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."
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).
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.
At the opening night performance, on 9 February 1994, Roseman created the splendid drawing presented here, (fig. 3), of Charles Jude as Petrouchka. With an economy of line, the artist defines the puppet's form and the shape of his costume and floppy hat. His arms are down at his side and crossed in a characteristic gesture. A continuous pencil line renders the turn of Petrouchka's head and neck and the graceful curve of the clown puppet's ruff.
"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"
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.")
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.' "
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. 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.
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.