Her name is Hortense Schneider and her name is linked to the famous operetta composer, Jacques Offenbach. She has a conquering smile, mischievous eyes, a pretty voice, a passion for the stage, and a gift of the gab that nothing undermines. She loves the theater so much that she easily outshines those who use it only as a stepping stone and who turn out to be more courtesans than actresses. Recruited by the famous musician at the Bouffes-Parisiens, she achieves triumph: she is launched. Hortense dines at Café Anglais, a famous restaurant that has the advantage of offering its clientele private rooms, moves in a luxurious carriage, and indulges in a liaison with a young lion of the boulevard, the Duke of Gramont-Caderousse.
En 1864, her triumph in the role of La Belle Hélène earned her European fame. Everything about her, her words, gestures, and habits, were observed and reported: Hortense symbolized unbridled pleasure and wild verve that characterized the imperial festivities. Napoleon III, Alexander II, Grand Duke Constantine, the Prince of Wales, the Prince of Orange, the King of Portugal – all courted the dazzling empress of operetta whom a jealous rival had nicknamed: “The Passage of Princes!”