The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Mlle Marie Petipa

Mlle Marie Petipa in Le diable à quatre

The Russian ballet dancer Marie Petipa paid her second visit to the Paris Opéra in the June and July of 1862, for which she was engaged at 4000 francs a month. She reappeared in Le Marché des Innocents on 4 June, and on the 20th played the role of Mazourka in a revival, with new sets and costumes, of Le Diable à quatre. Choreographed by Joseph Mazilier with music by Adolphe Adam, it had first been presented in 1845, with Carlotta Grisi as Mazourka and Lucien Petipa as Count Polinski.

For the Paris production, the second act was expanded to include a brilliant polski mazur, in which she was partnered by a well-known male dancer, specially engaged from St Petersburg at the enormous salary, for a man, of 1800 francs a month, Félix Ivanovitch Kshesinski. The role of Mazourka afforded Marie Petipa the opportunity to show her talents as an actress and once again her performance was hailed as a triumph.

Paris saw her as Mazourka for the last time on 30 July, but before returning to Russia she appeared at the benefit in aid of the pensions fund on 9 August. ‘This was to be her last season in the French capital. Though she had paid only two fleeting visits, she was at least said to have introduced one innovation at the Opéra, that of scattering resin on the floor of the Foyer de la Danse to obviate the danger of slipping. She continued her career in St Petersburg until 1869, when she retired. In 1881 she made an unsuccessful début on the legitimate stage, and the following year died of virulent smallpox at Novocherkassk, on the river Don.’ [Ivor Guest, The Ballet of the Second Empire: 1858-1870, London, 1953.]

Photographed by A. A. E. Disdéri.


Code: 122074
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© Paul Frecker 2019