DA RIMINI." Lovely Decors.
David Lichlne's ballet "Francesca da Rimini," staged for the first time in Australia last night, made a great im- pression on the audience at the Theatre Royal. It introduced a distinguished ballerina, Lubov Tchernlcheva, in the
In selecting the legend of Francesca. as the subject of his ballet, Lichine was re-interpret lng material which had already been many times used by writers. Even as a ballet, "Francesca da Rimini" has been done before, for Fokine staged it in St. Petersburg In
Plctorlally, the theme has been expressed by artists without number. One of the most famous was Gustave Dore, who included It In his illustrations to Dante's "Inferno." This picture was one of Tschalkowsky's inspirations in the composition of the tone-poem; and the tone-poem in turn inspired Lichine, who commissioned Oliver Messel to design the scenery and costumes shown last night. But anything less like Dore than this new scenic envelopment would be difficult to imagine. For the surge and tempest of the black-and-white illustration has given place to a wealth of vernal colour in the tradition of Verocchlo and Botticelli.
These decors by Messel are two of the loveliest things in all ballet. The artist has expressed the backgrounds in a simple, almost neutral style, aiming at spaciousness rather than vivid detail. Against them, the costumes stood out with a gorgeous, yet beautifully harmonised emphasis. The scenes were an orchestration of garments, as much as a crea- tion of dancing and mime. Botticelli's "Prima- vera" seemed to have come to life in the deli- cate assemblage of visions which accompanied Paolo and Francesca's reading of the romance. It was a trifle surprising to see Launcelot and Guinevere represented in mis- cellaneous wisps of drapery, amid these spirits of the Renaissance; but that was a detail by the way.
Lichine has frankly and freely departed from the Idea of Tschalkowsky's music. The composer designed his score to correspond with some lines in Canto V. of the "Inferno,"' so that the first and the last parts of the music represent the raging tempest in Hell, and only the middle section the amorous idyll. But Lichine has made the score into narrative from end to end. To the early episode he has fitted the story of Francesca's betrothal to Malatesta. To the final one he has set a long duel between Malatesta and
At a general view, the movements have a singular energy and eloquence, and they have been built up symphonlcally into some grand effects. Yet in places Lichine has fallen just short of tragic splendour in the details. At the beginning, the choreography does not convey clearly what all the fighting and agi- tation are about. In the reading scene, the dramatic significance of the lovers' passion is eclipsed by the irruption of radiant fabulous beings. In other words, emphasis shifts from what is vital to what is decorative.
A FINE FRANCESCA.
Madame Tchernicheva brought to the cen- tral part a radiant presence and a white heat of fervour. The role had been adroitly arranged so that posture and mime, rather any tour de force in dancing, were the requi- site qualities. So Francesca, through the sheer integrity of her emotional statement, dominated the ensemble.
Paul Petroff, romantically in character, made an impressive Paolo. In out-and-out athleticism, in discretion, in clearness of idea, this was one of the finest roles Petroff has played. Dimitri Rostroff was the ugly Gian ciotto Malatesta; Vera Nelidova was force fully dramatic as Francesca's nurse; Edouard Borovansky was a spy; Anna Leontieva the angel; and Yura Lazovsky, Paolo's friend.
Antal Dorati conducted the orchestra with extraordinary incisiveness and verve, so that Tschalkowsky's music gained a stimulating
Roman Jasinsky and Tatiana Riabouchinska danced in a delightful presentation of "The Gods Go A-begging"; Rlabouchinska was hauntingly ethereal in "Spectre de la Rose"; and David Lichine appeared as the Prince in
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