Music : Carl-Maria von Weber – Choreography : Mikhail Fokine – Music by Weber, “Invitation to the Waltz» orchestrated by Berlioz) – Created on April 19th 1911 at the Monte-Carlo Opera House by Tamara Karsavina and Vaslav Nijinsky – Libretto by Jean-Louis Vaudoyer after a poem by Théophile Gautier – Décors and costumes by Léon Bakst – Visit the Rudolf Nureyev Collection at the Centre National du Costume de Scène
“Le Spectre de la Rose” was one of the first ballets danced by Rudolf Nureyev after he escaped at Le Bourget. Pierre Lacotte taught him the part for German television, just before it was filmed in Frankfurt in 1961. Nureyev didn’t perform it on stage until 1979 in New York – 24 times – during the Joffrey Ballet’s homage to Diaghilev. He danced it again the same year with Margot Fonteyn and the London Festival Ballet at the Coliseum in London, then again in the United States with the Joffrey Ballet. He performed it for the first time in Paris on February 20th 1981 for a Private Gala organised by Yves Saint-Laurent at the Opéra Comique, then 9 times at the Châtelet Theatre in January 1982. It was a work he often included in his programme, mainly with the Ballet de Nancy when they toured Latin America, London and Japan (in 1984).
Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev… A last dance
It was in this ballet that he danced his last performance with Margot Fonteyn, on June 23rd 1979, bringing to an end the perfect harmony of a legendary couple that lasted 17 years. Margot Fonteyn – aged 60 – decided at the last moment to go back on stage that evening for the last time. Nureyev himself performed the “Spectre” for the last time on August 29th 1987 at the London Coliseum with the Ballet de Nancy.
Ballet story : On her return from a ball, a young girl breathes in the scent of a rose that a gallant partner offered her as a souvenir of the evening. She falls asleep in an armchair and dreams that the rose has changed into a handsome young Spirit in love, just like her partner but completely covered in rose petals. After gently spinning around and sketching a last waltz with her, the Spectre leaves as he arrived, through the window in a leap whose lift and grace astounded the public when Nijinsky danced the part in Paris. The young girl then awakes and forgets her illusions when she sees the rose that has fallen at her feet during her slumber.