Golovin and Diaghilev. Pro et contra

Irina Shumanova

Magazine issue: 
#3 2014 (44)


Golovin was the chief designer of the Imperial Theatres and a friend of the most entrenched opponent of Diaghilev's ventures, Vladimir Telyakovsky, and at the same time Diaghilev's collaborator and the "main asset" of his first seasons in Paris, and was forever caught at the centre of the conflict between the two sides. Golovin repeatedly found himself in a tricky position, having to butt heads not so much with Diaghilev himself (about whom Golovin always spoke reasonably and respectfully) as with his stage designers.

There was no trouble during the long period, from 1898 to 1908, when Diaghilev and Golovin collaborated before they started working together on stage productions. For Diaghilev from his "Mir Iskusstva" (World of Art) period, Golovin was probably the ideal modern artist: versatile, engaging with all art forms, the creator of an original artistic vocabulary and style based on the application of national traditions seen through the lens of European Art Nouveau. Working at the "World of Art" magazine and exhibiting at Diaghilev's shows, Golovin was one of the first among the handful of artists whom Diaghilev approached with his proposal to set up a new association. Diaghilev actively promoted Golovin's art, printing his pieces in his magazine, wrote about Golovin's works in his articles, supported him when he began his theatre career, and defended him against unreasonable attacks from critics.

The circumstances that led to the complex relationship between Golovin and Diaghilev during the "theatre period" involved several autonomous, parallel strands.

Act I: The false Dmitry. "Boris Godunov"

Quite naturally, Golovin was engaged by Diaghilev to design the first offering of the first "Russian season" in Paris (1908), Mussorgsky's opera "Boris Godunov". The relations between Telyakovsky and Diaghilev then, although tense, had not yet reached confrontation point. Despite acrimonious accusations against one another in the press, and Diaghilev's attempt in 1905 to initiate reform in the theatre and his open attack at Telyakovsky, the latter did not yet see a serious rival in Diaghilev. When Diaghilev worked on "Boris Godunov", the management of the Imperial Theatres gave him "all the manner of help one could wish for"1. The sets were painted at the Imperial Hermitage Theatre and sent to Paris by train, "the chorus was borrowed from the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, and the guest actors were the best... as for stage hands, a whole crew of them, headed by Karl Valts, a magician of theatrical illusion at that time, was invited from Moscow."2

The smashing success of the Paris production of "Boris Godunov" changed the power dynamics in the theatre world overnight. The newspapers carried news about Diaghilev's possible return to a senior managerial position at the Imperial Theatres: "Diaghilev, about whom the wildest rumours have been spread by newspapers, has just returned to St. Petersburg. By the way, it has been written that specially for him a vice-director's post is established within the Board of Directors of the Imperial Theatres."3 The energetic dissemination of rumours about Diaghilev supposedly coveting Telyakovsky's job caused the latter's resentment, but he was even more exercised by the idea that Diaghilev had offered to the world something new - "something youthful, full of enthusiasm, passion, vigour, full of true vitality and beauty"4. Benois wrote: "The conquest of Paris was conditioned not by the Russian ballet that we see on Wednesdays and Sundays - the performances which we find it fashionable and a mark of good taste to sit through dying of boredom... not by our solid and dead academy of dance, but by some transformed ballet... In the free space of a private theatre company, without a single bureaucrat involved, but with all of its participants, from the director to the humblest junior assistant, being artists or people with an affinity for art, something completely different was born... and Parisians saw a theatre such as it should be - a living miracle of beauty."5

Telyakovsky, meanwhile, shared the views of those who believed that "...the element that brought success amounted to something more important than the talents of certain individuals... Paris saw the triumph not of Borodin or Rimsky[-Korsakov], or Chaliapin, or Golovin, or Roerich, or Diaghilev, but of Russian culture as a whole, of the entire individuality of Russian art."6 He exclaimed resentfully: "Please believe me it was not Mr. Diaghilev who made Russian theatre internationally famous."7 Given this background, it becomes easy to understand Telyakovsky's seemingly strange decision to recreate Diaghilev's "Boris Godunov" at the Mariinsky Theatre, signing Golovin up to make an exact replica of the sets he had created in 1908. Strange though it may seem, the Diaghilev-style production of"Boris Godunov" was a strategic move against Diaghilev, who at that period was working hard to organise a tour of his company in Russia. Believing that the credit for the success of Diaghilev's company should go to the Russian Imperial Theatres because it was its employees who had created Diaghilev's productions, Telyakovsky positioned "Boris Godunov" in St. Petersburg in a way that suggested the Paris"Godunov" was just a touring version of the theatre under his management. Benois, who saw through Telyakovsky's scheme, rolled out an angry review of the production: "Diaghilev, who, deplorably, does not have the chance to work in his homeland, is the man to be solely credited with the feat of reviving 'Boris Godunov'... Perhaps the success of 'Boris' gave courage to our state-run theatre as well. Telyakovsky had the heart to stage it at the Mariinsky, but what's more, he decided to produce it 'exactly the way Diaghilev did'... How typical this is for the administration presided over by Telyakovsky. They adopted from Diaghilev all that was easy to adopt: Golovin, who is their employee, simply repeated what he did for Diaghilev - conforming to the script developed by the 'Diaghilev administration'. But all the rest... all that formed the 'soul' of the Diaghilev production. remained unused and, apparently, outright misunderstood."8

There is no doubt that this article was for Benois yet another battle in the long war for Diaghilev and against Telyakovsky, which he waged stubbornly and single-mindedly. Accordingly, Diaghilev's Parisian production, directed by Alexander Sanin, was matched, point by point, against the production directed by Vsevolod Meyerhold at the invitation of Telyakovsky10. Telyakovsky's endeavour to return the prodigal son, "Boris Godunov", to the fold of the Imperial Theatres that had given rise to it, was more than adequately responded to by Diaghilev's new production in Paris in 1913, which had a sharp edge directed, first of all, against Golovin. Diaghilev did not care about the Polish scene - Benois had been responsible for its design in the previous production, and now it was commissioned to Leon Bakst, but the design of all the other scenes, previously created by Golovin, was now the responsibility of Konstantin Yuon. In 1908 Yuon was the main person in charge of manufacturing the sets for Golovin's design, and he was listed not only among the large group of costume designers (the costumes were created by a team), but was also credited as one of the creators of the sets for the production. Diaghilev signed up Yuon to replicate Golovin's sketches. This brilliant tour de force gave the impression that the famed 1908 production was created not by "the chief consultant of the Imperial Theatres Alexander Golovin" (or not by him alone, anyway), but by Diaghilev's protege - the young representative of the new generation of artists, Konstantin Yuon.

Act II: Heavenly delight. "Orpheus"

It was not only people working under contract for Diaghilev and Telyakovsky who were shuttling between St. Petersburg and Paris - ideas were too. Romola Nijinsky articulated the belief, common among the Diaghilev people at the time, that "Telyakovsky used to send his people to Diaghilev's assemblies to learn about all the new ideas, and immediately put them into practice." And the ideas were flowing in the opposite direction as well: 1911 saw two productions themed on antiquity: Diaghilev's "Narcissus" (April 26 1911) and "Orpheus and Eurydice" (December 21 1911), both at the Mariinsky Theatre, and both choreographed by Fokine. In fact, the impresario was working simultaneously on three antiquity-related ballets. The first was "Daphnis and Chloe", with the design of the dances completed, but the production was not staged in 1911 because Maurice Ravel did not finish the score on time. Instead, the company rolled out "Narcissus", a ballet to music quickly composed by Nikolai Cherepnin. Fokine recalled: "... tackling 'Daphnis', I felt sad realising how much of the 'Daphnis' material was already presented in the previous season in the 'Narcissus' ballet: the same style, the same shepherds, shepherdesses, nymphs, the same stage design and even the same use of the backstage chorus."11

The detailed dance notation for "Daphnis" provided by Fokine in his memoirs contains iterations of ballet scenes in "Orpheus", the choreography of which was, in his opinion, a fully original piece of work. The public, meanwhile, took notice of the ensemble-based approach of the creators of the production: "Gluck's opera 'Orpheus and Eurydice' at the Mariinsky Theatre caused a huge sensation. There was a feeling that the innermost aspirations of the designer, director and performers were in perfect unity. .Golovin, Meyerhold and Fokine deserve an ovation!"12 The production of the mime-drama "Orpheus" at the Mariinsky, however, did not materialise - the "Orpheus" by Golovin-Meyerhold-Fokine remained an unsurpassed masterpiece. However, the expected - but never realised - competition between the two versions of "Orpheus" had an unanticipated finale. In 1926 Jean Roger-Ducasse's "Orpheus" (Orphee) was staged at Ida Rubinstein's company in Paris by Alexander Benois, who, after Leon Bakst's death, became the artistic director at the Rubinstein company: he designed costumes for the production and used sets designed by Alexander Golovin for "Orpheus and Eurydice" at the Mariinsky Theatre in 1912.

Act III: Birds of passage.
"The Nightingale" and "The Firebird"

At approximately the same time the Mariinsky company was experiencing events which were to cause an open and, this time, very serious conflict between Golovin and Benois over "The Nightingale" opera, and between Golovin and Bakst over "The Firebird" ballet. On March 4 (17, by the Old Style) 1915, Telyakovsky wrote in his diary: "Yesteryday [Alexander] Siloti and [Albert] Coates came around, to talk about the next season's repertoire. I asked Siloti to write to Stravinsky to find out whether he would sell to the Board of Directors his 'Nightingale' for three years..."13 This signalled the renewal of negotiations with Stravinsky about the production of his opera "The Nightingale" at the Mariinsky Theatre, which Siloti had begun the previous year. The story of Stravinsky's work on this piece is inseparable from the parallel story about the struggle between three competing parties for the right to produce it. The events proceeded rapidly, and since all its participants lived in different cities and countries, it can be traced in complete detail from Stravinsky's correspondence. Early in 1913 the composer signed an agreement with Kote Marjanishvili's newly-formed Free Theatre in Moscow about a production of "The Nightingale" (then a short one-act opera), which was to be directed by Sanin, Diaghilev's collaborator whom Stravinsky knew well.

Heeding Sanin's advice that the short "fragment" of music should be developed into a fully-fledged opera, Stravinsky agreed to compose two more acts. The project was then joined by Benois, who, because of certain provisions in his contract with Stanislavsky, would soon have to stop his collaboration with the Starinny (Old) Theatre, and proposed to Stravinsky to offer the opera to Diaghilev. Benois did not know that the news about the Starinny Theatre's plans to become the first producer of Stravinsky in Russian theatre had already reached Diaghilev, who, in April, sent to the composer two threatening telegrams, one after another, demanding that he cancel his agreement with Sanin14. But the composer, who had already received an advance payment from Marjanishvili, continued to carry on negotiations on two fronts: on the one hand, rumour had it that the Free Theatre was in dire straits financially, on the other hand, Diaghilev, who "out of jealousy"15 was hastening to sign the contract, was not in a hurry to pay for the work and did not show interest in the opera.

It was only in October that Diaghilev chose a designer, and Stravinsky immediately apprised Benois about it in his first letter to him in nearly six months: "Let's talk about 'The Nightingale'. I'm happy that we are contemplating producing it together in the next season in Paris and London. In this respect Seryozha's arrival was very productive... In two weeks he will come to St. Petersburg and tell you everything himself."16 Soon Siloti approached Stanislavsky with the proposal to direct "The Nightingale" at the Mariinsky Theatre, not yet aware that the opera was already promised to Diaghilev. Having learned about it from Stravinsky, Telyakovsky decided to wait until the premiere in Paris - he would familiarise himself with the opera there and assess the prospects for staging it in Russia. The premieres of "The Nightingale" in Paris and, subsequently, in London were a great success, which caused Telyakovsky to decide to add it to the repertoire, although he rather disliked the music. Even before he had a chance to listen to the music, it was decided that the opera should be directed by Meyerhold and designed by Golovin. Confusion followed: "The musicians got together to listen to and perform Stravinsky's opera 'The Nightingale'. Siloti and Coates were especially enthusiastic about it. But imagine my amazement when they were asked to recap the libretto and nobody - not even Golovin and Meyerhold - could, they did not know!!!"17 "So how was Coates going to conduct, Meyerhold to direct, and Golovin to paint and illustrate, when no one knew anything about the story."18 Stravinsky received the contract from the Mariinsky Theatre on October 2 1915, but it took a while before the libretto arrived, so it was not before 1917 that the Mariinsky tackled the opera again. What followed was a dramatic finale of the events around "The Nightingale". Benois learned that Golovin's services had been enlisted for the production at the Mariinsky, and he was seething with rage: "Golovin and Meyerhold have been signed up to produce Stravinsky's 'The Nightingale' - either due to a misunderstanding or because of a conspiracy on their part, whereas after the unprecedented success of my creation [staging, in French] of this opera in the spring of 1914 in Paris and London it appeared that I should have been offered the contract."19

Benois tried to secure Stravinsky's endorsement and to convince Siloti to hire him for the production. Telyakovsky was opposed to it, and Siloti had to make excuses. He wrote to Stravinsky: "The prospect of signing up Benois for 'The Nightingale' caused a 'scandal', that is: 1) Your contract did not provide that the author was entitled to chose an artist; 2) It transpired that Telyakovsky had long ago made the arrangements and signed Golovin up for the project!. Because all this was done before my appointment, I was unable to do anything about it."20 Golovin, meanwhile, was very anguished by the turmoil around "The Nightingale". On June 20 (July 3) 1917, he wrote to Meyerhold: "Siloti is taking the reins and saying that he will demand that all his requests be fulfilled. Meanwhile, although I'm not sure, 'The Nightingale' may return to Benois."21

He tried to explain to Meyerhold how important the production of "The Nightingale" was for him and to secure his support in the creative "duel" with Benois: "Dear Vsevolod! There are no words to convey how delighted I was with your letter. It was the tipping point that prompted me to make up my mind to take on 'The Nightingale'. I even signed the obligation that it has to be completed by December 30 and January 9. And I'm waiting for you - take a break, this is an important matter, we should rise to the occasion, as they say... Come, come, at least for two days, if three is too much: please understand how important it is."22 Meyerhold did not show much enthusiasm for "The Nightingale" because he was already preoccupied with other projects. And although his name appeared on the bill, the production was actually the work of Pavel Kurzner, who used the ideas and "director's outline" developed by Meyerhold, whose method can be easily recognised, for instance, in the characters' "personality split" (into the singer and the dummy player) and the use of "theatre inside theatre" (with actors seated in chairs on the proscenium as viewers). The production, which premiered on May 30 1918 after nearly four years in the making, was not a success. One of the reviewers very shrewdly explained this failure by "bad timing": "The arrival of 'The Nightingale' in morose and neglected St. Petersburg is poorly timed and poorly placed. Even under normal circumstances this production would be a laborious undertaking, and given the current state of Russian society, it is altogether unfeasible. What's more, we do not have a suitable psychological foundation for properly appreciating 'The Nightingale'."23 Highlighting the poor performance of the orchestra and singers, and flimsy direction, the critics nonetheless commended Golovin's sets: "The background for all this - Mr. Golovin's sets - is superb"24.

For a long time researchers attempting to assess Golovin's sets for"The Nightingale" had to rely mainly on comments by those who attended the full rehearsal and opening night, which was the last performance in the 1921 season at the Mariinsky. And that was the end of the production; Golovin's sketches disappeared, with the exception of drawings now held at the Bakhrushin Theatre Museum, and copies of the costumes, now at the St. Petersburg Museum of Music and Theatre. For many decades they were believed to have been lost. In fact, though, they had travelled far - first to Hong Kong, and then to the USA25. One of the sets is held by a private collector in London. These Golovin sketches are distinguished by excellent colours, craftsmanship, imaginativeness and splendour of scenic composition, but Benois would have felt vindicated - the memory of his "Nightingale" seems to transpire through the Golovin images. However, this is natural, as both artists created their fantasies drawing on Chinese prints. In the war between Benois and Golovin over the "Nightingale" the final winner was. Diaghilev, who in 1920, in London, presented what was already a ballet, "The Nightingale's Song", choreographed by Leonide Massine and designed by Henri Matisse.

Another such dispute between Golovin and Diaghilev's company occurred with the ballet "The Firebird". A complex match, this time between Golovin and Bakst, proceeded in parallel to the tug-of-war over "The Nightingale" and according to a similar scenario, although the underlying circumstances were somewhat different. The dispute between Golovin and Bakst over each artist's contribution to "The Firebird" began in 1910, at the time of the premiere of Diaghilev's first production, for which Golovin designed the sets, the costumes of the young prince and the secondary characters, and Bakst the costumes of the Firebird and the young princess. It has already been mentioned that Golovin made his sketch of the set and Bakst came up with his vision of the Firebird's costume even before Stravinsky and Fokine started working on the ballet.26 The opalescent, vibrant colours and intricate tracery of Golovin's "The Kingdom of Kashchey the Deathless", and the fantastic bird-maiden's mercurial costume fluttering in unison with the dancer's movements were the inspiration for both the music and the choreography of the ballet. However, all credit for the design went to Golovin. "'The Firebird'," a French critic wrote, "is the product of very close cooperation between a choreographer, a composer, an artist (Fokine, Stravinsky, Golovin) - it is a miracle of delightful equilibrium between movements, sounds and forms. The background section of the set, with its dark-golden shimmer, seems to have been produced in the same fashion as the texture of the orchestra, which is rich in the shades of colours... Stravinsky, Fokine, Golovin - I see them as one author..."27

In the following years Bakst was dreaming about becoming the sole rightful artist of the "Firebird", and attempted repeatedly to fulfil this wish. In 1915 he appeared to be coming close to it, creating an entire series of sketches of costumes for"The Firebird" for an American tour of Diaghilev's company, although only three costumes of the main characters were actually made. Later he saw a glimmer of hope for staging "The Firebird" in Russia. The Mariinsky Theatre indeed decided to add the ballet to its repertoire, and in March 1916 sent inquiries to the composer "about the material and production of 'The Firebird'"28. But Telyakovsky chose Golovin, believing, altogether correctly, that he was the author of the artistic concept for this ballet. For Golovin this second chance looked attractive, too - far from all his ideas for the 1910 production of "The Firebird" had been put into practice by Diaghilev or agreed from the promising initial "assignment". The production was also met with dislike from Fokine and several other members of the "team" that conceived the ballet - such as, for instance, Benois and Alexei Remizov. They criticised the "overly elegant" take on the characters of the fairy tale. An opposition group was formed by Golovin, Fokine, Remizov, Lyadov and Meyerhold - their mission was to "raise an objection" to Diaghilev by creating a truly fairy-tale-like rusalia (extravaganza) ballet "Alalei and Leyla"30, based on Remizov's vision of the myth. The plan was to counter the "stylistic gaucherie", ostentatious pseudo-Russian flavour of the Diaghilev production with a "true Russian style - austere, restrained, firm"31.

When Diaghilev's monopoly on "The Firebird" ballet was about to expire in 1915, the Mariinsky Theatre was ready to add the ballet to its repertoire; in March 1916 the newspapers were even running announcements about the forthcoming premiere. However, Diaghilev outpaced the slow-moving machine of the Imperial Theatres and succeeded in extending the contract, thus vetoing Russian productions for three more years. Nor was there any success achieved in the humiliating attempts to negotiate with Diaghilev, by "pointing to the fact that under the present circumstances this production, in this country, cannot damage his interests"32. It was only five years later that the production was brought to the stage in Soviet Russia, when nobody cared any longer about legal niceties in relations with Diaghilev's company in exile. With the "Firebird" the former artist of the Imperial Theatres Golovin, who was driven away by the new regime, returned to the stage of a former imperial theatre. First of all, he made an effort to put right what had been wrong in Diaghilev's 1910 production, to realise the potential that had not been exploited. The producers introduced the set for Act 2 (the sketch is now at the Russian Museum), which was missing in the Diaghilev production and about the absence of which Fokine complained:"...the dismal foul kingdom [of Kashchey] should have been replaced with the kingdom of light and joy. All colours must be different in the second set. But... Diaghilev didn't commission it and all celebrations in the finale were taking place against the foul background!"33 Besides, much ill feeling was aroused when Benois criticised his sketch for the scene "The Kingdom of Kashchey the Deathless" for its "lack of staginess": "as a sketch, Golovin's sketch was excellent. He represented Kashchey's garden early on a grey morning. To the left, a castle looking like a heap of either giant poisonous mushrooms or Indian pagodas; to the right, thickets of most diverse forms and colours. One feels that underneath these spongy masses, there is a bog, sultriness, dampness. Overall, the sketch - Golovin's masterpiece in this art form - is a superb image, but I doubt that even the most experienced set builder can make head or tail of its crudeness and confusion. A facsimile of the image looked like a pile of rubbish and, worst of all, like some sort of vacuum. Kashchey's castle did not look like a building, and the entire 'wooden half' appeared to be nothing more than a huge motley carpet, without any depth. The last thing that would occur to the viewer is that you can get inside, that it's a forest, that there are shadows, moss, sultry humidity."34

The sets for the 1910 production, designed by Golovin, were created by Nikolai Sapunov, whose creative vision was largely responsible for the transformation of the backdrop into a flat two-dimension decorative composition. Working without Golovin's supervision, he ignored his method of "laminating" the backdrop by combining different textures and techniques of paint application, which were religiously used by his apprentices at the Imperial Theatres. Golovin heeded Benois's criticism and made the forms of the fantastic garden "more protrusive and prominent". He introduced the previously missing proscenium arches (seen in the sketch now at the St. Petersburg Theatre Museum) and stood the backdrop at an angle, separating it from the carpet-like composition (in the sketch at the Russian Museum). He likewise heeded Benois's remarks about the costumes: "Taken alone, every costume is a museum piece. The colours, the ornamentation! But these colours and tracery, it turned out, were out of sync with the performance... The kikimoras [female hobgoblins] looked like medieval pages, the biliboshkas - like courtiers in their best clothes, the strongmen - simply like glamorous janissaries, and Kashchey, too. was overly elegant and, worst of all, resembled 'the old man Heine' from German fairy tales. Prince Ivan would not have spat on such a Kashchey, as the fairy tale prescribes and as Fokine excellently shows in the performance."35

The costume sketches created by Golovin in 1921 differ radically from his first version of the design for the ballet. Whereas Golovin's costumes for Diaghilev's "The Firebird" (nearly exact copies of costumes designed by Golovin earlier, in 1904, for "Ruslan and Lyudmila") were designed in the style of romantic fairy-tale Art Nouveau typical for the artists from Savva Mamontov's circle, these sketches offer a sharply grotesque treatment of the folklore characters in a distinctly Remizov-like style. Hard, angular "wirelike" contours, and a thorny hatchwork of forms lend to the Golovin sketches a special scary beauty in keeping with the images and the very aesthetics of Remizov's fairy tales.

In the 1920s the Soviet government sold the main series of sketches for "The Firebird" to B. Kilgur in America; the pieces were believed to be lost, and only in 2000 did the series (20 items) reappear at a Sotheby's auction36. "The Nightingale" and "The Firebird", Golovin's key projects in the late 1910s and early 1920s which made for this most interesting "art duel" with Diaghilev's company, were thus neglected by researchers for almost a century - this circumstance largely accounted for the enduring myth that the artist after "Masquerade" experienced a crisis and never created anything like his works from the previous decade.

Interlude: "Masquerade"

Remarkably, the scenario of the relationship between Golovin and Diaghilev's coalition had an interlude of sorts: "Masquerade", the production that was in the works approximately at the same time as the Diaghilev ballets, "The Nightingale" and "The Firebird". The Imperial Theatres' management acted as if they wanted to make up for what had been missed, to revive the aesthetics of the Silver Age theatre at a time when Golovin and Meyerhold were drifting away from it, in "Masquerade".

Golovin populated "Masquerade" with the favourites of the Silver Age - stock characters from the commedia dell'arte, while their doubles - Pierrots, Harlequins of all stripes, "St. Petersburg puppets, actresses, Columbines of the 1910s" - were seated in the auditorium. The recognisable nature of the personages and events of the not-so-distant past was emphasised by the blurred border between the auditorium and the stage; the auditorium was illuminated during the performance. The stage and the auditorium were united by a wide proscenium, with an opulent arch mounted on it, with carvings on the bars and two frosted mirrors which dimly reflected the auditorium, uniting it with the phantasmagoric world on the stage. Silver Age culture was the magic crystal that was always present in Golovin's and Meyerhold's productions as a lens through which to re-interpret the original work.

In "Masquerade", looking at Lermontov's drama through the prism of the Silver Age, which was centred around the idea of masquerade, the director wrapped the production up in an enthralling mystical cocoon. Golovin introduced into the scene of masquerade several modifications of costumes of commedia dell'arte main characters - in the swirl of the dance are Pierrots and Harlequins of Sudeikin, Somov, Sapunov and, of course, Bakst. "Bakst's trace" in the masquerade scene is not at all accidental: Bakst was the chief designer of many society balls in St. Petersburg at the start of the 20th century - the Bal Poudre (1908, in Pavlova's hall), the ball organised by "Satyricon" magazine (1911, in the hall of the Noblemen's Assembly)37, Countess Shuvalova's ball of coloured wigs (1914, later repeated at A. Leonard's mansion), and Countess Maria Kleinmichel's Oriental ball (1914). Golovin's sketches of Oriental costumes in the masquerade scene look as if they were borrowed from the photograph of Princess Kleinmichel's guests; the elements of the decor of her mansion can be spotted in the decor of the baroness's drawing room, and the mise-en-scene in episode 8 (the ball scene) is reminiscent of the photos of the masquerade at Countess Shuvalova's residence.

Perhaps, these nearly direct citations were an elegant revenge on the part of Golovin, a continuation of those peculiar artistic duels that he conducted successfully as a servant of two masters, between Diaghilev and Telyakovsky. He did much good to both, and remained an affectionate friend with each. In his memoirs Golovin devoted to Diaghilev a heartfelt and quite bold, for that time, passage: "Certainly, sometime in the future Diaghilev's personality will become the focus of attention of art historians and the subject of comprehensive evaluation. Here I will only point at his outstanding achievements in promoting Russian art abroad. His organisational talent should be credited with much of the Russian theatre's international recognition. As it seems, during the many years of my work in the area of opera I have not met a man with administrative capabilities equal to Diaghilev's. However, it would not be fair to say that he was only an administrator. He was cardinally different from ordinary theatre money-makers who don't care about anything but the material success of their ventures. No, Diaghilev was an artist by his very nature, he had an outstanding gift for music. and a keen flair for all things beautiful... He had his tastes, his convictions, which you could argue about but which always rested on a solid foundation."38

At the same time he sent to Telyakovsky a moving message congratulating him on his birthday: "Dear Vladimir Arkadievich, you and your family are the only good thing that I have had in life. This has been the very zenith, and nobody has treated me so warmly. We have lived through so many beautiful moments together. now my only sustenance is my memories about our shared fantasies and moments of inspiration. Dear Vladimir Arkadievich, may I repeat again and again that there is no other person on earth who is so dear and close to me."39

  1. Garafola, Lynn. "Diaghilev's Ballets Russes". Perm: 2009. P. 184.
  2. Ibid.
  3. 'Serge Diaghilev's plans' (an interview). In:"Serge Diaghilev and Russian Art. Articles, Open Letters, Interviews. Correspondence. Diaghilev's Contemporaries' Memoirs About Him". 2 volumes. Complied by Zilbershtein, Ilya, and Samkov, V. Moscow: 1982. Vol. 1. P. 208.
  4. Benois, Alexandre. 'Russian Performances in Paris'. In: "Rech" newspaper. June 19 1909. Quoted from:"Alexander Nikolaevich Benois. Letters About Art: 1908-1917". "Rech" newspaper. St. Petersburg. Vol. 1: 1908-1910. Compiled by Podkopaeva, Yu.; Zolotinkina, I.; Karasik, I.; Solonovich, Yu. St. Petersburg: 2006. P. 146.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. http://www.mig-tk.ru/burzhuazno_demokraticheskaj_reforma_dlj_teatra-5.html
  8. Benois, Alexandre. 'Revival of the "Boris"'. In:"Rech", January 9 1911.
  9. Rudnitsky, Konstantin."Meyerhold the Director". Moscow: 1969. P. 142.
  10. Nijinsky, Romola."Vaslav Nijinsky". Moscow: 2004. P. 159.
  11. Fokine, Michel. "Against the Current. Memoirs of a Ballet Master. Articles, Letters". Compiled by Slonimsky, Yury. Leningrad-Moscow: 1962. P. 296.
  12. Bazilevsky, Vas.'St. Petersburg Essays'. In: "Rampa i zhizn" (Footlights and Life, a periodical), 1912, No. 1, January 1. P. 13.
  13. Stravinsky, Igor."Letters to and from Russia. Materials for a Biography". Vol. 2: 19131922. Compiled by Varunts, Viktor. Moscow: 2000. P. 316.
  14. Ibid. Pp. 59-60.
  15. Ibid. Pp. 208.
  16. Ibid. P. 147.
  17. From Vladimir Telyakovsky's"Diary". March 30 (April 12) 1915. Quoted from: Stravinsky, Igor. Op. cit. P. 325.
  18. From Vladimir Telyakovsky's"Diary". March 31 (April 13) 1915. Ibid.
  19. Benois, Alexandre. "Diaries". Wednesday November 22 (December 5) 1917. http:// www.fedy-diary.ru/html/042011/24042011-03a.html
  20. Alexander Siloti's letter to Igor Stravinsky. June 9 (22) 1917. Quoted from: Stravinsky. Op. cit. P. 407.
  21. Golovin, Alexander. "Meetings and Impressions. Letters. Memoirs about Golovin". Leningrad: 1960. P. 186.
  22. Alexander Golovin's letter to Vsevolod Meyerhold. July 7 (20) 1917. Quoted from: Stravinsky, Igor. Op. cit. P. 416.
  23. "Teatr i iskusstvo" (Theatre and Art, a periodical). 1918. No. 20/21. P. 214.
  24. "Novye vedomosti" (New Messenger, a newspaper). May 31 1918.
  25. The main series of sketches and sets is now held by a private collector in San Francisco. www.golovincollection.com
  26. Shumanova I. In the Steps of the Firebird // Firebird and Snow Maiden. Helsinki, 2013. P. 152.
  27. Golovin, Alexander. "Meetings and Impressions". Leningrad, 1960. P. 88.
  28. Jurgenson's letter to Stravinsky, February 24 (March 8) 1916. In: Stravinsky, Igor. Op. cit. P. 365.
  29. More information about this can be found in: Fokine, Michel. Op. cit. Pp. 254-276.
  30. The libretto was adapted from a literary work called"Towards the Ocean-sea", recently finished by Alexei Remizov. The history of the"Alalei and Leyla" ballet was tragic. After Lyadov's death in 1914, an examination of his papers revealed a notebook full of preparatory materials - the stuff was called by the author:"All sort of gibberish for the'Leyla' ballet". The rest of the score for the ballet was destroyed by the composer, who did not want to leave his work unfinished: "the untimely death of such an outstanding composer caused inconsolable grief among those who were waiting for a new dawn in modern ballet theatre. The dawn undoubtedly could have come in the form of a rusalia (extravaganza) 'Alalei and Leyla' to Lyadov's music... This performance was bound to set our ballet theatre on a path towards the 'ocean-sea' to which Remizov's 'Narechnitsa' [Slavic Moira] took Alalei and Leyla. This performance would certainly have given our ballet the happy lot it lacks today." Vsevolod Meyerhold's letter to Anatoly Lyadov. In: "Meyerhold, Vsevolod. Articles. Letters. Speeches. Conversations". Part 1. 1891-1917. Moscow: 1968. P. 259.
  31. Remizov, Alexei. 'Theatre'. In: "Moskva" (Moscow, a periodical). 1920. No. 4. P. 11.
  32. Stravinsky. Op. cit. P. 369.
  33. Fokine. Op. cit. P. 268.
  34. Benois, "Art Letters". P. 465.
  35. Ibid.
  36. The Russian sale. Sotheby's. 23 November 2000. Cat.154-163. The series of sketches was bought by Harvard University's Houghton Library.
  37. Auslender, Sergei. 'The ball of Satyricon'. In: "Russkaya khudozhestvennaya letopis'" (Russian Artistic Chronicle), 1911, No. 5. P. 75.
  38. Golovin. Op. cit. P. 163.
  39. From Golovin's letter to Telyakovsky. February 21 1918. (http://nteatru.ru/pro-za-korovin-telyakovskij.htm)





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