[Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilyich. (1840–1893)] Benois, Alexandre. (1870–1960)

"A Guest" - Original Costume Design for The Nutcracker

A remarkable original costume design made by Benois for the 1957 production of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker first performed on 24 December by the Festival Ballet at the Royal Festival Hall, London. Pencil, indian ink, watercolours and body-colours, signed in pencil "Alexandre Benois" and identified at the head by the artist "Nutcracker - N. 18" and titled "Un invité" ["a guest"] and measuring 15.5 x 24 cm. Block of light toning around the image, slightly irregularly trimmed and mounted to rigid backing, else fine. 

The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (op. 71). The libretto is adapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King", by way of Alexandre Dumas' adapted story "The Nutcracker". It was given its premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg on Sunday, December 18, 1892, on a double-bill with Tchaikovsky's opera Iolanta. 

As a designer for the Ballets Russes under Sergei Diaghilev, the Russian artist Alexandre Benois exerted what is considered a seminal influence on the modern ballet and stage design. He designed a number of different productions of The Nutcracker of the course of his career.  It was his decor which introduced the ever-popular work to American audiences, in the touring production mounted by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1940, with choreography by Alexandra Fedorova after the Ivanov original.


Classical Music
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