St Petersburg, Mariinsky Theatre


ballet set to music by Valery Gavrilin


Anyuta: Renata Shakirova
Pyotr Leontievich: Alexander Sergeev
Artynov: Roman Belyakov
Student: Alexei Timofeyev
Modest Alexeyevich: Vladimir Shklyarov

Students of the Vaganova Ballet Academy

Premiere: 21 January 1986, Teatro San Carlo, Naples
Premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre: 8 December 2023, Mariinsky Theatre

Running time 2 hour 10 minutes
The performance has one interval

Age category 12+


Music by Valery Gavrilin
Libretto by Alexander Belinsky and Vladimir Vasiliev after the story Anna on the Neck by Anton Chekhov

Musical Director: Valery Gergiev
Production Choreography: Vladimir Vasiliev
Set and costume Designer: Victor Volsky
Lighting Designer: Alexander Naumov
Video Designer: Alexei Khoroshev


Act I
Following his wife’s untimely death, Pyotr Leontievich, a school teacher in a provincial town, is left caring for their three children – a grown-up daughter, Anna (Anyuta) and two young sons, Petya and Andryusha. Pining for his dearly loved wife, Pyotr Leontievich takes to drowning his sorrows in vodka.
An elderly civil servant, Modest Alexeyevich, woos Anyuta. She accepts his proposal hoping that, by marrying him, she will break free from her miserable, uneventful life, on the brink of starvation, and save her family from poverty.
Anyuta ends the relationship with her first love, a poor student and, after the wedding, moves into Modest Alexeyevich’s house. Very soon she realizes that everything she hoped for will never come to pass. Her husband is mean, cold and pragmatic, and has no intention of helping his wife’s family.

Act II
The Christmas holidays are approaching and at a ball, which is part of the festive celebrations, Anyuta’s youthfulness, intelligence and beauty win the hearts of all the men in the room.
They all compete for the attention and affection of Modest Alexeyevich’s young wife. A wealthy landowner Artynov, army officers and, finally, His Excellency himself, are infatuated with Anyuta. They are willing to do whatever it takes to please her. Anyuta’s head is spinning from such an unexpected, whirlwind success.
The attentions and love from the male members of the upper crust of society in the provincial town, help Anna to forget all her troubles – her much-hated and de- tested husband, her father losing himself to drink, her poor starving brothers and even her once, much loved, student.
Modest Alexeyevich immediately realizes he stands to gain from his wife’s popularity and encourages her love affairs. His career and social status come first for him. In a short while, he is awarded the Order of Saint Anna and is looking forward to new favours from his wife’s suitor.
Pyotr Leontievich is declared bankrupt. The few possessions he has left are confiscated. On a frosty night, Pyotr Leontievich and his children are thrown out onto the streets…
At the town skating rink, a carefree Anyuta, surrounded by amorous suitors, is enjoying herself. Led by her admirers, she sweeps past her father and brothers, failing to notice them. A homeless Pyotr Leontievich and his children silently watch her go by.

On 8 and 9 December the Mariinsky Theatre's historic stage hosted the premiere of the ballet Anyuta. The plot of Anton Chekhov's short story Anna on the Neck has come to life in a choreographic realization, co-created by Vladimir Vasiliev.
The Anyuta ballet first captivated audiences not in a theatre but on television, marking a unique biography as it was perhaps the only ballet in history to transition from screen to stage. The teleballet's concept originated from Leningrad director and screenwriter Alexander Belinsky, who proposed the idea to Vladimir Vasiliev to choreograph and co-direct. Their collaboration began with selecting various compositions by Valery Gavrilin for the teleballet and developing its script. Filming took place at "Lentelefilm", involving Leningrad artists from the Leningrad Academic Maly Opera Theatre (MALEGOT), several soloists from the Kirov Theatre, and the astonishing Ekaterina Maximova in the leading role. This teleballet, tailored for and around her, premiered in 1982 immediately winning popularity and love from viewers, earning numerous awards and prizes, and was showcased in various countries. Upon seeing the teleballet on Italian television the director of Naples' San Carlo Theatre suggested Vasiliev adapt it for the theatrical stage. The transformation of Anyuta into a stage version required extensive work: the script was revised, Gavrilin's music was added, and new scenes emerged. However, the essence of the ballet remained the same in the stage version: a lyrical and dramatic action expressed through choreography where each mise-en-scène and every movement are dramatically motivated. The performers are expected to demonstrate not only dancing technique but also high acting skills.
The world premiere of the ballet took place in Italy in 1986 achieving tremendous success, which was soon replicated at the Bolshoi Theatre and subsequently in many theatres across Russia and abroad. Today, over a dozen Russian cities and the Bolshoi Theatre of Belarus boast their own productions of Anyuta.
In Saint Petersburg this ballet, long since a classic, was staged for the first time finally returning to its alma mater at the historic stage of the Mariinsky Theatre. "I believe it is important for ballet artists to have the opportunity to engage with Chekhov and Gavrilin on stage, to personally feel and convey to the audience the exquisitely subtle sensation of goodness and beauty inherent in these authors," notes Vladimir Vasiliev.

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