Ballets Russes Italian Style (The Shortest Musical You Will Never See Again) is the name of the performance done by Lady Gaga with the Bolshoi Ballet on November 14, 2009. It was part of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) 30th anniversary gala. During that five-minute production number, Gaga debuted "Speechless" from her third album, The Fame Monster (2009).

Background[edit | edit source]

The museum asked artist Francesco Vezzoli to create the centerpiece of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art's 30th anniversary gala fundraiser.

They basically offered me a social ritual as a blank canvas to be turned into an artwork. Some artists might see this as a nightmare, but for me it’s like a surreal dream, and in true surreal style I wanted to mix together the youngest and most daring pop icon, Lady Gaga, with the oldest and most classically trained group of dancers in the world, the Bolshoi Ballet. The performance will take many references from Le Bal (1935), the only one of the Ballets Russes ever designed by Balanchine in collaboration with an Italian artist, the Surrealist Giorgio de Chirico. The output will be flawlessly imperfect and unpredictable, just like any overambitious happening should be.

—Francesco Vezzoli

Ballet Russe Italian Style[edit | edit source]

In the morning of the event on November 14, 2009, Gaga, Vezzoli and the Bolshoi Ballet dancers rehearsed only once because of the limited budget. Gaga wore spike-heel black patent-leather lace-up boots, paired with ripped fishnets, a studded leather vest, a black leotard slit to the navel, and sunglasses. Her hair was a tangle of white-blond cotton candy streaked with pink.

Pink grand piano with painted blue butterflies by Damien Hirst.

For the event, Damien Hirst customized Gaga's piano with butterflies and her hat was designed by Frank Gehry. Other contributions include masks created by director Baz Luhrmann and his wife, Catherine Martin, and costumes designed by Vezzoli and Miuccia Prada.

During the dinner, Gaga with Bolshoi Ballet dancers and Vezzoli performed "Ballets Russes Italian Style (The Shortest Musical You Will Never See Again)". Which consisted of Gaga debuting her ballad "Speechless" with Bolshoi Ballet dancers dancing around the piano and the stage. The performance took place in five minutes. During the musical, Vezzoli did a petit-point embroidery on a photograph of Gaga taken by Ben Duggan.

In February of 2010, Jonas Åkerlund released a trailer named "Ballets Russes, Italian Style — Coming Soon". The trailer includes rehearsal footage mixed with clip of the live performance. The film was directed by Akerlund and edited by Christian Larson.


MOCA - Lady Gaga

"Ballets Russes, Italian Style — Coming Soon" by Jonas Åkerlund.

It made sense, given Francesco’s taste for art , which has made use of fake movie posters and fake perfume campaigns. I thought it would be really cool to create a trailer of sorts for something that has already happened and will never happen again.

—Jonas Åkerlund to T, February 12, 2010

Set list
  1. "Speechless" (Acoustic)

Book[edit | edit source]

Ballet Russe Italian Style book.jpg

Titled "Francesco Vezzoli presents Ballets Russes Italian Style" (1935263161), it was designed by Goto Design, 45 pages in color and black and white. Released in conjuction with "Francesco Vezzoli: Sacrilegio" (February 5 - March 21, 2011) at New York's Gagosian Gallery. The hardcover includes the preparatory sketches for the piece, photographs of Gaga in the MoCA galleries and onstage, and the resulting Gaga-centric artworks that "borrow" liberally from Rodchenko, DeChirico, and others. It also covers the exhibition based on "Ballet Russe Italian Style" at the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow in 2010, which included a combination of video, petit-point embroidery, photography, costume design, and live performance. This publication documents this piece of performance art and the later exhibition, and includes the text of a conversation between Vezzoli and Klaus Biesenbach, Director of MoMA PS1.

Reference[edit | edit source]

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