I have heard the roar of a bayonet attack in Flanders, but it was nothing compared to what was happening in Théâtre du Châtelet! On the night of "Parade's" premier I was surprised at Diaghilev. This brave man listened to the roar of the hall, all white in the face as if a dead man. He was afraid—and he had reasons to be afraid. See more
Together with assistants we paint the curtain for the premiere of the ballet Parade.
I will never forget an adventure which happened to me on the border of Chiasso. I was travelling with a portrait of myself, which had been painted by Picasso not long before that. When the military authorities searched my luggage, they discovered the painting and refused to let it through. I was asked what the painting was, and when I replied that this was my portrait painted by a famous artist, they did not believe me: "This is not a portrait, but a plan", - they said. See more
"Yes, this is a plan of my face, but not of anything else", - I tried to convince them. However, I was unable to persuade these gentlemen. These arguments took a lot of time and I missed my train, and I had to stay in Chiasso until the following morning. Regarding my portrait - I had to leave it in the British embassy in Rome, addressing it to Lord Berners, who eventually sent it to me in Paris by diplomatic mail.
I've been working for days on my decorations and costumes and also on two paintings, which were started here. I want to finish them before the dearture. Decorations will be finished right here. Here I have 60 ballerinas. I go to sleep late. I know every girl in Rome. See more
We seriously discussed one of Cocteau’s proposals – a ballet that incorporated elements of a circus and a music hall. We decided to set up one of the stages in front of a circus tent and to cast acrobats, ropewalkers and magicians, as well as to merge choreographic forms with elements of jazz and a cinematic touch. See more
Picasso was delighted by the idea and proposed to make costumes in a cubist style – cubism was booming back then. He quickly produced several rough drafts. The most astonishing ones featured Picasso depicting a french and an american manager as billboards, showcasing the vulgarity of businessmen and of a particular form of showbusiness. For the Americans he came up with a collage – a skyscraper, a mosaic made out of faces, and a prominent inscription which read ‘Parade’; this later became the name of the play.
The circus theme lit our imaginations from the very beginning. For the front curtain he came up with a magnificent picture, which fully conveyed the charm and camaraderie of circus life – it featured ropewalkers and a flying horse with a ballerina standing on its back. He was very concerned about that stage curtain, and while the assistants worked on it with large brushes, Picasso himself carefully painted the smaller details with a tiny toothbrush.
Brothel — via Tomaselli, 140... Girls of Naples have four hands.
We have been on a few excursions to Pompeii and Herculaneum. Picasso was very struck by the magnificence of the ruins, and each time we turned around we would find him on the top of some ancient column trying to get the best view of the various fragments of Roman sculpture which attracted his eye. Diaghilev was less excited. It was not the first time he had seen these wonders, and the hot sun exhausted him. See more
Cocteau was delighted with it all. He bought a camera and photographed us, leaning on statues and clambering on marble slabs to get the best angle.
I am watching the ballet “The Good Humoured Ladies”.
Diagilev went to Rome where the "Russian ballet" season is set to begin. He asked me to come and conduct The Firebird and Fireworks, for which he hired the Italian futurist Balla to do a special kind of illustrative set with light effects. I went to Rome. See more
At the apartment Diagilev rented, I found the whole company gathered around a richly laid out table. There were Ansermet, Bakst, Picasso, whom I then met, Cocteau, Balla, Lord Berner, Massine and many others. The season opened at the Teatro Costanzi with a ceremonial performance for the Italian Red Cross. The February Revolution had just occurred in Russia. The tsar abdicated, and the Provisional Government now ran the country. Usually the Russian national anthem was performed before the Russian performance, but now it was really inappropriate to sing "God Save the Tsar.” An alternative was needed. Diagilev got the idea to open the play with a Russian folk song. He chose the famous Song of Volga Boatmen ("Hey, hey ho"). The orchestra was supposed to perform it, but they didn’t have the orchestration. Diagilev begged me to urgently compose it. I had to get right to work, and on the eve of the gala performance I sat at the piano all night long in Berners's apartment, orchestrating the song for the wind orchestra. I dictated the score to Ansermet chord by chord and the interval by interval, and he transcribed it.
The orchestral parts were quickly drawn up so that in the morning rehearsal of the evening program, I was able to hear my orchestration under Ansermet’s conduction. In the evening a solemn performance was staged started by the Italian national anthem and "Hey, hey-ho" instead of the Russian anthem. I directed The Firebird and Fireworks against Balla’s aforementioned illuminated set.
All the women in Naples are beautiful. Everything is very easy here.