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Mariinsky II
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The Stars of the White Nights 2018
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15 August 2017 (Tue), 19:00 World famous Mariinsky Ballet and Opera - established 1783 - Classical Ballet Evening of one act ballets: Apollo. The Firebird.

Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes (till 20:50)

The performance has 1 intermission

Schedule for Evening of one act ballets: Apollo. The Firebird. 2018/2019

Composer: Igor Stravinsky

Orchestra: Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra
Ballet company: Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet

Classical Ballet in 2 act



Music by Igor Stravinsky
Choreography by George Balanchine (1928)
Libretto by Igor Stravinsky
Staging by Francia Russell
Original lighting design by Ronald Bates
Lighting: Vladimir Lukasevich

World premiere: 12 June 1928, Les Ballets Russes de Serge de Diaghilev, Théâtre Sarah Bernhart, Paris
Premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre: 26 January 1992
Premiere of last revived version at the Mariinsky Theatre: 30 April 1998

Running time 35 minutes

Apollo, the son of Zeus and Leto, achieves stunning levels of brilliance in dance and citherplaying. He is followed in his sequence of dance by his ever-present companions the three muses – Calliope (the muse of epic poetry), Polyhymnia (the muse of sacred hymns) and Terpsichore (the muse of dance). When Apollo, accompanied by his muses, appears on Mount Olympus everything around him falls silent in adoration of his divine art.

“I regard Apollo as a turning point in my life. In terms of discipline, restraint, the perpetual unison of sound and mood this score was a revelation for me. It seemed to be telling me that I didn’t have to use it all, that I could leave something out. In Apollo and all of the composer’s subsequent music it is impossible to imagine any one given extract to be an extract from another score. Each of them is unique, nothing can be replaced. I examined my own work in the light of that lesson.
It was when studying Apollo that I first understood that the gestures, like tones in music and shades in painting, find certain ‘native ties’ between themselves. Like any group they are subject to their own special laws. And the more solid the artist the more clearly he will understand and consider these laws. Starting with Apollo I developed my choreography along these lines, dictated by these mutual ties.
“Apollo has sometimes been criticised for its ‘lack of theatricality.’ It may be true that there is no vividly expressed story there (although there is a plotline that runs throughout). But its technique is that of classical ballet which in every sense is theatrical, and it is here that we see the start of the literal transformation of sound into visual movement.”

George Balanchine. The Dance Element in Stravinsky’s Music

The Firebird



Production Choreography — Eldar Aliev

Lighting Designer — Eldar Aliev

Set Designer — Semyon Pastukh 

Costume Designer — Galina Solovieva




Scene I


On the eve of the Feast of Love girls weave floral wreaths for their chosen ones. Their activity is interrupted by the arrival of a group of carefree and cheerful young men, one of whom, Ivan, stands out for due to his poetic character. His lyrical mood is transferred to his friends, and soon the atmosphere is saturated with love and tenderness. The boys and girls pair up and dance. At nightfall, at the end of the festivities, they disperse. Ivan is left alone.


Scene II


Overcome by strange anxiety and a foreboding sense that he is about to encounter something unknown, Ivan ventures deeper into the forest. Suddenly the young man is blinded by a miracle of fire. Rushing in pursuit of the vision, Ivan finds himself in a beautiful enchanted garden. The fantastical creature was the unearthly beautiful Firebird.


Scene III


Ivan secretly watches the Firebird. Just as she is trying to pluck a golden apple from one of the trees, he leaps from his hiding place and takes hold of her. Hoping to gain her trust he plucks the golden apple himself, and offers it to the magic bird. However, the Firebird whips it out of his hand and disappears in the blink of an eye. In desperation, Ivan rushes off in pursuit of her again.


Scene IV


Still secretly pursuing the Firebird, Ivan finds himself in the realm of the immortal Kastchei. An astonishing scene unfolds before Ivan’s eyes revealing the secret of a terrible enchantment. Kastchei has cast a spell on the Princess, with whom he is in love, and turned her into his captive. Every night she must turn into a wonderful Firebird, and fly out to bring the hated Kastchei a golden apple. After greedily scoffing the apple, Kastchei returns to life and vigor and turns the Firebird into a lovely Princess and begins to beseech her love. This magic is repeated every night and will continue until the Princess accepts Kastchei’s love. Only then will he lift the spell.


Waiting until Kastchei’s kingdom goes to sleep; Ivan makes his way to the Princess and proposes that they run away. The Princess refuses. If the plan fails, the next night she must become a Firebird forever. Ivan is willing to fight the evil creature, but the Princess cautions him for she knows Kastchei’s secret: he can only be killed by a miraculous sword, which is kept at the head of his throne. Ivan, risking his life, climbs without a moment’s hesitation up on the throne, grabs the miraculous sword and cuts off Kastchei’s head. The spell is broken! Joyous celebrations! The beautiful Princess is free.


Scene V


The Princess and Ivan find themselves amongst their friends, and are as happy as can be.




This music is burning, blazing, throwing of sparks, 

exactly what I needed for a fiery form of ballet. 

Ballet master Mikhail Fokine


St Petersburg at the turn of the 20th Century: Two law students and passionate art lovers, Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Diaghilev, begin professional music studies with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, as yet unaware that fate has prepared a glorious common future for them both.

On hearing Stravinsky’s first orchestral compositions Diaghilev, a well-known cultural figure and creator of the famous enterprise “Russian Seasons in Paris”, was enthralled and commissioned from him music for the ballet “The Firebird”. The outstanding choreographer Michel Fokine, working closely with Stravinsky, created a libretto drawn from several Russian fairy tales.

The premiere of “The Firebird” in 1910 at the Grand Opera was attended by the leading lights of Parisian culture: Marcel Proust, Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy Manuel de Falla and many others. It was met with great success, indeed, how could it have been otherwise!

The set and costume designs were created by great artists Léon Bakst and Alesander Golovin, the main role was danced by Tamara Karsavina and Mikhail Fokine himself. The music, programmatic and colourful, was full of contrasting orchestral effects.

The work opens with a dark ominous “creeping” motif representing the bewitched kingdom of Koschei, the “infernal dance of the kingdom of Kastchei, overflowing with wild inanimate force”.

The extremely dynamic dances of the Firebird, brilliant, fantastical and sparkling, and the tender and feminine “Round Dance of the Princesses” are based on Russian folk tunes. The music of Stravinsky is stunning, enrapturing and astounding!

In one day the little known Russian composer became famous. The “Firebird” with its flaming wings brought its creator GLORY and a fruitful partnership with Diaghilev that resulted in two further ballet masterpieces: “Petrushka” (1911) and “The Rite of Spring” (1913).


- Zoya Gumenyuk



World premiere: 25th of June 1910, Les Ballets Russes de Serge de Diaghilev, Théâtre de l´Opéra, Paris

Premiere on the Primorsky Stage of the Mariinsky Theatre: 20th of June 2016


Running time: 35 minutes

Schedule for Evening of one act ballets: Apollo. The Firebird. 2018/2019

The Firebird (Ballet)
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The Firebird (Ballet)

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