Today’s choice is a literary and operatic rarity with interesting Greek roots.
Thanks to Sofia for suggesting our Name of the Day: Corisande.
Nameberry recently dubbed Corisande one of the “secret names” – unusual choices that few parents have discovered. Indeed, she’s never been ranked in the US Top 1000, and our census search turned up just a few bearers of the name.
Some first stumble on Corisande in the works of Benjamin Disraeli, the British Prime Minister and well-known author from the nineteenth century. We’ll spare you his political backstory. He wrote mostly romances, and some – including Sybil – are still read today. Corisande comes from one of his more obscure works, Lothair. It was one of his last completed novels, published in 1870.
However, we found Corisande even earlier, in the opera Amadis. Jean-Baptiste Lully’s tragedy debuted at the Paris Opera in 1684. At the time, it was a smash hit. Corisande is the love interest of Florestan. She’s not the piece’s heroine – that would be Oriane – but she’s a significant character.
Lully’s source for the work goes back farther still, to the medieval Spanish romance Amadis de Gaula. Apparently King Louis XIV himself chose the subject. The collection of legends was first published in the early 1500s, but like so many tales of chivalrous knights and fair maidens, certainly dated back at least a century earlier.
Speaking of maidens, that’s one theory for Corisande’s name. The Greek kore means girl, and Cora traces her roots back to the word. Another possibility is the Greek khoros – as in an assembly of dancers or singers. It seems like more of a stretch, but we’ll confess that we can’t get a clear read on Corisande’s nature in any of our sources. Perhaps she was just a background character – a chorus of one. Others connect Corisande to the Spanish word for heart – corazón.
Despite her lengthy history of use, Corisande never caught on. But neither did she disappear. Google Corisande and you’ll find a few hotels wearing the name. Born in 1820, the Countess of Malmesbury was called Corisande. The Duc de Gramont chose it for his daughter in the 1780s.
The result is intriguing – she’s a rare name that has always been rare. We suspect that will always be the case.
If you’re searching for a lyrical name for a daughter with sophisticated roots, Corisande is certainly one to consider. Unless a Hollywood star chooses this one for a child, she’s likely to remain startlingly underused.