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Charles VII chez ses grands vassaux

Charles VII at the Homes of his Great Vassals

drame/play, pub:1831, action:1403-1461

Five-act tragedy originally written in verse, then rewritten in prose. Part of Théâtre complet.

    Gemma di Vergy di Gaetano Donizetti

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From A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas père by Frank Wild Reed:
     A verse drama in five acts.
     A great deal has been written regarding Dumas' borrowings for this piece ; in other words, as to those whom his adverse critics claim to have the right to be regarded as his collaborators. He himself is quite frank about it. In his "Mémoires" he acknowledges his indebtedness to Racine, Goethe, de Musset and Walter Scott. Gautier, in his "Histoire du Romantisme," states that the idea of Yaqoub came from a lost drama composed by himself and Gérard de Nerval, that this latter probably spoke of it to Dumas, and that, in any case, he was proud to think that their work had been considered worthy of supplying the great dramatist with a subject.
     In spite of all this however, and Dumas' own statement that it was "a work of assimilation and not an original drama, and one which had cost him more labour than 'Antony,' " it remains one of, if not his very finest play, and assuredly his best sustained verse effort. His presentation of the well-contrasted characters and the development of the plot is excellent. It is true that there is a slight weakness in the double thread of the intrigue, that is to say, the awakening of the king to his duty, and the striking progress of the interaction between the count, his wife and Yaqoub.
     This piece is Dumas' one real tragedy. It consists of 1,817 alexandrines and a reading from Genesis.
     The scene takes place in France at the time of its lowest abasement, just previous to the appearance of Joan of Arc.
     It was first performed at the Odéon Theatre on the 20th of October, 1831.
     Original edition : Paris, Lemesle et la Veuve Béchet, 1831, 8vo., pp. 120.
     Second edition: same publishers, 1832, 8vo., pp. 124, being augmented by a preface.
     In 1834 it was included in Charpentier's "Théâtre Complet," Vol. II.
     In 1835 it appeared in the "Magasin Théâtral," Paris, Marchant, large 8vo. of two columns, pp. 28.
     It may now be read in Vol. II. of both editions of the " Théâtre Complet" as issued by Calmann-Lévy.
     It was restaged at the Théâtre Français in 1845, 1851, 1853 and 1854. In all, up to this latter year, the Comédie Française had performed it 56 times.
     Dumas' epigraph for this play consists of the two words, "Cur non ?"
     In all the later editions this is followed by an extract from the "Chronique du Règne de Charles VII.," by Maître Alain Chartier, and an explanatory foreword,
     The work was composed at Trouville, then an unknown fishing village, between the 7th of July and the 10th of August, 1831.
     Donizetti's opera "Gemma de Vergi" is based on Dumas' "Charles II. chez ses Grands Vassaux." It was first performed at the Théâtre de la Scala, Milan, in 1836, and in Paris, at the Théâtre Italien, on the 16th of December, 1845.

         References :—
     Dumas: "Mes Mémoires," Chapters CCVI. to CCX., CCXII., CCXIII. and CCXV.
     Gautier: "Art Dramatique," Series I., p. 136, Series IV. Pp. 79-80.
     Gautier: "Histoire du Romantisme."
     Blaze de Bury: "Alexandre Dumas," pp. 49-67.
     Parigot: "Le Drame d'Alexandre Dumas," pp. 69-71, 198-213.
     Courmeaux: "Alexandre Dumas," pp. 9-13.
     D'Heylli's "Journal Intime de la Comédie Française: 1852-1871," pp. 27-28.
     Parigot, in the "Revue des Cours et Conférences," 1895, Fourth Year, Vol. 1., pp. 232-40 : " Charles VII."
     Sarcey: "Quarante Ans de Théâtre," Series IV., pp. 92-95.

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