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The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world.

Slideshow: All The Rage In Paris

All the Rage in Paris: Diaghilev's Ballets Russes is currently on display at The McNay. It is a reflection of the richness of The Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts and the keen eye of Tobin curator Jody Blake. The exhibition reflects one of the most fertile artistic experiments ever, the 20 year residency of Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in Paris.

Diaghilev assembled a "company" of artists, accomplished at stage and costume design, mixed them with composers and musicians who were ever searching for new avenues of expression, thus creating a rage, as Jody Blake describes it.

Most of the pieces in the current show suggest music, for most were created for either dance theatre, or music. The musical connections within The Tobin Collection are the subject of a 5-part series currently under way on KPAC-San Antonio, 88.3 FM. This slideshow is intended to enhance the musical experience, as the music is intended to enhance the viewing of the art objects. This week's program (Friday evening, April 10 @ 7PM) opens with music by Nicolai Tcherepnin, a contemporary of Stravinsky, but one whose music echoes that of Tchaikovsky. The scene designs for Tcherepnin's "Le Pavillon d'Armida" are by Alexandre Benois (slide 1). Slide 2 shows Benois' design for the King's bedroom in Act III of Stravinsky's "Le Rossignol." Alexandre Benois is also represented by his scene design for Petrouchka's Room in Stravinsky's "Petrouchka."

Slides 4-6 represent some of the Ballets Russes work by Léon Bakst. His portrait of Nijinsky is based upon a photograph, perhaps the reason Bakst captured so well the expression in Nijinsky's eyes. Colorful and exotic, even erotic, are the costume and stage designs for the Ballets Russes production based on Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade.

Slide 7 is a glimpse at Russian folklore, by way of choreography by Bronislava Nijinska, the younger sister of the superstar dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, and the music of Igor Stravinsky. "Le Renard" is 15 minutes of musical storytelling using a rich musical palate which at once looks both backward and forward. That's Stravinsky!

Finally, there are a couple of slides showing the costume work of Natalia Gontcharova, one who forged a new path for women in what was traditionally a man's world, the domain of theatre artist/designer. Here colorful, peasant inspired designs are matched perfectly with the colorful, peasant inspired music of Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov. It's no wonder there was such a rage in Paris over the ever creative Ballets Russes and their strong-willed impressario, Serge Diaghilev.

James first introduced himself to KPAC listeners at midnight on April 8, 1993, presenting Dvorak's 7th Symphony played by the Cleveland Orchestra. Soon after, he became the regular overnight announcer on KPAC.