Daphnis and Chloe


Premiered March 31, 1936 (the third scene premiered in July 1935), Academy of Music, Philadelphia.  Music by Maurice Ravel.  Costumes by Gwyneth King.  Scenery and additional designs by Joseph Brown.

Catherine considered Daphnis and Chloe her first important ballet and finest work.   It was one of four dances she choreographed to the music of Ravel and the first American staged performance of this piece, which Fokine initially set as a ballet in 1912 for Diaghilev.  Catherine adhered to the Greek story about young lovers, herdsmen, Corsairs, nymphs and satyrs and in contrast with her better known American-themed ballets, Daphnis and Chloe was dramatic and emotionally charged.  The moody lighting, diaphanous frocks and textured wigs designed by Gwyneth King, a painter, and Joe Brown, a sculptor, set an appropriately mystical tone.  Audiences also enjoyed the staged combat.  Saul Caston, not Leopold Stokowski, as some sources say, conducted the premier.  John Martin wrote of Daphnis and Chloe in The New York Times: “Miss Littlefield has devised an entirely new choreography for it, and has done it excellently.”

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