What happiness it is to create in the most picturesque ruins on earth, surrounded by young, genius artists.
Red wine intoxicates us, and Palini invites us to a thousand banquets. Diaghilev relates to Rome like Kandavl to his wife – with love and pride. His house is open to guests, he feeds all with tomato purée and pirozhki. See more
Yesterday evening we walked around the circus. There is a red hall, but it is a sad sight. Misia walked on the tightrope. Diaghilev fell asleep, but gave a start and woke up when the elephant went down on its knees.
We’re waiting for Bakst!
I’m not writing because of work. We still have to erect the tuned mechanism. Massine is falling pray to the typical error of youth: he is confusing originality and unnecessary complication. Got to be on one’s guard without a break.
Rome is a provincial city. All capitals save for Paris are provincial. They talk shop right in the middle of the street. Everyone gets together in one single café. See more
The Coliseum is sublime. We saw it at night. It’s impossible to add anything to these ruins, in and of themselves an architectural masterpiece, an enormous repository of centuries past, now surrounded by crowds of onlookers, fauvists and cocaine dealers.
I really like Massine. Our work is progressing apace. You know that my greatest joy is to create, to give form to dreams. Serge is an ogre. He eats and drinks non-stop. This morning he bundled us into the car. All in all, I’m fond of Rome and the hustle and bustle amidst its ruins. No war. Night lights. Trams and cinemas.
Dearest friend, if you see Matisse, give him my warm regards, tell him how much I love him. I am penniless, old thing.
You are asking me to report on some details about “Parade.” I hasten to tell you. Forgive my style. Every morning new invectives descend on me, sometimes, they reach me from really far away. Critics have become angry with us, even though they have not seen or heard the work. And because this abyss of ignorance cannot be filled—for one would need to explain everything, beginning with Adam—I found it more dignified to not respond to anyone. See more
So, with equal interest, I look through those articles that insult us, and those that express their disdain, and those in which condescension competes with irony, and those that congratulate us inopportunely.
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
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.
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.
We created the "Parade" in a Roman wine cellar called "Cave Talioni". We walked in the moonlight with the ballerinas and visited Naples and Pompeii.
We are once again in Rome after our travels in Naples, where we also explored Pompey in an automobile. I think that no city in the world will ever please me such as did Naples. See more
Antiquity is felt at every step in this Arab Montmartre, where the chaotic characters of the eastern bazar hide around every corner. God, food and decadence - these are the forces that set life in motion in Naples. The clouds are all Vesuvius’s eruptions, the water a blinding azure. The pavements are lined with hyacinths. But Pompey itself made little impression. I was right: we waited a thousand years to build up the courage to look into this heap of rubbish.
Heading from Rome to Naples.
It’s difficult to convey the excitement of working with artists like Picasso and Cocteau. Every time we met in the Piazza Venezia in Rome to exchange ideas, sparks would fly across the room. Any innovation – sound effects, Cubist-style costumes, megaphones – would engender a fresh new chain of ideas. It seemed to me that Cocteau’s indefatigable imagination served to stimulate the complex artistic vision of Picasso.
About to head off for the baths. Street by street we’re getting to know the city, wandering around without coats. Picasso arrives soon.
Rome is bewitching. I succumbed to the charms of its streets on the very first morning. We arrived by train following a journey accompanied by countless adventures, the very least of which was yesterday’s sleepless night.