Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), perhaps the world’s best-known actress, toured extensively in American and Europe. In an age of great actors, she stood apart for her “golden voice,” dramatic intensity, and extraordinary pathos in death scenes.
Muse and friend to writers such as Victor Hugo, Oscar Wilde, and Victorien Sardou, Madame Bernhardt appeared in an astonishing variety of roles including Joan of Arc, Hamlet, and Queen Elizabeth I. Especially known for her portrayal of
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the consumptive courtesan Marguerite in La Dame aux Camélias (Camille), Madame Bernhardt was also skilled in literature, sculpture, painting, and design, and her personal life was often as colourful and flamboyant as the roles she portrayed.
After the amputation of her right leg, she continued to tour and performed for soldiers on the front during World War I. Today, her image as drawn by Alphonse Mucha is an icon of Art Nouveau style and she remains a cultural heroine in her native France.
Emily Lapisardi has performed as Sarah Bernhardt at the Civic Light Opera Academy of Musical Theater (Pittsburgh), the Center in the Woods, Bellmar Middle School, California University of Pennsylvania, and for the Monongahela Historical Society, Delta Kappa Gamma, the Friends of the John Tener Library, Chautauqua on the Mon, the Saturday Afternoon Club, and the West Virginia University Honors Program and French Cabaret. This portrayal was also featured in Igor Roussanoff’s multimedia installation “Dream Exhibition.”
Despite All, Emily’s presentation as Sarah Bernhardt for the West Overton Museum Parlor Talk Series 2002, was broadcast on the Armstrong Cable network.