Gisèle
Casadesus

400e sociétaire

Gisèle Casadesus joined the Comédie-Française in 1934, and became its 400st sociétaire in 1939, and later a sociétaire honoraire in 1967.

Born on June 14, 1914, Gisèle Casadesus grew up in a large family of artists. Her father, Henri Casadesus was a composer, her mother, a harpist, and a relative from the same generation, Francis Casadesus, a composer and conductor. Christian,Gisèle Casadesus' brother, was both an actor and theater director. Gisèle has four children, including actress Martine Pascal and conductor Jean-Claude Casadesus.

In the thirties, she started by studying music and dance, then enrolled in the Conservatoire d'art dramatique (Conservatory of Dramatic Arts), in which she would win a first prizefor comedy in 1934, in the class of Georges Le Roy.

Admitted to the Comédie-Française at the age of 20, on July 5, 1934, Gisèle Casadesus officially joined the Troupe of Molière on August 1st. She made her official début in Beaumarchais’s The Barber of Seville in the role of Rosine. In 1937, she created the lead role of Emmanuèle in Mauriac’sAsmodée, under the watchful eye of the author himself and under the direction of Jacques Copeau. She sustained the momentum of her career by collaborating with the most prestigious directors of her time, namely Pierre Dux, Louis Jouvet, Gaston Baty, Jacques Charon, Charles Dullin, etc. and by working with the greatest actors, namely Pierre Fresnay, Madeleine Renaud, and Jean-Louis Barrault, just to name a few. She was appointed as a sociétaire on January 1, 1939, thus becoming the 400th sociétaire of the Troupe.

From the repertoire, Gisèle Casadesus mainly played the roles of the ingénues and of the young romantic lead. Of the works by de Musset, she played the role of Louise Strozziin Lorenzaccio, of Rosette in Don’t Trifle with Love (On ne badine pas avec l’amour), of Madeleine in Le Chandelier, of Mathilde in Un caprice (A Diversion), of Ninon in Of What Do Young Girls Dream? (À quoi rêvent les jeunes filles ?). Of the Molière repertoire, she interpreted the roles of Hyacinthe in Scapin the Schemer, of Henriette in Les Femmes savantes, of Cathos in Les Précieuses ridicules (The Precious Ridiculous), of Marianne in Tartuffe or The Impostor. From Corneille’s plays, she performed the roles of Isabelle in L'Illusion comique, of Isabelle, and then of Clarice in The Liar. With regard to the repertoire of Beaumarchais, she played the role of Suzanne in The Marriage of Figaro, and made a replay of the role of Rosine in The Barber of Seville, etc.
She also played the role of the soubrettes in Marivaux's plays, most notably of Lisette in The Game of Love and Chance (in a miscellany of productions), in The Second Surprise of Love, The Test (L’Épreuve), and of Marton in False Admissions (Les Fausses Confidences), etc. She also interpreted the roles of young spiritual and prickly women peculiar to vaudeville plays, such as Helene in Labiche’s An Italian Straw Hat, Yvonne in Feydeau’s Madame’s Late Mother (Feu la mère de Madame), Lucienne Vatelin in Sauce for the Goose (Le Dindon), etc.

Gisèle Casadesus left the Comédie-Française on December 31, 1962, after playing the role of Magdelon in La Troupe du Roy, a tribute to Molière’s works, directed by Paul-Émile Deiber. She was appointed as a sociétaire honoraire on April 15, 1967, and it was in this capacity that she returned in 1980 to play Mademoiselle Gabrielle, The Madwoman of Saint-Sulpice, in Jean Giraudoux’s The Madwoman of Chaillot staged by Michel Fagadau, and in 1990, the role of La Vieille, in Spiró's Chickenhead, as part of a reading performed duringthe week of the Hungarian authors.

In addition to her thirty-year career at the Comédie-Française and to her status as a sociétaire honoraire, Gisèle Casadesus was also present on the cinema screens, starting with L'Aventurier by Marcel L'Herbier in 1934, followed by collaborations with a host of directors, such as Henri Decoin in Between Eleven and Midnight (Entre onze heures et minuit) in 1949, André Cayatte in The Verdict (Verdict) in 1974, Jacques Fansten in Roulez jeunesse ! (1993), Claude Lelouch in Hommes, femmes : mode d'emploi (1996),Jean Becker in The Children of the Marshland (Les Enfants du marais) in 1999, Sophie Fillières in Ouch (Aïe) in 2000, Valérie Lemercier in Palais Royal ! in 2005, Pascal Thomas in Le Grand appartement in 2006, and Laure Marsac Le quatrième morceau de la femme coupée en trois in 2007.

Le Jeu de l'amour et du théâtre is Gisèle Casadesus’auto-biography published by Philippe Rey on March 8, 2007. Her narrative consists of a personal contemplation of the profession of actor, and mixes personal and professional anecdotes and memories of distant travels which the Troupe made. In 2003, she received an Honorary Molière Award as a tribute for her entire career, during the 17th edition of the Molière ceremony, presided over that year by Jean Piat.
She was awarded the titles of Grand Officer in the Order of the Legion of Honor, of Grand Cross (Grand-croix) in the National Order of Merit, and of Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters.

At the Comédie-Française

2011-2012

2009-2010

1980-1981

  • La Folle de Chaillot

    by Jean Giraudoux Directed by Michel Fagadau

    Gabrielle, la Folle de Saint-Sulpice

    Richelieu

1979-1980

  • La Folle de Chaillot

    by Jean Giraudoux Directed by Michel Fagadau

    Gabrielle, la Folle de Saint-Sulpice

    Odéon

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