El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat or Le tricorne) is a ballet by Manuel de Falla commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev and premiered complete in 1919. The story — a magistrate infatuated with a miller’s faithful wife attempts to seduce her — derives from the novella by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón (born in Granada) and has been traced in film several times, usually in Spanish. The music has these sections:

Introducción y escena — Introduction and Scene
La tarde — Afternoon
Danza de la molinera (Fandango) — Dance of the Miller’s Wife
Las uvas — The Grapes
Danza de los vecinos (Seguidillas) — Dance of the Neighbors
Danza del molinero (Farruca) — Dance of the Miller
Danza del corregidor — Dance of the Magistrate
Danza final (Jota)

During World War I Manuel de Falla wrote a pantomime ballet in two scenes and called it The Magistrate and the Miller’s Wife (El corregidor y la molinera). The work was scored for a small chamber orchestra and was performed in 1917.

Sergei Diaghilev, of the Ballets Russes, saw the premiere of El corregidor y la molinera and commissioned Falla to rewrite it. The outcome was a two-act ballet scored for large orchestra called The Three-Cornered Hat (El sombrero de tres picos). This was first performed in London at the Alhambra Theatre on 22 July 1919. Sets and costumes were created by Pablo Picasso. Choreography was by Léonide Massine. Diaghilev asked Falla to conduct the premiere but the composer felt he was not experienced enough to conduct a work so complex, and he handed the baton to Ernest Ansermet after one rehearsal.

There are many recordings of the complete ballet, as well as of the suites extracted from it. In the early 1960s, Ernest Ansermet, the original conductor of the work, recorded it in stereo for London Records (aka Decca). The music was played by the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, and the cante-jondo soloist was Teresa Berganza. It has also been recorded by such conductors as Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos and Jesús López-Cobos, and Leonard Bernstein has recorded the two suites from the ballet with the New York Philharmonic.

The original pantomime El corregidor y la molinera has been recorded by Josep Pons and Orquestra del Teatro Lliure for Harmonia Mundi.


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