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234th Season

Mariinsky II (New Theatre)

4 April
2021 | Sunday
Days of Stravinsky: Symphony in Three Movements. Jeu de cartes. Pulcinella
Artists Credits
Choreography by Ilya Zhivoi (revisions)

Symphony in Three Movements

Music by Igor Stravinsky
Choreography by Radu Poklitaru
Set and Costume Designer: Anna Matison
Lighting Designer: Alexander Sivaev
Video Graphics Designer: Alexander Kravchenko
Assistant Choreographer: Sergei Kon

Using a symphony in ballet is a 20th century innovation. The impulse for the worldwide dissemination of the genre of the dance symphony came with a production by Fyodor Lopukhov in Petrograd in 1923 with a ballet set to the music of Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony. George Balanchine, who took part in that avant-garde production, took up the idea of the plastique interpretation of the complex musical format, developing his artistic credo as a choreographer thus: “You see the music and you hear the dance.” Inspired by the nature of pure dance he rejected any plot and superfluous psychology, behind his movements there were no human passions, there was just the music, its rhythm and structure defining the development of the choreographic image. Following the same lines, in 1972 Balanchine created his first dance version of the score of Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements. And yet there was another path in the emergence of symphonic dance. In the 1930s the choreographer Léonide Massine brought to life a whole series of symphonic ballets in which, avoiding fairy-tale narrative in a sequence of allegories and metaphors he narrated dance stories. The path chosen by Radu Poklitaru for his production of Symphony in Three Movements at the Mariinsky Theatre is close to Massine’s. In his production one can see a plot with a beginning, peripeteia and dénouement. The images conceived by the choreographer blend together with Stravinsky’s idea: the composer admitted that the third movement of his Symphony was a response to documental chronologies of the war years with lines of marching soldiers, and later with Poklitaru, it would seem, the troops come on-stage in the finale, without succumbing to the aggression of the first two movements...
Olga Makarova

Premiere: 30 December 2015, Mariinsky Theatre

Age category 12+

Jeu de cartes

Music by Igor Stravinsky
Choreography and Set Design by Ilya Zhivoi
Costumes Designer: Sofia Vartanian
Lighting Designer: Konstantin Binkin
Video Designer: Sergei Rylko

When creating the ballet’s concept, we rejected direct references to the theme of a casino or card games, otherwise it would have been too easy. This concerns everything: the sets and the costumes. But neither did we entirely exclude that element, in the production there are references to Stravinsky’s libretto, and the structure of the score has been retained.
The ballet Jeu de cartes speaks to the audience not about poker, but about the relationships between the three protagonists. It is playing in a love triangle, where the Queen, the King and the Joker are normal, everyday people, but each of them has, apropos, as they do in the card game, their own value and purpose.
We were inspired by canvases of Rothko, hence the minimalism of detail, the geometry in the decorative design and the intense colours of the costumes. Neither did we forget contemporary technology – the plot is accompanied by video design and an intensive lighting range, while the evening’s protagonists are stars of the Mariinsky Ballet whose talent will be the main focus of the action.
Ilya Zhivoi

Premiere of Igor Stravinsky's ballet choreographed by George Balanchine – 27 April 1937, American Ballet, Metropolitan Opera, New York
Premiere of the ballet choreographed by Ilya Zhivoi – 30 April 2019, Mariinsky Theatre

Running time 25 minutes

Age category 6+


Ballet with Song in One Act
Music by Igor Stravinsky

Choreography and Set Design by Ilya Zhivoi
Costumes Designer: Sofia Vartanian
Lighting Designer: Konstantin Binkin

Pulcinella is a witty and jokester character of commedia dell'arte. Sergei Diaghilev granted this eccentric comedian a permanent residence at the music theatre. It was according to his request that Igor Stravinsky carried out his first discovery of the past and composed a score about the tricks of the commedia dell'arte character based on the music of Pergolesi and other composers of the 18th century. Stravinsky arranged the old music with his harmonies, but he said with modesty that “the remarkable thing about Pulcinella is not how much but how little has been added or changed.” For the choreographer Ilya Zhivoy, who presented his Pulcinella as a part of The creative workshop of the young choreographers, it was the music that determined the staging of this ballet. “Music in Pulcinella struck me as drastically different from Stravinsky’s other works (and I have heard almost all of his music written for theatre). – Ilya Zhivoi said. – I dreamt of staging a narrative ballet — and I did not have any prior experience of working with a piece of literature, with characters and personalities, — but I read the libretto of Pulcinella only after I had been inspired tov stage a production by the music.” The choreographer characterized his idea: “I really wanted to stage an airy, cheerful, and colourful ballet, which you can come to see with your family to have a good laugh.”

Performances of the work are given by permission of Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers Limited

Premiere of Igor Stravinsky's ballet choreographed by Léonide Massine – 15 May 1920, Ballets Russes de Serge Diaghilev, Grand Opéra, Paris
Premiere of the ballet choreographed by Ilya Zhivoi – 11 July 2018, Mariinsky-II

Running time 40 minutes

Age category 6+

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