Between 1917 and 1962, Picasso was involved in creating the designs for nine ballets including Parade, Pulcinella and L'Après-midi d'un Faune, in collaboration with such artists as Jean Cocteau, Erik Satie, Igor Stravinsky... more », Claude Debussy, Léonide Massine and Vaslav Nijinsky. Le Train Bleu dates from 1924 and Le Tricorne from 1919. These two historic ballets, created originally by Sergei Diaghilev, have been revived by the Paris Opera Ballet. Le Train Bleu (The Blue Train): Scenario by Jean Cocteau, Music by Darius Milhaud. Perlouse: Élisabeth Maurin, The Handsome Youth: Nicholas Le Riche, The Tennis Champion: Clotilde Vayer, The Golfer: Laurent Quéval. Le Train Bleu is an operetta dansé of a chic and flippant society. Jean Cocteau, who wrote the scenario, mockingly celebrates the cult of open air life, fine bodies and sport. The dances are inspired by golf, tennis, swimming and acrobatics. Le Tricorne (The Three-Cornered Hat): Libretto by Gregorio Martinez Sierra, Music by Manuel De Falla, Choreography by Léonide Massine, Stage Curtain, Sets & Costumes by Pablo Picasso. The Miller: Kader Belarbi, The Miller?s Wife: Françoise Legrée, Magistrate: Fabrice Bourgeois. Le Tricorne is Spanish from start to finish. Picasso, a native of Andalusia, created sets, costumes, and a stage curtain, which evokes the atmosphere of the ballet by means of a typically Spanish scene. The story, told with humour and warmth, is of a miller's wife, her jealous husband and a senile magistrate by whom she is pursued. An accompanying documentary, The Story of a Marriage, traces the story of Picasso's involvement with designs for ballet. Orchestre Des Concerts Lamoureux, Conducted By David Coleman. Special Feature: Directed by Yvon Gerault, The Story Of A Marriage, A film by Didier Baussy-Oulianoff, produced and narrated by Robin Scott. With rare photographs and archive footage, this documentary traces the story of Picasso?s collaboration with, among others, Diaghilev, Cocteau and Massine, and of his designs for the ballet, from 1917 to 1924, inspired by his Russian wife, Olga Koklova. Program language English, with subtitles in English / French / German / Italian / Portuguese / Spanish / Japanese.« less
Robert Levonian | Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil | 02/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It was more than time for ballet lovers to have a piece by Massine on vídeo. Massine was one of Diaghilev's chief choreographers - together with Bronislava Nijinska and Georgy Balanchivadze - after Nijinsky sank into madness and Fokine left the company. Up to now there was only one ballet available - a pirated staging of "Gaitée Parisienne", poorly filmed and in black and white. "The three-cornered hat" is a feast for the eyes and the ears alike. Manuel de Falla's music is briliant, with melodic elements taken from Andaluzian folk music. Contrary to what has been written elsewhere, this is not a "neoclassical ballet", for most of the steps are adapted from the language of "flamenco" and no pointe shoes are worn. In fact, Francoise Legrée, the main ballerina, wears low-heel shoes. The star of the production is Kader Belarbi - whom I had known dancing a very sober and dignified Bridegroom in Nijinska's "Les Noces", also from the Paris Opera. There are no pas de deux with the traditional variations, but brilliant solos - Belarbi dances an amazing "farruca" - and some duets. Fabrice Bourgeois - who plays the Corregidor, a kind of Governor in XIXth Century Spain -has some very funny pantomime parts to act.The final "general dance" is a joyous burst of energy. Sets and costumes - colorful and imaginative - are by Picasso.
The second ballet is Bronislava Nijinska's "The blue train" (1924). Frankly, I thought it was rather boring. There is no storyline to follow. A group of tourists at a fashionable summer resort - possibly Deauville, in Southern France - swim, frolic, play tennis and engage in sentimental affairs. And that's it! The language is that of modern ballet. The male lead is danced by Nicholas le Riche. As I had seen only one other Nijinska ballet - the severe and constructivist "Les Noces" - my opinion about this often praised coreographer still remains a bit hesitant. Perhaps London's Royal Ballet should release "Les Biches", which I believe is in their repertory.
There is a very interesting documentary with rare color footage of Massine dancing the Miller's role. It also shows Picasso's sketches for the costumes and sets.
I hope we will have other Massine ballets in the future. The Paris Opera could offer "La boutique fantasque" and "Pulcinella", and London's the Royal Ballet could release "The good-humoured ladies".
Allow me to end this review by correcting a minor misinformation about Diaghilev's challenge to the French poet Jean Cocteau "Astonish me". The challenge was met with the production of "Parade"(1917), a cubist ballet with music by Eric Satie, libretto by Cocteau and sets and costumes by Picasso, two years before "The three-cornered hat" (1919),which had a libretto by Martines de Sierra, based on a novel by Pedro de Alarcón.
Ballet -- Vibrant and Amusing from the Early 20th Century
M. F TERRIS | Miami, FL USA | 06/26/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The real Blue Train transported the affluent from Paris to the southern coast of France to vacation in the sun. Few could afford such luxury, like the "jet set" of the 1950s and '60s. In her ballet by that name, Nijinska gently poked fun at their pursuits: swimming and sunbathing (in costumes by Chanel, of course), playing golf and tennis, flirting and preening themselves, having affairs, and expressing their jealousies. At the end of the Blue Train, we find a enraged couple in a fight -- except, of course, when lovingly posing for photos, all this to the music of Darius Milhaud.
De Falla's Three-Cornered Hat has become an orchestral showpiece of vibrant, Spanish music; Massine matches it, transporting the vigor of Flamingo dance to the ballet stage.
The performance of the Paris Opera Ballet is splendid, and the introductory material is both interesting and informative. It is a shame that Kultur only provided stereophonic sound.
These ballets aren't seen much anymore, and I kind of know w
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 04/08/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"When people think of Serge Diaghilev's "Ballet Russes," they primarily think of two choreographers: Mikhail Fokine and George Balanchine. Fokine choreographed at the inception of the Ballet Russes, and his ballets -- Les Sylphides, Firebird, Petrushka, Spectre a la Rose -- are still danced by companies around the world. George Balanchine joined the company during its final years before Diaghilev's death in 1929, and the rest, as we say, is history.
However Diaghilev had many other choreographers, and this video by the POB highlights two of Diaghilev's less famous choreographers: Bronislava Nijinsky, the sister of the legendary Vaslav Nijinsky, and Leonid Massine, one of Diaghilev's lovers/dancers. The two ballets in the video are Le Train Bleu and Le Tricorne. Both had set designs by none other than Pablo Picasso, whose involvement in the Ballet Russes (he was married to one of its dancers, Olga Koklova) is explained in the documentary preceeding the performance.
The two works could not be any different. Le Train Bleu, premiered in 1924 and it really celebrates the freewheeling "flapper" era. The ballet seems to take place at a sporting resort. The "corps de ballet" consists of men and women in swimsuits. The two main characters are two young, beautiful swimmers (Elisabeth Maurin and Nicholas Riche) who flirt and fall in love. There's also a tennis champion (Clothilde Vayer) and a golfer (Laurent Queval). It is not really a classical ballet at all -- no one is on pointe, the men dance barefoot, and the role for the male swimmer is full of athletic strutting. The female swimmer has to pirouette and leap, but she also often has her feet flexed upwards, unturned out, toes unpointed. At one point the male swimmer flexes his biceps. Does all this sound terribly silly? Well, it is ... except that it's also consistently enjoyable and entertaining. The score by Darius Milhaud is bright and tuneful. And best of all, it's short. This is a ballet whose premise could easily have become tedious and ridiculous, but it's over before we think, "Oh, what a bore." Maurin, petite and bubbly, is charming in the lead role. LeRiche is also appropriately energetic, muscular, and, well ... studly.
More "serious" is Le Tricorne ("The Three Cornered Hat") which was inspired by the Ballet Russes' tour of Spain. The score is by Hector deFalla. The ballet is 40 minutes long, but it seems like 400. The storyline is supposedly that of a miller (Kader Belarbi) and his lovely wife (a wonderful Francoise Legree), but I admit that unless one read the notes on the back of the dvd, it would be hard to understand anything about the ballet, because the ballet really isn't much more than strutting and dancing, Spanish style. The abstract sets by Picasso don't help. Not much happens, in terms of storyline, until a silly old magistrate makes a pass at the wife. Of course the husband gets jealous, but even then, the story goes nowhere. I think Le Tricorne is one of those ballets that wastes a lot of time. A ballet does not need a storyline, but it does need cohesiveness. The repetitiveness of the choreography, especially in the beginning of the ballet, makes the mind wander. What could have been a charming slice of Spanish life becomes boring. And this ballet attempts to have a storyline, but, as I said, 99% of the ballet is the miller and his wife and the locals dancing, Spanish-style. And, as I said, the choreography is way too repetitive and stereotypical to be of much interest after about 10 minutes. Surely there is more to Spanish dancing than a woman constantly sashaying her skirt and a man stomping his feet.
Overall, I admire ballet companies when they try to dig out forgotten works, instead of simply dancing Swan Lake a million times. However, these two works I think are forgotten, for good reason. Le Train Bleu is a charming bit of fluff, but that's all it is, fluff. I do like the lovely, lilting score though. Le Tricorne is repetitive and unoriginal. One understands why almost 100 years later, ballet companies are still dancing Petrushka and the Firebird. And why they are not dancing Le Train Bleu and Le Tricorne."
Diaghilev wanted to be amazed and he was!
J. M WILINSKY | teaneck, NJ United States | 01/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Paris Opera Ballet does a fantastic job on these two comedic, neoclassical ballets from the early twentieth century. Although they are very modern in concept, they use mostly classical choreography, including virtuoso solos and PDD for men and women. Historical backgroung material is included before each ballet, including color film footage shot by Jean Cocteau himself to document the choreography. If you are open to very modern scenarios in ballet, you should really enjoy these exiting performances."
Had hoped for more
George B. Laurent | florida | 10/17/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Very attractive performances of the Blue Train (24m of amusing "fluff") and the Three-Cornered Hat (37m). The latter is the star of the show with De Falla's music and Picasso's designs for the stage curtain, costumes and sets - recreated by the Paris ballet. Picasso had nothing to do with the Blue Train except that a picture of his was used for the curtain. Since the main reason I bought the DVD was for the Picasso connection I would have liked to have a more appropriate 2nd illustration, if such is available, and more of the very interesting documentation (20m). I really like what Picasso did for the Three-Cornered Hat but I do feel a bit "short changed"."