Sexual Fables
This article accompanies the fable
Life as Opera

Mata Hari as Manon Lascaut?

The composers Massenet and Puccini saw Mata perform in Massenet’s opera Le Roi de Lahore in Monte Carlo in 1906 and they were immediately taken with her.  Was she their Manon Lescaut of earlier times?  She was certainly an effective Salomé, capitalizing on the scandal and success of Richard Strauss’ opera of 1905, which was based on Oscar Wilde’s play, and she also portrayed Lady Godiva to great effect.  While most of these performances were for private audiences, she also performed at la Scala in Milan and around 1912 was one of the highest paid dancers in Europe.


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