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234th Season

Main Stage

24 September
2019 | Tuesday
Stars of the Stars
Evening of one-act ballets by Michel Fokine: Petroushka. Carnaval
Ballet in 3 acts
Artists Credits
Maestro Valery Gergiev, Musical Director

Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes



Music by Igor Stravinsky
Choreography by Michel Fokine (1911)

Libretto, sets and costumes by Alexandre Benois
Musical Director: Valery Gergiev
Staging by Gary Chryst
Revival Designer: Batozhan Dashitsyrenov
Lighting design: Vladimir Lukasevich
Coach: Igor Petrov


During Shrovetide celebrations in the booth is given representation. Three dolls – Moor, Ballerina and Parsley – first dance for the audience, and then to the audience. The Ballerina, light flirt, dance with the one, then the other.
Pitiful, lonely Parsley in love with the Ballerina, and is jealous of her to the narcissistic and stupid Moor. Ballerina indifferent to Petrushka. Magician cruel to him. Petrushka tries to stop flirting Ballerina with Moor, but he drives it. Pursuing Petrushka, he sees beyond the shed and in front of the crowd walking accident kills an opponent. They call the policeman. But the magician appears and tells the audience that it is only the death of the dolls, not more. It shows a body stuffed with sawdust Parsley. All odds. Suddenly, in the silence of a piercing scream. Moonlight on the roof of the shed there is parsley, which threatens his fists to his tormentors.


I discovered the wonderful music for this ballet once it had already been completed by Stravinsky and the ballet's plot, created together with Alexandre Benois, was completely ready. I entered a collaboration with the composer and the designer when they had already created the plot's protagonists and the main line of its development. Nevertheless, when I say "my ballet Pétrouchka", when I say that it is one of my most successful achievements, one of my most significant productions, I feel I have every right so to do.
The ballet Pétrouchka may be spoken of as a dramatic musical opus by Igor Stravinsky which holds an exceptional place in new music. The ballet Pétrouchka may be spoken of as one of the very best works by the designer Benois. The ballet Pétrouchka may be spoken of as a Fokine production that is one of the fullest embodiments of ballet reform. In this case, there was no collaboration in the sense of us all working together at the same time, the joint work of the composer, choreographer and designer. It was not at all like working on The Fire Bird when Stravinsky played the music for me at the very outset of its creation and I tried to convey to him every instant of the ballet and excite his imagination with the scenes that I saw so clearly. Here the work followed an entirely different scheme. The composer dealt with his task, and only then did I approach my own. (…) We both spoke of the sufferings of Pétrouchka in our own language: Stravinsky through sounds and I through gestures. (…)
The thing that touches me in the music of Pétrouchka is the characters of Pétrouchka and the Moor. Not because the cries of the oboe so closely resemble the nasal voice of puppeteer who accompanies the movements of Pétrouchka the puppet through silly cries through his nose. Mozart said that the most dreadful situations should be conveyed in such a manner that the music soothes the ears. Pétrouchka is an example of how, tormenting the ears, one can caress the soul. It sits well with me. I can't express how wonderful it is for me that the composer found those sounds, those combinations of sounds and timbres that depict before my eyes the image of the loving, downtrodden and forever miserable Pétrouchka. Now, when I choose these words to describe what Pétrouchka is, I feel how inadequate words are and how helpless I am, and value all the more the eloquence of the music and the gestures.
The entire image of the Moor embodies blunt self-satisfaction. A voluptuous lucky man. A favourite child of Fate. Everything in him is foolish. The sounds that Stravinsky do not caress the ears. There is no melody that provides pleasure. No-one would ever think of singing the Moor's melody for their own pleasure. To a large extent, it is barking, snorting or bass pizzicatos. But each integral image is formed in the imagination. It is such a joy that the character is so accurately expressed.
Michel Fokine. Extract from the book "Against the Tide"

World premiere: 13 June 1911, Les Ballets Russes de Serge Diaghilev, Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris
The premiere of this production: 6 February 2010, Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg

Running time: 40 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 Léon 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. Voilà! 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.


Staged in 1910 for a charitable evening, choreographer Michel Fokine and designer Léon Bakst’s Le Carnaval entered the annals of ballet history as a delightful stylisation of commedia dell'arte to music by Schumann. Fokine was inspired to create the production through his familiarity with the real-life peripeteia of the composer, finding a response in pieces from the piano cycle Le Carnaval. The duplicity of Schumann's spirit was reflected in the images of the fervent Florestan and the sentimental Eusebius, the beautiful Estrella brought to mind the composer's fascination with Ernestine von Fricken, and the coquettish Chiarina embodied his love for his future wife Clara Wieck. In Schumann's pieces there was also room for Fokine's beloved ideas of the struggle with philistines, adherents of the old traditions of art. "From all this, from the titles indicated in the sheet music – ‘Harlequin', 'Columbine', 'Pantalone', 'Pierrot' and 'Butterfly’ – I immediately saw a ballet scene,” the choreographer recalled, "It is a series of individual characteristics, mutually linked by the constant appearance of the deadbeat Pierrot, the humorous Pantalone and the always victorious-over-all Harlequin with his pranks and escapades. The brief plot surrounding the love between Harlequin and Columbine, the failures of Pierrot and Pantalone – all of this was literally improvised during rehearsals. The ballet was staged after three rehearsals..." One witness of the first performances of the ballet thus described the harmony of the characters: "A jest, a prank, in combination with the athletic power of Harlequin are reconciled in the tenderness" of his partner Columbine. In the series of enchanting scenes the charm depended on small, imperceptible and fleeting gestures, crafty smiles, coquettish flights and the "steely affectedness that conveys the age." The performers of this ballet did not have to dazzle with their technique in the complex dance passages, the main task of the dancers was to create an atmosphere of unforced play and levity. Famous dancers appeared in Le Carnaval in their day – Tamara Karsavina, Lydia Lopukhova, Leonid Leontiev and Vaslav Nijinsky. The role of Pierrot at the premiere was performed by the emergent stage director Vsevolod Meyerhold. Following the success of the ballet at its premiere, Sergei Diaghilev included it in his Saisons russes programme, in 1911 Le Carnaval was staged at the Mariinsky Theatre, and subsequently Fokine took it to theatres in Stockholm, Copenhagen, Buenos Aires, New York and numerous private theatre enterprises. In Russia, following many years of oblivion, in 1962 Konstantin Sergeyev restored Fokine's stylisation to the repertoire. And in 2008 the production took on a new life and today it delights audiences in reconstructed form after sketches by Fokine in a version by Sergei Vikharev.
Olga Makarova

Running time: 30 minutes

Mariinsky Theatre:
1 Theatre Square
St. Petersburg
Mariinsky-2 (New Theatre):
34 Dekabristov Street
St. Petersburg
Mariinsky Concert Hall:
20 Pisareva street
St. Petersburg

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