Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Firebird

I recently bought the complete ballet, conducted by Pierre Boulez (I'm happy with it, but I'd really like to have the Seiji Ozawa performance).  It's been many years since I heard the whole thing.  I loved this piece when I was a kid.  I'd forgotten just how beautiful it was.  Hearing it again is like finding a very old friend even more fresh, beautiful, and marvelous than when I last encountered her.

The Firebird was the spectacular debut of a relatively unknown Russian composer named Igor Stravinsky, who was originally Sergei Diaghilev's third choice to write the music for the first original work to be performed by the Ballets Russe.  When the ballet premiered in Paris in 1910, the critics and the public went into raptures over it.  The Firebird made the Ballets Russe, Diaghilev, and especially Stravinsky.

Michel Fokine, who choreographed the 1910 production, seen here as Prince Ivan with Tamara Karsavina in the title role of The Firebird.  The costumes are by Leon Bakst.

Igor Stravinsksy in 1910

Sergei Diaghilev in 1910

Leon Bakst costume design for the 1910 Firebird

Set design by artist Natalia Goncharova for a Russian performance of The Firebird.


Gerrit said...

Strawinsky afficcionados are a rare breed, I guess. I consider myself an atheist, but the *Laudate* from his Symphony of Psalms almost converted me...

Counterlight said...

I consider myself a Stravinsky afficcionado, but I confess that I'm not that familiar with the Symphony of Psalms. I know other people who rave over it. I should sit down and give the Symphony a good listen.

Gerrit said...

Do. With the volume as high up as you dare.