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#Throwback Thursday: Satanella

Today's #ThrowbackThursday is Satanella, also known as Le Diable amoureux, or Love and Hell.

Pauline Leroux as Urielle and M. Elie in Act III, an 1840 lithograph by Jules-Robert-Pierre-Joseph Challamel

Satanella is based on the 1772 novel Le Diable amoureux (The Devil in Love), an occult romance by Jacques Cazotte. The novel follows the story of a young Spanish nobleman, Don Alvaro, who accidentally summons the Devil. The Devil immediately falls in love with Don Alvaro, and follows him in the guise of the beautiful young woman, Biondetta, in an attempt to seduce Don Alvaro. Though Don Alvaro is reluctant, seeing as they are not married, Biondetta eventually gets him alone, only to reveal that she is in fact Satan.

The novel may seem an odd subject for a ballet, or an odd subject altogether; in fact, Cazotte's novel is credited as the origin of the fantasy genre. At the time it was rare for a ballet to be based on a story that was from neither Classical myth nor traditional folk tale. Le Diable amoureux was of course neither, and as such began to break down many barriers in the worlds of literature and ballet alike.

The Strauss sisters as Leila and Asmodee, an 1853 painting by Jan Ksawery Kaniewski

The story was adapted into a three act pantomime ballet by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges, who wrote the libretto. Choreographed by Joseph Mazilier to music by Napoleon Henri Reber and Francois Benoist, the ballet was premiered by the Ballet du Theatre de l'Academie Royale de Musique (predecessor of the Paris Opera Ballet) on September 23 1840. The cast included Mazilier himself as Alvaro (Frederic in the ballet), Pauline Leroux as Biondetta (Urielle in the ballet), and Louise Fitz-James as Lilia, Alvaro's sister.

Another version, choreographed by Filippo Taglioni, premiered on April 28 1852 at the Berlin Opera. Titled Satanella oder Metamorphosen (Satanella, or the Transformation), it starred Marie Taglioni. This version apparently inspired English composer Michael William Balfe to write his 1858 opera Satanella, and also inspired a fairy ballet of similar storyline choreographed by Roland Petit.

Original advertisement for the premiere of Mazilier's ballet in 1840

The ballet was then taken to Russia by Marius Petipa, who revised and staged the ballet with his father Jean Antoine Petipa. This version was premiered by the Imperial Ballet under the title Satanella, to a revised score by Aleksandr Liadov (some sources mistakenly attribute the revisions to Konstantin Liadov) on February 22 1848 at the Imperial Bolshoi Theatre. The cast included Yelena Andreyanova as Satanella and Marius Petipa as Count Fabio (Alvaro). Petipa then revived the ballet twice more: on October 30, 1866, again for the Imperial Ballet (additional music by Cesare Pugni, cast: Praskovia Lebedeva as Satanella and Lev Ivanov as Count Fabio); and on May 7 1868 at the Bolshoi, to Pugni's revised score (cast: Alexandra Vergina as Satanella, and Lev Ivanov as Count Fabio).

The Petipa production was revived was February 18 1897 by Ivan Chliustin and Nicola Domashov for the Imperial Ballet, and starred Lyubov Roslavleva. After this, the full production was not danced again. Today, Satanella survives in the Satanella Pas de Deux, though the origins of this piece are obscure. There is no surviving indication that it was ever part of the original ballet, and though it is often attributed to Marius Petipa, the difficult choreography (especially for the male role) likely indicates that it was at least embroidered during the Soviet period.

Here's the Satanella Pas de Deux, with Inna Dorofeeva and Vadim Pisarev, on what looks to be the Vaganova stage, likely a graduation piece:

Thanks for reading!

- Selene


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