"Symphony in C" in Paris
Paris Opera Ballet
October 15, 2003
by Alexander Meinertz
Copyright ©2003 by Alexander Meinertz
There was confusion before the start of the Paris Opera Ballet's new season about whether the company dance Le Palais de cristal, as originally announced, or Symphony in C. It turned out to be the latter. The program book explained it this way: "This new production is danced in the New York City Ballet's black and white version, just as the choreography ultimately envisaged it."
But Symphony in C is not Le Palais de cristal. Balanchine created the latter in just two weeks for Paris Opera Ballet in 1947, with sumptuous sets and glamorous costumes by Léonor Fini, and restaged it for Ballet Society in 1948. In Paris the ballet had different colour costumes for each movement, in New York the ballet was uniformly clad with the women in white tutus and the men in black tights and vests. In France each movement was named after a jewel—my personal favourite being Black Diamond (2nd movement) and in New York Balanchine simply named them numerically. And although the overall structure and outline of Symphony in C remained the same as that of Le Palais de crystal the choreography in fact differed greatly in detail, not to mention atmosphere: The Black Diamond more so than the other three movements.