A Fact Sheet on Le
Compiled by Robert Greskovic
(Originally compiled for the first
U.S. performances of the complete ballet in the Kirov Ballet's
Vinogradov/Guest production shown in New York City in the summer
of 1989; emended in advance of American Ballet Theatre's first
performances this spring in New York City.)Earliest version Produced
with music by Robert Bochsa and choreography by François
Albert Décombe Albert at the King's Theatre, London, 29
June 1837, revived in 1844, in which cast Adeline Dumilaitre
(Giselle's first Myrtha) performed Gulnare.
The Influential Original French
Pantomimic ballet in three acts
and five scenes. Book by H.V. de Saint-Georges and Joseph Mazilier.
Music by Adolphe Adam; Scenery by Desplechin, Cambon, Theirry,
and Marin. Choreography by Joseph Mazilier; machinery by Sacre.
First performed at the Theatre Imperial d L'Opera, Paris, 23
January 1856. Cast included Caroline Rosati as Medora. Dances
of note included a pas des éventails [fan dance] for Rosati
and six danseuses; a pas seul for Rosati in the second act.
Influential Russian Stagings First
performed at the Bolshoi Theater in St. Petersburg [the Imperial
Ballet's principal theater in St. Petersburg before the 1880s],
in January 1858 in a production by Jules Perrot, for which Cesar
Pugni added new music. Noted dances from that production were
the pas des éventails, pas des odalisques [harem dancers],
and scène de seduction, danced by Lyubov Radina, the production's
Gulnare. This production's Medora was Katrine Friedbert; the
Conrad was Marius Petipa; Perrot himself performed as Seyd Pasha.
This production, or one soon after it, included an additional
pas d'esclave [dance of the slave girl], choreographed by Petipa
to music by Prince Oldenbourg (according to John and Roberta
Lazzarini: Pavlova; Repertoire of a Legend.) Other well-known
early Medoras in Russia included Marie Taglioni, Elena I. Andreyanova,
Marie S. Petipa, Adele Grantsova, Ekaterina O. Vazem, Henrietta
D'Or, Evgeniia P. Sokolova, Anna Pavlova, and Tamara Karsavina.
The storm scene that ended the Mazilier staging and this one
finished with a shaft of light picking out the "lovers,
clasped in one another's arms on a rock, miraculously saved by
the purity of their love." (I. Guest, Jules Perrot, p. 307)
The Revised French Staging
In Paris, the Mazilier staging,
which was dropped from the repertory upon Rosati's departure,
was revived, in an elaborate new production, for the year of
the Universal Exposition (1867) by Mazilier himself for Adele
Grantsow (a.k.a. Grantsova) as Medora. For this production, Mazilier
completely rearranged much of the ballet, "adding to the
second a pas des fleurs danced by Medora and Gulnare to music
by Delibes." (Guest, Ballet of the Second Empire, p. 224)
The ballet was dropped from repertory during the following year,
after five more performances in the summer led by Grantsow; it
had a total of eighty-one performances in all.
Corsaire pas de deux
The ballet's most famous excerpt,
formerly thought of as a pas de deux and, since the Vinogradov
after Gusev and Petipa staging in 1988 as a "pas de deux
à trois," performed by the dancers playing Medora,
Conrad and Ali, a slave. The now-celebrated "Corsaire Pas
de Deux" was added to the St. Petersburg production by Petipa
in 1899, for Pierina Legnani, to music by Riccardo Drigo (according
to Guest, Jules Perrot, p. 208). According to the New York Public
Library Dance Collection, Aleksandr Chekrygin is given credit
for the "interpolated dance" to music by Drigo, for
the '99 production. If he was Legnani's partner, in true Petipa
form, perhaps he was responsible for his own solo dancing. Whether
or not this was then the "pas de deux à trois"
shown to the world by the Gusev/Vinogradov Kirov Ballet production
is uncertain. According to Gennady Smakov, this "pas"
(de deux or de deux à trois) was "reshaped"
by Agrippina Vaganova for Natalia Dudinskaya and Konstantin Sergeyev,
for the former's graduation performance. According to Nikolai
Zubkovsky's memoirs (he, who originated and choreographed in
1948 the "bazhok," or "little god" or bronze
idol in La Bayadère), the Corsaire pas was a pas
de deux for Medora and a "slave" in 1939, when he danced
the part in a production supervised by Vaganova.
The Pedigree Problem
Perrot never really considered
the ballet his own work, significantly omitting it from his list
of creations at the end of his career (according to Guest, this
indicates that his production was largely a straightforward restaging
of Mazilier's work). Petipa revived the Perrot production on
four occasions: 1863, 1868, 1880 and 1899. His two substantial
additions included the divertissement, Le Jardin Animé
[the animated garden], to Delibes, added in Õ68, and the
Medora and partner pas, from Õ99. His last revision remained
in repertory until 1928, by which time it had been performed
more than 200 times in St. Petersburg. Since that time, Vaganova,
in Petrograd, and Vladimir Bourmeister in Moscow (for the Art
Theater of Ballet), both in 1931; Gusev in Leningrad (for the
Maly Opera theater) in 1955, with a revised book by Yuri Slonimsky,
and Konstantin Sergeyev, in 1973, have also revived the ballet,
retaining material from Petipa's version and presumably from
Perrot's original production, as well. (Guest, Jules Perrot,
p. 349) Aleksandr Gorsky also mounted a production for the Bolshoi
Ballet in Moscow sometime around 1910. The Boston Ballet production
that American Ballet Theatre is mounting this spring comes from
Konstantin Sergeyev's staging mounted for the Bolshoi Ballet
in 1992.Petipa's Problems In his Memoirs, Petipa complains that
a new "pas" he had created for the benefit of Mlle.
Grantsova, i.e., "Le Jardin Animé," was staged
by Moscow ballet master Clustine, with no credit given to Petipa
for the original creation. Petipa never let on, it would seem,
that his "Jardin" used the same music and the same
ballerina as did Mazilier's pas des fleurs.
Footnote: With regard to the now-famous
Stepanov Notation scores of the Imperial Ballet productions brought
out of Russia by Nicholas Sergeyev, and used as the basis for
British ballet's restagings of the "classics," the
only notation that is fully detailed, i.e., indicating more than
simply floor patterns, is that for "Le Jardin Animé.
The note to the documentation of the production recorded in 1904
and 1906, and part of the Harvard Theater Collection's Sergeyev
holdings, reads as follows: "Le Jardin Animé; from
the II act, highly detailed choreographic score of 88 pages,
insertion of 8 pages for students of the ballet school with garlands,
and insertion of four pages for children in the same number.
The music for Le Jardin Animé
was composed by Delibes and the Repetiteur is included on each
page of the choreographic score above the dance notations. It
will be seen from the program that this was, in actual fact,
placed in the 3rd Act, and I believe the title cover to be the
Some well-known interpreters of
the ballet include: Medora: Lyubov Egorova, Ekaterina Geltzer,
Olga Spesivtseva, Ekaterina Vazem, Julia Sedova, Lubov Roslavleva;
Conrad: Pavel Gerdt, Michael Mordkin,
Pierre Vladimirov, Vasily Tikhomirov, Lev Ivanov, Vachtang Chabukiani.
Gulnare: Anna Pavlova, Vera Trefilova.
Pas d'Esclave: Slave Merchant:
Alexei Yermolayev, Pierre Vladimirov; The Slave Maiden: Galina
Ulanova, Maria Semyonova, Lydia Ivanova, Olga Preobrajenska,
Odalisques: Lydia Ivanova