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234th Season

Evening of one-act ballets: Chopiniana. Le Carnaval. Schehrazade




Music by Frederic Chopin
Scenario by Michel Fokine
Choreography by Michel Fokine (1908)
Revised version by Agrippina Vaganova (1931)
Set design based on original sketches by Orest Allegri


“In 1906, when rehearsing the production of the first version of Chopiniana performed to Glazunov’s orchestration of Chopin’s music, I created for Pavlova and Obukhov – my friend from the ballet school – a waltz in C Sharp Minor, which was specially orchestrated by Glazunov at our request as an addition to the suite.
The sylph – winged hope – flies into a romantic garden lit by the moon. She is followed by a young man. It was dancing in the style of Taglioni, in the style of that long-forgotten time when ballet was governed by poetry, when a dancer rose en pointe not to demonstrate the steel-like arch of her foot but in order to create the impression of lightness, barely touching the ground, something ethereal and fantastical. In this dance there is not one pirouette, not a single trick. But how poetic, how beautiful and how engaging was this duet in the air! The audience was enchanted, as was I. Pavlova made such a powerful impression on me that I wondered about staging an entire ballet in this style. And by the time her next gala performance came round I had created the ballet Les Sylphides. If, back then, she had not danced Chopin’s waltz so brilliantly, so enchantingly, I would never have created this ballet.”
Michel Fokine. Hightlights from the article Memoirs of a Ballet-Master

World premiere: 8 March 1908, Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg

Running time 35 minutes

Le Carnaval


Music by Robert Schumann (Le Carnaval, Op. 9, orchestrated by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Anatoly Lyadov, Alexander Glazunov, Nikolai Cherepnin, Anton Arensky)
Choreography by Michel Fokine
Set and Costume design by Lйon Bakst

The revival team:
Choreography staged by Sergei Vikharev
Sets reproduced by Mikhail Shishliannikov
Costumes reproduced by Tatiana Noginova
Lighting by Alexander Naumov and Mikhail Shishliannikov


Preambule. Carnival festivities.
Pierrot. Pierrot is sad.
Harlequin. The colourfully dressed Harlequin swoops down on Pierrot. Harlequin is in good spirits; Pierrot’s wretched looks make him laugh all the more. He sneers and gibes at the poor fellow and vanishes as quickly as he appeared.
Eusebius. Eusebius enters slowly. He is perturbed by the glitter and merriment of the carnival. He is looking for refuge. At the feast there was no girl he was interested in enjoying the amusements together with. Suddenly he meets a stranger such as can only be dreamed of. It is Chiarina. She is dancing on the stage and drawing Eusebius after her.
Florestan. The passionate Florestan runs in, looking for Estrella. Voilа! Estrella feigns disdain. Florestan throws himself at her, wishing to declare his love. Continuing to act hurt, Estrella turns away, but the insistent Florestan succeeds in getting her to dance with him.
Coquette. Chiarina appears again with flowers in her arms. She dances coquettishly, giving her arm to Eusebius, she kisses a flower, throws it to Eusebius and hides.
Papillon. Pierrot is lonely. Papillon flutters past and flits about the stage lighheartedly. Pierrot lies in wait for her. Papillon flaps her wings, trying to fly away. Pierrot, intent on catching her with his hat, takes aim and throws it. Pierrot thinks he has caught Papillon, and retrieves his hat. What a disappointment! Papillon is not there – she has flown away.
Chiarina. Agitated by the events, Chiarina and two friends run in. Chiarina, apparently, has already told them about her adventure with Eusebius.
Reconaissance. The carnival characters arrive. Colombine slips as she moves across the floor; the merry Harlequin grabs hold of her. The happy couple look for the chance to withdraw and share their emotions. Their first wish, when they see no-one is looking, is to kiss.
Pantalone and Colombine. Pantalone, an old man trying to act young, enters in a terrible rush. Colombine had appointed a rendezvous. The clock shows that the time has come, and this is the place appointed in the letter... But his lady is not there. Pantalone decides to wait. In impatience he reads the letter again. Someone’s tender hands cover his eyes and someone else’s grab the letter – Harlequin and Colombine have decided to amuse themselves with the comical old devotee.
Promenade. The lovers appear, couple after couple. They plan on being alone, but they meet others also looking for a quiet spot. Papillon flies in, followed by Pierrot. Pantalone is among the strolling lovers, still trying to find the unknown writer of the letter. She leads him to Harlequin and Colombine who are wrapped in a daydream. Pantalone’s behaviour enfuriates Harlequin. At the top of his voice he declares “Columbine and I are to marry.” Pantalone protests. Pierrot calms everyone down. “No quarrels or arguments. Pantalone and Harlequin – make peace.” Harlequin holds out his hand, and Pantalone reluctantly accepts it. The burst of merriment siezes everyone. In the carnival merriment only two are ill at ease – Pierrot and Pantalone. Columbine calls on Pantalone. He moves towards her. However, Harlequin throws him into the embraces of the gaping Pierrot and attaches Pierrot’s long arms to Pantalone’s back. The last bars of the carnival music can be heard and the curtain falls. Pierrot and Pantalone, cut off from the merriments behind the curtain, knock and bang, in vain begging to be let into the carnival.

Running time: 30 minutes



Music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Scenario by Lйon Bakst and Michel Fokine after Arabian Nights fairytales
Choreography by Michel Fokine (1910)
Reconstruction by Isabelle Fokine, Andris Liepa
Set and costume design by Anna Nezhnaya, Anatoly Nezhny after original sketches: Lйon Bakst


The harem of Shah Shahryar.
Shahryar, King of India and China, is angry because his brother Shakhezman has suggested that his wives are unfaithful to him. To test the harem Shahryar goes off on a hunting expedition.
Almost as soon as the court has departed the wives adorn themselves in jewels and bribe the Chief Eunuch to open the three doors which lead to the quarters where the male slaves live. Two doors are opened and the Chief Eunuch is about to leave when Zobeide, Shahryar’s favourite wife, demands that the third door also be opened. The Eunuch warns her against this, but with further bribes and pleas she insists. The door is opened and a Negro slave leaps through it to Zobeide’s side. They fall entwined upon the divan.
Food is brought in to musical accompaniment. Dancing begins, led by the Golden Slave, and Zobeide joins in. But Shahryar has returned unannounced and bursts in upon the orgy. Slaughter follows and the revellers are indiscriminately cut down. The Chief Eunuch is strangled. Shahryar kills Zobeide’s lover with his own hands. Only Zobeide remains. Preferring death to dishonour she faces the Shah and then, with a dagger she grabs from him, she takes her own life.


In the production of Scheherazade, for the first time I was fully able to achieve my principle of laying out the plot. <...> The plot and the emotions were expressed through poses and movement. No-one spoke with their arms. Can everything be conveyed without conditional gestures? No. But in Scheherazade everything is conveyed.
“<...> I know that they don’t dance like that in the East, they don’t live like that either. After the production, I made a study of authentic eastern dances. But I would never agree at any price to replace my dances with authentic ones. For those you need an authentic eastern orchestra. They would not be suitable for Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestration. The East, although based on authentic Arabian, Persian and Indian movements, was nevertheless an imaginary East.
Michel Fokine. Extract from the book Against the Current

World premiere: 4 June 1910, Les Ballets Russes de Serge de Diaghilev, Thйвtre de lґOpйra, Paris
Premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre: 26 May 1994

Running time 45 minutes

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