Parisian Music-Hall Ballet, 1871-1913

Parisian Music-Hall Ballet, 1871-1913

Sarah Gutsche-Miller


University of Rochester Press



This pioneering study of ballets staged in Parisian music halls brings to light a vibrant dance culture central to the renewal of French choreography at the fin de siècle.
This pioneering study of Parisian music-hall ballet brings to light a vibrant dance culture that was central to the renewal of French ballet at the turn of the twentieth century. Long thought a lost period for ballet in France, the fin de siècle in fact saw a flourishing of choreographic activity. More than four hundred ballets were created to great acclaim, half of which were full-scale pantomime-ballets, with entertaining narratives, catchy music, titillating choreography, lavish sets and costumes, appealing corps girls, and star ballerinas. Most of these productions were staged not at the elite Paris Opéra but in the city's trendiest commercial venues: music halls.

Between 1871 and 1913, the Folies-Bergère, the Olympia, and the Casino de Paris brought together the era's leading authors of light theater and comic opera to produce a flurry of imaginative ballets that combined the conventional structures of high art with the popular idioms of mass entertainment. They also drew unprecedented numbers of people who had never before attended ballet. Parisian Music-Hall Ballet, 1871-1913 rediscovers this repertoire and culture, supplying a missing chapter in the history of French dance.

Sarah Gutsche-Miller is Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of Toronto.

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September 2015
37 black and white, 39 line illustrations
384 pages
9x6 in
Eastman Studies in Music
ISBN: 9781580464420
Format: Hardback
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS020000, PER003010, HIS013000
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Table of Contents

List of Figures
The Venues and the Shows
Music Halls for Tout-Paris
Creative Artists: Authors, Composers, and Choreographers
The Ballet-Divertissement
Real Pantomime-Ballets: The Choreographic Conventions of 1890s Music-Hall Ballet
Music as Storyteller: The Musical Conventions of 1890s Music-Hall Ballet
As Pleasing to the Ear as to the Eye: A Popular Musical Style
The Stories of Music-Hall Ballet: Romance, Flirtations, and Other Pleasures
A Delight to Behold: Glitter, Glamour, and Girls
Appendix A: Tables of Ballets Staged by the Folies-Bergere, the Olympia, and the Casino de Paris
Appendix B: Synopses of Ballets Staged at the Folies-Bergere, the Olympia, and the Casino de Paris


[A] compelling contribution to French dance and music history. The author's new and important insights contribute much to our understanding of the dramatic achievements of the "historical avant-garde" in the early decades of the twentienth century. DANCE RESEARCH REVIEW

Gutsche-Miller's work not only illuminates the supposed 'Dark Ages' of French ballet, but also provides a vital corrective to conventional wisdom about the cultural context into which Diaghilev launched his troupe. A lucid and lively history that vividly reconstructs the art world of Parisian music-hall ballet at its three principal venues: the Folies-Bergères, the Olympia, and the Casino de Paris. Serves as a caution against focusing too narrowly on activities at only the most powerful and prestigious 'high art' institutions. The book's generous appendices...will prove an invaluable reference for scholars wishing to investigate thsi repertory further. MUSIC & LETTERS [Helena Kopchick Spencer]

Gutsche-Miller's meticulous research provides a glimpse of these now-lost ballets, created at the impressive rate of four to six new works per year. Points to canny ways that composers used music to evoke place, atmosphere, and character . . . Gutsche-Miller's greatest contribution lies in her insistence that this popular genre is worthy of serious scholarly inquiry. NINETEENTH-CENTURY FRENCH STUDIES

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