María Casares

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María Casarès
Casares Harcourt 1944.jpg
María Victoria Casares y Pérez

(1922-11-21)21 November 1922
Died22 November 1996(1996-11-22) (aged 74)

María Casares (21 November 1922 – 22 November 1996) was a Galician-French actress and one of the most distinguished stars of the French stage and cinema. She was credited in France as Maria Casarès.


Early life

Casares was born María Victoria Casares y Pérez in A Coruña, Galicia, the daughter of Santiago Casares Quiroga, a minister in Manuel Azaña's government and Prime Minister of Spain, and of Gloria Pérez. She was a volunteer in Madrid hospitals already at age fourteen. Her father was a member of the Republican government so at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (1936), the family was forced to flee Spain. [1] Her father went to London, but she and her mother sought refuge in Paris.

There, María attended the Victor Duruy school, where she learned French and was befriended by a teacher and his Spanish wife, who inspired her to go into the theatre. After graduation, she took voice classes with René Simon. She enrolled in the Paris Conservatoire, where she won First Prize for tragedy and Second Prize for comedy.


In July 1942, she auditioned for Marcel Herrand who engaged her for his Théâtre des Mathurins. There, over the course of the next three years, she appeared in several plays including, Deirdre of the Sorrows by J. M. Synge, The Master Builder by Ibsen, Le Malentendu (The Misunderstanding) by Albert Camus (with whom she would later have a passionate affair), and an especially important premiere, Fédérico, after Prosper Mérimée, with Gérard Philipe.


She began to appear in films. Her first film role was in Marcel Carné's Les Enfants du paradis (1945), one of the great classics of French cinema. She also made Les dames du Bois de Boulogne (1945) for Robert Bresson, La Chartreuse de Parme ( The Charterhouse of Parma ) (1948) for Christian-Jaque, co-starring Gérard Philipe. For Cocteau, she played Death in his Orphée (1950) with Jean Marais and François Périer and in his Testament d'Orphée (Testament of Orpheus) (1960).

In 1989, she was nominated for the César Award for Best Supporting Actress in La Lectrice .

Stage success

From 1952 onward, although she continued to appear in occasional films, she devoted herself mainly to the stage. She joined the Festival d'Avignon, the Comédie-Française and the Théâtre National Populaire under the leadership of Jean Vilar. Before her, no one actor or actress of foreign origin had ever played at Comédie-Française. She toured extensively throughout the world, appearing in the great classics of French theatre, including, in 1958, Corneille's Le Cid , Victor Hugo's Marie Tudor and Marivaux' Le Triomphe de l'Amour (The Triumph of Love) on Broadway.

Personal life and death

Casares took French nationality in 1975 and three years later married André Schlesser, an actor known professionally as Dade, who had been her longtime companion and theatrical co-star. [1]

She published her autobiography, Résidente privilégiée (Privileged Resident) in 1980, in which she described her 16-year affair with Albert Camus. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] The couple never married, but their extensive correspondence, first published in France in late 2017, lasted from 1944, with a five year break to 1949, when they again had a chance meeting when their passion was rekindled until the end of Camus' life. [7] [8] [9] [10] She starred in a number of Albert Camus's plays and often threatened to end their stormy affair over his refusal to leave Francine Faure. [11] [12]

The actress died of colon cancer at her country house, Château de La Vergne, in the village of Alloue in Poitou-Charentes, on the day after her 74th birthday. [13] [14] She bequeathed the property to the village. Today, the Domaine de la Vergne is a residence for artists and a setting for performances.




  • Énigmes de l'histoire (1956)
  • Macbeth (1959) Lady Macbeth
  • Yerma (1963) Yerma
  • La Reine verte (1964)
  • L'Île des chèvres (1975) Agata
  • Britannicus (1977) Agrippine
  • Irène et sa folie (1980) Le docteur Burns
  • Peer Gynt (1981) Ase
  • Les Bonnes (1985) Madame
  • Les Nuits révolutionnaires (1989) La Murène

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  1. 1 2 John Calder. "Obituary:Maria Casares". The Independent . Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  2. "Camus and his women". The Guardian . 15 October 1997. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  3. Catherine Camus presenta la biografía de Olivier Todd sobre su padre, ABC – Madrid, June 12, 1997.
  4. Charting the amazing love life of the amorous existentialist, The Independent, October 11, 1997.
  5. Las mujeres de Camus, Vanguardia (April 12, 2012).
  6. Anna Mellado García – Centenario del nacimiento de Albert Camus – "Por una memoria histórica aún no recuperada", CCOO; accessed October 8, 2017.
  7. Catherine Camus, ed. (2017). Albert Camus - Maria Casarès, Correspondance inédite (1944-1959). Colléction Blanche (in French). Paris: Gallimard - Édition de Béatrice Vaillant. ISBN   9782072746161.
  8. Marlowe, Lara (25 November 2017). "Albert Camus's sizzling letters to one of his three lovers". The Irish Times. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  9. "Albert Camus: A Life" by Olivier Todd (Chapter 34: "The Unique One")
  10. LaCava, Stephanie (11 April 2018). "Illicit Love Letters: Albert Camus and Maria Casares". The Paris Review. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  11. "Camus: Portrait of a Moralist" by Stephen Eric Bronner (Chapter 3: "Resistance").
  12. Zaretsky, Robert (4 March 2018). "'No Longer the Person I Was': The Dazzling Correspondence of Albert Camus and Maria Casarès". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  13. María Casares
  14. Thibaudat, Jean-Pierre (6 July 2002). "La Vergne, habitée par Maria Casarès". Libération Next. Retrieved 4 January 2018.