Stanley Roseman
and the
BALLETS RUSSES
The Paris Opéra Ballet, perhaps more than any other dance company in the world, has revised and included in its standard repertory productions of the Ballets Russes.
     Roseman also drew at the Paris Opéra Ballet's productions of L'Après-midi d'un Faune, Vaslav Nijinsky's choreographic frieze set to Debussy's symphonic poem; and The Rite of Spring, originally presented by the Ballets Russes with Nijinsky's evocation of primitive Russia and its terrifying tribal rituals that he choreographed to Stravinsky's powerful score.
Petrouchka
3. Charles Jude, 1994
Paris Opéra Ballet
Petrouchka
Pencil on paper,  37.5 x 27.5 cm
Collection of the artist
     The opening scene of Petrouchka takes place in the Square of the Winter Palace, in St. Petersburg, where puppet shows were traditional entertainment at the Shrovetide Fair, which preceded Lent. An old conjuror brings to life three puppet characters: the clown Petrouchka and his rival the Moor, both of whom are in love with a pretty but fickle danseuse, their "lady Columbine," to use the description of Benois.
     The last scene of the ballet returns to the festivities in the Square of the Winter Palace. Petrouchka is chased from the puppet theatre into the square by his rival with sabre in hand and falls mortally wounded under the sorrowful eyes of the ballerina, his "lady Columbine," and to the horrified astonishment of the fairgoers. The Conjuror, who had brought the puppets to life, tries to convince the crowd that the body lying on the ground is only a heap of rags and sawdust. But as Benois explains: "Petrouchka turns out to be immortal, and when the old magician drags the broken doll along the snow in order to mend it (and again torment it), the 'genuine' Petrouchka suddenly appears in miraculous transformation above the little theatre, and the terrified Conjuror drops the doll and turns to flight."[7]
     In the Bibliothèque Nationale de France publication for the exhibition Stanley Roseman - Dessins sur la Danse à l'Opéra de Paris, Kader Belarbi writes, ''Stanley Roseman's draughtsmanship is a mastery of swiftly executed work with a spontaneity such as dance requires.''[8]
4. Kader Belarbi, 1994
Paris Opéra Ballet
Petrouchka
Pencil on paper,  37.5 x 27.5 cm
British Museum, London
     Roseman's deeply felt drawing presented here evokes a powerful impression of Petrouchka as "the personification of the spiritual and suffering side of humanity.''
     The Deputy Director of the British Museum, Jean Rankine, acknowledging the acquisition of Roseman's drawings on behalf of the Trustees, writes in a gracious letter to the artist: ''At their last meeting the Trustees of the British Museum had before them a report of your gift to the Department of Prints and Drawings of three drawings by yourself: Mother Mary Imelda, Abbess of Glencairn, Ireland (1978); Dom Sylvester Mooney, Abbot Emeritus, Douai Abbey, Reading (1984); and Kader Belarbi, Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris, 'Petrouchka' (1994).
''I am directed by the Trustees to convey to you this expression of their best thanks
for these most welcome additions to their collections.''


- Jean Rankine
  Deputy Director
  British Museum, London
Drawing by Stanley Roseman of Paris Opera star dancer Charles Jude, "Petrouchka," 1994, Collection of the artist.
© Stanley Roseman
Kader Belarbi, 1994
Paris Opéra Ballet
Petrouchka
Pencil on paper, 37.5 x 27.5 cm
British Museum, London

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     Pierre Monteux, one of the most celebrated conductors of the twentieth century, was in his mid-thirties when Serge Diaghilev engaged him as principle conductor of the Ballets Russes, which established for the French-born conductor an international reputation. In Paris, Monteux conducted the world premieres of Petrouchka, in 1911; L'Après-midi d'un Faune, 1912; and The Rite of Spring, 1913.
    The personage of Petrouchka inspired Roseman for a suite of deeply felt drawings created during performances by the Paris Opéra Ballet of that famous work from the repertory of the Ballets Russes. Petrouchka is a coveted role of the male dancer in the modern dance repertory. "Standing in the wings,'' Roseman recounts, "I put pencil to paper and drew the celebrated star dancers Charles Jude and Kader Belarbi in their impressive performances as the tragic clown puppet with a soul." 

     At the opening night performance, on 9 February 1994, Roseman created the splendid drawing presented here, (fig. 3), of Charles Jude as Petrouchka. With a purity of line flowing over the paper surface, the artist delineates the puppet's form, his arms down at his side and crossed in a characteristic gesture as he takes small puppet-like steps, and the shape of his costume and floppy hat. A continuous, nuanced pencil line renders the turn of Petrouchka's head and neck and the graceful curve of the clown's ruff.
     The ensemble of Roseman drawings was selected for the museum's collection by the Deputy Keeper of the Department of Prints and Drawings, Frances Carey, who felt that the Christian iconography of ''this very beautiful drawing'' from the ballet Petrouchka is especially appropriate as a companion to the acquisition of Roseman's drawings on the monastic life.
© Stanley Roseman and Ronald Davis - All Rights Reserved
Visual imagery and website content may not be reproduced in any form whatsoever.
Drawing by Stanley Roseman of Paris Opera star dancer Kader Belarbi, "Petrouchka," 1994, British Museum, London.
© Stanley Roseman
Drawing by Stanley Roseman of Paris Opera star dancer Kader Belarbi, "Petrouchka," 1994, British Museum, London.
© Stanley Roseman
     Petrouchka, the saga of a clown puppet with a soul, had its beginnings along the shores of Lake Geneva. Stravinsky was engaged by the impresario Serge Diaghilev to compose a work on the theme of a pagan tribal rite, a work which was to become The Rite of Spring, also known by its French title Le Sacre du Printemps.
     Before concentrating on The Rite of Spring, as Stravinsky explains in An Autobiography, the composer began "an orchestral piece in which the piano would play the most important part - a sort of Konzertstück.''[3]
    "One day I leapt for joy," enthuses the composer. "I had indeed found my title - Petroushka, the immortal and unhappy hero of every fair in all countries. Soon afterwards Diaghileff came to visit me at Clarens, where I was staying. He was much astonished when, instead of sketches of the Sacre, I played him the piece I had just composed and which later became the second scene of Petroushka. He was so much pleased with it that he would not leave it alone and began persuading me to develop the theme of the puppet's sufferings and make it into a whole ballet"[4]
Landscape by Stanley Roseman, "December Morning - View from Chardonne Overlooking Lake Geneva," 1987, Musee des Beaux-Arts, Rouen.
2. December Morning -
 View from Chardonne Overlooking Lake Geneva
, 1987
Oil on panel, 16 x 39.5 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen
     Stravinsky further recounts in his autobiography: "In composing the music, I had in mind a distinct picture of a puppet, suddenly endowed with life. . . . I struggled for hours while walking beside the Lake of Geneva to find a title which would express in a word the character of my music. . . .
Igor Stravinsky composes Petrouchka
Roseman's impressive landscape December Morning, (fig. 2), is a breathtaking panorama of the eastern end of Lake Geneva, with the peaks of the Dents du Midi and a range of the Savoy Alps. The view from Chardonne on Mont-Pèlerin takes in the lakeshore towns of Vevey and Montreux, and the villages of La Tour-de-Peilz and Clarens, where Stravinsky worked on his compositions for Petrouchka and The Rite of Spring. (See "Biography" - page 9 - "Landscapes.")
     Rehearsals for the world premiere of Petrouchka began in Paris under Pierre Monteux, principle conductor of the Ballets Russes. Stravinsky praises Monteux for being "able to achieve a very clean and finished execution of my score. . . . During rehearsals I had the great satisfaction of seeing that all my intentions with regard to sound effects were amply confirmed.''[5] Stravinsky was to have an equally successful collaboration with Monteux for The Rite of Spring, "which Monteux had conducted with his usual skill and attention."[6]
Pierre Monteux, Conductor of the Ballets Russes
     In a long and distinguished career, Monteux served as Director of the Boston Symphony (1919-1924), Paris Symphony (1929-38), and the San Francisco Symphony (1936-1952). He continued to conduct into his eighties, including return engagements with the Boston Symphony for the orchestra's summer seasons at the Tanglewood Music Festival in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts.
     At Tanglewood in the 1950's, Roseman, then in his boyhood, attended concerts with his parents. The Roseman family stayed at a small, familiar hotel, the Blantyre, a former private Tudor-style country estate in the town of Lenox. The Maestro and Madame Monteux resided at the Blantyre during the Maestro's engagements at Tanglewood. A friendship developed between the aspiring, young artist, who was also studying the piano, and the octogenarian conductor and Madame Monteux, "who was like an affectionate great-aunt to me,'' recalls Roseman in his journal. "The Maestro and Madame Monteux greatly encouraged me in my interests in music and art. Pierre Monteux complimented my father, a passionate opera-, theatre-, and concertgoer, for introducing me at a young age to the experience of attending concerts of both classical and modern music.'' In the summer of 1958, Roseman attended a concert version of Stravinsky's Petrouchka conducted by Monteux.
     The young artist did a wonderful brush and ink drawing of the Maestro, a portly figure with a luxuriant white moustache, who stands at a podium and with arms uplifted, holds a baton in hand. The Maestro and Madame Monteux expressed their great pleasure with the drawing. Granting his young admirer's request to autograph the drawing, the Maestro included a personal dedication "to Stanley'' and the inscription "with my best friendship, Pierre Monteux.''
     Recalling his friendship with the eminent conductor, Roseman writes: "From Pierre Monteux, I learned about the Ballets Russes and the story of the clown puppet named Petrouchka and the events that happened that fateful day at the winter fair in St. Petersburg. Smiling at the young artist who was listening intently to every word, the Maestro expressed his hope that one day I would have the opportunity to see the ballet, maybe even in Paris, where, as the Maestro told me, he conducted the world premiere in 1911, 'long before you were born, Stanley.' "
BALLETS RUSSES continued
     Roseman's drawings on the dance at the Paris Opéra include Petrouchka, Stravinsky's famous ballet composed on the poignant story of the Russian clown puppet Petrouchka, ''the personification of the spiritual and suffering side of humanity,'' to quote Alexandre Benois, scenarist of the ballet and co-founder and artistic director of the Ballets Russes.[1] The result of the collaboration of Benois and Stravinsky was one of the great and lasting successes of the Ballets Russes, and Petrouchka has since become a classic in the modern dance repertory.[2]
Petrouchka
     Exemplifying those words of praise is the superb drawing of Kader Belarbi as Petrouchka, (reproduced at the top of the page and here, fig. 4). The artist depicts the star dancer at the dramatic dénouement of the ballet - one of the most famous episodes in modern dance. The tormented Petrouchka is seen from the waist up as he stands behind the parapet of the puppet theatre. Roseman has rendered with a sculptural quality the facial features of Belarbi as the suffering clown puppet. His head bowed, a peaceful countenance on his painted face, he flings his arms outward in a gesture of crucifixion at ''the very moment of death - when Petrouchka's soul departs to a better world.''[9]
     The Roseman drawing of Kader Belarbi as Petrouchka entered the collection of the British Museum in 1996 with two of the artist's drawings from his equally acclaimed oeuvre on the monastic life, which earned Roseman a superlative review in The Times, London.
     It is relevant to mention here that in his Reminiscences of the Russian Ballet, Benois explains in the opening chapter ''The Benois Family'' that his family is of French ancestry and derives its name from that of Benedict of Nursia - St. Benoît (c.480 - c.547) - the saintly Italian abbot whose Rule for guiding the spiritual and communal life in a monastery is the basis for monastic observance in the Western Church.[10]
     The drawing beautifully expresses the sympathetic character of Petrouchka, his vulnerability and naiveté. The artist has emphasized the feeling of movement by the contrapposto position of Petrouchka's body turning to the left as his head turns towards the viewer's right and the expanse of pictorial space. In Roseman's absorption in the creative process and delineation of the figure, a treble clef appears in the flowing lines, as if the dancer were embracing the music in his arms.
© Stanley Roseman
1.  Alexandre Benois, Reminiscences of the Russian Ballet, (London: Putnam, 1941), p. 326.
2.  The author of this website page has retained the French spelling of "Petrouchka" as Roseman inscribed his drawings
     from the Paris Opéra with the ballet's French title Petrouchka. The usual English spelling is "Petrushka,"
     although the French spelling is also used, as does Osbert Sitwell in his autobiography Great Morning in which he
     writes enthusiastically of "Petrouchka's drama and pathos."
3.  Igor Stravinsky, An Autobiography, (London: Calder and Boyars, Ltd., 1975), p. 31.
4.  Ibid., pp. 31, 32. Stravinsky in his autobiography spells the name of the impresario of the Ballets Russes as "Diaghileff" and    
     the name of the ballet and the clown puppet "Petroushka."
5.  Ibid., p. 34.
6.  Ibid., p. 47.
7.  Benois, p. 330
8.  Stanley Roseman - Dessins sur la Danse à l'Opéra de Paris, (text in French and English),
     Kader Belarbi, "Quelques Mots des Danseurs, A Few Words from the Dancers,''
    (Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 1996), p. 14.
9.  Benois, p. 329.
10. Ibid., p. 3.