In 1962, Serge Lifar was invited by the Paris Opera to recreate his ballet Icare. The plot he composed was inspired by Greek mythology — with the wings made by his father Daedalus, Icarus launches himself into the air, but intoxicated by the act of flying, he goes too close to the sun, the wax of his wings melts and he falls into the sea. Created in 1935, the ballet was a manifesto where the dancing was choreographed separately from the music. In addition to the choreography, Lifar was in charge of the «rhythms» that accompany it, orchestrated by Arthur Honegger.
For this reproduction, the former dancer designed new costumes himself and suggested to his friend Picasso, whom he had met through the Ballets Russes in the 1920s, that he create the set and stage curtain. Picasso had not worked on any more ballets since 1924, with the exception of a curtain for Roland Petit’s Le Rendez-vous (1945), based on an existing design. The artist nevertheless agreed to design this new piece — he provided Lifar with a sketch reminiscent of another «fall of Icarus», that of the fresco he painted in 1958 for the UNESCO headquarters.
Picasso and dance
From June 19 to September 16, 2018
Paris Opera Library-museum, Palais Garnier