La Esmeralda

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Ballet in three acts with choreography and libretto by Perrot, music by Pugni, sets by W. Grieve, and costumes by Mme Copère. Premiered 9 Mar. 1844 at Her Majesty's Theatre, London, with Grisi, Perrot, Saint-Léon, and A. L. Coulon. It is based on Hugo's novel Notre-Dame de Paris (1831) and tells the story of the deaf and hunchbacked Quasimodo who is hopelessly in love with the gypsy girl Esmeralda, who, in turn, loves Captain Phoebus. The priest Frollo is also infatuated with Esmeralda and stabs Phoebus out of jealousy. Esmeralda is then accused of Phoebus's murder but Quasimodo exposes Frollo's crime. Elssler scored an exceptional triumph in this ballet when she danced it in St Petersburg in 1849 and the work's unusually vivid characterization and tight dramatic structure ensured its enduring popular appeal. Petipa choreographed a new version in 1886 in St Petersburg for which Drigo composed several new numbers, including the Diana and Actaeon pas de deux which is still performed today (though in choreography based on the 1935 Vaganova staging). A completely new version with a tragic ending was choreographed by Bourmeister in 1950. With a libretto by himself and Tikhomirov and music by Glière and S. Vasilenko it was premiered 14 Oct. at the Moscow Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Lyric Theatre. A third version was choreographed by Beriozoff in 1954 for London Festival Ballet to music arranged by G. Corbett. Other treatments of the same story include Gorsky's Gudule's Daughter (Moscow, 1902), Petit's Notre-Dame de Paris (Paris Opera, 1965), B. Wells's The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Australian Ballet, 1981), and C. Gable and M. Pink's The Hunchback of Notre Dame (mus. P. Feeney, Northern Ballet Theatre, 1998). A much earlier version was by Antonio Monticioni at La Scala, Milan, in 1839.

Subjects: Dance.

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