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Carmen [1959]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0076
Run Time
0h 4m 44s
Date Produced
Ruth Page has staged at least 4 versions of Carmen, all set to Georges Bizet's original opera music. The first version was choreographed and performed in 1926 at the Ravinia Opera. The second version, in which "Carmen" is transported to Civil War Spain, was choreographed by Ruth Page and Bentley Stone and premiered in Chicago at the Great Northern Theatre on February 1, 1939 by the Page-Stone Ballet. The version depicted in this film is likely the second or third version, shown here in rehearsal in 1959--likely at the Chicago Civic Opera. The film canister suggests that this rehearsal was conducted without music and that at least some of the dancers are in costumes designed by Piero Zuffi. A similar version, with music arranged by Isaac Van Grove and with scenery and costumes by Nicolai Remisoff, was premiered in Dubuque, Iowa at Clark College on January 11, 1960; it was performed by Page's Chicago Opera Ballet.
The film opens with a distant view of a stage full of performers in costume. While many bodies (perhaps opera singers) mill about and arrange themselves in the background, a large group of couples dances as an ensemble downstage. The film then cuts forward to a point where these dancers line the side of the stage and a trio (one man and two women) in more elaborate costumes is performing at center. The film soon cuts forward again; the three are joined by additional dancers behind them and the camera is much closer to the stage. At some points the two women blend into the rest of the group while the man does a solo; at other points all dance as an ensemble. They soon do many turns in a row, suggesting a finale, and the couple in front land in a kneeling pose, suggesting the end of the opera. But then the film cuts back to an earlier point, distant from the stage again, in which the center couple is surrounded by many other couples dancing as well. Before long, they separate and dance their way into the group, only to reemerge at center afterwards. The film ends in the middle of this sequence, with the group of other performers still standing along the back.
Additional Credits
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Olivares, Luis (is performer)
Wallmann, Margherita (is participant)