L'Apres-midi d'un faune was choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky for the Diaghilev Ballets Russes and was first performed in Paris on May 29, 1912, with Nijinsky dancing the role of the Faun. Both the ballet and score to which it was set, Claude Debussy's 'Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune', were inspired by the poem of the same title by Stephane Malarme. Design was by Leon Bakst. Choreographic features of the work include a frieze-like archaic design, profiled stance, and alternation of movement and pose. The spare libretto centres on the faun's meeting and flirtation with nymphs, and the piece concludes with a scene of simulated masturbation that scandalized early audiences.
The de Basil Ballets Russes revival of L'Apres-midi d'un faune premiered in London on 2 October 1933, and Australian audiences first saw the work during the 1936-1937 tour by the Monte Carlo Russian Ballet. Its first performance was in Adelaide on 20 October 1936. The review in The Advertiser the following day noted that the work 'struck a new note in ballet', and hailed Leon Woizikowsy as 'magnetis[ing] the audience with his amazing delineation of the part of The Faun'. The ballet was subsequently seen in Sydney and Melbourne. During the second Ballets Russes tour by the Covent Garden Russian Ballet a truncated solo version was performed by David Lichine in a 'principals only' farewell gala in Sydney on 27 April 1939. During the third Australian tour by the Original Ballet Russe the full production returned to the Australian stage.
L'Apres-midi d'un faun was also performed in Australia by Ballet Rambert during the Ballet Rambert 1947 tour. This production was billed as having the original Nijinsky choreography and Bakst design, and featured Frank Staff as the Faun. In 1951, a version was staged by Paul Grinwis for the Borovansky Ballet, with Grinwis performing in the title role.
Graeme Murphy choreographed his Late Afternoon of a Faun to the Debussy score in 1987. Australian audiences are also familiar with Jerome Robbins' Afternoon of a Faun choreographed in 1958, and the version choreographed by Barry Moreland for the West Australian Ballet in 1985.
Bibliography:Joanne Priest & H Brewster-Jones, 'Woizikowsky's Triumph', The Advertiser, October 21, 1936.
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1182 photographs; b&w; 25 x 20 cm
This is a collection of photographs taken by Hugh P. Hall of 30 ballet productions performed by the Covent Garden Russian Ballet (toured Australia 1938-1939) and the Original Ballet Russe (toured Australia 1939-1940). The photographs were taken from a seat in the circle of His Majesty's Theatre, Melbourne and mounted on cardboard for display purposes. For conservation and storage, the photographs have been demounted. The original arrangement of the photographs has been recorded, and details are available from the Pictures Branch of the National Library. The collection comprises photographs of performances of the following ballets: Les presages; Symphonie fantastique; Les cent baisers; Le coq d'or; Petrouchka; L'apres-midi d'un faune; Cendrillon; The Firebird; Paganini; Francesca da Rimini; Icare; La concurrence; Jeux d'enfants; Graduation Ball; Scuola di ballo; Le Danube bleu; The Prodigal Son; Swan Lake; Le carnaval; Cotillon; Scheherazade; Union Pacific; Les dieux mendiants; Les femmes de bonne humeur; Prince Igor; Les Sylphides; Papillons; Protee; Aurora's Wedding; Le spectre de la rose.