Queen of Spades

1966 (made)

Hurry, Leslie

Height: 24.9 cm, Width: 18.5 cm

S.1388-2014 T&P

Design for a stage prop by Leslie Hurry for Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades, Sadler's Wells, 1966

Black ink and pencil design, with blue and red highlights for a stage prop by Leslie Hurry for for 1966 production of Tchaikovsky's <i>Queen of Spades</i>, Sadler's Wells Theatre. The design is for an ornate book stand, with two candles, one mounted on either side, and a cushion, to kneel upon, at its base. The book stand is positioned in front of a religious painting. Pencil annotations on the design detail the proportions of the stand.

This design for a prop by Leslie Hurry was created for a production of Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades at Sadler's Wells Theatre in 1966. This production of the three-act opera, The Queen of Spades by Peter Tchaikovsky, with its libretto based on Alexander Pushkin’s story by Modest Tchaikovsky, was performed in an English translation by Rosa Newmarch. The first production of this opera at Sadler’s Wells Theatre opened on the 14th of September 1966. The production was directed by Anthony Besch with choreography by Harry Haythorne and Leslie Hurry’s designs were lit by Charles Bristow. Leslie Hurry (1909-1978) trained at the Royal Academy and during the 1930s became known as a surrealist painter. A one-man show in London in 1942 was seen by the theatre director, Michael Benthall, who recommended Hurry to the dancer and choreographer, Robert Helpmann, then planning a ballet based on Shakespeare's Hamlet. The success of his designs set Hurry on a second career as one of the most distinguished theatre designers of his generation. He designed operas, ballets and plays, notably Swan Lake for the Sadler's Wells Ballet in 1943, a production which stayed in the repertoire for thirty years; Venice Preserv'd for Peter Brook (1953); the Ring Cycle at Covent Garden (1954), and Troilus and Cressida at Stratford for Peter Hall (1960), famous for being staged in a sand pit. Leslie Hurry’s designs for The Queen of Spades were criticised for their lack of colour, and for failing to convey the lavish dress and wealth of aristocratic society in eighteenth century St Petersburg. The Sunday Times, however, considered the sets ‘harmoniously coloured’ and ‘suitably uncluttered and oppressive’ and a reviewer writing for The Times found the costumes of Russian officers in the gambling scene particularly 'appealing'.

Given by Caro Rathbone

Location: In Storage

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