Alexander Benois' Petrushka
Act Curtain for Alexander Benois' Petrushka
The Ballet Russe Collection
© 2001 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Ballet-burlesque in 4 scenes.
Libretto by Alexander Benois and Igor Stravinsky.
Choreography by Michel Fokine.
Music by Igor Stravinsky.
Sets and costumes by Alexander Benois.
Premiere: Paris, June 13, 1911, by the Ballets Russes de Serge de
Petrushka (or, with French spelling,
Petrouchka) came into the repertoire of the Ballet Russe
de Monte Carlo during the early years (1938-42).
The following synopsis of the ballet is quoted from Lincoln
Kirstein's Movement And Metaphor (New York: Praeger
" I. 'Butter Week' in Petersburg , 1830; a street-fair. A show
booth; behind, the Admiralty's needle spire. A crowd of peasants,
police, street dancers, gypsies, with a hurdy-gurdy fill the
street. A bearded old Showman steps through the curtains of his
booth; when drawn, they reveal puppets, sprawled on armatures:
Blackamoor, Ballerina, and Petrouchka. The showman... makes his
dolls budge, then dance. A drum-roll (Tambour de Provence) is
heard. II. Petrouchka's dark den, exuding a cold northern climate,
stenciled with icy stars. He is kicked inside by the Showman and
tries to escape. Ballerina enters stiffly on toe - a silly puppet,
but beautiful to him. His japes and tricks do not impress her, and
she leaves, ignoring his love. Abandoned, he pounds the paper
walls. III. The Moor's room, warm south - rich, red, painted with
palms. He sprawls on the divan, juggling a coconut. His scimitar
can't crack it; it must be a god. He worships it. The Ballerina
struts in, blowing her tin trumpet. The Moor loves her. Petrouchka
enters; the lovers spring apart. The Moor chases Petrouchka, boots
him out, and sets the Ballerina on his lap again. IV. The street
fair; night. The busy crowd includes coachmen, nursemaids, a
dancing bear, ribbon vendors, masked revelers; commotion from the
show booth. The Ballerina in pursuit, Petrouchka, chased by the
Moor's scimitar, is struck down. Blood on the snow. When police
arrive, the Showman can point only to his doll's sawdust stuffing.
The crowd disperses. Suddenly, above the booth, Petrouchka is seen
alive, jiggling and quivering. The charlatan is amazed and
terrified. His risen doll is immortal. Snow falls."
Much of the set for Petrushka consists of hard scenery.
The only soft goods in the Butler Ballet's collection are the act
curtain, a set of legs, three different borders, and the two-part
curtain probably acting as transition between the scenes. The
latter is a larger version of the charlatan's puppet theatre
Below are pictures of these different pieces.
Act curtain with red border
Entr'acte curtain (larger version of
Charlatan's puppet theatre curtain)
Act curtain with legs
Reproduction, including downloading of Benois works is
prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without
the express written permission of Artists Rights Society
(ARS), New York.