Sergei Prokofiev / Sweet Charity
On this day in classical music: Sergei Prokofiev’s “Scythian Suite” was given its premiere at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg in 1916, with the composer conducting. Commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev, the ballet was written to a scenario by Russian poet Sergey Gorodetsky. After Diaghilev rejected the score, Prokofiev reworked the music into a suite for concert performance. Listen to Claudio Abbado and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra perform the opening movement, titled “Invocation to Veles and Ala.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lb8MT370WAw
On this day in the musical theatre: “Sweet Charity” opened on Broadway in 1966. Featuring music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Dorothy Fields, “Sweet Charity” told the story of one Charity Hope Valentine, a dance hall hostess who keeps falling in love with the wrong guys. Gwen Verdon originated the role of the girl with a heart of gold. Bob Fosse directed and choreographed the production which was based on Federico Fellini’s screenplay “Nights of Cabiria.” Watch Verdon perform an excerpt from the showstopping “If My Friends Could See Me Now” on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gibkynFPPS4
Musical musings: What director-choreographer Bob Fosse has done is to detail the hilarious and sometimes poignant adventures of Charity essentially in the crystal-clear language of the dance, individual and ensemble. The truth is that the red-headed, ball-bearing-jointed Verdon is always dancing, even when she’s walking. Dialogue becomes a mere accessory for Verdon, even though she speaks it well enough. She can say more with the casual pivoting of a knee than Webster ever catalogued. – Normal Nadel in the World Journal Tribune
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