The story relates that on January 24, 1887, the French actress Sarah Bernhardt performed at the Esteban Theater, years later named Sauto, and the Matanzas spectators deliriously applauded her interpretation of Margarita Gautier in the play “La Dama de las Camelias”.
They say that in his successful career, his performance in 125 plays stands out and one of his greatest successes was reached with the legendary work of Alejandro Dumas, represented on stages around the world: Buenos Aires, La Plata, New York and Cuba.
His fame preceded any later epithet and according to the reviews of the newspaper La Aurora del Yumurí, he was worthy of the highest praise. In an investigation by Anet Martínez Suárez, the opinions published in said newspaper are detailed, the day after her presentation on the Matanzas stage, which pointed out: «For our part we can assure that we left completely satisfied, our admiration went beyond the fame that the world grants him …»
«… In the fourth and fifth act we saw her grow and play, she could say with our feelings, to the extreme of taking us away from enthusiasm. “
… As for its beauty, it can be said that if it is not really so because of the lack of freshness of the first youth and does not fulfill in terms of the forms, the demands of a Venus, it seems, however, because such power has the most art talent in a woman …
«In the scene that is her temple, we found her beauty radiant …» One of the admirers of the earthly muse was José Martí, who wrote in New York in 1880, the impression that the great artist caused him when he met her in Paris in 1874. Marti wrote of her: …
«Where she comes from? Of poverty! Where she goes? To glory! »
“Each century has its stars: the homeland of Rachel, Miss Mars, Sophie Arnould, has been enriched by Sarah Bernhardt, who is undoubtedly a tragic, but also what is worth more: a character. We are not going to say what has already been said: we have our own impressions.
“Sarah is flexible, fine, slender. When she’s not shaken by the demon of tragedy, her body is filled with grace and abandon. When the demon takes hold of him, she is full of strength and nobility. Her face, although feminine, breathes a beautiful fierceness: although she looks good, she is not imprinted with beauty, but with resolution.
She will do what she wishes: she has something of the first Bonaparte; she feigns disdain for her, although her soul is filled with friendship and frankness – because she believes it necessary to be respected. «Sarah Bernhardt does not take advantage of natural gifts, but she has carved in herself, coldly and as an artist who works in marble, the woman who seemed to her that she would dazzle and admire men the most.»
134 years after her performance on the stage of the Sauto theater, there are those who sometimes hear, behind the scenes, her passionate words of love, when at the end «Margarita» dies longing for the kisses of «Armando Duval».