Black Crook

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A 19th-century theatrical extravaganza, which had an enormous impact on the development of American music hall and vaudeville. First produced on 12 Sept. 1866 at Niblo's Garden in New York, it was directed by David Costa who engaged a Great Parisienne Ballet Troupe from the Grand Opera, Paris. Marie Bonfanti and Rita Sangalli were the premières danseuses. The production, which used music, dance, and drama in a four-act spectacle, had a running time of five-and-a-half hours at its first performance. During the course of its sixteen-month run in New York and its subsequent touring versions hundreds of dancers were employed and its success helped to introduce ballet to Americans. The impresario William Wheatley used lavish sets and costumes imported from Europe and innovative stage effects that included calcine lights and sophisticated machinery. The plot involved an alchemist (the Black Crook of the title) who promised to deliver souls to Satan (represented by Zamiel, the Arch Fiend).

Subjects: Theatre — Dance.

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