L'Apres-midi d'un faune was choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky for the Diaghilev Ballets Russes and was first performed in Paris on May 29, 1912, with Nijinsky dancing the role of the Faun. Both the ballet and score to which it was set, Claude Debussy's 'Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune', were inspired by the poem of the same title by Stephane Malarme. Design was by Leon Bakst. Choreographic features of the work include a frieze-like archaic design, profiled stance, and alternation of movement and pose. The spare libretto centres on the faun's meeting and flirtation with nymphs, and the piece concludes with a scene of simulated masturbation that scandalized early audiences.
The de Basil Ballets Russes revival of L'Apres-midi d'un faune premiered in London on October 2, 1933, and Australian audiences first saw the work during the 1936-1937 tour by the Monte Carlo Russian Ballet. Its first performance was in Adelaide on October 20,1936. The review in The Advertiser the following day noted that the work 'struck a new note in ballet', and hailed Leon Woizikowsy as 'magnetis[ing] the audience with his amazing delineation of the part of The Faun'. The ballet was subsequently seen in Sydney and Melbourne. During the second Ballets Russes tour by the Covent Garden Russian Ballet a truncated solo version was performed by David Lichine in a 'principles only' farewell gala in Sydney on 27 April 1939.
The Rite of Spring, its original French title, Le Sacre du Printemps, is a ballet with music by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. The original choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky, and original set design and costumes by archaeologist and painter Nicholas Roerich. The music is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest, most influential, and most reproduced compositions in history. It is iconic for 20th century classical or avant garde European music, with innovative complex rhythmic structures, timbres, and use of dissonance. The scandal of a riot at its 1913 premier, caused by its innovative technique and content, made it one of the most internationally well-known and controversial works in performance history.
The idea for the ballet was originally conceived by the painter Nikolai Roerich. Roerich shared his idea with Stravinsky in 1910. The Rite of Spring was composed between 1912 and 1913 for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes and premiered on May 29, 1913 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris.
The ballet completed its run of seven performances amid controversy, but experienced no further disruption. The same performers gave a production of the work in London later the same year.
The ballet Coppélia premiered on May 25, 1870 at the Théâtre Impérial de l´Opéra, with the 16-year-old Giuseppina Bozzacchi in the principal role of Swanhilde. Coppélia is a sentimental comic ballet with original choreography by Arthur Saint-Léon to a ballet libretto by Saint-Léon and Charles Nuitter and music by Léo Delibes. It was based upon two macabre stories by E. T. A. Hoffmann, Der Sandmann (The Sandman), and Die Puppe (The Doll). Its first flush of success was interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War and the siege of Paris - which also led to the early death of Giuseppina Bozzacchi, on her 17th birthday - but eventually it became the most-performed ballet at the Opera Garnier. The team of Saint-Léon and Nuittier had a previous success with the ballet La Source (1860), for which Délibes had composed the music jointly with Ludwig Minkus.
The story of Coppélia concerns a mysterious and faintly diabolical inventor, Doctor Coppélius who has made a life-size dancing doll. It is so lifelike that Frantz, a village swain, is infatuated with it, and sets aside his true heart's desire, Swanhilde, who in Act II shows him his folly by dressing as the doll and pretending to come to life. The festive wedding-day divertissements in the village square that occupy Act III are often deleted in modern danced versions, though one of the entrées was the first czardas presented on a ballet stage.
Giuseppina Bozzacchi was an Italian ballerina, noted for creating the role of Swanhilda in Léo Delibes' ballet Coppélia at the age of 16. She came to Paris to study with Mme Dominique. The choreographer, Arthur Saint-Léon, and the director of the Académie Royale de Musique, Émile Perrin, had been searching for a suitable Swanhilda, after deciding that none of the ballerinas previously considered – Léontine Beaugrand, Angelina Fioretti and Adèle Grantzou – were suitable. They even asked the composer Léo Delibes to seek out a suitable Swanilda on his trip to Italy. He returned empty-handed, but in the meantime Saint-Léon and Perrin had discovered Bozzacchi.
Giuseppina created Swanhilda on May 25, 1870 in the presence of Emperor Napoleon III. In July, an international dispute broke out between France and Prussia over the succession to the Spanish throne, and on July 19, France declared war. Giuseppina Bozzacchi danced Swanhilda for the 18th and last time on August 31st, when the Paris Opéra closed for the duration of the Franco-Prussian War. The Opéra had stopped paying salaries, and Giuseppina, weakened by lack of food, became ill. She contracted smallpox and fever, and died that same year on the morning of her 17th birthday ,November 23, 1870.
Karsavina was a Principal Artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet and later Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. After graduating from the
She was the first ballerina to dance in the so-called Le Corsaire Pas de Deux in 1915. It was in late 1910 when she
She was perhaps most famous for dancing the title role in Fokine's The Firebird (a role originally offered to Anna Pavlova, but Anna disliked Stravinsky's score and refused to dance to it!) with her occasional partner Vaslav Nijinsky.
The ballet Thamar, premiered on May 20, 1912 at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris. It starred Tamara Karsavina and Adolph Bolm as the Principal dancers. The ballet is a drama, in one scene based upon a poem by Mikhail Lermontov. The music was by Mily Balakirev with Fokine as choreographer. Leon Bakst did both the décor and the costumes.
The ballet itself was set in the castle of the Queen of Georgia, Thamar enticed passing suitors by fluttering her scarf out of the window. The action centers around one particular Prince, who enters the castle and dances ecstatically for Queen Thamar.
The queen enjoys his savage movements. She joins in the dance and their lips meet in a passionate kiss. Then she twists from his grasp and runs through the green door. He follows in pursuit. The ballet ends violently with Queen Thamar murdering her guest and disposing of his body through a trap door. She then returns to her window luring new victims with the waving of her scarf.
As Thamar was set in Georgia, Leon Bakst drew on authentic Georgian architecture for inspiration in designing the set for Thamar’s castle. Mikhail Fokine, too, used elements of traditional Georgian dance in the choreography.
The world premiere of the ballet was given in St. Petersburg on November 4, 1890 at the Mariinsky Theatre. Set designers were Yanov, Andreyev, and Bocharov, while Lev Ivanov was balletmaster.
Other notable premieres were given in Prague in 1899, and in Paris on May 19, 1909, with Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes and Fokine’s choreography. London saw the same production in 1914 conducted by Thomas Beecham.
In 1915, the United States premiere took place at the Metropolitan Opera, but staged in Italian and conducted by Giorgio Polacco.
Parade is a ballet with music by Erik Satie and a one-act scenario by Jean Cocteau. The ballet was composed 1916-1917 for Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. The ballet premiered on May 18, 1917 at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, with costumes and sets designed by Pablo Picasso, a choreography by Léonide Massine (who was also dancing), and the orchestra conducted by Ernest Ansermet.
The premiere of the ballet resulted in a number of scandals, including a classical music riot. According to the painter Gabriel Fournier, one of the most memorable scandals was an altercation between Cocteau, Satie, and an unnamed music critic who gave Parade an unfavorable review. Satie had written a postcard to the critic which read: "Sir and Dear Friend, You are only an arse, but an arse without music. Signed, Erik Satie." The critic sued Satie, and at the trial Cocteau was arrested and beaten by police for repeatedly yelling "arse" in the courtroom. Satie was given a sentence of eight days in jail.
Jeux (Games) is the last work for orchestra written by Claude Debussy. It was written for the Diaghilev's Ballets Russes and choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky. Set and costume design were done by Leon Bakst.
Jeux premiered under conductor Pierre Monteux on May 15, 1913 in Paris at Theatre des Champs-Elysees. Jeux was not well received, and soon eclipsed by Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, which was premiered on May 29, 1913.
Jeux seems to be a preliminary study for Nijinsky in developing Le Sacre. The high point of the ballet, according to Diaghilev, was its opening, when Nijinsky, with a grand jete, appeared onstage in pursuit of a tennis ball.
Nikolai Tcherepnin was born in 1873 to a well-known and wealthy physician of the same name. Nikolai's mother died when he was a baby. At his father's insistence, Nikolai earned a law degree, though during this time he composed steadily. In 1895 he graduated with his degree in law from the University of Saint Petersburg. In 1898, he earned a degree in composition under Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and a degree in piano under K.K. Fan-Arkh. Nikolai taught at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. During his 13 year tenure, he taught many notable students, including Sergei Prokofiev,and 104 others like this.
During his time at the Conservatory, he wrote his most famous work, the ballet Le Pavillon d'Armide. Two years later, Tcherepnin conducted the ballet at the premiere performance of Diaghilev's legendary Ballets Russes. He conducted for the entire first season and returned to conduct multiple times over the next five years. He conducted performances with the Ballets Russes in Berlin, Monte Carlo, Paris, Rome, and the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden in London. He also composed the music for the ballet Narcisse. In addition to his professorship and his commitments with the Ballet, in 1908, he became conductor at the Mariinsky Theatre. At this post, he directed the Paris premiere of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's opera The Golden Cockerel.
Following the Bolshevik takeover of Georgia in 1921, he moved to Paris and lived there for the rest of his life. While in France, he worked with Anna Pavlova and her ballet troupe as composer and conductor (1922–4) and made concert tours around Europe and the United States but abandoned his concert career in 1933 because of a deterioration in his hearing.
Dali was born on in the town of Figueres, in the Empordà region, close to the French border in
(Photo:Coco Chanel with Dali)
In the ballet community Dali is remembered designing sets for Ballet Russe’s Bacchanale in 1939, a ballet based on and set to the music of Richard Wagner's 1845 opera Tannhäuser. Dalí provided both the set design and the libretto.
After Bacchanale, Dali created set designs for Labyrinth in 1941 and The Three-Cornered Hat in 1949 for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.
Rosenberg Lev Samoylovich called Bakst was a painter and a stage designer of Belorussian birth. He was born in
He began his professional life as a copyist and illustrator of teaching materials but quickly moved on to illustration of popular magazines. His tastes were influenced and horizons enlarged when he met Alexander Benois and his circle in 1890.
With Benois and Serge Diaghilev he was a founder of the (Mir Iskusstva) group in 1898 and was largely responsible for the technical excellence of its influential magazine. In 1906, he became a drawing teacher at the Yelizaveta Zvantseva's private school in St Peterburg, where his pupils included Marc Chagall.
Bakst realized his greatest artistic success in the theatre. Making the debut with designs for stage productions at the Hermitage and Alexandrinsky theatres in St Peterburg (1902-1903), he was then commissioned for several works at the Maryinsky theatre (1903-1904). In 1909, he collaborated with Diaghilev in the founding of Ballets Russes, where he acted as artistic director, and his stage designs rapidly brought him international fame.
His colorful exotic costumes and decors for Diaghilev's Scheherazade (
Bakst was an accomplished painter, as well as designer, in the World of Art group. His costumes for Diaghilev’s revival of Imperial Ballet, The Sleeping Princess (
The Russian composer, Tchaikovsky, was the most significant composer of the 19th century. He wrote the music for three ballets: Swan Lake, commissioned by the Bolshoi Ballet premiered in Moscow in 1877, The Sleeping Beauty (photo below) in 1890 and The Nutcracker in 1892. To this day, they remain the most popuar ballet scores of all time.
Tchaikovsky was the son of a well-to-do engineer. He received a sound education from his French governesses. Later he attended school in St. Petersburg studying law and government, graduating at 19. He took a job as a bureau clerk. He then met the Rubenstein brothers, who in 1862 opened Russia's first conservatory, The Imperial Russian Music Society. Tchaikovsky was its first composition student.
Much of Tchaikovsky's concert music has been used by choreographers throughout the years. He was the first Rusian compposer to achieve recognition beyond Russia's borders. He was instrumental in establishing a place for Russian music in the repertories of Western concert hals and musical theaters.
Alexandre was born into the artistic and intellectual family. His father was Nicholas Benois, a noted Russian architect and his brother Leon also a notable architect. Not planning a career in the arts, Alexandre graduated from the Faculty of Law, St. Petersburg University in 1894.
In 1897, an exhibit including Benois' works, brought him to attention of Sergei Diaghilev and the artist Leon Bakst. Later, the three men founded the art magazine and movement Mir iskusstva (World of Art), which promoted the Aesthetic Movement and Art Nouveau in Russia. In 1901, Benois was appointed scenic director of the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, for the Imperial Russian Ballet. After that, he devoted most of his artistic time to stage design and decor.
During these years, Benois' work with the Ballets Russes was groundbreaking. His sets and costumes for the productions of Les Sylphides (1909), Giselle (1910), and Petrushka (1911), are counted among his greatest works.
Surviving the upheaval of the Russian Revolution of 1917, Benois was selected as curator of the gallery of Old Masters in the Hermitage Museum at Leningrad, where he served from 1918 to 1926. Benois published his Memoirs in two volumes in 1955.
Le Carnaval is a ballet based on the music of Robert Schumann's, Carnaval, for piano. It was orchestrated by Aleksandr Glazunov, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Anatole Liadov, Alexander Tcherepnin. Carnaval was choreographed by Ballets Russes’ Mikhail Fokine, with the costumes designed by Léon Bakst. Fokine created Carnaval for a benefit given in St. Petersburg, Russia and it premiered on February 20, 1910 in Pavlova Hall.
Some of the leading dancers of the Imperial Ballet were cast in Carnaval: Tamara Karsavina (Columbine), Leonid Leontiev (Harlequin), Vera Fokina (Charina), Ludmila Schollar (Estrella), Bronislava Nijinska (Papillon), Vsevolod Meyerhold (Pierrot), Vasily Kiselev (Florestan), Aleksandr Shiryaev (Eusebius).
Carnaval did not become world-famous until after it was performed by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes at the Teater des Westens, in Berlin on May 20, 1910. Lydia Lopokova performed as Columbine and Vaslav Nijinsky as Harlequin.
Carlotta Grisi was an Italian ballet dancer. She was born on June 28, 1819 in Visinada, Istria (now part of Croatia) and died on May 20, 1899 in Saint-Jean, a district of Geneva, Switzerland. She was trained at the ballet school of Teatro alla Scala in Milan and later with dancer/balletmaster Jules Perrot.
At her 1836 debut in London Grisi performed with the accomplished danseur Jules Perrot. She next appeared in Paris at the Théâtre de la Renaissance (1840) and a year later, toured with Perrot to other parts of Europe.
It caused a sensation and inspired its reviewers to proclaim Giselle to be the greatest ballet of its time and a triumphant successor to the Romantic masterwork La Sylphide. As such, it immediately established Grisi as a star in her very first full-length ballet in Paris. Her salary grew from 5,000 francs to 12,000 in 1842 and 20,000 by 1844, with additional performance fees on top. Her last performance in the west was in Paul Taglioni's Les Métamorphoses (aka Satanella) in 1849).
In 1854, with her daughter, she left Russia for Warsaw, where she intended to continue dancing, but she became pregnant by Prince Léon Radziwill who then persuaded her to retire from ballet at the height of her fame. Grisi gave birth to her second daughter, Léontine Grisi, and, at the age of 34, settled near Geneva to spend the next forty-six years of her life in peaceful retirement. She died in Saint-Jean, Geneva, Switzerland, on May 20, 1899, a month before her 80th birthday.
Le Sacre du Printemps or The Rite of Spring follows the story of a pagan Russian sacrifice ritual. The music was composed by Igor Stravinsky; choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky; and concept, set design and costumes by Nicholas Roerich. It was produced by Sergei Diaghilev for his Ballets Russes ballet company and had its premiere in Paris on May 29, 1913 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées.
The premiere involved one of the most famous classical music riots in history. The intensely rhythmic score and primitive scenario and choreography shocked the audience that was accustomed to the elegant conventions of classical ballet.
The complex music and violent dance steps depicting fertility rites first drew catcalls and whistles from the crowd. At the start, some members of the audience began to boo loudly. There were loud arguments in the audience between supporters and opponents of the work. These were soon followed by shouts and fistfights in the aisles. The unrest in the audience eventually degenerated into a riot. The Paris police arrived by intermission, but they restored only limited order. After the premiere, Diaghilev is reported to have commented to Nijinsky and Stravinsky at dinner that the scandal was "exactly what I wanted."
After nine performances by the Ballets Russes, Nijinsky's ballet was not produced again. His choreography was documented only in contemporary written eye-witness accounts, in photographs, and in detailed notes preserved by the English ballet director Marie Rambert.
Although Nijinsky's choreography was poorly preserved, his choreography and Roerich's costuming and set design were reconstructed in 1987 by dance historian Millicent Hodson, art historian Kenneth Archer, and choreographer Robert Joffrey, for performance by the Joffrey Ballet.
Since Nijinsky's original version, some 180 choreographies have been created to the score of The Rite of Spring. The second version was created in 1920 by Leonide Massine, again for the Ballets Russes. It was based on the original scenario by Roehrich and used the sets and costumes of the 1913 premier production.