"THE FIRST RUSSIAN BALLET": ALEXANDER SUMAROKOV'S SANCTUARY OF VIRTUE (1759)

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  • 1. For an outline of Sumarokov's career, see my "Aleksandr Petrovich Sumarokov," in Early Modern Russian l�Yriters.� Late Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, ed. Marcus C. Levitt. Dic- tionary of Literary Biography, vol. 150 (Detroit, New York, London: Eiruccoli Clark Layman, and Gale Research, 1995), pp. 370-81. Available on line with password via: z

  • 2. The overwhelming majority of private theaters only lasted a few years. Sumarokov's court theater, on the other hand, went on to form the basis for the Imperial Theaters later in the cen- tury. 3. On Sumarokov's operas and ballets, see the passing references in: Cyril W. Beaumont, A History of Ballet in Russia (1613-1881), preface by Andrd Levinson (London: C. W. Beaumont, 1930); N. Findeizen, Ocherki po istorii muzyki v Rossii s drevneishikh vremen do kontsa XVIII veka, vol. 2 (Moscow-Leningrad; Gos. Izdat. Muzsektor, 1929); A. Gozenpud, Muzykal'nyi teatr v Rossii, Ot istokov do Glinki: Ocherk (Leningrad: Gos. Muz. 17(4,t., 1959); V. Krasovskaia, Russkii baletnyi teatr: ot vozniknoveniia do serediny XIX veka (,eningrad-Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1958); Serge Lifar, A History of Russian Ballet from its Origins to the Present Day, trans. Arnold Haskell (London, Hutchinson [1954]); T. N. Livanova, Russkaia muzykalnaia kultura XVIII veka v ee sviaziakh s literaturoi teatram i bytom; issledovaniia i materialy, vol. 1 (Moscow: Gos. muzykalnoe izd-vo, 1952); R.-Aloys Mooser, Annales de la musique et des musiciens en Russie au XVII]me siècle. Vol. 1 ([Geneva] Mont-Blanc, [1948-51]); lakob Shtelin, Muzyka i balet v Rossii XVIII veka, trans. B. I. Zasurskii (Leningrad: Triton, 1935); V. N. Vsevolodskii- Gerngross, Istoriia russkogo teatra, intro. and ed. A. V. Lunacharskii. 2 vols. (Leningrad : Tea- kino-pechat, 1929); and especially the works of and edited by L. M. Starikova: Teatr v Rossii Z7/7 veka: opyt dokumental'nogo issledovaniia (Moscow: Ministerstvo kul'tury Rossilskof Fedcratsii, Gos. Institut iskusstvovedeniia, 1996); Tentral'naia zhizn' Rossii v epokhu Anny Io- annovny : dokumental'naia khronika, 1730-1740 (Moscow: Radiks, 1995); Teatral'naia zhizn' Rossii v epokhu Elizavety Petrovny: Dokumental'naia khronikn, 1741-1750, vyp. 2, ch. I (Mos- cow: Nauka, 2003); see also other works cited below. Livanova's complaint that "the entire mu- sical aspect of Sumarokov's theatrical activity is the least examined in the literature on him. We can never find more than a few lines written on Sumarokov's ballets and operas" (1: 73) remains valid. The single article on the subject I have found, by Ol'ga Vsevolodskaia-Golushkevich ("Balety Aleksandra Sumarokova,"Sovetskii balet, 4 [1986], pp. 37-40), does not offer any new material. On the unusual character of "Pustynnik," see my "Drama Sumarokova 'Pustynnik': k voprosu o zhanrovykh i ideisnykh istochnikakh russkogo klassitsizma," XVIII vek (St. Peters- burg), 18 (1993), 59-74. 4. R.-Aloys Mooser, Operas, intermezzos, ballets, cantates, oratorios joues en Russie durant le XVIlle siecle. 3rd rev. ed. (Bale: Barenreiter, [1964]), p. 113; also in his Annates de la musique, pp. 315 and 325. This was probably also the source for, e.g., Marian Hannah Winter, The Pre-Romantic Ballet (London: Pitman, 1974), p. 97.

  • 5. On the application of Vaugelas' linguistic ideas to Russian, see V. M. Zhivov's fundamen- tal study lazyk i kultura v Rossii XVIII veka (Moscow: Shkola "lazyki russkoi kultury," 1996). The new Russian literary consciousness saw itself as in some sense opposed to the older Church Slavonic language (perceived as "Baroque" and "impure") - like the opposition between French and Latin in France. However, in practice (especially in panegyric genres like odes) the literary tongue was deeply indebted to the Slavonic Baroque tradition as providing the only available models. Zhivov refers to the language of this cultural formation as the period of "classicizing purism" and a "Slaveno-Russian synthesis." 6. See, variously, M. M. Shtrange, Demokraticheskaia intelligentsiia Rdssii v XVIII veke (Moscow: Nauka, 1965); Gary Marker, Publishing, Printing, and the Origins of Intellectual Life in Russia, 1700-7800 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 1985); Douglas Smith, Working the /?OH�A &o/:e. �eeMomnr� an� �'oe<� M �tg/;Rough Stone: Freemasonry and Society in Eighteenth-Cenfury Russia (DeKalb, IL: Northern 11- linois Univ. Press, 1999); and Elise Wirtschafter, The Play of Ideas in Russian Enlightenment Theater (DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois Univ. Press, 2003).

  • 7. As noted by Natalia Petrovna Roslavleva, Era of the Russian Ballet (London: Gollancz, 1966), p. 17. 8. See especially Starikova's works cited in note 2. E. V. Anisimov gives a lively description of Elizabeth's court in Rossiia v seredine ZIT7// v.: bor'ba za aasledie Petra (Moscow: Mysl', 1986), in English as Empress Elizabeth: Her Reign and Her Russia, 7741-1761, ed., trans. and preface by John T. Alexander (Gulf Breeze, FL: Academic International Press, 1995). 9. The first quote is from Serge Lifar, A History of Russian Ballet, p. 33 and the second from his Baldet, Traditional to Modern, trans. Cyril W. Beaumont (London: Putnam, 1938), p. 124.

  • 10. Lifar, A History of Russian Ballet, p. 36; this was also certainly the self-consciousness of the time, as evidenced by lakob Shtelin's testimony (e.g., Muzyka i balet v Rossii, p. 161 ). 1 Most recently and most authoritatively, Starikova's 7eatral'naia zhizn' Rossii v epokhu 8lizavety Petrovny gives their court debut as March, 1736 (pp. 21 and 42). 12. See V. N. Vsevolodskii-Gerngross, Istoriia teatral'nogo obrazovaniia v Rossii (St. Pe- tersburg: Izd. Direktsii Imp. teatrov, 1913); and M Borisoglebskii, Proshloe Baletnogo otdeleniia Peterburgskogo teatralnogo uchilishcha nyne Leningradskogo gosudarstvennogo khoreo- graf cheskogo uchilishelaa: Mmaterialy po istorii russkogo baleta, vol. 1 ([Leningrad] : lzd. Len- ingradskogo gos. khoreograficheskogo uchilishcha, 1938). On the composition of the troupe, see L. M. Starikova, "Pervaia russkaia baletnaia truppa," in Pamiatniki kul'tury: Novye otkrytiia. 1985 (Moscow: Nauka, 1987), pp. 102-07.

  • 13. Lifar, A History of Russian Ballet, p. 33; see also Peter Brinson, Background to European Ballet (New York: Books for Libraries, 1980), p. 84. 14. Angiolini is known especially for his collaborations with Gluck in Vienna; together they carried the new reform ideas into opera. 15. Jean Georges Noverre, Letters on Dancing and Ballets, trans. Cyril W. Beaumont from the revised and enlarged edition published at St. Petersburg, 1803 (London: C,. W. Beaumont, 1930). This is the edition from which I will be quoting. References to it will be given in paren- theses in the text. 16. See Gozenpud, Muzykal'nyi teatr v Rossii, p. 200, and Ivor Forbes Guest, The Ballet of the Enlightenment: The Establishment of the ballet d'action in France, 1770-1793 (London: Dance Books, 1996), which mostly concerns Noverre's work in Paris.

  • 17. Its program is reproduced in Shtelin, Muryka i balel, pp. 164-68. 18. Angiolini, by the way, vehemently disputed Noverre's claims about instituting the re- forms, claiming priority for Hilferding. See Angiolini's Lettere di Gasparo Angiolini a Monsieur Noverre sopra i badli pantomini (Milano: Apresso G. B. Bianchi, 1773). The consensus among scholars, though, is that the substance of their positions was the same.

  • 19. Istoriiarusskogoteatra, I: 416. 20. Mariia Shcherbakova, "From the Archives of the Marinsky Theatre; Francesco Araia, Tsefal and Procris, Domenico Cimarosa, La Cleopatra, June 14, 2001" [Theatrical Program, St. Petersburg: Marinsky Theater, 2001 p. 3 (p. 19 in Russian). Shcherbakova adds, however, that the last balletic insert did "philosophically develop" the final tragic action, as Cephalus' loss of Procris is paralleled to Orpheus' death at the hands of a group of bacchae. She cites the descrip- tion of this scene included in the first publication of the libretto (Tsefal i Prokris [St. Petersburg, 1755], p. 36) (p. 19).

  • 21. Istoriia russkogo teatra, 1: 384.

  • 22.Ezhemesiachnyesochineniia, mart, 1756, p. 273; A. P. Sumarokov, Polnoe sobranie vsekh sochinenii, v stikhakh i proze, 10 vols., edited by N. 1. Novikov (Moscow: Universitetskaia tipografiia, 1781-1782), IX: 154-55. I will refer to this edition henceforth as "PSVS."

  • 23. Shcherbakova writes that in the "secco scenes and recitatives (accompanied by harpsi- chord alone)" the music aimed to convey the prosody of Sumarokov's text, with lines of mixed length as in his fables, while in the arias the "basic dramaturgic task was to convey the emotional and psychological depth of the heroes' feelings rather than to render the melodically flexible in- tonation of their speech." "From the Archives," p. 3 (in Russian on pp. 17-18). 24. See Shtelin, Muzyka i balet, p. 91. Sumarokov gave the plot a serious, tragic interpreta- tion. Among other reasons, Metamorphoses was a popular choice for librettos because it offered rich opportunities for stage machinery to be employed; Ovid was also a popular source for palace decoration, as in the work of Valeriani, discussed below. See M. S. Konopleva, Teatral'nyi zhi- vopisets Dzhiuseppe Valeriani: Materialy k biografii i istoriii tvoychestva (Leningrad: Gos. Er- mitazh, 1948), p. 26. 25. Repeated by Shtelin, Muzyka i balet, p. 91; see Mooser, Annales de la musique, I: 256. 26. Mooser, Annales de la musique, I: 258.

  • 27. Apart from this, the reference to Lecouvreur probably serves more as a great reputation to emulate rather than a specific stylistic model. Here, if anything it might suggest a canonized past ideal rather than a radical reformism. In the realm of stage costume, Lecouvreur confirmed the tendency toward lavish court dress on stage, as opposed to the movement towards simplicity on the part of the reformers. On this and on Noverre's reform of ballet costume, see V. N. Vsevo- lodskii-Gemgross, "Teatral'nyi kostium XVIII veka i khudozhnik Boke," Starye gody, I-II (1915), p. 35; Boquet was Noverre's costume designer. 28. Gozenpud, Muzylurl'r�yi teatr, p. 99. In the eighteenth century it was also very common to have multiple scores by different composers based on the same single libretto.

  • 29. Shtelin, Muzyka i balet, p. 93; Mooser, Annales de la musique I: 324. 30. A. L. Porfireva, "Shtartser," Muzykalnyi Peterburg : Entsiklopedicheskii slovar, ed. A. L. Porfireva et al. (St. Petersburg: "Kompozitor," 2000), vol. 1, bk. 3 p. 279. 31. Shcherbakova has identified four of Valeriani's sketches for Cepalus and Procris, that are reproduced in "From the Archives," p. 16. The originals are in the State Hermitage. The handbill, whose location and precise nature I have unfortunately been unable to ascertain, is re- produced in Boiisoglebskii, Proshdoe Baletnogo otdeleniia. 32. Shtelin, Muzyka i balet, pp. 88-89. Konopleva has been able to identify seven (named) operas that Valeriani designed; twenty-eight more of his plans for decorations have survived, but

  • it is not always clear what works they illustrated or if they were turned into actual Theatrical sets (Teatral'nyi zhivopisets, pp. 8-9) (figs. 2-6 and notes to them). As Peter Brinson has noted, from the seventeenth century, "all of the great courts of Europe, seeking to emulate what the Venetians had developed, tried to attn ct from Italy its best designers and machinists"(Background to European Ballet, p. 80). "Per ,ective art" was a unique Italian specialty embracing painting, engraving, and the theatrical arts (especially set design, but also theatrical architecture and machinery). Valeriani and Persinotti were part of a renaissance of the Venetian school of art, which included Luca Carlevaris (c.1665-1731) and Giovanni Tiepolo (1696-1770) and such dynasties of artists and designers as the Bibiena family, members of which worked at courts across Europe; Carlo Galli Bibiena (1728-1787) was one of them who worked in Russia (fig. 7). According to Shtelin, during his time in Rome, Valeriani had taught Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) (Muzyka i balet, p. 87). Konopleva, who wrote a valuable short monograph on Valeriani, ranks him as a "outstandingly gifted" master artist, on the level of Rastrelli which whom he worked. Valeriani was hired as an "historical and perspective artist (istoricheskim i perspektivnym khudozhnikom)" (Teatral'nyi zhivopisets, p. 4), and this curious position came to embrace many disparate areas of creativity, that underscore the many connec- tions between theatrical design (including sets, decorations, architecture and machinery) and ar- chitecture. Many of his designs for set decorations seem interchangeable with his designs for palace halls; and Valeriani's ceiling paintings ("plafony,"from the French, "plafonds" [flat base]) could be used to decorate theaters, or as part of theatrical sets; in palace halls; and also in churches (figs. 8 and 9). Among the palaces Valeriani and Peresinotti helped decorate for Rastrelli included the Hermitage, Peterhof, and the Anchikov and Stroganov palaces. On impe- rial order Valeriani also supervised a famous album of St. Petersburg cityscapes (the so called "Makhaevskii al'bom" of 1753, for which he designed and built a camera obscura); he was also designer and architect of a large stone opera house, built in 1750 after its wooden predecessor burned down (Teatral'nyi zhivopisets, p. 12). His role in designing theatricals included not only painting (or supervising) the huge backdrop scenery for productions, but also the theatrical ma- chinery. He also taught the theatrical arts at the Academy of Sciences and then at the fledgling Academy of Arts (ibid., section 4). '). 33. Sumarokov, PSVS, 4: 190.

  • 34. Shtelin, Muzyka i balet, p. 91. 35. According to the handbill mentioned above, the ballet was also presented on September 22, 1762, Catherine Its coronation day. The original version twice name Elizabeth in the last act (PSVS 4: 214), and one wonders if in 1762 the name was changed to Catherine. 36. The image of the four continents (or "ends of the earth," i.e., directions of the compass) was very common in Russian panegyrical literature and allegorical festival, and also a staple in eighteenth century ballet, where, as in Sanctuary of Virtue, it allowed for a spectrum of "national dances." For a characteristic example of festival imagery, see Lomonosov's "Inscription (nad- pis') for the Illumination ... April 25, 1751" (Polnoe sobranie sochinenii [Moscow-Leningrad, 1950-83], 8: 393): "The rays from your wreath, Monarch, / Have poured out onto the four cor- ners of the Universe. / Europe Africa, America, Asia / Are amazed at the brilliance shining / From Russia, enlightening all parts of the earth." . " 37. As noted above, R.-Aloys Mooser, one of the best scholars on this period, actually mis- takes Sanctuary of Virtue for an "opera-ballet" (see note 2). He refers to it as "un spectacle la fois dramatique, lyrique et choreographique" (Annales de la musique, p. 313). Cf. V. Krasovskaia, Russkii baletnyi tealr: ot vozniknoveniia do serediny XIX veka (Leningrad- Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1958), p. 48.

  • 38. Lines of song are italicized in the libretto, at least that is what I presume the italics sig- nify. I have counted lines of poetry split between two or more characters as single lines. 39. Of course, the eighteenth-century notion of the "tragic" means something more like "highly serious and noble" rather than the ancient Greek or Shakespearean notion. See my dis- cussion in "Sumarokov's Russianized 'Hamlet': Texts and Contexts," The Slavic and East Euro- pean Journal, 38: 2 (Summer 1994), 333-34.

  • 40. Sumarokov, PSVS 4: 196. 41. See Stephen Lessing Baehr, The Paradise Myth in Eighteenth-Certtury Russia: Utopian Patterns In Early Secular Russian Literature And Culture (Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press, 1991), p. 56. This moment may be juxtaposed to Ivan Karamazov's famous lines of more than a hundred years later about Europe as a "precious graveyard": I want to travel in Europe, Alyosha, I shall set off from here. And yet I know that I am only going to a graveyard, but it's a most precious graveyard, that's what it is! Precious are the dead that lie there, every stone over them speaks of such burning life in the past, of such passionate faith in their work, their truth, their struggle and their science, that I know I shall fall on the ground and kiss those stones and weep over them; though I'm convinced in my heart that its long been nothing but a grave-yard. And I shall not weep from despair, but simply because I shall be happy in my tears, I shall steep my soul in my emotion." (The Brothers Karamazov 2: S: 3 1

  • 42. The first two acts had taken place in rooms (chertogi); in a desert (pustynia, a place of sand, rocky mountains, and dry forest) (Africa); and in a pastoral "pleasant locale with a grove, meadow and spring (priiatnoe mestopolozhenie Toshchi, luga i istochniki)" (America). 43. Sumarokov, PSVS 4: 213.

  • 44. See, for example, Lomonosov's very typical "Inscription (nadpis') for the Illumination ... April 25, 1751" (Polnoe sobranie sochinenii [Moscow-Leningrad, 1950-83], 8: 393): "The rays from your wreath, Monarch, I Have poured out onto the four comers of the Universe. I Europe Africa, America, Asia I Are amazed at the brilliance shining I From Russia, enlightening all parts of the earth." 45. Shcherbakova, "From the Archives," pp. 18-19.

  • 46. E.g., Krasovskaia, Russkii baletnyi leatr, p. 48 andWinter, The Pre-Romantic Ballet, p. 97.

  • 47. See, for example, Noverre, Letters on Dancing, p. 42. A basic irony is that most social and ballet dances were rooted in regional folk dances, as indicated by their names (e.g., rigaudon, musette, IOUTC, tambourin, chaconne, and so on). 48. This issue is also obviously relevant to various genres of Sumarokov's oeuvre. One ex- ample is his comedies, which, despite Sumarokov's explicit rejection of folk igrishchi, owes much to such farces. Another example is Sumarokov's carnivalesque choruses written for "Mi- nerva Triumphant," the public masquerade for Catherine's coronation festivities in Moscow. Several of these choruses seem to have points in common with those in Sanctuary of Virtue. Both center on the problem of the "prevratnyi mir" (prevratnyi -- inconstant, fickle, inverted), although in Sanctuary of Virtue this is an evil, archly serious dystopian world devoid of virtue, while in Sumarokov's festival choruses (e.g., the "Khory prevratnomu svetu") this may be seen --- -- as the topsy-turvy satirical world of carnival. 49. Shtelin, Muzyka i balet, p. 157. 50. Ibid, p. 162; see also Krasovskaia, Russkii baletnyi teatr, p. 54. 51. Ibid, pp. 89-90.

  • 52. Roslavleva, Era of the Russian Ballet, p. 24, 53. See Vsevolodskii-Gemgross, "Teatral'nyi kostium." 54. Experiment, 2 (1996), p. 5.

  • 55. For a discussion of Sumarokov's tribulations, see my "The Illegal Staging of Sumaro- kov's Sinav i Truvor in 1770 and the problem of Authorial Status in Eighteenth-Century Russia," The Slavic and Eas1 European Journal, 43: 2 (Summer 1999): 299-323. 56. Vsevolodskii-Gerngross, Isloriia russkogo teatra, I: 407 and 462-63. Vsevolodskii- Gemgross also cites an instance in 1723 when during a celebration for the Treaty of Nystad mas- queraders attended a church service in masks and makeup (only slightly covering their heads with their capes, we are told) (I: 364). 57. Russkii balet: entsiklopediia (Moscow: "Soglasie," 1997), p. 128; Shtelin, Muzyka i balet, p. 160. 58. Shtelin, Muzyka i ballet, p. 94; he refers to many such instances, e.g., pp. 159-60. Of course, many Russian noblemen maintianed their own private serf theaters. Both Noverre and Sumarokov - as well as Shtelin - advocated high professional standards in the arts.

  • 59. Horst Koegler, "Dance, Western." Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2003. Encyclopaedia Britan- nica Online. Accessed May, 7, 2003 . 60. Giovanni-Andrea Gallini, A Treatise on the Art of Dancing, A Facsimile of the .1752 London Edition (New York: Broude Brothers, 1967), p. 174. 61. Translated into Russian as Tantsoval'nyi slovar' (Moscow, 1790); quotation from p. 45; see also p. 184. The English here is taken from Noverre, Letters on Dancing, p. 12. 62. Susan Leigh Foster, Choreography and Narrative: Ballet's Staging of Story and Desire (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1996), p. 28.

  • 63. Foster, Choreography and Narrative, p. 61. 64. Ibid, p. 62. ,

  • 65. Foster, Choreography and Narrati�e, p. 73. This normative, supra-personal view of the dance closely parallels the Russian Classicist notion of genre as described by G. A. Gukovskii. See his Ronnie raboty ...

  • 66. Some of Hilferding's innovations as a choreographer were the entrechat quatre and the pirouette, which he brought to Russia (Deryck Lynham, Ballet Then and Now: A History of the Ballet in Europe [London: Sylvan Press, 1947], p. 68); but as noted, his position on dance is con- sidered basically identical to Noverre, although of course this would not extend to every move and step. 67. Raoul-Auger FeuiUet, Choregraphie, ou L'art de de'crire [i. e. decrirej la dance. A fac- simile of the 1700 Paris ed. (New York, Broude Bros. [1968]). On this see Ann Hutchinson Guest, Dance Notation: The Process of Recording Movement on Paper (New York: Dance Hori- zons, 1984), p. 63. 68. His rival Angiolini on the other hand defended this system "as it contained all principles of the ballet of the period" (Guest, Dance Notation, p. 67). See also Sandra Noll Hammond, Bal- let Basics. 2nd ed. (Palo Alto, CA: Mayfield, 1984), pp. 17-18.

  • 69. Foster, Choreography and Desire, pp. 78-79. 70. A. P. Sumarokov, Izbrannye proizvedeniia, ed. P. N. Berkov, Biblioteka poeta, Bol'shaia seriia (Leningrad: Sovetskii pisatel', 1957), pp. 118, 124 and 125. Cf. Noverre, Letters on Danc- ing, pp. 30-31. 1.

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