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72. LA CHATTE (also called THE CAT)


Ballet in One Act


Music: By Henri Sauguet (1927, commissioned by Serge Diaghilev). Book by Sobeka [Boris Kochno] (after one of Aesop's Fables).

Choreography: By George Balanchine.

Production: Architecture and sculpture constructed by Naum Gabo and Antoine Pevsner.

Premiere: April 30, 1927, Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, Opéra de Monte-Carlo. Conductor: Marc-César Scotto.

Cast: The Cat, Olga Spessivtseva; The Young Man, Serge Lifar; His Companions, 6 men.

Note: Deserting his male companions, a young man in love with a cat persuades Aphrodite to change the cat into a beautiful girl. Tempted by the goddess, the girl gives chase to a mouse, and is turned into a cat again; the boy dies broken hearted. The cast of seven men and one woman danced around and through transparent Constructivist forms against a black background. Lifar's 1933 version, which retained his solos but little more, was produced without the collaboration of the choreographer.

Revisions: 1927, Ballets Russes: Balanchine made the role of the Cat more difficult, including the addition of double air turns, following an injury to Olga Spessivtseva on May 26, 1927, the day before the Paris premiere. On opening night in Paris, the role was danced by Alice Nikitina, who thereafter alternated with Alicia Markova.

Reconstruction: Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, 1991.

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