The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

 
 
 
Mlle Emma Livry

Mlle Emma Livry


Born in Paris on 14 September 1842, Emma Livry made her debut on 20 September 1858 in La Sylphide. She quickly became one of the brightest rising stars of the Paris Opéra and the darling of the Paris audiences. A glorious career seemed certain, particularly after she caught the eye of Marie Taglioni, who had originated the role. Taglioni worked with her daily, and created her only ballet for her, Le Papillion, with music by Offenbach.

At that time, stages were lighted by gas jets, and since accidents were frequent, the long tutus worn by dancers were treated to make them flame resistant. However, the process made the muslin turn yellow and stiff, and like many other dancers, Livry refused to wear costumes that had been treated.

During a rehearsal of The Dumb Girl of Portici, Emma's skirt caught fire. Two other dancers tried to extinguish the flames, but Emma suffered severe burns. She died of complications eight months later. She was twenty-one.

Photographed by A. A. E. Disdéri.
 

Code: 122069
 
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