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|Dancers||Erin Martin (Bridge); Veronika Mlakar, Joseph Carow (Her Parents); William Glassman (Groom); Sallie Wilson, Bruce Marks (His Parents); Rosanna Seravalli, Ted Kivitt (Matchmakers)|
|Premiere||March 30, 1965, New York State Theatre, Ballet Theatre|
|Casting Reqs||The Bride; Her Parents; The Groom; His Parents; Matchmakers (1 man, 1 woman; Friends & Guests (9 women, 10 men--corps)|
|Requirements||4 singers, 4 pianists, 4 percussionists, xylophone, timpani|
|Notes||Stravinsky used as material for "Les Noces" the ritualistic elements found in the ancient customs and traditions of Russian peasant weddings but reserved the right to use them with absolute freedom, paying little heed to ethnographical considerations. His purpose was not to reproduce the wedding or show a staged dramatization with descriptive music but rather to present a ritualized abstraction of its essences, customs, and tempers.
The text is adapted from folk songs and popular verse, typical wedding remarks – clichés of conversations – but again, they are not used realistically but rather as a collage of the words spoken or sung during these traditional rites. The first half of the "scenic ceremony" deals with the preparations and revolves around religious elements. Alternating with these intense invocations and blessings are continual lamentations by the parents for the loss of their children and by the bride, against the matchmaker, on leaving home and on losing her virginity.
In the second half (the wedding feast), the grief and religious elements are forgotten in robust celebrations with food, drink, songs, toasts, boasts, bawdiness, rough jokes, etc.. A married couple is selected to warm the bed and finally the marriage is allowed to be consummated while all sit outside the nuptial chamber.
The composition is divided into four tableaus which run without interruption.