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Opéras Russes, À L’aube Des Ballets Russes, 1901-1913
(Russian Operas, At the Dawn of the Russian Ballets, 1901-1913)

Start Date 12 December 2009
End Date 16 May 2010
Venue Centre National du Costume de Scene
Location Moulins, France
Curator Delphine Pinasa and Martine Kahane
Designer Giuliano Spinelli
Exhibition display of dressed mannequins
Exhibition display of dressed mannequins
Exhibition display of dressed mannequins

On the occasion of the centenary of the Ballets Russes (1909-1929), the CNCS has chosen to participate in the commemorations by presenting an exhibition of costumes of lyrical works by Russian composers, performed by Diaghilev or by Parisian theaters in the first quarter of the Twentieth century

In 1908, the year before the arrival in Paris of the two great dancers Nijinsky and Pavlova, Russian opera had already conquered the public. Serge Diaghilev (1872-1929), founder of the Ballets Russes in 1909, presented at the Palais Garnier Boris Godunov, opera by Mussorgsky, with Chaliapin in the title role, in costumes by Bilibine.

Albert Carré, director of the Opéra-Comique, had given in his theater Snégourotchka, opera Rimsky-Korsakov, in a sumptuous production inspired by the illustrations of Bilibine and carried out under the aegis of Princess Tenichev.

Sibéria, opera by Giordano, premiered in 1911 at the Palais Garnier, with costumes from the Bolshoi Theater, drawn by Golovine on the advice of archaeologist V. Sizov for the creation in 1901 of La Pskovitaine (Ivan the Terrible) by Rimsky-Korsakov in Moscow.
Finally, it was in 1913, the year of the Rite of Spring, that Diaghilev did it again, this time with a new production by Boris Godunov and the creation of Khovantchina, another opera by Mussorgsky, another historical Russian opera, in costumes by Fedorovsky. .

The twists and turns in the history of the show have meant that costumes from these four productions are now in the collections of the CNCS, via the patrimonial fund of the Opéra national de Paris.

The sumptuous, shiny, golden and embroidered aesthetic of Bilibine and Bakst for Snégurotchka and Boris Godunov, contrasts with the very modern one of the brightly painted costumes and geometric patterns by Fedorovsky for Khovantchina, or even with the almost ethnographic costumes of Ivan the Terrible.

This exhibition brings together some 110 costumes from these 4 productions, the vast majority presented for the first time, supported by models, drawings, working and inspiration documents, and in addition a film program in the auditorium of the CNCS.

Images courtesy of Centre National du Costume de Scene.