The Liceu presents ‘La noche de San Juan’ by Robert Gerhard, a new show choreographed by Antonio Ruz and co-produced with the Fundación Juan March

The night of San Juan is an unpublished ballet with music by Robert Gerhard, plot by Ventura Gassol and set design by Joan Junyer. The work, composed by being represented in Barcelona between 1936 and 1939, was not released due to the Civil War. Eighty years after its creation, the Liceu, in co-production with the Juan March Foundation, recover this work with a new dance show signed by the renowned choreographer Antonio Ruz, open to all audiences and ages and which will be presented for the first time in Barcelona from October 8 to 10.


On 8 October, the Gran Teatre del Liceu presents at the Foyer the production La noche de San Juan (Soirées de Barcelone), ballet with music by Robert Gerhard, scenography by Joan Junyer and plot by Ventura Gassol, which was unpublished in 1939 by the avatars of the Civil War. The work had been created in the heat of the dance fury of the early 20th century, against the background of the European image of an exotic Spain and the overwhelming success that Falla had achieved in this area. The exile of all the creators who participated in its gestation caused this extraordinary composition to be forgotten.


More than eighty years after its creation, the Juan March Foundation, in co-production with the Gran Teatre del Liceu, has recovered this ballet. One of the original sketches of Junyer’s scenography has been reproduced, his costumes have evoked the costume design and a new choreography by Antonio Ruz replaces the original by Léonide Massine, of which no notes are preserved. For this project, the Juan March Foundation and the Gran Teatre del Liceu have had the collaboration of the dancer and choreographer Antonio Ruz, who, in the text he writes for the notes to the production program, stands out, among the reasons that have led to accept the commission “the fact that it is a project to recover a forgotten repertoire, the unfavorable historical circumstances so that its premiere never took place, the constellation of great artists that make it up and the context of the Ballets Russes de Monte -Carlo and the modernist dancer and choreographer Léonide Massine, who drinks from popular rites and dances, as in some Stravinsky ballets “.


The musical interpretation is provided by the pianist Miguel Baselga, who starts from the original version for piano by Gerhard. The sets are reproductions of the original sketches made by Joan Junyer, who also made figurines, which he kept and was exhibited at the Art in Progress exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. The lighting is in charge of Olga García and the costumes, based on the original costumes, are signed by Rosa García Andújar.



Show for all audiences


After its premiere last June at the Juan March Foundation, the play can be seen for the first time in Barcelona from October 8 to 10. On Sunday, October 10 at 11 a.m., the Liceu programs a family function of the same show, a unique opportunity for the little ones to enjoy a dreamlike and magical dance proposal.




Based on the script by Ventura Gassol, the plot of La noche de San Juan is set in Isil, a small town in the Lleida Pyrenees near the border with France. Coinciding with the summer solstice and the feast of San Juan, the place hosts the Fallas de Isil, a ceremony to worship fire and its purifying sense of ancestral origin.


The first painting of the ballet (entitled “Los fuegos”) begins on the eve of San Juan. Coinciding with twilight, the villagers observe how the young people of the town, known as fallaires, descend the mountain (The multitude). Torches in hand, the young people enter the town in a procession accompanied by dwarves and devils (Procession – Dance of the dwarfs) until reaching the square with an intoxicating dance in which everyone participates (Meleì: the crowd dances with the dwarfs). The majorales, in charge of organizing the party, welcome them (Dance of the ‘majorales’). A competition begins then between the young people, who are throwing enormous logs in flames to the bonfire in the middle of the square (The bearers of torches). Beatas and majorales reward the winner with a bouquet of basil, the plant of love, and offer the others a glass of wine that everyone drinks following an ancient rite (Dance of the victor and Gallantry). The bells ring as the doors of the church are opened, and a procession of dwarfs and authorities comes out, watching a frenzied fire dance starring the devils around the bonfire (Dance of the ‘fallaires’). All the inhabitants of the town intoxicated, this ritual starts the festivities of the night of San Juan.


In the second painting (“Eros”), the enchantment of fire and the mystery of the night enraptured the crowd, who left the square silently (Nocturno). Young lovers, seduced by love, enter a misty forest full of fantastic beings in pairs (Dance of Seduction). The mischievous Cupid comes into action (Appearance of Cupid) and sensuality takes hold of the pair of lovers, who fall into a deep sleep. The goblins, druids and nymphs that populate the forest court the sleeping lovers and create a singular confusion between the magical world and reality, heightened by the mysterious gloom of the night (Dance of the spirits – The nymphs – The goblins). With the first rays of the sun, couples are awakened from the placid dream of love by the stern old men and the notaries, before being dragged to the village (The old men with the lanterns). At the end of the procession Cupid can be distinguished, who smiles wryly, satisfied with the success of his action (Couples and the elderly).


The last painting (“The wedding”) begins with dawn at the dawn of the new day. The town square is illuminated by a morning sun and shows a festive atmosphere. The doors of the church open and give way to the wedding procession with devils, dwarfs, married couples, the elderly, notaries and authorities. The Fandanguillo of the newlyweds begins, while Cupido can be seen in the rose window of the church. At the end of the dance, Cupido notices that they are the same couples surprised in the forest the night before by the elders and the notaries, and he breaks out laughing. The town seems to wake up from a dream and understand everything that the magical halo of the night of San Juan contains. Traversed by this vital impulse and infused by the joy of love, all dance a triumphant sardana (Sardana and Coda) that puts an end to the ballet.