RICHARD GIBSON

Freelance Writer and Editor

Staged reading, performed by Jill Freud and Company, Southwold and Aldeburgh Summer Festival

ESTELLE’S PINK SHOES

 

[MUSIC CUE 1: UN BAL 1]

 

WOMAN

The story of Hector Berlioz’s love for Estelle Duboef begins at a country house owned by the composer’s grandfather at Meylan, which is three miles from Grenoble, near the border of Savoy. In his early years, Hector would go there, with his

mother and sisters, to stay for three weeks at the end of every summer.

Above Meylan, close under the steep wall of the mountain, lies a little white villa, surrounded by vineyards and gardens. Behind are some rocky hills, a crumbling old tower, some woods, and the huge, imposing mass of the great Saint-Eynard rock. 

The villa belonged to Madame Gautier, 

 

In his early years, Hector would go there, with his mother and sisters, to stay for three weeks at the end of every summer.

Above Meylan, close under the steep wall of the mountain, lies a little white villa, surrounded by vineyards and gardens. Behind are some rocky hills, a crumbling old tower, some woods, and the huge, imposing mass of the great Saint-Eynard rock.  

The villa belonged to Madame Gautier, who spent the summer there with her two nieces, the younger of whom was called Estelle.

 

MAN

She was eighteen, tall and elegant, with splendid, shining eyes, hair worthy to adorn the helmet of Achilles, and the feet of a thoroughbred Parisian – clad in a pair of pink shoes!… You may laugh, but I was twelve, and I had never seen a pair of pink shoes before. I cannot think of her now without recalling the glitter of her great eyes, and her equally brilliant pink shoes.

The moment I set eyes on her, I felt an electric shock; I fell in love with her, desperately, hopelessly. I had no wishes, no hopes, and I suffered acutely. I crept away like a wounded bird, and hid myself in the maize fields and the orchards. I was haunted by jealousy, and suffered tortures when any man approached my idol.

WOMAN

The spectacle of so young a child, overwhelmed with a feeling for a girl who was almost a woman, afforded all the neighbours the keenest amusement. Estelle was the first to discern it, and she was more amused than anyone.