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#Throwback Thursday: Catarina, ou la fille du bandit

Today's #ThrowbackThursday focuses on Catarina, ou la fille du bandit.

Lucile Grahn as Catarina, costumed for the celebrated Pas Stragetique, 1846

Catarina, ou la fille du bandit (Catarina, or the Daughter of the Bandit) is a ballet in three acts by Jules Perrot, to music by Cesare Pugni. The libretto is based off an incident in the life of the painter Salvator Rosa. The ballet begins with Salvator himself, who, while on an excursion in the mountains, has gotten himself captured by bandits. The bandits' captain turns out to be a woman, Catarina, who took over the bandits after her father's death. She is accompanied by her lieutenant, Diavolino, who is secretly in love with her. Catarina deeply admires Salvator's art and releases him. He has also become enamoured by her and advises her to give up her dangerous life and follow him to more a peaceful life. But Catarina refuses, and Salvator leaves with regret.

Soon, however, the bandits' mountain hideout is discovered by soldiers. Catarina and Diavolino are forced to flee, taking refuge at an Inn at the Gates of Rome. They bribe the host to conceal them and adopt the clothing of peaceful civilians. But soldiers soon come to the Inn in search of food, and become fascinated by Catarina as she dances. Diavolino takes the opportunity to free his comrades whilst the soldiers are distracted. The soldiers discover their flight almost instantly, setting out in pursuit. Forced to flee again, Catarina and Diavolino take refuge at the studio of Salvator, who has remained enamoured of Catarina and attempts to hide them.

But the soldiers have traced their steps and, despite Salvator's best efforts, Catarina is taken to prison. Diavolino, who escaped capture, comes to rescue her - but only on the condition that she never see Salvator again. Jealous, he swears he will kill Salvator at the first opportunity. Catarina indignantly refuses this condition, and Diavolino relents. They escape, and find themselves in a Carnival. Disguised, Catarina attempts to warn Salvator of Diavolino's intentions, but she is discovered by him. Diavolino attacks Salvator and is about to kill him when Catarina runs between them. The blade wounds her instead of Salvator, and the ballet ends with her death.

Lucile Grahn and Jules Perrot as Catarina and Diavolino, in the celebrated Polka de Catarina, 1846

Catarina, ou la fille du bandit premiered at Her Majesty's Theatre in London on March 3 1846, with Lucile Grahn as Catarina and Perrot himself as Diavolino. It was a great success, and the Pas Stragetique in particular was much celebrated. Jules Perrot restaged the ballet several times, first in Italy for Teatro alla Scala. This production premiered on January 8 1847, starring Fanny Elssler as Catarina and Perrot as Diavolino. Perrot then staged the ballet for the Imperial Ballet of Russia. This premiered on February 16 1849 at the Bolshoi Theatre in St. Petersburg, starring Fanny Elssler as Catarina, Christian Johansson as Salvator, and Perrot as Diavolino. For this performance, Tsar Nicholas I was present, and upon noticing that Elssler and the corps de ballet were not holding their guns correctly, set about instructing them.

Marius Petipa revived the ballet for a benefit performance given on the death of the composer Cesare Pugni. The ballet premiered on February 13 1870 at the Bolshoi Theatre in St. Petersburg; all proceeds from the opening night were given to Pugni's family. This production starred Adele Grantzow as Catarina and Pavel Gerdt as Diavolino. Following this, Enrico Cecchetti staged a revival, again for the Imperial Ballet, which premiered on November 6 1888 at the Mariinsky Theatre. This version starred Elena Cornalba as Catarina and Pavel Gerdt as Diavolino.

Something a little unusual - 19th century French porcelain figurines based on the ballet

Finally, the ballet was revived by Fredy Franzutti for the Balletto del Teatro dell'Opera di Roma. It premiered on May 11 2007, with Gaia Straccamore as Catarina and Alessandro Molin as Diavolino.

Unfortunately, I can find no extant footage of the recent Italian production.

Thanks for reading!

- Selene


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