Music by Gioacchino Rossini (selections from Les Riens)
arranged and orchestrated by Ottorino Respighi
Choreography by Léonide Massine
Curtain, scenery and costumes by André Derain

Ballet in one act
◾Producer: Les Ballets Russes de Serge Diaghilev
Première: 5 June 1919, Alhambra Theatre, London
Costume design: André Derain
◾Scenery design: André Derain
◾Music: Gioacchino Rossini, arranged and orchestrated by Ottorino Respighi
◾Choreography: Léonide Massine
◾Libretto: Serge Diaghilev, Léonide Massine, Serge Grigoriev, André Derain, after Puppenfee
(The fairy doll) by Josef Bayer

Original Cast: Enrico Cecchetti (Shopkeeper), Alexander Gavrilov (Assistant), Lydia Sokolova and
Leon Woizikowski (Tarantella Dancers), Stanislas Idzikowski (The Snob), Nicholas Sverev (Cossack
Chief), Vera Clark and Nicholas Kremiev (Dancing Poodles), Lydia Lopouhkova and L
éonide Massine
(Can-Can Dancers)

U.S. Première: 20 March 1935, Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, Majestic Theater, New York

ABT Premi
ère: Central High School Auditorium, Omaha, Nebraska, 4 January 1943
Cast: Simon Semenoff (Shopkeeper), Nicolas Orloff (Assistant), Hubert Bland (Thief), Muriel Bentley
(English Old Maid), Antony Tudor (American), Shirley Eckl (Wife), Jerome Robbins (Son), Nora Kaye,
Yurek Lazowsky (Tarantella Dancers), Richard Reed (The Snob), John Taras (Melon Hawker), Andr
Eglevsky (Cossack Chief), Karen Conrad, John Kriza (Dancing Poodles), Irina Baronova and  Léonide
Massine (Can-Can Dancers)

This ballet is set in a toyshop. As it opens, an English lady, an American family and a Russian family
enter to peruse its wares. The many mechanical toys and dolls—Tarantella dancers, street vendors,
kings and queens from a pack of playing cards, poodles, Cossacks and two cancan dancers—are
demonstrated to the customers by the owner of the shop. As the shop shuts for the day, many of the
dolls are purchased by the various shoppers. The toys then come to life and lament the fate of the
two cancan dancers, who are lovers and who will be sent to different families the next day. The toys
devise a plan to allow the dancers to escape together. The next day the owner is confronted by the
angry customers who claim that their parcels of toys have not been delivered as promised and are
now only empty boxes. A ruckus ensues among the angry customers and the remaining toys return
to life, with the cossacks chasing the customers from the shop and all celebrating with the Shopkeeper
at this outcome.

Set in the period of the 1860s, this ballet is a re-working of a popular Viennese ballet, Die Puppenfee
(The fairy doll) of 1888, which had been revived by Serge and Nicholas Legat in St Petersburg early
in the twentieth century.5 Diaghilev, stimulated by Respighi’s discovery of Les Riens (Trifles), a suite
of piano pieces by Rossini, was inspired to commission Respighi to arrange these works for La
Boutique Fantasque. Bakst had expected to be commissioned by Diaghilev to design the ballet but a
misunderstanding led to Diaghilev instead commissioning André Derain who, despite having no
theatre experience, brought the freshness of his Fauvist painting to the task and a new connection for
Diaghilev to the world of contemporary painters. Derain’s light and elegant painterly approach to the
set and the costumes for a variety of engaging characters brought the stage to life and enhanced
Massine’s staccato choreography for the mechanical toys. Derain’s designs were presented as oil
sketches, showing little concern for the technical details of the costumes. The popular comedic figures
of the dancing poodles were costumed to resemble actual toys, a triumph of the costumiers’ skills in
interpreting Derain’s sketches. Like worn teddy bears today, they retain their tattered charm.