Alexander Golovin's designs for Igor Stravinsky's opera on show at Bonhams
Aleksandr Yakovlevich Golovin (Russian, 1863-1930) Costume design for the Emperor

The international auction house, Bonhams, will hold an exhibition of Alexander Golovin's magnificent designs for Igor Stravinsky's Le Rossignol to celebrate the centenary of the 'lost' 1918 Mariinsky Theatre production. The exhibition Music, Magic and Flight will take place in London from 24 May to 6 June 2018 at Bonhams main UK saleroom at 101 New Bond Street.

Le Rossignol (The Nightingale) was the first opera composed by Stravinsky, which in this production featured sets and costumes by the renowned designer Alexander Golovin, one of the most remarkable Russian artists of his time.

This 1918 staging brought together an astonishing trio of creative genius: Stravinsky, fresh from his career-making successes in Paris and London with Diaghilev's Ballets Russes; the innovative theatre director Vsevolod Meyerhold; and Alexander Golovin – who brought a new focus on design to 20th-century theatre.

However, after a single performance on May 30, 1918, at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, this daring and sumptuous production disappeared from the repertoire, lost in the chaos of revolution and civil war. The designs finally found their way into the hands of Michael Klatchko, a Russian doctor who travelled internationally and had close ties to the Russian émigré community in Paris. Klatchko kept the works until his death – whereupon they were discovered in his collection by his family. Douglas Engmann, Michael Klatchko's grandson, noted "These exquisite works made theatrical history, and their subsequent journey from St Petersburg to San Francisco is as legendary as the plot of the opera. We are delighted to share Golovin's extraordinary vision with a wider audience."

International Director of the Russian Department, Yelena Harbick, said, "This exhibition at Bonhams is a rare opportunity to see these extraordinary and beautiful works. They provide a fascinating visual narrative of the final vestiges of the opulence and elegance of the late Imperial Theatre, and reveal the brilliant creativity of the Russian Theatre that flourished during the most explosive and transformative years of the early 20th century."


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