Le Beau Danube [The Beautiful Danube]

Ballet in one act and two scenes
◾Producer: Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo
◾Première: 15 April 1933
◾Venue: Théâtre de Monte Carlo, Monaco
◾Costume design: Count Etienne de Beaumont
◾Scenery design: Vladimir and Elisabeth Polunin, after Constantin Guys
◾Music: Johan Strauss, arranged by Roger Désormière
◾Choreography: Léonide Massine
◾Libretto: Léonide Massine
◾Cast: the Street Dancer (Alexandra Danilova), Daughter (Tatiana Riabouchinska),
 the Hussar (Léonide Massine), the First Hand (Irina Baronova),
 King of the Dandies (David Lichine),    

U.S. Première: Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo,  St. James Theater, New York,  
December 22, 1933

Joffrey Ballet: 1972

Set in the summer of 1860, the ballet opens in the Wiener Prater, a large public
park in Vienna. A variety of Viennese citizens are out enjoying the sunshine—
included in the crowd are artists, dandies, street performers, and a young hussar
who meets and courts a beautiful young girl who is in the park with her aristocratic
parents. One of the street performers, a young female dancer, recognises the hussar
as a former lover and interrupts the courtship. The young girl faints from the emotional
shock and is led away by her parents, while the dancer and hussar renew their
acquaintance. The young girl returns and fights the dancer for the hussar’s affection.
Finally the dancer retreats and all is forgiven between the hussar and the girl. The
ballet ends with all the park-goers dancing in celebration, including the young dancer
who has accepted the situation.

This work, with choreography and libretto both by Massine, was based on the ballet
Le Beau Danube Bleu, created by Massine in 1924 for Count Etienne de Beaumont’s
Les Soirées de Paris. The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo revived it in 1933 and it was
included in the Monte Carlo Russian Ballet Australian tour of 1936 and again in 1940,
when it was re-named Le Danube Bleu. De Beaumont’s costume design reflected his
knowledge and understanding of mid nineteenth-century Viennese fashion and
manners, with light and elegant outfits for the main characters contrasting with
earthier traditional dress for the street characters, all set against the open expanses
of his interpretation of the Prater’s formal elegance.     
National Gallery of Australia