Deceit, desire, and death shadow La Sonnambula's aristocratic masked ball, entertaining with its fanciful divertissements and haunting with the image of a somber sleepwalker and the tragedy following in her wake.
Balanchine choreographed this work (then called Night Shadow) in 1946, for Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, with Alexandra Danilova, Nicholas Magallanes, and Maria Tallchief. He used music by Vittorio Rieti, that was based on themes from several of Vincenzo Bellini's operas.
The ballet was first performed by New York City Ballet in 1960, with Allegra Kent, Erik Bruhn, and Jillana in the lead roles. Set at a masked ball, the one-act La Sonnambula tells the story of a Coquette, a Poet, and a beautiful Sleepwalker. The story remains mysterious, inviting different interpretations of the characters' actions and relationships; it is the moods and emotions evoked by Balanchine's choreography that give the ballet its resonance. Its atmosphere of sinister menace brings to mind the 19th-century Romantic ballets like Giselle and La Sylphide, with their haunting stories of doomed love.
VIEW A SLIDESHOW OF IMAGES FROM LA SONNAMBULA >