The ballet “Parade” had its première at the Châtelet Theatre, May 18, 1917. It was a creation by Serge Diaghilev’s “Ballets Russes”, with music by Eric Satie, libretto by Jean Cocteau, choreography by Léonide Massime (first dancer and lover of Diaghilev) and costumes and set by Pablo Picasso. Guillaume Apollinaire wrote the program note and described it all as "sur-realistic" - this was the beginning of the expression "surrealism". The fact that we were in the middle of WWI possibly further contributed to a more or less expected atmosphere of scandal. There were a lot of negative (but also some positive) criticisms. (You can read more in detail about it all here.)

To celebrate the 100th anniversary, the Châtelet Theatre has for a couple of days exhibited the curtain or the panel Picasso prepared for the event, illustrating the group of performers. The style of this panel, the largest artwork ever made by Picasso, is actually quite different from the cubist costumes he also designed. (I have added some portraits of the personalities involved, most of them made by Picasso.)

Unfortunately, I am publishing about this one day too late as the exhibition of the panel lasted only a few days and ended May 15.

Here is also a little video.

Maybe a few words about the theatre? It dates from 1862 with Gabriel Davioud as architect. Davioud is also known for e.g. the neighbouring theatre, Théâtre de la Ville, for the St. Michel fountain (see previous post) and for his participation in the creation of many Paris parks, including “my” park, Square des Batignolles. The theatre has to a large extent been used for music performances and composers or conductors like Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Gustave Mahler, Richard Strauss… all have appeared here. Today it’s also annually used for the French “Oscar”, César, ceremony. (During the exhibition, you could watch a little movie about the “Parade” in the theatre lobby.)


Kate said...

What a delight to be able to see that curtain.

Jeanie said...

What a gorgeous theatre, Peter. My friend Jerry first came to Paris to perform in that theatre in Hello Dolly in 1993. It is magnificent. How fortunate to be able to see the curtain and the video is fascinating.

I just finished a book about Paris (and more) during WWI called "Paris at the End of the World." A good deal was written about this production which sounded quite controversial. To see the costumes, the curtain and all -- really brings it into focus! Thanks!

M. Denise C. said...

Wonderful post. Loved the video. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for telling us that this backdrop is Picasso's largest painting. Looks like it is in great shape, to judge by your photos. It is so absolutely beautiful! And so is the theater.
Thank you so much, M. Peter.

Rakesh Vanamali said...

Marvelous! Art, in whatever form, is truly enchanting