Program of Mr. Noverre's Great Historical, Heroic, National, Moral and Allegorical Ballets, Volume 1. Costume Dress For the Execution of Mr. Noverre's Ballets, Volume 2


French choreographer and dance theorist Jean-Georges Noverre (1727–1810) is known as “the Grandfather of the Ballet.” He introduced the ballet d’action (dramatic ballet), in which all the elements of production (e.g., choreography, set design, and costuming) are subordinate to the plot and theme. According to Noverre, the ballet should involve expression of character and emotion through the bodies and faces of the dancers, rather than through elaborate costumes and form-pleasing patterns. Noverre presented his ideas in Lettres sur la danse, et sur les ballets (1760). At the end of the 18th century Noverre sought employment at the Stockholm Opera. At that time Stockholm was considered a dynamic and interesting place for new trends in ballet. Noverre was 64 years old and had had a long career as ballet master in France. In his application for the position, he donated to King Gustavus III two signed volumes containing various documents, some previously printed, concerning his contributions to the art of ballet, his observations on building a new opera house in Stockholm, as well as his Reflexions sur le costume. The volumes also contain 147 sketches made by Louis René Boquet, the costume designer at the Paris Opera and the marshal at the royal court, for the costumes for 19 ballets. After a nine-month delay, Gustavus sent a letter to Noverre expressing his gratitude for the gift, but the king chose not to appoint the Frenchman ballet master at the Stockholm Opera. The manuscript was deposited at the National Library of Sweden in 1882 and eventually acquired by the library.

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Title in Original Language

Programme des grands ballets historiques, heroïques, nationnaux, moraux et allégoriques de la composition de Mr. Noverre, Tome Ier. Habits de Costume pour L'Execution des Ballets de Mr. Noverre, Tome IIe


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Physical Description

2 volumes. 261 pages and 147 illustrated plates : paper ; 20.5 x 15 centimeters


  • Shelfmark: S 254:1-2

Last updated: March 23, 2017