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Diaghilev "Beauty" in London (1921)

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I am referring to Diaghilev's staging of Sleeping Beauty, called "The Sleeping Princess", in London, where Olga Spessitseva danced. I have a very big doubt: Did Diaghilev stage the complete Sleeping Beauty, or only the third act (i.e. "Aurora's Wedding")?

Also, does anyone know where the name "Aurora's Wedding" originated?

Thanks so much


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diaghilev famously presented the ballet, complete.

part of the reason the ballet set diaghilev back so much monetarily was due to the cost of the extravagant, multi-act, bakst-designed production, which failed to sell as well as the impresario hoped.

the reduction to 'aurora's wedding' happened subsequently.

i suppose buckle or various ballet russe co. historians might identify when and which individual so christened this 3rd act reduction - tho' it was often(?) staged to include act one's so-called 'rose adagio'.

i know nijinska, among others, had much to do w/ shaping the staging of 'aurora's wedding' but precisely when this came into being and under who's guidance etc. i cannot say right now.

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diaghilev famously presented the ballet, complete.

Almost. I once catalogued the orchestral score for Diaghilev's production many years ago. Diaghilev made a few cuts in the score which were patched with specially composed bridges by Igor Stravinsky. The latter also reorchestrated two numbers and recomposed the Finale Apotheosis.

Although Petipa's choreography was reproduced by Nicholas Sergeyev some numbers were newly choreographed by Nijinska, namely "the action-scenes, hunting dances in Scene 3, Aurora's Variation in Scene 3, and tales of Bluebeard, Sheherazade, and Innocent Ivan."

I assume it was purely the caprice of Diaghilev to interpolate new choreography into Petipa's masterpiece since I would think Sergeyev would have been perfectly capable of reproducing Petipa's original choreography to these sections. Similarly, I think Stravinsky's 'reorchestrations' were merely Diaghilev's ploy to affix the cache of an avant-garde composer to a past classic with little audience interest at the time.

Le mariage d'Aurore or Aurora's Wedding was Diaghilev's title for the selection of numbers he chose to make up the condensed version premiered in Paris May 18, 1922 (the sets were from the 1909 production of Le Pavillon d'Armide since the original Bakst production had been impounded after the failure of the 1921 London production).


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Bakst's FABULOUS costumes for "The Sleeping Princess" were exhibited in San Francisco -- unfortunately placed on Sears Roebuck mannequins, so the poses were all wrong, but she'd run out of money -- in 1989, in a show put together by the GREAT curator nancy Baer, of the Fine Arts Museums of SF, as only one part of an astonishing, huge exhibition of stagecraft associated with Diaghilev (including Matisses's hand made costumes for -- what was it, "Le Rossignol?").

The catalogue for the Exhibition was called "The Art of Enchantment: DIaghilev's Ballets Russes, 1909-1929," and it's well worth having with contributions from Joan Acocella, Lynn Garafola, Dale Harris, Simon Karlinsky, Richard Tarushkin, and others. Might turn up on Ebay

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The Apotheosis is one of my favorite parts of the score for Sleeping Beauty (even if it's basically jsut a good arrangement of the Vive Henri IV tune. I'd love to hear what Stravinsky changed it too. Don't forget that besides the Chinese and Arabian dances from Nutcracker being incorporated (probably to satisfy Diaghilev's audiences love for anything "oriental"), and the Three Ivans dancing to the Grand Pas' coda, and Lilac Fairy danced to the Sugar Plum Fairy's variation. I know of the CDs out there with the Bluebird Pas De Deux in Stravinsky's orchestration--sadly amazon doesn't have a free clip from them LOL I guess i'll have to check them out sometime.

Under Diaghilev, this was the order of numbers in Aurora's Wedding (I believe later companies like Monte Carlos doing the excerpt probably staged it differently):

1) Introduction (Prologue)

2) Polacca (Act 3)

3) Pas de Six (Prologue)

4) Scene; Danse des Duchesses; Danse des Marquises (Act 2)

5) Farandole; Danse - Tempo di Mazurka (Act 2)

6) Pas de Quatre (Act 3)

7) Pas de Caractere-Chaperone Rouge et la Loup (Act 3)

8) Pas de Quatre (Act 3)

9) Coda-The Three Ivans (Act 3)

10) Pas de Deux (Act 3)

11) Finale - Tempo di Mazurka; Apotheose (Act 3)

Bakst's designs are GORGEOUS. However, I've heard they were a bit much on stage. In the book The World of Serge Diaghilev there are a number of quotes that say the sheer lavishness and over the top ness of even the minor costumes and those backdrops was "ultimately of pastiche". Bakst was very sick when he designed them and it was a great undertaking he couldn't quite give all his ultimate ennergy to the finished touches (it was a big deal he even did them--Diaghilev couldn't get Benois and as was often the case with Serge, he was on bad terms with Bakst so basically had to beg him to design the ballet, promising him a Stravinsky opera at the same time). I'm not trying to suggest his designs aren't beautiful but maybe what we all see in exhibitions and on paper wasn't quite the overall effect?

For Aurora's Wedding, ever-ambitious Diaghilev, even though he was forced to use the Pavilon D'A set, commisioned the artist Erte to do costumes--but they never were finished. A few designs have been published and if anything they look even more elaborate than Bakst.

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