1883
Eleonora Duse, one of the world’s greatest actresses, continues unparalleled theatrical career in America.


"She was born into art just as a princess is born into royalty," was Frances Winwar's (Vinciguerra) description of one of the world's greatest actresses. Eleonora Duse (1859-1924) was born near Venice of parents who were professional actors. That acting was part of the family background is evident in the role of her grandfather Luigi Duse, who excelled in comedia dell'arte. The Italian theater in Eleonora's youth was a hard taskmaster characterized by drab surroundings, penurious salaries, lack of appreciation, and actors who experienced a wide range of emotions that would leave lifetime sychological scars. Nevertheless she received the plaudits of critics for her classical roles: Cleopatra, Juliet, Ophelia, Desdemona, and Electra. Despite her affliction with tuberculosis, she continued to enthrall audiences and was invited to perform in the United States. In 1893 she began a series of tours that would span decades. Although she acted in Italian, she was compared favorably with Sarah Bernhardt and won rave reviews for her poignant performances from American audiences including President Grover Cleveland and his wife who also hosted a luncheon in her honor. Duse's personal life seemed to mirror the passion and pain of dramatic theater. Seduced and abandoned as a young woman, she had an unhappy marriage and a final extravagant love affair with famed poet and political activist Gabriele D'Annunzio. Her devotion to acting is what sustained her until her death in Pittsburgh in 1924 while on another triumphant tour.






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