The Many Loves of "Raving Beauty" Mercedes de Acosta

by Mark Thompson
EDGE Style & Travel Editor
Tuesday Apr 5, 2011

Imagine being bold enough to have slept with Marlene Dietrich. And beautiful enough to have slept with Greta Garbo. And sexy enough to have snared Isadora Duncan. And cultured enough to bed Katharine Cornell, Edith Wharton, and Eva Le Gallienne. And daring enough to have diddled with Tallulah Bankhead. Imagine your sexual conquests reading like a Who's Who in Hollywood. Who else would you be but the raving beauty, Mercedes de Acosta?

As a playwright, poet, and costume designer, de Acosta was celebrated, but it was her string of well-known lovers - and her daring frankness about her sexuality - that made de Acosta a celebrity on par with her lovers.

As part of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), composer Joseph Hallman has created "Raving Beauty," a work based on de Acosta's life and loves. Composer-in-residence of the Rosenbach Museum & Library, Hallman examined the de Acosta archives to help create his commissioned song cycle exploring de Acosta's relationships with the many celebrated women in her life, including her sister, the fashion icon, Rita Lydig.

Performed by Dolce Suono Ensemble, Philadelphia’s highly-regarded chamber music group, headed by flutist Mimi Stillman, Hallman’s "Raving Beauty" will be performed in the salon of the Denworth Room at Rosenbach Museum and Library on Saturday, April 9th, 2011 at two p.m.

Don’t be too surprised if you encounter a woman in a tuxedo, smoking a cigarette.

LINK: "Raving Beauty" at PIFA

A long-term New Yorker and a member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson has also lived in San Francisco, Boston, Provincetown, D.C., Miami Beach and the south of France. The author of the novels WOLFCHILD and MY HAWAIIAN PENTHOUSE, he has a PhD in American Studies and is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in numerous publications.


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