So I’m flipping through a libretto of La Bohème and I notice something interesting. Mimì is referred to as a gristte and Musetta a lorette. My brain didn’t know either of those words, so I did some research.
The term gristte has been used for a while, but in early 19th century France, is referred to young women who were seamstresses or worked for hatmakers and could often be found in cafés and other bohemian venues. They often had…let’s say “arrangements”…with these artists and served as models and inspiration. The grisette was often seen in French fiction, such as Fantine in Hugo’s Les Misérables to Mimì in Murger’s Scènes de la vie de Bohème.
A lorette, on the other hand, refers to a woman is solely supported by her lovers, devoting her days to pleasure and luxury. Her lovers weren’t the highest in the city – they were usually kept by an upper class bourgeoisie or lower level aristocrat. She may have nice clothes and a well-appointed apartment, but her social standing was very, very low. She might look like highborn ladies, but was seen as public property – a thing to be acquired or admired.
I learn something new every day!
Ciao for now!