THREE VIRGINS AND A DEVIL


Music by Ottorino Respighi (Antiche danze ed arie)
Choreography by Agnes de Mille
Libretto by Ramon Reed, after a story of Boccaccio
Scenery by Arne Lindborg, after sketches by Sophie Harris
Costumes by Motley

Revived on 2/5/93:
Staging by Sallie Wilson

Revived October 2003:
Choreography by Agnes de Mille
Staged by Dennis Nahat
Assisted by Gemze de Lappe
Music by Ottorino Respighi (Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite 1 and 2)
Scenario by Ramon Reed, after a story by Boccaccio
Costumes by Motley
Scenery by Arne Lundborg
Scenery and costume supervision by John Jensen
Lighting by Nananne Porcher

Timing: 17:00




World Premiere: Palace Theatre, London, in the revue Why Not Tonight?, 4/24/34
Music by Walford Hyden
Original Cast: Greta Nissen (First Novice), Margaret Braithwaite (Second Novice), Elizabeth Schooling (Third Novice), Stanislas Idzikowski (Devil), Walter Crisham (Dandy)
ABT Premiere: Majestic Theatre, New York, 2/11/41
Cast: Agnes de Mille (Priggish Virgin), Lucia Chase (Greedy Virgin), Annabelle Lyon (Lustful Virgin), Eugene Loring (Devil), Jerome Robbins (Youth)

Set to Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances for the lute, Three Virgins and a Devil has been referred to as “a burlesque in the form of a medieval morality play.” The curtain rises on a medieval landscape, a monastery gate (shut) at the right, at the left a grotto leading to a cave. The three virgins enter. The Priggish One is endeavoring to drag her companions to church, persuade the Greedy One to donate her finery to the alms box, and firmly demands that the Lustful One, a child of nature, offer the wreath she is wearing. The three settle down to their devotions. A Youth enters. Intent on their prayers, the virgins will have nothing to do with him.

A beggar enters and asks the Greedy One for money. He is a strange person hiding one of his feet. The horrified virgins observe a cloven hoof and he throws aside his cloak revealing himself to be the Devil, horns, tail, cloven hoof and all. The Youth re-enters, entices the Lustful One to join him, and the two exit swiftly into the grotto, the gate to hell. The Devil tempts the Greedy One with a necklace and so leads her to hell and eternal damnation.

The Priggish One, however, is harder to tempt; on the other hand it is she who is terrorizing the Devil by attempting to drag him through the gate into the monastery by any means possible, including his tail. Offended by this indignity to his person, he begins to chase her like a man possessed; she fleeing in terror. The chase continues in ever-widening circles until the grotto entrance is reached whereupon the Devil stands aside, like the true gentleman that he is, and the Priggish One descends into hell on her own momentum.

Three Virgins and a Devil was first presented by American Ballet Theatre at the Majestic Theatre, New York City on February 11, 1941, with Agnes de Mille (the Priggish One), Lucia Chase (the Greedy One), Annabelle Lyon (the Lustful One), Eugene Loring (the Devil), and Jerome Robbins (a Youth). ABT revived this ballet on July 25, 1973 at the New York State Theater with Sallie Wilson (now called the Fanatical One), Ruth Mayer and Christine Sarry (as the Virgins), Dennis Nahat (the Devil), and Daniel Levans (a Youth). ABT again revived this ballet, staged by Sallie Wilson, on February 5, 1993 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D. C., danced by Elizabeth Ferrell, Georgina Parkinson and Marie-France (as the Virgins), Robert Wallace (the Devil) and Scott Schlexer (a Youth).



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