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Javotte (Croze / Saint-Saëns)




Ballet in one act and three tableaux, based on a libretto by Jean-Louis Croze and with music by Saint-Saëns, premièred on 3 December 1896 at the Grand Théâtre in Lyon.


“This short ballet will appeal because it is essentially joyful,” Saint-Saëns had told the publisher Auguste Durand a few days before the première of Javotte at the Grand Théâtre in Lyon on 3 December 1896. The ballet had originally been commissioned in 1895 by the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels. Apart from dances included in his operas, Javotte is the composer’s only ballet. The libretto was by Jean-Louis Croze and the choreography by Mme Mariquita, ballet mistress at the Opéra-Comique, where Javotte was given on 23 October 1899. A ballet in one act and three tableaux (1. La fête au village - 2. À la maison - 3. La reine du bal), Javotte tells a happy love story with Saint-Saëns’s orchestral music highlighting the main stages in the narrative. Prevented from going out by her parents, Javotte runs away to join Jean at the village fête. They dance a graceful pas de deux, then join in a bourrée, danced by the whole company. Javotte’s parents arrive and take her home, where, punished for her disobedience, she sets to work on the household chores. Her parents go out, locking her in. She starts washing up but drops and breaks one of the dishes (its fall depicted by violin I); she turns to the spinning wheel (rendered by two clarinets), then to knitting (represented by the violins). There come four knocks at the window (represented by cymbals): it is Jean, and she lets him in. The lovers express their happiness, then run away to the village. In the final scene, Javotte, having competed with four other girls in a dance contest, is chosen as festival queen. Jean persuades her parents to agree to the young couple’s marriage. The ballet ends with a remarkable pas de deux to music played by four solo cellos, followed by a “danse des coryphées”, and a lively “danse générale” accompanied by the entire orchestra.  

    Persons - 3
  • CROZE, Jean-Louis (1865-1955)
  • MARIQUITA (1840-1922)
  • SAINT-SAËNS, Camille (1835-1921)
  • Themes - 3
  • Danse – Danse et musique française au XIXe siècle
  • Institution – Opéra-Comique de Paris
  • Lieux de musique – Salle Favart