Le Martyre de saint Sébastien

Le Martyre de saint Sebastien
In 1911 some of the greatest artists then working in Paris collaborated in a musical-dramatic spectacle, Le Martyre de saint Sébastien. The five act mystery play starred Ida Rubinstein in the title role, with text by Gabriele D’Annunzio, stage design by Leon Bakst, choreography by Michel Fokine and a full-scale orchestral score by Claude Debussy. Most of these artists were associated with the wildly popular Ballets Russes and producer Gabriel Astruc probably imagined he had a winner on his hands. The show proved a flop however and would likely be entirely forgotten today were it not for Debussy’s wonderful music. Perhaps the Parisian audience had lost its taste for that sort of overwrought confection, or maybe they were dissuaded from attending by that noted theatre critic the Archbishop of Paris, who forbade Catholics to see the play on pain of excommunication. This pronouncement, a perfect amalgam of meddling censoriousness, intimidation, misogyny and anti-semitism, would be surprising were it not so typical. In any event, here are some images that all may regard without danger to their souls.

Leon Bakst-Costume Designs
Ida Rubinstein as St Sebastien
Leon Bakst, Scenery for Act I
Ida Rubinstein as St Sebastien2
Leon Bakst, Costume for St Sebastien
Leon Bakst, Ida Rubinstein as St Sebastien
Leon Bakst, Scenery for Act IV


One Response to “Le Martyre de saint Sébastien”

  1. […] de saint Sébastien, with text by Gabriele D’Annunzio and music by Claude Debussy, was anathematized by the Bishop of Paris. In 1928 she conceived the ballet Boléro, commissioning from Maurice Ravel […]

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