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Past Images of the Month - April 2017

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Léonide Massine and Tamara Karsavina in The Good-Humoured Ladies.  Ballets Russes Season, London, 1919.

Léonide Massine and Tamara Karsavina in The Good-Humoured Ladies. Ballets Russes Season, London, 1919.

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THREE BALLET PREMIERES IN 1917 : The Good-Humoured Ladies, The Wooden Prince and Parade


The Good Humoured Ladies (Les Femmes de Bonne Humeur).  Choreographic Comedy in one Act after Goldoni's play Le Donne di Buon Umore (1758).

Music : Domenico Scarlatti, orchestrated by Vincenzo Tommasini.
Scenery and costumes : Léon Bakst.
Choreographer : Léonide Massine
First performance : Rome, Teatro Costanza, 12 April 1917.
Conductor : Ernest Ansermet

The Marquise Silvestra : Giuseppina Cecchetti
Mariuccia, her maid : Lydia Lopokova
Constanza, Silvestra’s niece : Lubov Tchernicheva
Constanza’s friends:
- Felicita : Mlle. Kokhova
- Dorotea : Maria Chabelska
- Pasquina : Mlle. Antonova
Leonardo, Felicita’s husband : Léonide Massine
The Marquis di Luca : Enrico Cecchetti
Battista, betrothed to Pasquina : Stanislas Idzikowski
Count Rinaldo, betrothed to Constanza : Sigmund Novak
Niccolo, waiter : Leon Woizikowski
Captain Faloppa : M. Mascagni

(Please click the thumbnails below to view larger image)

First edition of the piano score. London & Brighton, 1919. Vincenzo Tommasini (1878-1950). From Vita Teatrale for 23 February 1913. Rome, 1913.

Léon Bakst : Costume design for Constanza reproduced in the programme for the 1919-20 Season of the Ballets Russes. Tamara Karsavina as Mariuccia. From the programme of the 1919-20 Season of the Ballets Russes.

Stanislas Idzikowski in The Good-Humoured Ladies. The Richard Copeman Collection.

Page from the programme for the Ballets Russes London Season, Alhambra Theatre, April to July 1919. Enrico Cecchetti, Stanislas Idzikowski and Massine.  Photograph, [c.1918].  The Richard Copeman Collection.

Programme for a performance by the Ballets Russes at the Théâtre du Chatelet, Paris, 5 February 1920.

The Wooden Prince (A fából faragott kirlyfi). Ballet in 1 Act.  Scenario: Béla Balázs

Music : Béla Bartók
Producer : Béla Balázs
Choreography : Ottó Zóbisch
Scenery and costumes : Count Miklós Bánffy
First performance : Budapest Opera House, 12 May 1917
Conductor : Egisto Tango

The Prince : Anna Pallay
The Princess : Emilia Nirschy
The Fairy : Boriska Harmat
The Puppet : Ede Brada

First edition of the piano score. Vienna, 1921. Page from the programme of the Hungarian State Opera's visit to the 1963 Edinburgh Festival. Their first programme was a triple bill of Bartok's three stage works : Bluebeard's Castle, The Wooden Prince and The Miraculous Mandarin.

Parade. Realistic Ballet in one Act. Book : Jean Cocteau.

Music : Erik Satie
Choreography : Léonide Massine
Curtain, scenery and costumes : Pablo Picasso
First performance : Paris, Théâtre du Chatelet, 18 May 1917
Conductor : Ernest Ansermet

The Chinese Conjuror : Léonide Massine
The Acrobats : Lydia Lopokova and Nicholas Zverev
The Little American Girl : Maria Chabelska
The Frock-coated Manager : Leon Woizikowski
The Manager from New York : M. Statkewicz
The Manager on Horseback : M. Oumansky and M. Nova

First edition of the arrangement for piano, 4 hands.  Paris, 1917.

From a page from the programme for the Ballets Russes London Season, Alhambra Theatre, April to July 1919.

Beryl Grey was Artistic Director of London Festival Ballet from 1968 until 1979.  She acquired four of Massine's ballets for the company in the early 1970s, Beau Danube, Tricorne, Parade and Gaîeté Parisienne.

John Travis, who was one of the Acrobats in the first performance of Parade in May 1974, remembers their rehearsals with Massine, which took place at Donmar Studios.  Although he was already seventy-seven Massine would always change into his working clothes behind a screen, erected for the purpose, in the studio.  He would emerge in his white shirt and black trousers and always with his famous hairnet in place.

His assistant Susi della Pietra had already set the piece on the company, working from the notation that was created from the Joffrey Company's production in New York the previous year.  Massine remembered his original role of the Conjuror perfectly but nothing else in detail, so the dancers were worried that he would be critical when they first showed him the piece.  In fact he was delighted.

Picasso had famously painted his designs on to Lopokova's Acrobat costume while she was wearing it.  The same process was followed in 1974, the pale blue pattern of swirls being painted by hand directly on to the basic white costumes.  The blue soaked through the costume on to Travis's skin which made him feel a living Picasso artwork!

Viewers may notice some slight discrepancy between the dramatis personae listed above for the premiere and the captions below.  Originally, the third Manager was to be represented by a negro dummy on horse-back.  However, at the dress rehearsal the dummy fell off and it was decided that the Horse would appear alone.  Its mask shows the African influence that interested Picasso at the time.

The photographs below are from this production. (Jennie Walton © 2017)

Nigel Burgoine as The American Manager Kerrison Cooke as the Chinese Conjuror Kenneth McCombie as The French Manager

Carole Hill as the Little American Girl Loma Rogers and John Travis as the Acrobats Hugh Rathbone and Gerald Byrne as The Horse

Beryl Grey with the Horse Kerrison Cooke and Carole Hill Massine rehearsing Carole Hill

Beryl Grey with Massine Massine Beryl Grey with Massine