Marguerite and Armand


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Marguerite and Armand

Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev star in a performance of Sir Frederick Ashton's ballet Marguerite and Armand, which was inspired by Dumas's love story La Dame aux Camelias.


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How many times have I looked in that mirror, as I put on my make up

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for Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty,

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an important first night, or an exciting gala at Covent Garden,

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or just one of the hundreds of performances

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that go to make up a long career?

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I never felt it was routine.

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What they call the smell of the greasepaint

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and the lure of the footlights never lost their magic for me.

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The opera house fireman always brought me a cup of tea at the end of a show.

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My favourites were all the Frederick Ashton ballets.

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The last one he created for me was the first ballet ever created for Rudolf Nureyev.

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It was Marguerite And Armand.

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Ashton chose Liszt's music and the well-known story by Dumas

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called The Lady Of The Camellias,

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about the love of a famous courtesan

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and a young man of good family,

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set in mid-19th century Paris, when such a liaison was a social scandal.

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Michael Soames played Armand's father.

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Let's imagine those moments when the curtain rises,

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and all that we can see from the stage

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are the lights shining through the darkness.

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As the ballet opens, Marguerite is dying of consumption,

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and, in her delirium, she relives the episodes of her love for Armand.

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Amid the confusion of her dreams,

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she imagines she sees him, far away and out of her reach.

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MUSIC: "Piano Sonata in B Minor" By Franz Liszt

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In her imagination, Armand seems to appear before her.

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Marguerite, in her dreams, goes back to the day of their first meeting.

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At that time, her illness was only in the early stages.

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She gave Armand a camellia,

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and she remembers that it was at an evening party

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where she was surrounded by men, and escorted by a rich duke.

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Armand and Marguerite had fallen in love,

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and she dreams of the days when Armand took her away

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from Paris to the country, where they lived in idyllic happiness.

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One day, Armand's father arrived,

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and he persuaded her that she must renounce his son.

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Marguerite gave him no explanation.

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She let him believe that she really wanted to return to her old way of life in Paris.

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She remembers Armand's fury when he found her

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surrounded by her admirers.

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The young men had always been sure she would go back to them.

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They were waiting for her to appear, covered in diamonds on the arm of the duke.

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Armand's father was so shocked by his son's conduct

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that he resolved to tell him the truth of Marguerite's love.

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Humiliated and broken, Marguerite is on her deathbed

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when Armand's father hurries to tell her that Armand will soon be with her again.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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E-mail subtitling@bbc.co.uk

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Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev star in a television performance of Sir Frederick Ashton's ballet Marguerite and Armand, which was inspired by Dumas's tragic love story La Dame aux Camelias.

The Music is the B minor piano sonata by Lizst and the ballet is designed by Sir Cecil Beaton. Marguetite and Armand is performed by the partnership for which it was created and is introduced by Dame Margot Fonteyn.