La Prima Ballerina
La Prima Ballerina. Neoromantic ballet in two acts by Heino Heiden with music by Godfrey Ridout, created on commission from the National Ballet of Canada. The ballet had its premiere 26 Oct 1967 in the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier of the PDA, Montreal, as part of the World Festival of Expo 67. The production was designed by Lawrence Schafer, and the MSO was conducted by George Crum. Leading dancers were Lois Smith, Hazaros Surmejan, Daniel Seillier, and Yves Cousineau. The story is based on an incident in the life of Maria Taglioni. The great dancer's coach is captured by bandits. The bandit chief recognizes her and, finally, releases her so she can perform; the circumstance leads to a ballet within a ballet.
Nathan Cohen described Ridout's score as 'a pastiche... of 19th century opera and drama and suffused with a disarming instrumentation' (Toronto Star, 27 Oct 1967). The choreography was weak, however, and after the first Toronto stage performances in 1968 the ballet was dropped from the repertoire. From the 70-minute ballet score for large orchestra, a 5-minute Overture, a Suite No. 1, and a Suite No. 2 were arranged for concert performances. Suite No. 1 was premiered 1 Aug 1971 by the TS under Victor Feldbrill at the Ontario Place Forum and recorded by them on Centrediscs (CMC-CD 3890).