[Met Performance] CID:89750
New production (Petrouchka)
Petrouchka {6}
Pagliacci {238}
Metropolitan Opera House: 03/13/1925.

(Debut: Serge Soudeikine

Metropolitan Opera House
March 13, 1925
New production


Petrushka...............Adolph Bolm
Ballerina...............Rosina Galli
Moor....................Giuseppe Bonfiglio
Charlatan...............Ottokar Bartik
Merchant................Armando Agnini
Street Dancers: Florence Rudolph, Rita De Leporte
Gypsies: Lilyan Ogden, Jessie Rogge, Florence Glover

Conductor...............Tullio Serafin

Choreographer...........Michel Fokine
Choreography realized by Adolph Bolm
Designer................Serge Soudeikine [Debut]

[Fokine did not receive credit in the program for Petrushka although it was his ballet that Bolm staged.]

Petrushka received five performances this season.


Nedda...................Lucrezia Bori
Canio...................Edward Johnson
Tonio...................Giuseppe Danise
Silvio..................Lawrence Tibbett
Beppe...................Angelo Badà

Conductor...............Gennaro Papi

Review of Lawrence Gilman in the Tribune

Stravinsky's 'Petrouchka' Revised at the Metropolitan, in a New Production

It is well for Mr. Stravinsky's fame in this part of the world that he bade farewell to New York as the hero of last night's revival at the Metropolitan of his enchanting "Petrouchka," bowing to a delighted audience from the center of the group of accomplished puppets who had interpreted his ballet, plus Mr. Tullio Serafin, who had conducted the music, and Mr. Soudeikine, who had devised the captivating scenery and costumes. For "Petrouchka" is close to being Mr. Stravinsky's masterpiece; certainly it is his most lovable and most touching score - though we know that Mr. Stravinsky is virulently opposed to touching any one through his music, and would doubtless consider his "Petrouchka" a failure if he could be persuaded that a considerable number of persons find it at all affecting. Yet touching it indubitably is, this gayly terrible allegory of the automatous human world.

Hearing this irresistible music, so richly veracious, so completely achieved, you forget and forgive the futile Octuor, and "Pulcinella," and the anomalous Concerto; you realize that no matter where Stravinsky is at the present encamped, no matter where he may wander in the future, his "Petrouchka" endures; a work of authentic genius, unexampled and unstalled.

It is nine years since Diaghileff's Ballet Russe performed "Petrouchka" at the Century Theater for the first time in America, with Lydia Lopokova as the Ballerina, Massine as the lovesick puppet and Adolph Bolm as the Moor. Shortly after that, Stravinsky's ballet was moved to the Metropolitan, still under the wing of Diaghileff; but it was not until last night that Mr. Gatti put the official Metropolitan stamp on "Petrouchka." Meanwhile, the score of the ballet has become thrice-familiar though its performances by various orchestras as a concert suite; and only a while ago Mr. Stravinsky himself conducted it at one of his appearances with the Philharmonic.

The music wears well. Stravinsky composed it in 1911, in his twenty-ninth year. It stands between "L'Oiseau de Feu" and "Le Sacre du Printemps," and between the first and second acts of "Le Rossignol," which straddled it so curiously. Thus it is Stravinsky at about the height of his powers. It is far more original than "L'Oiseau de Feu," far less original than the "Symphonies for Wind Instruments in Memory of Debussy" - less original, yet immeasurably more important; for we are beginning to realize that originality, like other old fashioned virtues, the derivations in 'Petrouchka" - here a page from Rimsky's "Kitezh," there a figure from the "Russian Easter"; there again an harmonic effect out of "Pélleas et Mélisande" (some day we shall write an article with examples in musical type concerning the surprising extent to which Stravinsky, so officially scornful of mere loveliness, has stooped to Debussy, and what the score of "Petrouchka" would be without its Russian folk tunes one does not like to imagine.

Yet, after one has digested all this, the score remains a masterpiece, a thing of fascinating gayety and wit and beauty - for the grotesquerie is fading out of it, and the sensuous charm of it is emerging with a clearness which must be rather shocking to Stravinsky, if he often listens to it these days away from the conductor's stand, as he did last night in Mr. Kahn's box. The rhythmic and instrumental ingenuity of the work is beyond praise. And so is the slyness of its humor, the fidelity and vividness of its characterization. How astonishingly imagined is that combination of piccolos and violin harmonics in Petrouchka's death scene; and the famous hurdy-gurdies have lost nothing of their delectable humor. But here is much more than slyness and vividness in the score; there is an astringent melancholy, a deep piteousness, a bitter, straining passion. There is the sense of compassion for all unshapely and broken and frustrated things, a half-mocking tenderness for the poor creatures galvanized by the inscrutable, irresponsible Showman. These things are not stressed by the music - there is no hint in it of sentimental musing or rich, romantic grief; they are most subtly contained within the exuberant vivaciousness of the score. Yet they are inescapable, if one listens with more than half an ear.

The Metropolitan production is a brilliant one, and in one respect it is not easy to imagine it surpassed. We mean the superb settings by Serge Soudeikine, the Russian painter now sojourning in America. Mr. Soudeikine has seized with enormous gusto upon every suggestion implicit in Benois's scenario and Stravinsky's score, and has fitted this production with scenery and costumes of exhilarating imaginative daring and astonishing beauty. We have seen nothing more successful at the Metropolitan than these stunningly decorative sets and costumes.

Mr. Bolm's staging is deft and canny, with some telling strokes of illuminative humor. His own miming as that defeated amorist whose heart was only sawdust is well invented and is often subtle in suggestion and communication. Miss Rosina Galli was a marvel of flexibility and delicately comedic grace as the calamitous Ballerina, and Mr. Bonfiglio was amusing - perhaps too amusing - as the Moor. Mr. Bartik's Old Showman might have been a trifle less repressed, and so might the pantomime of the crowd; and there were tentative movements in the course of the delightful dances. Yet the performance as a whole was carried through with admirable smoothness and animation; and Mr. Serafin, in a world unbelievably remote from that of "Aida" and "Giovanni Gallurese," conducted as if he had led nothing but Stravinsky's music all his life.

There was high enthusiasm at the close of the thirty-five minute performance, and Mr. Stravinsky - who has now learned to bow almost as gracefully as Deems Taylor - was thoughtfully supplied with a wreath the size of a cartwheel. He looked well in spite of his winter in …, and seemed unaffectedly happy - though one never can tell.

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