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A Feast of WondersSergei Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes


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#1 innopac

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 11:44 PM

A Feast of Wonders: Sergei Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes Edited by John E. Bowlt and Zelfira Tregulova. New York: Rizzoli / Skira, 2009.

A book review by Michelle Potter.

Description from Amazon:
In May 1909, Sergei Diaghilev astonished the world of dance with his first ballet presentations in Paris that demonstrated an unprecedented combination of vitality and grace, originality, and technical sophistication. This catalogue of over three hundred artworks related to the Saisons Russes between 1909 and 1929 is the official companion to an exhibition in Monte Carlo. The legendary productions are brought to life through stage designs, costumes, paintings, sculptures, photographs, and programs. The artwork comes from a wide variety of public and private collections, including the Fokine collection in the St. Petersburg Theatre Museum. Diaghilev’s scenic achievements are complemented by a number of contextual paintings, drawings, and other artifacts, which help to define Russia’s cultural renaissance of the first decades of the twentieth century. The documentary section of the catalog contains rich archival material, including letters, photographs, choreographic notes, and memoirs, many published here for the first time.



#2 kfw

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 07:28 AM

Thanks, innopac. This sounds like a book to get thoroughly immersed in, and a book that might lead to other books. The illustrations do indeed sound like "a feast of wonders."

In addition to the essays, the book contains a list of operas and ballets for which Diaghilev was responsible. The list begins in 1908 with Boris Godounov and ends in 1929 with Le Bal. Its strength, or its particular interest, is the way in which the list is illustrated - not with a single image but usually with several from a variety of sources and of different media. So we have Le Coq d’or illustrated with set designs, set models, costumes, costume designs and photographs. The illustrations for Le Spectre de la rose include swatches of fabric, paintings, posters, costume designs, designs for stage props, photographs and sketches. The list is made all the richer as a result of this diverse illustrative material. In fact illustrations throughout the book are themselves a feast of wonders and go well beyond those that have become so familiar in the current literature.




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