Russian Heritage: Prokofiev, Shchedrin, Shostakovich, and Ratmansky
9th January 2018
Gia Kourlas, The New York Times
Russian composers found inspiration for narrative-driven full-length ballet composition from Shakespeare's plays, aristocratic realist fiction writers, and Soviet folklore. Former director of the Bolshoi Ballet, and currently the Artist in Residence at American Ballet Theater, choreographer Alexei Ratmansky continues to create and revisit full-length productions with a distinct preference and loyalty to his fellow Russian composers that keep these classic scores alive in companies' repertoire worldwide.
Sergei Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet
Amidst warring families, arranged marriages, and untimely deaths, passion ignites in the opulent world of Renaissance Italy. Romeo and Juliet has captivated audiences for more than 420 years.
Prokofiev labored under exceptional difficulties in Soviet Russia when writing Romeo and Juliet, which underwent significant change before its opening with the Kirov Ballet in 1940 (the premiere was in Czechoslovakia in 1938). Despite this, the score is greatly loved and regarded as one of the most dramatically effective in the ballet repertoire. Memorable themes and leitmotifs establish and develop vivid characters while the score abounds in rich colors and brilliantly expressive melodies, as popular in the concert hall as in ballet.
Bolshoi Ballet trailer
Rodion Shchedrin: Anna Karenina
Widely regarded as a pinnacle in realist fiction, Tolstoy considered Anna Karenina his first true novel. Tolstoy's magnificent portrayal of an extraordinary and tormented woman who breaks all moral and social conventions with devastating consequences is set to Shchedrin's powerful 1972 score.
Shchedin composed Anna Karenina for his wife, the Bolshoi prima ballerina Maya Plisetskyaya, who recalled Pierre Cardin's reaction when she initially suggested he design one of her costumes: 'Cardin's eyes lit up like batteries. As if an electrical current passed through them'. Within a week he had created a design for Anna Karenina.
Mariinsky Theatre trailer
Dmitri Shostakovich: The Bright Stream
This comedic two-act ballet The Bright Stream premiered in Lennigrad in 1935 with a brightly appealing score by Shostakovich and choreography by Fyodor Lopukhov, then a famous, progressive figure in Russian ballet. Ratmansky recreated the ballet for the Bolshoi in 2003 and American Ballet Theatre premiered the production at the Metropolitan Opera House in 2011.
Bolshoi Ballet trailer
Enjoy our Prokofiev / Shchedrin / Shostakovich ballet playlist.