Friday, February 10, 2012
Flashing the House Lights
When Igor Stravinsky's ballet, “The Rite of Spring,” premiered on May 29, 1913, at the Théatre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, Tonto Fielding’s grandfather (Hieronymus Fielding) was more shocked than the audience, which responded to the performance with a din of hisses and catcalls.
Vaslav Nijinsky's shocking choreography was obviously stolen from Fielding’s ballet, The Professor’s Maid, that tells the story of Ludvig Bager Nissen Kragballe and his maid, Misse Jørgensen, who is celebrated for her award winning sauerkraut and sausage recipes. The ballet had already earned a reputation for being physically unnatural to perform. This was one of Fielding’s hallmarks.
As for the music, Fielding’s masterpiece, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern at Le Chabanais, had already premiered with a musical theme without a melody, and only one loud, pulsating, dissonant chord with jarring, irregular accents.
Hieronymus Fielding fought Stravinsky in the courts for years, but was never compensated. He did though have the last laugh, when he called in a marker and had Stravinsky and Nijinsky banned from the famous French Brothel, the subject of his not so famous ballet score.