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The Great American Revue
That Bacchanale Rag
Layers on layers of references that could not fit into a caption:
The Passing Show of 1912 established the topical nature of Broadway revues. The authors, George Bronson-Howard and Harold Atteridge, combined references to contemporary politics, New York's cultural life, and both Broadway personalities and their fictional characters (in this case, producer/playwright David Belasco and Peter Grimm, a character that he wrote for David Warfield. Ned Wayburn, who served as both director and Dance Director codified his experiments with interpolation: staging cohesive sequences that allowed performers to present their specialties.
The show's Act I Finale, set in the Harem of Sewer-Man, parodied the play Kismet, with added text and visual references to Scheherazade and Sumurun.
I won't try to explain the plot, but at the end of the scene Ferusah, the Queen of the Harem, says: "Bring out all the choicest wines. Let in all the young men with vine leaves in their hair. Let us be worshippers of Bacchus, joyous and unrestrained," leading into the finale, "The Bacchanale Rag" (by Atteridge and Louis Hirsh). This is a great example of the sub-genre "Ragging the Classics" for which, in Atteridge's phrase, "Other writers will give brother writers inspiration, Handy opera will be dandy just for syncopation." The song, which puts words to the autumn section of Glazunov's The Four Seasons, led to a specialty in which a couple in Grecian tunics dance under a veil. The theater audience recognized it as a parody of Autumn Bacchanale, choreographed by Mikhail Mordkin for himself and Anna Pavlova, and a popular part of her touring repertory. Broadway satirist often picked on Mordkin, whose name inspired more puns than Volinine or Pavlova's other partners. The really knowledgeable would know that the ballet was, in turn, inspired by The Storm, an 1880 painting by Cot, which was commissioned by Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, current on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Gallery 800, the last gasp of Romantic realism before the Impressionist galleries).