a scan of the full? cast of BLUEBEARD, c. 1941, no captioning, or identification beyond "BLUEBEARD finale" handwritten on the back.
from NYPL dance coll. cat. the following entry:
Bluebeard: Chor: Michel Fokin; mus: Jacques Offenbach, arr. by Antal Dorati; lib: Michel Fokin, after opera bouffe by Meilhac and HalÚvy; scen and cos: Marcel Vertes. First perf: Mexico City, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Oct 27, 1941, Ballet Theatre.//New York premiere: Nov 12, 1941 at 44th St. Theatre, Ballet Theatre.
I had never heard of this work but found the following in Reynolds and McCormick: No Fixed Points: Dance in the 20th Century.
.. a comic delight ... a tale of "marital mayhem, clandestine romances, murder and associate actions," spun out in an opera-bouffe manner to the music of Offenbach. Dolin revealed a talent for lusty humor, and the role of Bluebeard's seventh wife was made to order for Baronova's technique and vivacity. Fokine was at work on another Offenback ballet, Helen of Troy, when he died in 1942.
This led me to Denby's reviews in Looking at Dance. From Jan-Feb. 1942:
Bluebeard, the Fokine-Offenbach farce, was something of a hit. The choreography tells a very complicated story with admirable clarity, and it is full of effective gags, a little in the manner of a college show. In this collegiate style Dolin dances charmingly, and everybody around is pretty busy.
Denby makes a comparison with Massine's Gaite Parisienne, also set to Offenbach.
I am sorry that neither Massine's Gaite nor Fokine's Bluebeard conveys the fragrance of this tender irony that makes Offenbach a real friend. For in neither ballet is anybody ever really in love, neither with the right nor the wrong person. The music is better in Bluebeard however, than in Gaite, because the original orchestration (which is perfect) has been less tampered with.
As to the the stage design:
The decor ... by Vertes, the fashionable magazine artist, is fussy and boring. there is no color and no shape which stays alive longer than a couple of minutes. There is no sense of air or space. A few of the costumes are pretty. Mr. Vertes is fine in his own profession. But to do a ballet set a man must make a decoration one can look at for at least fifteen minutes steady and still be interested in.
rg, I know I've said this before, but your photos give us a remarkable opportunity to learn a little ballet history. Curiosity led me to this clip of a staged production of the Offenbach operetta. I doubt that the choreography is by Fokine, but it does give you a sense of what the 1941 ballet depicted in your photo might have sounded like. (I assume, of course, that Anatol Dorati left out the singing.)