Choreography: By George Balanchine.
Production: Scenery and costumes by Dorothea Tanning. Scenery executed by E. B. Dunkel Studios; costumes executed by Karinska.
Premiere: February 27, 1946, Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, City Center of Music and Drama, New York.
Conductor: Emanuel Balaban.
The Sleepwalker, Alexandra Danilova; The Poet, Nicholas Magallanes; The Coquette, Maria Tallchief; The Host (Husband of the Sleepwalker), Michel Katcharoff; Guests at the Ball, 8 couples; ENTERTAINERS AT THE BALL: SHEPHERDS' DANCE: 2 couples; BLACKAMOORS' DANCE: Ruthanna Boris, Leon Danielian; HARLEQUIN DANCE: Marie-Jeanne; HOOP DANCE: 4 women.
Note: At a masked ball with entertainments, the Poet pays suit to the Coquette, who is escorted by the Host. After the guests go in to supper an apparition in white enters, a beautiful Sleepwalker. Entranced, the Poet tries to wake her, but she eludes him. The jealous Coquette informs the Host who, enraged, stabs the Poet. The Sleepwalker reappears and bears the Poet's body away. The role of the Poet was choreographed on Frederic Franklin, who could not perform at the premiere owing to injury.
Revisions: The Entertainers' dances (also called DIVERTISSEMENTS) have been changed often by the many companies that have staged the ballet. Examples in three principal companies include: Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas: MOORISH DANCE sometimes substituted for BLACKAMOORS' DANCE; until about 1950, HARLEQUIN DANCE omitted; 1950, SHEPHERDS' DANCE (PASTORALE) changed from two couples to one, HOOP DANCE replaced by ACROBATS' DANCE for three (various combinations of men and women). New York City Ballet: 1960, name changed from Night Shadow to La Sonnambula, HARLEQUIN DANCE restored (for a man instead of a woman; frequently altered for various performers), ACROBATS' DANCE retained from de Cuevas production (HOOP DANCE omitted); 1967, SHEPHERDS' DANCE (PASTORALE) changed from two couples to a pas de trois for a virtuoso man and two women; 1979, BLACKAMOORS' DANCE eliminated. American Ballet Theatre: 1981, HOOP DANCE rechoreographed by John Taras as GYPSY DANCE, BLACKAMOORS' DANCE retitled DANSE EXOTIQUE.
New Productions by Balanchine Companies: 1960, New York City Ballet, with scenery and lighting by Esteban Francés and costumes by André Levasseur.
Video/DVD: 1995, Nonesuch, The Balanchine Library: Dancing for Mr. B (rehearsal excerpt); 2005, Zeitgeist Films, Ballets Russes (excerpt).
Archival Video: George Balanchine Foundation Interpreters Archive (Sleepwalker pas de deux, finale), 2001; (Sleepwalker pas de deux, Coquette pas de deux, finale), forthcoming.
Music And Book: By Vittorio Rieti, based on themes from operas by Vincenzo Bellini (1830-35, including La Sonnambula, I Puritani, Norma, and I Capuletti ed i Montecchi).