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Revenge [1957]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0118
Run Time
0h 27m 49s
Format
16mm
Color
B&W
Sound
Silent
Date Produced
1957
Abstract
"Revenge" is a ballet in four scenes, choreographed by Ruth Page and based on Giuseppe Verdi's 1853 opera Il Trovatore, itself based on Antonio Garcia Gutierrez's 1836 play El Trovador.  Page's first version was premiered on January 27, 1951 at Mandel Hall of the University of Chicago.  The ballet was then slightly revised and premiered in Paris at the Théâtre de l'Empire on October 17, 1951 by the Ballets des Champs-Élysées.  Music was arranged by Isaac Van Grove; costumes and scenery were designed by Catalan painter Antoni Clavé.  Revenge then returned to Chicago on November 26, 1955, as performed by the Ruth Page Ballets; its first New York performance was at the Broadway Theatre, December 20, 1955, also by the Ruth Page Ballets.

The version recorded in this film appears to be from the ballet's second round of performances in the 1956-1957 tour of Ruth Page's Chicago Opera Ballet.  It appears to be a dress rehearsal, with full sets, costumes, and orchestra accompaniment; it also seems to stitch together two different rehearsals with slightly different sets.
Description
The film opens with a shot of a stage, on which three sets of couples appear to be dancing in the court of the Count di Luna, a powerful Spanish nobleman.  Behind them, a woman cradles a baby.  The couples break apart for ensemble dances by each gender and a few brief solos.  They are doon joined by an additional couple, the woman brandishing a sword.  Eventually, these dancers give way to two gypsies, a mother and a daughter.  The daughter, Azucena, dances a solo before all, intended to distract the Count so that her mother can curse the baby.  She is caught; her mother is dragged away and she collapses on the ground.

At this point, the film returns to nearly the beginning of the ballet, such that the dancers' sequences are repeated but in lower lighting--the camera is also shaky during this section.  The film also speeds up as Azucena struggles over possession of the Count's child, carrying him away with her.  

The film then cuts to a later scene, set in the future.  The stolen child has grown up as Azucena's son, Manrico.  Onstage, the lovely Leonora dances a solo and Manrico enters, enamoured of her.  The two embrace and dance a pas de deux.  But then another woman (perhaps Leonora's mother) breaks up the couple and sends Manrico away, after which she dances with Leonora.  A portion of this dance is repeated a second time on the film.  As Leonora completes the dance in a prayer-like kneeling position, another man (presumably Manrico's older brother, the new Count di Luna),  enters stage.  He also expresses his admiration for Leonara, who, at first tearful about Manrico's having been ripped away, cautiously peeks at the solo di Luna begins to dance for her.  This portion, too, is repeated on the film.  Just as Leonora consents to gingerly present the Count with her hand to kiss, the film cuts forward again.

Suddenly, Manrico has appeared and the two brothers, still unaware of their relation, fight over the beautiful Leonora.  This portion is then repeated from a closer vantage point.  Even as the women try to stop them, the two fight until Manrico manages to carry her offstage.  

The film then cuts again to a later scene at the gypsy camp where Manrico lives.  Manrico stands at center while a group of other gypsies dances exotically around him.  He moves about the stage moodily as they dance, occasionally returning to the center and dancing brief solos.  Eventually, a female gypsy (perhaps an old Azucena) breaks out and performs her own solo, apparently stirring up emotion such that Manrico attempts to silence her.  This leads to an argumentative pas de deux, of sorts, after which the entire camp joins in for an ensemble dance.  Suddenly, Count di Luna enters the camp with three soldier-like fellows and a fight begins.  Just as Manrico seems to be winning for the second time, the Count takes him and his "mother" prisoner.

The film then cuts to a scene of a distraught Leonora, alone onstage outside of the prison.  The young Count soon enters, and she dances a desperate pas de deux with him, begging for Manrico's release.  He eventually agrees, on the condition that she marry him in exchange for her lover's freedom.  She reluctantly agrees and the film cuts to a tender moment with Leonora and Manrico, while behind them, three shrouded women enter, kneel, and dance around the couple.  A relieved but depressed Leonora collapses in Manrico's arms.  They exit up the stairs out of the prison slowly.

The film then cuts to a scene (out of focus) in which three acrobatic dancers (perhaps gypsies?) perform in front of a dropped curtain.  It eventually opens behind them to reveal more dancers, as at the beginning but four couples instead of three.  The film cuts forward a bit to the entrance of the Count and his new bride; it then cuts forward several more times over the course of the celebration and its dancing, showing a portion of a pas de deux between the couple and then a mourning Leonora.  Manrico suddenly enters, professing his love for Leonora and trying to break up the marriage.  Leonora, so upset at the state of affairs that befell her, ingests poison and dies at Manrico's feet.  Though the ballet is not over, the film ends there.
Additional Credit
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Verdi, Giuseppe (is composer)
Van Grove, Isaac (music)
Genre
Dance
Subject
Dance