Posted 27 January 2013 - 08:53 AM
well, yes and no, re: 'simplifying' design aspects of his ballet making.
Balanchine was eager for design effects when they were apt or when possible.
rem. his insistence on a spectacular vision of the growing tree in NUTCRACKER and his interest in stage effects and costume elements for, among other examples. DON QUIXOTE, L'ENFANT ET LES SORTILEGES, COPPELIA, HARLEQUINADE, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, VIENNA WALTZES, PULCINELLA, ROBERT SCHUMANN'S 'DAVIDSBUNDLERTANZ' etc.
one reason he was said to be hesitant about staging THE SLEEPING BEAUTY for NYCB was the fact that the NYST wasn't as equipped with depth of wings and traps, etc. to provide his planning with suitable capabilities.
when however, as one suspects, he felt that commissioned designs for the likes of CONCERTO BAROCCO and THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS were detrimental to the 'visibility' of his choreography, he opted for the pared back scheme to solve the dilemma.
with regard to FIREBIRD, he's on record as finding the aging Chagall scheme in sore need of refreshening and he trusted Karinska almost it seems without question. with regard to the title figures costuming, as noted above this changed drastically at least three times in his lifetime: first, after Kirkland, for von Aroldingen with her train and rooster's head comb, more or less repeating the version of the Firebird, in blues and white, on Chagall's frontcloth for the staging, and next, for Nicholas when she was dressed in fluid, tissue-paper thin fabric of softly metallic gold, also with a train-cum-bustle construction.
a book out of Japan, shows a fairly complete array of Chagall's ballet costuming designs, including those for FIREBIRD from which karinska worked her re-made costumes of '70 and beyond.