is the first of nine ballets designed by Dali to be produced in New York from 1939 to 1949. It was also his first set design for Les Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo. Dali was staying with Gabrielle Chanel in
Roquebrune when he met Leonide Massine's ballet company that was to leave Europe just before the war. He was presumably intrigued by the idea of working for Les Ballets Russes - as had Joan Miro
Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso
and many others before him.
Bacchanale received its world premiere as the middle part of a triple bill at the Metropolitan Opera House. It was preceded by Rouge et Noir, with designs by Henri Matisse
, and followed
by La Boutique Fantasque, designed by Derain. The production went subsequently on an extensive tour throughout the US. Dali chose the Venusherg music from Wagner's Tannhauser opera as the summit, as he expressed it, of
Wagner's theatrical ascension.
In the program Dali gives an account of his ballet: "The setting represents Mount Venus (the Venusberg near Eisenach), the background showing Salvador Dali's birthplace, the Ampurdan plain, in the center of which rises
the temple as seen in The Marriage of the Virgin by Raphael