Igor Stravinsky in Paris
The series about historical places of opera art & culture. Get to know exciting excursion and travel ideas for opera lovers. This time: Igor Stravinsky in Paris.
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Igor Strawinski in Paris
Stravinski first came to Paris in 1910 for his “Firebird” for the Compagnie des Ballets russes. In the next years he came repeatedly back for his further projects of this ballet troupe of the Russian Dhiagilev.
The World War ended this phase and the Stravinski family spent the war years with their 4 children in Switzerland.
In 1920 Stravinski, who was in money trouble, moved to Granches near Paris at the invitation of Coco Chanel to her Villa Bel respiro. Coco Chanel had sat in the auditorium at the premiere of “Sacré du printemps” and met the composer. Chanel and Stravinski probably had an affair during his stay in Granches.
Stravinsky then lived in various places in France (among others in Biarritz) until 1936, when he took up residence in Paris on Rue Faubourg Honoré until the outbreak of World War II. He described these years as the saddest of his life. The family fell victim to tuberculosis. While Stravinsky had to be hospitalized for five months, his wife Katya and daughter Ludmilla died of this disease.
Destination Théâtre du Châtelet: Birth of the Ballets russes
In 1909, musical history happened in this theater: the modern ballet was born. In the theater, opened in 1862, the Russian impresario Diaghilev presented his “Ballets russes” for the first time in Paris. The stars of the Russian Mariinsky Theater, Vaslav Nijinsky and Anna Pavlova danced under the choreography of Michel Fokine. Actually, at this time, the ballet is dead, frozen in her characters. Fokine frees it from empty pirouettes, Dhiiaghilev unites it into a total work of art of dance, music and stage design, and Nijinsky becomes the “god of dance”. Parisian audiences go crazy for the ballets and dress extravagantly for the performances like the dancers on stage. Diaghilev discovers Stravinski and commissions him to write the Firebird (“l’oiseau du feu”) for the 1910 season (for the Palais Garnier) and Petrushka in 1911 (again at the Châtelet). Stravinsky’s music hits and the 28-year-old becomes a celebrity.
The Dancer of the Firebird:
Théâtre du Châtelet:
Destination Théâtre des Champs-Élysées: the scandal of the century
For the 1913 season, Dhiagilev moves to the newly built Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. The piece presented is Stravinsky’s “Sacré du printemps.” Already the theme of the ballet, a ritual murder of a young woman, casts its shadow. Fokin’s choreography, Nijinsky’s shocking dance, the costumes and, above all, the never-before-heard sound of Stravinsky’s music catapult the work into the modern age. The frenzy of the audience is gigantic, opponents and supporters hoot, whistle and get into each other’s hair during the performance, which turns into the biggest “theater scandal in history”. Only the conductor keeps cold blood and conducts the work to its end. The evening is nicknamed “Massacre du printemps”.
Sacré du printemps, Original costumes:
Théâtre des Champs-Élysées:
Destination Stravinski fountain
The Stravinski Fountain is a striking and popular photo subject in the Igor Stravinski Square at the Centre Georges Pompidou. It was designed by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle and installed there in 1983. It consists of more than a dozen figures animated by water, all of which have a reference to Stravinski and his work, such as a firebird.