Neoclassical Stravinsky goes Italian baroque for this one-act ballet based on archetypal commedia dell’arte characters created for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Its glittering premiere in 1920 was conducted by Ernest Ansermet and featured choreography by Leonid Massine and designs by Pablo Picasso. The ballet was originally to have had music from a group of concerti armonici thought to be by the short-lived Giovanni Pergolesi.
However, Ansermet wanted a contemporary score and approached Stravinsky who was influenced by the ersatz-Pergolesi works. Long after Pulcinella’s creation, the baroque concerti were discovered to have been not by the Italian who died at 26 but rather by an unknown Dutch composer Count Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer.
George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins collaborated on a new setting of the ballet (using the full score) for New York City Ballet’s legendary 1972 Stravinsky Festival. A watchable but rather poor video exists of that production with Edward Villella in the title role. I’ve never seen the work live at NYCB—has it been done anytime recently? I probably overlooked it but I don’t ever recall seeing Pulcinella listed during my years in the city.
While the suite of the orchestral movements is frequently programmed, orchestras don’t seem to want to hire three vocal soloists for the complete version which is a shame as I much prefer it.
After this “small plate,” there will be a more fulling “entrée” next week for the 250th Trove Thursday!
Théâtre du Châtelet
5 March 2009
Anna Caterina Antonacci
Orchestre National de France
Conductor — Daniele Gatti
Pulcinella can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.
Other Stravinsky on Trove Thursday: The Rake’s Progress with Arlene Saunders, Tatiana Troyanos, Loren Driscoll, Tom Krause and Hans Sotin conducted by Charles Mackerras and Jessye Norman and William Lewis in Oedipus Rex.
The archive which lists every Trove Thursday offering since the beginning in alphabetical order by composer was updated last month.