If you’ve seen the papers over the past few days, you’re likely to have come across the story of Madonna’s latest indiscretion. As featured in The Guardian - http://tiny.cc/ii3jF - love letters between Madonna and an old boyfriend have surfaced and are up for auction. What caught our attention here at Trestle is that Madonna used the pseudonym "Lola Montez" – the infamous 19th century dancer and courtesan and the subject of our latest production – Lola: The Life of Lola Montez.
Ironically our Artistic Director, Emily Gray, has often referred to Lola as the Madonna of her age. Like Madonna she was the queen of reinvention, someone who practised sexual liberation and created public dramas.
Lola Montez was one of the most infamous and mysterious figures of the 19th century. Born into humble Irish beginnings, Eliza Rosanna Gilbert spent her childhood in India but her “spoilt and half-wild ways” saw her sent back to Britain to boarding school. At 16 she eloped with her mother’s lover but soon divorced him and set her ambitions on a life upon the stage.
Reinventing herself as the Spanish dancer Lola Montez, she travelled the world performing her famous spider dance and seducing many powerful and influential men along the way. At times she was the most famous woman in the world: just as much for her personal antics as those on stage. This is the woman who once brought her pet bear to a court case, horse-whipped a journalist for writing a less than complimentary review of her show, and held the first ever press conference. And then there were her many ‘conquests’ - French novelist Alexandre Dumas, Hungarian composer and virtuoso pianist Franz Liszt and King Ludwig I of Bavaria, just to name a few. Lola died of syphilis in her late 30s, penniless and alone. Quite possibly the original tabloid celebrity you might say?
And so back to Madonna and her love letters. While Madonna might not be too pleased that she finds herself the centre of attention, we at Trestle are all secretly chuffed that Lola can continue to cause a scandal, even from the grave!!!
Don’t miss Lola at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival from 9 – 30 August at the New Town Theatre (Venue 7), Freemasons’ Hall, 96 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 3DH. Box office: 0844 477 1000 or www.universalartsfestival.com.