Prokofiev’s Cinderella choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky, good and sincere story of Cinderella, Prince, Love and basic values of Life, was premierred at the Mariinsky Theatre in March 2002.
At the time, Ratmansky was a little-known figure: a Bolshoi-trained dancer who had worked for several western companies and was launching his career as a choreographer. A decade later he is the world's most influential ballet-maker, credited with revitalising classical dance through a series of highly individual productions.
His Cinderella is an uneven work which shows evidence of the choreographer's struggle to reconcile highly diverse elements.
The Copenhagen Post: "Ratmansky’s production is attractive for its light and playful atmosphere, its irony and its self irony. The choreography successfully combines good traditions with inventiveness. A healthy sense of humour guarantees a “democratic feel” and intelligibility to the performance, the thirst for the acting finds a joyous response from the performers, and the exaggerated attention to stylistics gives the ballet a western gloss."
Libretto: Nikolai Volkov after motifs from the fairytale: Charles Perrault
World premiere: 21 November 1945, Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow (choreography by Rostislav Zakharov)
Premiere at the Kirov Theatre: 8 April 1946 (choreography by Konstantin Sergeyev)
Premiere of Alexei Ratmansky`s version: 5 March 2002
Music For Ballet:
Cinderella’s morning begins with sisters’ angry tricks and quarrels as usual. Only mice in the kitchen feel sorry for the girl, and her Father secretly from her Step-mother gives her wooden shoes. Her mother used to wear them. But peevish Step-mother doesn’t let her husband to spend time with his daughter. Only being alone, Cinderella sees a beggar at the fire-place. Where is she from? The girl feels sorry for the old woman and gives her shoes to her.
Cinderella’s sisters are getting ready for the ball. They try dresses, quarrelling and envying each other’s clothes. The quarrel is interrupted by the Ball Organizer. The sisters are bad at dancing lessons, but Cinderella repeats all exercises easily and with grace. It causes envy of Sisters and Step-mother’s anger. She demands her money for dancing lessons back from the Teacher.
Cinderella sees her Father for the ball and imagines herself a princess. Father catches the game and pretends being the prince. But her Step-mother appears and forces her husband to leave. Cinderella stays alone and cries.
Suddenly the kitchen is filled with strange light and the girl sees old beggar. Funny little people peep from the fire-place – they are dwarves. Old dress falls down from the woman – and Cinderella sees a miraculously wonderful Fairy. There are four more Fairies of the Season with a suite of dwarves-months with her. The Spring Fairy gives Cinderella a wonderful dress, made of golden and silver brocade, decorated with precious stones. The Summer Fairy turns mice and rats into brave postilion and a pair of fast horses. The Autumn Fairy turns a pumpkin into a gorgeous carriage, and the Winter Fairy gives Cinderella a diamond crown and a sparkling cloak. But the best present is made by the main Fairy – it is porcelain shoes. The girl recognizes the Christian Mother in her.
The Fairy warns Cinderella strictly, that she should return home before midnight. Otherwise her splendid dress will turn into and old dress again, horses will become mice, and the carriage – the pumpkin.
Guests are gathering to the ball at the King’s palace. Noble princes from far off countries – Spain, China and Chukot – are among them.
There are a lot of beauties at the ball. But the one, who has entered the last, is the most charming. She has a gorgeous dress on, but it’s not the dress, that attracts everybody. It’s a strange girl herself. She radiates kindness and tenderness. Surely, it’s Cinderella.
All the guests are eager to dance with the beauty and give her rich presents.
The Prince suggests the girl his heart and sole. Beloved seem to fly into a magic garden – a permanently wonderful garden of the Seasons.
Suddenly the clock strikes twelve. The ball is over for Cinderella. She rushes from the palace, dropping a tiny shoe.
Even the Prince, who holds this tiny finding, can’t recognize his vanished beloved in a poorly dressed girl.
The Prince does his best to find the beautiful stranger. But not a single shoe-maker can say what a skillful master has made this unusual porcelain shoe.
The Prince leaves for far off countries, hoping to find his beloved there. But one misfortune follows the other – the porcelain shoe is small both Spanish and Chinese princesses. And far off the Chukot prince suggests the Prince marring his bride – according to the ways of his country. He is so sorry for his friend! But the Prince needs the only girl in the world – the one, whom the shoe will match. The Prince makes up his mind to return home.
A porcelain shoe – it’s the only thing, left to Cinderella after the magic ball. In her dreams she dances again and she is happy again. Her Step-mother and sisters break her dreams.
Cinderella’s father doesn’t want to suffer his wife’s and her daughters’ cruelty. He makes an attempt to force the sister sweep the floor. A terrible quarrel seems to be inevitable. Suddenly the Prince with his suite appears at the door. He has been to dozens of houses, trying to find his bride. Now it’s the turn of Cinderella’s father.
The Step-mother and the sisters are out of their minds with the attempts to put on the shoe. The Step-mother is ready to shorten her foot. Trying to stop her, Cinderella drops the other porcelain shoe. The Prince sees his beloved.
And than the merriest and the most gorgeous wedding was held!