Music: By Igor Stravinsky (symphonic poem for orchestra in three parts, 1917; adapted from his 1913 opera Le Rossignol ).
Choreography: Originally choreographed by Léonide Massine (1920); rechoreographed by George Balanchine.
Production: Curtain, scenery, and costumes by Henri Matisse (from the 1920 production).
Premiere: June 17, 1925, Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, Théâtre Gaîeté Lyrique, Paris. Conductor: Marc-César Scotto.
Nightingale, Alicia Markova; Death, Lydia Sokolova; Emperor, Serge Grigoriev; Mechanical Nightingale, George Balanchine; Japanese Maestro, Nicolas Kremnev; 16 Ladies of the Court; 6 Warriors; 6 Mandarins; 4 Chamberlains.
Note: Stravinsky prefixed a ballet scenario to the score based on quotations from Andersen, with the following headings: 1. The Fête in the Emperor of China's Palace; 2. The Two Nightingales; 3. Illness and Recovery of the Emperor of China.
Balanchine's first choreography for performance in the regular seasons of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, and his first choreography in the West to music by Stravinsky; in Russia he had choreographed Ragtime , and rehearsed Pulcinella . On one occasion, when Markova was ill, Balanchine danced the role of the Nightingale.
Reconstruction: Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, 2000.
Archival Video: George Balanchine Foundation Archive of Lost Choreography (Nightingale's solo, excerpts of pas de deux with Death), 1996.