- Choreography: George Balanchine.
- Music: Georges Bizet (Symphony No 1 in C major, 1855).
This ballet was originally choreographed by George Balanchine for the Paris Opera Ballet under the name Le Palais de Cristal. Each movement corresponded to a jewel as reflected in the tutu colours: red for “Rubies”, black for “Black Diamonds”, green for “Emeralds” and white for “Pearls”, a concept which Mr. B revisited decades later in Jewels. At that time he was a guest ballet master at POB and after being introduced to Bizet‘s Symphony in C by Stravinsky he envisioned and staged the ballet in just two weeks. Le Palais de Cristal premiered in 1947.
In 1948 Mr. B restaged the ballet for the New York City Ballet. He gave it a new name, black and white settings and costumes by Karinska and more importantly, he gave it new sections of choreography. The inspiration and idea were kept but Balanchine changed many of the petit allegro sequences as well as substantially altering the 2nd movement, presumably due to his preference for choreographing to dancers’ particular strengths. Nowadays the original Le Palais de Cristal is rarely performed: most companies dance the 1948 version created for City Ballet, although POB still have it on their repertoire and it was danced by The Tokyo Ballet in the 90′s. theballetbag.com
Georges Bizet (1858-1875) is said to have composed his symphony while he was a 17-year old student at the Paris Conservatory as a class assignment. The score was discovered in the Conservatory’s library in 1933 (80 years thereafter), having never been mentioned by the composer in his letters and unknown to his early biographers. One of the theories behind it was that the piece had too many similarities to Symphony No. 1 in D (1855) composed by Bizet’s own teacher Gounod. Nevertheless, Symphony in C showed how gifted Bizet was as a melodist and orchestrator.
The full piece was first performed on 26 February, 1935 in Basel, Switzerland by Felix Weingartner. Certain motifs reappear in such Bizet later works as Le pêcheurs de perles, L’Arlésienne and Don Procopio.
Costumes: Barbara Karinska
Designs: Mark Stanley
Premiere: 11 October, 1948 by the New York City Ballet at NY City Center.
Cast: Maria Tallchief, Nicholas Magallanes (1st Mov); Tanaquil LeClercq, Francisco Moncion (2nd Mov), Beatrice Tompkins, Herbert Bliss (3rd Mov), Elise Reiman, John Taras (4th Mov). theballetbag.com