Julie D’Aubigny sticker
Julie D’Aubigny “Le Diable au Corpse”
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Julie d’Aubigny: sword-slinger, opera singer, and larger-than-life bisexual celebrity of 17th century France. Her life was a whirlwind of duels, seduction, graverobbing, and convent-burning so intense that she had to be pardoned by the king of France twice!.
These final years of her career were spent in a relationship with the Madame la Marquise de Florensac, upon whose death La Maupin was inconsolable. She retired from the opera in 1705 and took refuge in a convent, probably in Provence, where she died in 1707 at the age of only 33. She has no known grave.
Julie d’Aubigny (1673–1707), better known as Mademoiselle Maupin or La Maupin, was a 17th-century swordswoman and opera singer. Her tumultuous career and flamboyant life were the subject of gossip and colourful stories in her own time, and inspired numerous portrayals afterwards. Théophile Gautier loosely based the title character, Madeleine de Maupin, of his novel Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835) on her.
The Paris Opéra hired Thévenard in 1690, but initially refused her. She befriended an elderly singer, Bouvard, and he and Thévenard convinced Jean Nicolas Francin, master of the king’s household, to accept her into the company. She debuted as Pallas Athena in Cadmus et Hermione by Jean-Baptiste Lully the same year. She performed regularly with the Opéra, first singing as a soprano, and later in her more natural contralto range. The Marquis de Dangeau wrote in his journal of a performance by Maupin given at Trianon of Destouches’ Omphale in 1701 that hers was “the most beautiful voice in the world”.
In Paris, and later in Brussels, she performed under the name Mademoiselle de Maupin – singers were addressed as ‘mademoiselle’ whether or not they were married.
Due to Mademoiselle de Maupin’s beautiful voice, her acting skill, and her androgynous appearance, she became quite popular with the audience, although her relationship with her fellow actors and actresses was sometimes tempestuous. She famously beat the singer Louis Gaulard Dumesny after he pestered the women members of the troupe, and a legendary duel of wits with Thévenard was the talk of Paris. She also fell in love with Fanchon Moreau, another singer who was the mistress of the Grand Dauphin, and tried to commit suicide when she was rejected.
Her Paris career was interrupted around 1695, when she kissed a young woman at a society ball and was challenged to duels by three different noblemen. She beat them all, but fell afoul of the king’s law that forbade duels in Paris. She fled to Brussels to wait for calmer times. There, she was briefly the mistress of Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria.
While in Brussels, Mademoiselle de Maupin appeared at the Opéra du Quai au Foin from November 1697 to July 1698, after which she returned to the Paris Opéra to replace the retiring Marie Le Rochois. She and her friend d’Albert were both in trouble with the law over the years: he for yet another fatal duel, and she for beating up her landlord.
Until 1705, La Maupin sang in new operas by Pascal Collasse, André Cardinal Destouches, and André Campra. In 1702, André Campra composed the role of Clorinde in Tancrède specifically for her bas-dessus (contralto) range. She sang for the court at Versailles on a number of occasions, and again performed in many of the Opéra’s major productions. She appeared for the last time in La Vénitienne by Michel de La Barre (1705).