The Heart of the Marquise

Ballet mimique in one act
Music by Ernest Guiraud

World Première
7th March [O.S. 22nd February] 1902
Hermitage Theatre, Saint Petersburg

The Marquise has suddenly stopped eating and drinking. She is melancholy, does not read or play the piano. The Doctor, who calls, announces his diagnosis; the Marquise’s heart is not beating or else she simply does not have one. The disbelieving Marquise consults a fortune teller, but she only confirms the Doctor’s words. Lisette, the Marquise’s maid, and the Doctor decide that she needs to fall in love with someone and they organise a show of potential husbands. One after another, three officers, a street singer and a viscount come courting the Marquise, but all in vain. The Marquise’s heart does not respond to any of them. Finally, a beggar woman with children comes. The Marquise unhesitatingly gives her all her jewellery and suddenly, her heart, awakened by compassion, begins to beat. The Marquise gives her revived heart to the Viscount.