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Ballet in six parts with choreography by Manzotti, music by Romualdo Marenco, and design by Alfredo Edel. Premiered on 11 Jan. 1881 at Teatro alla Scala, Milan, with Bice Vergani, Carlo Montanara, and Rosina Viale. This spectacular ballet, celebrating the progress of human civilization, was conceived at a time when the public's taste for ballet had declined into hunger for lavish entertainment but also when Italian national optimism was at a peak. In many ways it prefigured the epics of Hollywood. It traced human progress in terms of a tumultuous struggle between the Spirits of Light and Darkness, dramatizing such landmarks as the invention of the steamship, the iron bridge, telegraphy, and the building of the Suez Canal and the Mont Cenis tunnel. The final defeat of Darkness is marked by a Grand Festival of the Nations and an apotheosis of light and peace. The choreography for the original production was arranged for several hundred of dancers and was lavishly staged. It was extremely popular and was revived all over Europe albeit in frequently reduced versions. In Vienna it was in the repertory from 1885 to 1914, receiving 329 performances. It was re-staged by dell'Ara for the Teatro Communale, Florence (1967), and for La Scala (1974).

Subjects: Dance.

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