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"Les Millions d'Arlequin" (Petipa/Drigo)

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Here is the cast from the first link:

--Harlequinade - Sergei Kosadaev

--Columbine - Alla Malysheva

--Pierrot - Evgenii Myasishchev

--Pierrette - Tatyana Podkopayeva

--Cassander - Gennadii Kolobkhov

--Leander - Valerii Dolgallo

--Good Fairy - Galina Laricheva

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here is how the NYPL lists its copy of the Maly Theater telecast from '79:

[Homage to Marius Petipa] (Videotape) [1979?] 118 min. : sd. color

Titles and narration in Russian. Produced by Soviet Television. Taped during performance at the Maly Theatre, Leningrad. Performed by members of the Maly Theatre Ballet.

CONTENTS. - Harlequinade. Choreography: Petr Gusev after Marius Petipa. Music: Riccardo Drigo. Decor: Tatiana Bruni. Cast: Sergei Kosadaev (Harlequin), Alla Malysheva (Colombine), Evgenii Myasishchev (Pierrot), Tatyana Podkopayeva (Pierrette), Gennadii Kolobkhov (Cassender), Valerii Dolgallo (Leander), Galina Laricheva (Fairy) - Halte de cavalerie. Choreography: Petr Gusev after Petipa. Music: Johann Armsheimer. Sets: Gennadii Sotnikov. Costumes: Tatiana Ratner. Cast: Larisa Zubkovich (Teresa), Tatiana Goryshina (Maria), Aleksandr Evdokimov (Peter), Valerii Dolgallo (Colonel), Herman Zamuel (Captain), Valerii Pechersky (Cornet) - Grand Pas from Paquita. Choreography: Nikita Dolgushin after Petipa. Music: Ludwig Minkus. Costumes: Dolgushin. Cast: Valentina Mukhanova (Ballerina), Nikita Dolgushin (Cavalier), with Tamara Statkun, Yelena Alkanova, Natalya Mikhalevskaya, and Maria Vishnevskaya.

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The BBC dance catalogue shows a broadcast of this programme on 17 Feb 1979, under the title In Performance: An Evening at the Russian Ballet. It ran for 133 minutes but included interval discussions of the ballets with Ninette de Valois and David Vaughan.

However there are several differences betwwen the casts listed for this showing and the one rg reproduces from the NYPL holding, even after allowing for differences in spelling, and the running order is different, so maybe this was not the same performance? The catalogue has no listing for a 1978 showing, but that might just mean they didn't keep the tape.

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Cristian, Thanks! It's a rare chance to see this work.

By the way, the "Part Two" listed above is actually a repeat of Part Five. Here's the actual Part Two:


I regret that I just got round to watching this video. Very enjoyable. I enjoyed the spirit of the Harlequin, Sergei Kosadaev. (Thanks, Helene, for the cast list.) The names of these dancers don't ring a bell, probably because they were not at the Kirov or Bolshoi, which meant you didn't exist as far as the U.S. was concerned. That's a a shame.

It's also wonderful to be able to see the ballet that was the source of Balanchine's 1960s version (Villella and McBride as Harlequin and Colombine).

I know that Balanchine had danced in and was much influenced by the original version in Petersburg, and also that he had done a pas de deux for Tallchief and Eglevsky much earlier on. In 101 Stories of the Great Ballets he writes that

Les Millions d'Arlequin had a great deal of influence, I think, on ballet history, becoming the model for comedy narrative. It is the other side of the coin from Swan Lake, if you like.

I remember the Villella/McBride performances quite well. Especially Denis Lamont's Pierrot. I wonder, though, about the accuracy of Balanchine's point about "dramatic narrative." The story seems to peter out after a while, becoming a series of episodes and divertissements, some truly comic, some straining too hard to be comic. Similarly, Drigo's music is delightful at the start, but outstays its welcome well before the end.

Did anyone else see the original NYCB cast? Or the 70s revised revival, with Gelsey Kirkland in the McBride role?

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I just recalled that the Trocks had their own version of this, so I looked it up on their website. Has anyone seen it?

"Pas d'action" from Harlequinade

Music by: Ricardo Drigo

Choreography by: Marius Petipas

Staged by: Elena Kunikova

Costumes by: David Tetrault

Lighting by: Kip Marsh

Oringinally Les Millions D’Arlequin, Harlequinade was Marius Petipa’s last successfull ballet , premiering at the exquisite little Hermitage Theater (and not the Maryinsky Theater) in 1900. The evening long Harlequinade was a two-act recreation of the hightlights of the commedia dell’arte. Harlequin and Columbine, Pierrot and Pierette, buffoons and fairies are all present in a rollicking ballet filled with antics, magic, transformations, and romance.

This ballet provided the inspiration for Michel Fokine’s Carnaval; Anna Pavlova later toured in a ballet called Les Coquetteries de Columbine. George Balanchine choreographed his own Harlequinade in 1965, expressing the frivolity of Imperial Russian Society.

The Trockadero offers this highlight or “pas d’action” from the ballet, staged by Elena Kunikova, ballerina of the Maly Opera Ballet of St. Petersburg.

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I've just had a fine time with this, not least from Drigo's champagne. Thanks, Cristian! (Oh, and thanks to mrlopez2681, whoever you are.) Interesting too for the several details Balanchine took over, although I remember being more charmed by his, or rather his first act; the version we have here omitting the Enchanted Garden, his Act Two. I think the reason I responded more strongly to his is that he made more brilliant and vital choreography for the dances and pumped up the character parts a little here and there.

Not to mention pumping up their costumes: Shaun O'Brien was a paunchy, as well as a foppish, "Leandre", compared to the one we see here, who looks, well, like another dancer. Nor to mention how Columbine got down to the stage to dance with Harlequin: her balcony descended with her on it! This and other moments sometimes brought forth sounds of delight from some tiny voices in the audience, so that when people would ask me what to take their kids to after The Nutcracker, I would say, "After they're tired of The Nutcracker" -- a remark that brought appreciative laughter -- "try Harlequinade."

(If I may say so, I think kids who are charmed by Nutcracker and who want to go back and be charmed again should get the chance. At the very least, they'll get the experience of seeing something again, and make discoveries about themselves and their responses, too. They may discover in the case of Nutcracker, as this "kid" did when he saw Balanchine's a second time, that the perfectly naturalistic business the two little ones have in front of the scrim at the beginning, trying to look in at the party preparations, shoving each other aside and so on, is rehearsed! Afterward, I wondered, How could that be? Only if someone in charge had been a keen observer of how people act, people of all ages. But now I'm way OT.)

Of Balanchine's production of Harlequinade, using the entire musical score, the only one I ever saw, and always programmed with another short ballet, Barocco sometimes I think, it was usually with Villella and McBride but a few times with Baryshnikov, who needed no acclimatizing to this; in some other repertory there, like the first Rubies I saw him in, he looked slightly -- not so much out of place, as unaccustomed. Kirkland I don't think I ever saw in this. Lamont's Pierrot was always wonderfully apt, and Gloria Govrin -- relatively statuesque by that company's standards as she was by then -- was the statue who came to life.

(Govrin's first ever entrance in my experience, in another role, immediately made me wonder whether someone built like that could move well, whereupon she just as immediately did so, and continued to do so! Another of the happy "learning experiences" of my first visits to see Balanchine's company.)

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I just found this, and thought it would be nice to share it. It is the Mikhailovsky-(Maly)- production of Pyotr Gusev's staging of "Harlequinade", filmed and aired in 1978 by the BBC as part of the T.V. special "3 Ballets by Marius Petipa".


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Thanks Christian.

I was thrilled when I saw the TV broacast. It seemed an insight into the past which

performances by major Russian companies at that time, somehow often just missed.

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What a memory you have, Jack. Thanks !!! My rather hazy memories include the genuinely funny number for a small group of policemen. And the children (which may have come in later years) .I don't quite recall the elevator balcony, but probably would have sworn that it was from some version of Coppelia. Mostly I remember Villella, McBride, and Lamont (on the very-much-plus side) and a certain listlessness that set in as the various numbers went on and on and on. The Maly version keeps up the energy, but also -- speaking for myself only -- goes on too just a bit so long.

The last Harlequinade I saw was in the mid-80s. McBride was still dancing and still perfect for the role. I believe Harlequin was Ib Anderson. Is that possible? (Helene, I think, will know.)

Question about ballet terminology. At the opening of the Maly video, we see Harlequin and get an idea of his central problem. Suddenly, a huge corps skips in (knees reaching very high) and goes around in circles. The energy is amazing. What exactly is this music (4/4): a galope? And what's that skipping step called? (There's a lot of it in the ballet, though not usually with the knee rising as high.)

Question about ballet history: Does anyone know if Balanchine's experience with "Harlequinade" encouraged him, or gave him the idea, to work on a version of Coppelia? That second ballet is much more succinct and successful, as though he was working out problems and testing possible solutions with Petipa's ballet, and had solved them by the time he got to Saint-Leon's.

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Actually, bart, I wonder about my memory, especially for performance qualities, and then I see some Balancine on screen from when he supervised, like the 1966 Midsummer film in New York this May, and I think, Yeah, there it is, just like I thought. I'm not dreaming.

Oh, yes, the drunken gendarmerie, or "La Patrouielle", "the patrol"! I remembered that watching the video, but forgot as I posted. Yes, Mr. B's was more effective, as I remember it! Hilariously and even, to some of the audience, who thought his work was all tutus and leotards, startlingly so. This Maly version, short as it is, does get a little long after while, although I want to see it again continuously, instead of in five chunks. Mr. B knew how to keep things interesting, usually.

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I remember the original Balanchine "Harlequinade" well, and was rather disappointed when I caught a revival ca. 1980, when a lot of featherbedding (to my eye and sensibility) had been added. Mischa Arshansky played the father as a sort of

Dr. Bartolo-type, but after B's Don Quixote went belly-up, the AK (Ancient Knight) started showing up in all sorts of other ballets, and this was one of them.

The sets were borrowed from the NYC Opera's production of La Cenerentola, and have had a life quite exceeding most opera scenery.

That early production was notable for having Gelsey Kirkland, Nanette Glushak, Colleen Neary, Meg Gordon and others -- as Little Harlequins.

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I remember the original Balanchine "Harlequinade" well, and was rather disappointed when I caught a revival ca. 1980, when a lot of featherbedding (to my eye and sensibility) had been added. Mischa Arshansky played the father as a sort of

Dr. Bartolo-type, but after B's Don Quixote went belly-up, the AK (Ancient Knight) started showing up in all sorts of other ballets, and this was one of them.

That's an interesting point. I agree about the structural defects in Balanchine's Harlequinade and Don Q. Despite wonderful parts, each seem padded, somehow unfinished. Each has a little too much stitching together of interesting but not always connected ideas.

Why, I wonder, was he able to do so much better with Coppelia -- and with Midsummer Night's Dream, for that matter? Was it that he was less involved emotionally with those stories?

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In Coppélia, at least, Balanchine had a structure from his youth which was not heavily modified by interpolations or excerpting. In his later career, he had a steady model in the Ballet Russe production, and of course, when he staged it for NYCB, he had Danilova RIGHT THERE to make sure he didn't get away with a lot of mischief!

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