical transfer of the scene, from Hamlet to Juliet. Once again, the leading character faces a scary parental figure, yet this time it is Juliet dodging away from her father.

  • 47 Romeo and Juliet at the Lyceum”, Punch, 18 March 1882, London, p. 121.
  • 48 Idem.
  • 49 “‘How can you act in this way every night?’ ‘It is the audience,’ Ellen Terry said” in Edgar Pember (...)
  • 50 Romanescu, op. cit., p. 42.

20In order to legitimate her departure from the conventional mode of representing Juliet as an innocent fanciulla, Romanescu fell back on her previous work with Ellen Terry, England’s most admired and popular Shakespeare actress at the time. In her six-week trip to London, in 1881, Romanescu had been introduced to Ellen Terry who agreed to work with her on Juliet’s part, a role that Terry herself performed a year later with Henry Irving at the Lyceum. While this revival of Romeo and Juliet (1882) was considered a major success in terms of scenery and stage design, Terry’s Juliet received mixed, mostly unfavourable reviews. Critics found her Juliet too mature, too deliberately “intense”, lacking the passion and fire of youth that English critics expected from “what seems the Shakespeare ideal”.47 Terry’s more composed Juliet went against the conventional understanding of the role: “Her deliberate intensity has little of the warm impulsiveness checked ever and anon by girlish misgivings, which we naturally look for in the youthful daughter of the Capulets.”48 Unlike conservative English critics, celebrated French actress Sarah Bernhardt expressed her unreserved admiration for Terry’s powerful performance.49 It goes without saying that Romanescu was equally impressed with Terry’s acting. She had watched not only Romeo and Juliet but most of the Shakespearean repertoire featuring Terry and found her complex acting style “most natural”, “making use of the simplest means”.50 In her Memoirs, Romanescu admits that she had partially incorporated Terry’s more dramatic and composed manner of playing Juliet. She held Terry as a model of versatility and admired her ease at transitioning across a wide range of emotions (a quality that Rossi himself was famous for): she could be either mild or severe, flirtatious or naïve. Judging by Romanescu’s great success as Juliet as compared to Terry’s relative flop, we can venture to state that in the margins of Europe, actresses enjoyed greater freedom of expression, they were less fettered by the expectations and canons imposed by time-honoured, theatrical traditions than their counterparts on the French and English stages. What Romanescu did when working on Juliet was to project her own ambition, strength, and stubbornness on the Shakespearean character. The role fitted her like a glove.

  • 51 Lucia Sturdza Bulandra, Amintiri, amintiri, Bucharest, Editura de Stat, 1960, p. 14.
  • 52 Nottara, op. cit., p. 173.
  • 53 Romanescu, op. cit., p. 30.
  • 54 Ioan Livescu, Amintiri și scrieri despre teatru, Bucharest, Editura pentru Literatură, 1967, p. 87.

21Romanescu’s acting strategies of representing Shakespeare’s characters on the Romanian stage entailed the destabilisation of theatrical clichés on gender identities as well as the subtle deconstruction of the polarity between male versus female leads. She adopted Rossi’s acting style only to turn the table on him and expand the female parts that he had relegated as mere support roles, making them triumph on the Romanian and Viennese stages. One of the legacies she left to her students was the example of adopting both female and male acting models. Lucia Sturdza Bulandra, a famous actress and director of a successful theatre company, wrote in her Memoirs that her models included two strong actresses, Aristizza Romanescu and Eleonora Duse, and two equally powerful actors, Ermete Novelli and the Romanian C. I. Nottara.51 Nottara himself called the period Aristizza Romanescu had spent on stage “the age of Romanescu”.52 Romanescu was aware of the high expectations she was faced with and confessed in her Memoirs that the Minister of Culture had called upon her “to carry the Romanian theatre on her shoulders.”53 Unfortunately, after Romanescu’s withdrawal, no Ophelias, Juliets, or even Katherinas vied with the success of their male counterparts, nor did they catch the eye of the reviewers. Ioan Livescu, a prominent theatre critic, drama teacher and player, mentions only male Shakespearean actors in the performances of the late 1890s and early 20th century: Aristide Demetriade, Ion Manolescu, Tony Bulandra as Hamlet and Vasile Leonescu as Othello, Nottara as King Lear. Their female partners, however, are absent.54 Shakespearean heroines resumed the secondary position they used to have before Romanescu. One of the reasons for this relapse was the fact that later major Romanian actresses, many of them Romanescu’s students, no longer turned to Shakespeare to solidify their theatrical career.

22As a conclusion to this paper, we would like to go back to the motto with which we started: “...to understand Shakespeare is to understand the world” that is to transcend the oppressive limitations of national but also gender identities and open up to other cultural traditions. Aristizza Romanescu’s attempt at fashioning a persuasive Romanian Shakespeare identity is an example of understanding the world, that is of negotiating between several acting models, male and female, Western and local, between several cultural centres: France and England but also Italy and an emerging East European centre in Romania.

Haut de page

Notes

1 Monatschrift für Theater und Musik, April 4, 1860, p. 204, quoted in Sonia Bellavia, La voce del Gesto. Le rappresentazioni shakespeariane di Ernesto Rossi sulla scena tedesca, Roma, Bulzoni Editore, 2000, p. 97.

2 Ernesto Rossi (1827-1896) was, along with his fellow Italian actor, Tommaso Salvini, among the most famous Shakespearean actors of the 19th century to tour across the world, including Australia and the Ottoman Empire. Rossi’s acting style was unique for the plasticity of his gesture and the surprising combination of realistic detail and emotional power akin to that of an opera performer. He was widely acclaimed in Vienna, Paris, Berlin, he was lionised in St. Petersburg and Moscow, yet was at times considered rather an exotic appearance in London and New York. See Marvin Carlson, The Italian Shakespearians: Performances by Ristori, Salvini, and Rossi in England and America, Washington, The Folger Shakespeare Library, 1985 and Sonia Bellavia, op. cit.

3 The process of delinking from the Ottoman Empire started in 1829 and was concomitant with the process of modernization and westernisation of the country. The revolutionary year 1848 marked a watershed, yet progress was difficult on account of the geopolitical position of the country as a peripheral space, a kind of Europe’s Other, and of its longstanding Eastern, Byzantine traditions.

4 Constantin I. Nottara, Amintiri. [Memoirs], Bucharest, Editura de Stat pentru Literatură și Artă, 1960, p. 65-66.

5 Aristizza Romanescu, 30 de ani. Amintiri. [30 Years. Memoirs], Bucharest, Editura de Stat pentru Literatură și Artă, 1960, p. 28.

6 Petre I. Sturdza, Amintiri. 40 de ani de teatru. [Memoirs. 40 Years in the Theatre], Bucharest, Editura Casei Scoalelor, 1940, p. 59-60.

7 Bellavia, op. cit., p. 80.

8 Rossi, Quarant’anni di vita artistica, Florence, Niccolai, 1887, quoted in Bellavia, op. cit., p. 79.

9 On the margins copying the centre see Pascale Casanova, The World Republic of Letters, trans. M. B. Debevoise, Cambridge (Mass.), Harvard University Press, 2004.

10 Paul de Saint Victor, Les Deux Masques: Comédie et tragédie, vol. 3, chap. VII, Paris, Calmann Levy, 1884, p. 111, (our translation).

11 Saint Victor, op. cit., p. 113-114, (our translation).

12 Paris-Artiste II.20 (1884), p. 1, (our translation).

13 Idem.

14 România liberă 08.2169 (3 October 1884), p. 2.

15 Literatorul I.13 (13 April 1880), p. 201.

16 Epoca 01.027 (17 December 1885), p. 3.

17 Monatschrift für Theater und Musik, April 4, 1860, p. 205, quoted in Bellavia, p. 97.

18 Romanescu, op. cit., p. 57.

19 Idem.

20 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sarah_Siddons_as_Ophelia.jpg

21 Florence Mary Wilson Parsons, The Incomparable Siddons, New York, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1909, p. 126.

22 Photo source https://deieri-deazi.blogspot.com/2019/08/aristizza-romanescu-actrita-care.html

23 William Shakespeare, Hamlet, ed. G. B. Hibbard, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987 reissued 2008, 4.5.4-11.

24 Romanescu, op. cit., p. 57.

25 William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Œuvres dramatiques de Shakespeare, trans. Pierre Letourneur, vol. 2, Paris, Imprimerie d’Amédée Saintin, 1835.

26 William Shakespeare, Hamlet, tragedie in 5 acte si 13 tablouri, trans. Grigore Manolescu, The National Theatre of Bucharest Library, Ms. 124, 1881, p. 82.

27 Hamlet, op.cit., 4.5.43.

28 Idem, 4.5.28.

29 Hamlet, G. Manolescu (trans.), p. 82.

30 Keith Hitchins, A Concise History of Romania, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014, p. 115.

31 Romanescu, op. cit., p. 139-140.

32 Romanescu, op. cit., p. 56.

33 Romanescu, op. cit., p. 72-73.

34 Henry James qtd. in Marvin Carlson, The Italian Shakespearians: Performances by Ristori, Salvini, and Rossi in England and America, Washington, The Folger Shakespeare Library, 1985, p. 163.

35 Lisanna Calvi, “Shakespeare in 19th-century Italy: Ernesto Rossi’s Romeo and Juliet”, Shakespeare en devenir 8 (2014), “Appropriations italiennes de Shakespeare”, accessible online at https://shakespeare.edel.univ-poitiers.fr:443/shakespeare/index.php?id=755, last accessed 15 March 2022).

36 William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, ed. René Weiss, Arden Shakespeare, London, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012, 3.2.1-31.

37 William Shakespeare, Romeo si Julieta, trans. Dimitrie Ion Ghica, Bucharest, Tipografia Curtii Regale, 1882.

38 România liberă 09.2490 (November 13 1885), Bucharest, p. 2.

39 Adelaide Ristori (29 January 1822-9 October 1906) was a renowned Italian tragedian.

40 România liberă 10.2802 (December 12 1886), p. 2.

41 Die Presse 44.153 (June 5 1891), Vienna, p. 11.

42 Henry James qtd. in Carlson, op. cit., p. 143.

43 Voinţa naţionala. Ďiar naţional-liberal, 03, no. 0480, March 6, Bucharest, 1886.

44 Photo source: https://altmarius.ning.com/m/group/discussion?id=3496555%3ATopic%3A772952

45 Aidé quoted in Carlson, op. cit., p. 143.

46 Idem.

47 Romeo and Juliet at the Lyceum”, Punch, 18 March 1882, London, p. 121.

48 Idem.

49 “‘How can you act in this way every night?’ ‘It is the audience,’ Ellen Terry said” in Edgar Pemberton, Ellen Terry and her Sisters,1902, p. 247.

50 Romanescu, op. cit., p. 42.

51 Lucia Sturdza Bulandra, Amintiri, amintiri, Bucharest, Editura de Stat, 1960, p. 14.

52 Nottara, op. cit., p. 173.

53 Romanescu, op. cit., p. 30.

54 Ioan Livescu, Amintiri și scrieri despre teatru, Bucharest, Editura pentru Literatură, 1967, p. 87.

Haut de page

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1: Sarah Siddons as Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, circa 178520
URL http://journals.openedition.org/shakespeare/docannexe/image/8298/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,1M
Titre Figure 2: Aristizza Romanescu as Ophelia, Hamlet, 188422
URL http://journals.openedition.org/shakespeare/docannexe/image/8298/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 160k
Titre Figure 3: Aristizza Romanescu as Juliet, Romeo and Juliet, 188544
URL http://journals.openedition.org/shakespeare/docannexe/image/8298/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 131k
Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Madalina Nicolaescu et Oana-Alis Zaharia, « East-West Dialogue on Reconfiguring Shakespearean Gender Identities in the 19th-Century Theatre »Actes des congrès de la Société française Shakespeare [En ligne], 41 | 2023, mis en ligne le 19 décembre 2023, consulté le 01 mars 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/shakespeare/8298 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/shakespeare.8298

Haut de page

Auteurs

Madalina Nicolaescu

University of Bucharest, Romania

Oana-Alis Zaharia

University of Bucharest, Romania

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

Le texte seul est utilisable sous licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Les autres éléments (illustrations, fichiers annexes importés) sont « Tous droits réservés », sauf mention contraire.

Haut de page
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search