Right beside the Art Gallery of Ontario is an art university that has an annual art sale, basically where the library decides to get rid of books that are still in very good condition but aren't as popular among the students. I came across this book at their winter sale last year and just from the cover knew I had to have it. It was a great deal too - only $20 for a book that was in an almost new condition, compared to the cover price of $79. I think it was the best book deal I have come across to this day.
The book is absolutely fantastic in every sense, and a true delight to any ballet enthusiast. As someone who was only vaguely familiar with Diaghilev and his contribution to the ballet world, I found myself to become something of a mini-expert by the time I finished reading this. The strong point of this book was that it covered the subject matter from every possible angle. Diaghilev's history and personality are explored and constantly revisited in order to deepen the reader's understanding on why he was so vital to the Ballet Russes as well as his contributions to the art world. The company itself is dissected and approached from the perspective of music, choreography, costumes, the way in which the adaptations were approached or how original story lines were written up, the blend of the different arts and the famous people that collaborated with the company. No questions were left unanswered, and even those I couldn't think of myself were answered before they could surface.
The quality is also top notch, from the quality of the paper to the design of the book itself, the photographs and images used heightening the visual appeal and adding that extra layer of understanding. The charts in the back that showed the years when the troupe was active and which countries and cities they traveled to perform in & what ballets were performed and when, was an incredibly effective and simple way of organizing all the complex information.
I was very impressed and pleased with this book, and this delight is only emphasized by the fact that I was lucky enough to buy the book at such a good price. This will be a wonderful addition in any book lover's collection, whether you simply love coffee table books, are a fan of ballet or Russian ballet specifically. It's more than just a book about that though. The ultimate success lies in the way which the authors demonstrated that art can transcend cultural boundaries and how collaborations between various artistic figures opens up possibilities that have, in my opinion, been forgotten lately.