Ivanov's First Ballets
Known by any other name, such as 'Lise and Colin', 'The Deceived Old Woman', or 'Vain Precautions', and despite local variants in matters of names and staging, Dauberval's ballet has always turned on the same plot. Girl loves boy, but is engaged by her avaricious mother to a rich but foolish rival. Mother berates daughter for persisting in her love, and keeps her locked up to protect her virtue. This is the vain precaution (in Russian the title is in the singular), for when the mother lets down her guard, which allows the beloved to enter the house and hide, it leads to a tryst. The couple are discovered, and the hint of compromise implicit in their meeting confounds the matchmaking, whereupon girl and boy are allowed to marry.
A revival of La Fille mal gardée, which had last been seen in St Petersburg on 28 February 1880, was mounted for the twenty-fifth anniversary jubilee of Pavel Gerdt's artistic activity on 15 December 1885. It was remembered more for being the second work Virginia Zucchi performed in the imperial theatres (after The Pharaoh's Daughter, in which she replaced the indisposed Evgenia Sokolova). Zucchi had first appeared in Petersburg on 6 July 1885 in a private theatre, an event zestfully described by Konstantin Skalkovsky.1 On 6 August she danced with state artist Sergey Litavkin at Krasnoe Selo in a pas de deux from A Journey to the Moon, the féerie which she had been performing that summer.2 She enjoyed a phenomenal success, which caused the emperor to command his theatre direction, not without misgiving, to invite her to the official stage. By 26 August Zucchi had left St____________________