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David Belasco Biography

(1859–1931), The Heart of Maryland, Madame Butterfly, The Girl of the Golden West

theatre american stage san

American dramatist, born in San Francisco. Belasco wrote his first play at the age of 12 and worked in the theatre from the age of 14. Though he spent his apprentice years in San Francisco as an actor, producer, stage manager, and eventually theatre manager, his name is indelibly linked with the history of the theatre in New York from the mid-1880s to the early 1920s. He also had a talent for discovering gifted actors and actresses. In costumes, sets, and props, Belasco was obsessed with the demands of visual realism which led him to extraordinary feats of setting, and he pioneered the use of special lighting effects to strengthen the emotional appeal of a scene. He established his reputation as a playwright with an American Civil War drama, The Heart of Maryland (1895). His stage adaptation of John Luther Long's short story Madame Butterfly (1900), and his play about the 1849 California Gold Rush The Girl of the Golden West (1905), were made into operas by Puccini, which have become part of the standard repertoire.

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