La Barberina


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(orig. Barbara Campanini; b Parma, 1721; d Barschau, Silesia, 7 June 1799)

Italian dancer. She was as famous for her love affairs off stage as for her brilliant technique on stage. She made her debut at the Paris Opera in 1739, dancing in Rameau's Les Fêtes d'Hébé. Her success at the Paris Opera ultimately led to Sallé's retirement. Renowned for her pirouettes and entrechats huit, she made guest appearances in London and Dublin. When not dancing, she enjoyed liaisons with Prince de Carignan (director of the Paris Opera), Lord Arundel, the Marquis de Thébouville, and the Duke of Durfort. In 1744 she was hired by Frederick the Great of Prussia for an engagement in Berlin, but instead of honouring it she travelled with her lover, Lord Stuart Mackenzie, to Venice. The king then had her brought to Berlin by military guard. Once there, it seems she disarmed him with her beauty, for it is believed they became lovers. She danced at the Berlin Court Opera until 1748, when she fell out of favour with the Prussian king over her love affair with Charles-Louis de Cocceji, son of the king's chancellor. In 1749 she married Cocceji secretly against his family's wishes, accompanying him to exile in Silesia. They separated in 1759 and divorced in 1788. A year later, having purchased the Barschau estate in Silesia, she was given the title Countess von Barschau. She had her estates in Silesia turned into a charitable institution for impoverished noble ladies. Her colourful life was the subject of a 1935 ballet by Maudrik at the Berlin State Opera, entitled Die Barberina.

Subjects: Dance.

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