St Petersburg, Mariinsky Theatre

Le Carnaval
 Schéhérazade 


Performers

Cast to be announced

Credits

Music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Scenario by Léon 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: Léon Bakst

SYNOPSIS

Shahryar 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 the Golden 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 it. But Shahryar has returned unannounced and bursts in upon the orgy. Slaughter follows and the revellers are indiscriminately cut down. 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.

ABOUT THE PRODUCTION

In the production of Schéhérazade, 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 Schéhérazade 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, Théâtre de l´Opéra, Paris
Premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre: 26 May 1994

Running time 45 minutes

Age category 6+

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