Tsar Kandavl or Le Roi Candaule  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Tsar Kandavl; AKA Le Roi Candaule (King Cadaules) is a Grand ballet in 4 Acts-6 Scenes, with choreography by Marius Petipa, and music by Cesare Pugni. Libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges, based on the history of King Candaules the Ruler of Lydia, as described by Herodotus in his Histories. From this work is derived the famous Diane and Actéon Pas de Deux (AKA the Diana and Acteon Pas de Deux).

First presented by the Imperial Ballet on October 17/29 (Julian/Gregorian calendar dates), 1868 at the Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia. Principal Dancers - Henriette D'or (as Queen Nisia), Felix Kschessinsky as (King Candaules/Tsar Candavl), Lev Ivanov (as Gyges), and Klavdia Kantsyreva (as Claytia)


  • Revival by Marius Petipa for the Imperial Ballet, with additional music and adaptations to Pugni's score by Riccardo Drigo. First presented at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre on April 9/21, 1903. Principal Dancers - Julia Sedova (as Queen Nisia), Pavel Gerdt (as King Candaules/Tsar Kandavl), Gyorgii Kiaksht (as Gyges), Nadezhda Petipa (as Claytia), and Evdokia Vasilieva (as Pythia).


  • Tsar Kandavl/Le Roi Candaule was produced with the utmost splendour and opulence, achieving a resounding success with its first twenty-two performances, and going on to break attendance records at the Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre. The ballet's setting in the ancient Lydian Empire (in what is today Turkey's modern provinces of İzmir and Manisa) justified the most lavish décor and costumes, with Petipa demonstrating his skill at staging a Ballet à Grand Spectacle. One celebrated passage was the opening Grand Procession of Act II-Scene 1 in which King Candaules and Gyges made their entrance in a golden chariot drawn by two white horses, followed by Queen Nisia, who made her entrance atop an elaborately decorated elephant, and then followed a massive procession of 200 participants (Petipa would later stage a similar Grand Procession in his 1877 La Bayadère). The ballet's pièce de résistance was Petipa's Pas de Venus and the final Grand Pas known as the Grand Pas Lydian, both of which were hailed unanimously by the critics and balletomanes as masterworks of classical choreography. Often these pieces were extracted from the full-length work to be performed independently.
  • For his revival of 1903 Petipa added new material to the ballet, all set to new music adapted by Riccardo Drigo from Pugni's original score of 1868 - for the celebrated Pas de Venus Petipa added a new Adagio as well as a new dance for Cupid, the Nymphs, and Satyrs. He then added new variations to Drigo's music for the Pas de Trois of the Three Graces, and completely rechoreographed the scene The Baths of Queen Nisia. Another celebrated passage was the Pas de Diane (or Les Amours de Diane), which Petipa also revived in 1903 with new music by Drigo adapted from Pugni's original.
  • The Variation of Queen Nisia from the Pas de Venus from Pugni's score for Tsar Kandavl/Le Roi Candaule is today danced as a variation for the character Gamzatti during the Grand Pas d'action of the ballet La Bayadère. It is performed in a revision created in 1947 by the balletmaster Pyotr Gusev of Petipa's choregraphy.
  • Tsar Kandavl/Le Roi Candaule was performed by the Imperial Ballet for the last time on September 2, 1923. The hardships brought upon the Russian ballet as a result of the Russian Revolution of 1917 incidentally caused many works to leave the stage forever. Although the full-length work was no longer performed, many of the various Pas and incidental dances continued being performed for various galas, etc.

The Diane and Actéon Pas de Deux

Another of the celebrated passages of Le Roi Canadule was the divertissement known as the Pas de Diane, or Les Amours de Diane, from the Act IV-Scene 2 Grand divertissement.

It is a common misconception that the famous Diane and Actéon Pas de Deux—which was fashioned from this Pas de Diane—was originally created for Petipa's 1886 revival of Jules Perrot's La Esmeralda. In modern times the Diane and Actéon Pas de Deux has become a popular piece in the repertory of ballet companies, as well as ion the ballet competition circuit, and through this the misconception of its origins has spread from source to source.

For his revival of Le Roi Candaule in 1903, Petipa completely revised much if his choreography for many of the famous pas from the ballet. Among the pieces Petipa revised was the Pas de Diane. Not only did Petipa create new choreography for the piece, he also called upon the composer Riccardo Drigo to revise Cesare Pugni's original music.

In Petipa's version, the Pas de Diane was a Pas de Caractère based on characters taken from Greek mythology. The original pas consisted of the characters Diana (or Artemis) the virgin goddess of the hunt, Endymion the mythological hunter, a Satyr, and eight nymphs. Petipa fashioned the Pas de Diane as a classical Pas de Trois - consisting of a short Entrée, a Grand Adagio for the three soloists and the eight nymphs (female members of the corps de ballet), a dance for the eight nymphs and the Satyr, variations for Diane and Endymion, and a Grand Coda.

In 1931 the great Russian pedagogue Agrippina Vaganova resurrected Petipa's 1903 version of the Pas de Diane, which she interpolated into her 1935 revival of Petipa's version of La Esmeralda for the Kirov Ballet (the former Imperial Ballet). For reasons not fully understood, in Vaganova's version the character of Endymion was changed to Actéon - a change that is rather incorrect with regards to the actual myth and Petipa's original scheme (in the myth Actéon looks upon Diane's virgin body while she is bathing with her nymphs. As punishment for this, Diane takes away his powers of speech. She punishes him further by adding the condition that should he attempt to speak, he shall be turned into a deer. Upon hearing the calls of his own hunting party, he does attempt speech, and is thus transformed. His dogs then attack and kill him).

Vaganova re-fashioned Petipa's choreography as a Pas de Deux, and increased the number of nymphs from eight to twelve. The dancers Galina Ulanova and Vakhtang Chabukiani were the first to perform Vaganova's new version of the piece, which was retitled as the Diane and Actéon Pas de Deux. Today Vaganova's Diane and Actéon Pas de Deux is a major repertory staple with ballet companies all over the world (outside of Russia the piece is most often performed simply as a Pas de Deux, without the corps de ballet), and is the only surviving piece from the ballet Tsar Kandavl/Le Roi Candaule in performance.

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