PARIS 1617 -- DURAND, Etienne (1590-1618). Discours au vray du ballet dansé par le Roy, le dimanche XXIXe iour de ianvier. M. VI.c XVII. Avec les desseins, tant des machines & apparences differentes, que de tous les habits des Masques. Paris: Pierre Ballard, Imprimeur de la Musique du Roy, 1617.
4o (223 x 167 mm). Collation: A-H4 I2. With 13 full-page etchings of ballet scenes, printer's woodcut device, initials, head- and tail-pieces; 12 pages of typographic musical notation. Jansenist citron morocco, gilt rolls and fillets on turn-ins, marbled endpapers, gilt edges, bound by ÉMILE MERCIER, successor to Francisque Cuzin. Provenance: Alfred Cortot (1877-1962, French pianist and conductor, collector of autograph and printed music; bookplate and green collector's stamp); Otto Haas (sold to Gourary 1975).
EXTREMELY RARE FIRST EDITION of the celebrated French court ballet, La Délivrance de Renaud, which was based on Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata, with KING LOUIS XIII (as the Demon of Fire) and CHARLES D'ALBERT, DUC DE LUYNES (as Rinaldo) dancing the lead roles. The ballet was conceived by Durand, with music and verse by René Bordier, Pierre Guédron, Antoine Boësset (1585-1643) and others. "The King and his suite entered the Louvre's Salle Bourbon around eleven at night. There were maddening delays. He started the performance at two-thirty a.m.; it lasted until five in the morning. The big room was hazy with drifting smoke from lamps and torches, which added a fortuitous magic to fresh paint, embroidery, and gilding, on scenery, armor, and fountains... Costumes were heavily embroidered, brocaded, padded -- unsuitable for quick movement. Renaud was notable for its new system of changing scenery: painted panels were moved onto a fixed frame in slots; the central unit revolved on a small turntable" (Lincoln Kirstein, Four Centuries of Ballet. Fifty Masterworks, Dover 1984, p. 63).
The fine etchings follow the performance with much detail. The political implications of the ballet, however, have been variously interpreted, from the young king's assertion of independence and authority to a political identity of ambiguity and contradiction. RISM Recueils imprimés (1960) p. 459 records 3 copies in Paris (BnF, Conservatoire, Institut de France), one in Troyes, and one in the Houghton Library at Harvard, to which a copy may be added in the Staatliche Bibliothek des Kunstgewerbemuseums (Berlin 4111). No auction records. Margaret McGowan, L'Art du ballet de cour en France (CNRS 1963) ch. VI.