Everything Starts with a Wish in Everyone's Favorite Fairy Tale, 'Cinderella'

Everything Starts with a Wish in Everyone's Favorite Fairy Tale, 'Cinderella'
Oregon Ballet Theatre, Cinderella ball; photo by Blaine Truitt Covert
…Prokofiev's dark, Romantic score sweeps ballet and audience together.
Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times, 2014  

Cinderella, set to a luscious and haunting score by Sergei Prokofiev, is a tale that sparkles with heart and humor that takes the prize for dramatic poetry and is often an glittering alternative to The Nutcracker during the holiday season.

There are records of ballet versions of Cinderella being performed as early as 1813 in Vienna and 1822 in London, and of a notable production by Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, and Enrico Cecchetti for the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in 1893. Prokofiev had begun composition on the score for Cinderella in 1941 with librettist Nikolai Volkov (both guided by Charles Perrault's version of the story and influenced by Tchaikovsky's ballet scores) but because of the war and his opera War and Peace, the orchestration was not completed until 1944 when the definitive score for Cinderella was revealed.

Prokofiev dedicated his composition to Tchaikovsky, saying that he had structured Cinderella "as a classical ballet with variations, adagios, pas de deux…I see Cinderella not only as a fairy-tale character but also as a real person, feeling, experiencing, and moving among us. What I wished to express above all in the music of Cinderella was the poetic love of Cinderella and the Prince, the birth and flowering of that love, the obstacles in its path and finally the dream fulfilled." Escape to the world of Cinderella's fairy-tale narrative in these upcoming 2019 productions:

Matthew Bourne's reimagined production is set in the heart of the London Blitz. Cinderella lives in a world where moments of beauty and love are plucked from the verge of life and death, cherished as they may be the besieged inhabitants' last. Cinders is at the mercy of an entire family of step-siblings, including a couple of bumbling step-brothers, whilst her prince is a charismatic yet traumatized RAF pilot. With great attention to detail, Bourne's radical interpretation transports the audience to another world, culminating in a glittering ballroom scene set at the Cafe de Paris, the famous refuge of the Mayfair socialites destined for ruin in 1941. Kennedy Center, January 15-19, Washington, DC

Ben Stevenson's ballet brings Cinderella to life with both slapstick humor and lush romanticism. Stevenson's production is in the repertoire of Pennsylvania Ballet, Ballet San Antonio, English National Ballet, and Queensland Ballet. Keller Auditorium, February 16-23, Portland, OR

Be swept away by Edwaard Liang's enchanting new production for these two companies. "Liang's Cinderella includes the pratfalls that will tickle its youngest audiences, the romantic passages that will enchant the balletomanes, and enough promise to convince us the choreographer's shoe fits his foot stylishly."
Columbus Alive Ballet Met, April 12-14, Columbus, OH
Ballet Idaho, May 3-4, Boise, ID

Sir Frederick Ashton's masterpiece production (1948) often sets up striking tension between what we see and hear. Post-wartime restrictions had been lifted in 1948 which allowed the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden with enough resources for Ashton to realize a tribute to Petipa and experiment with his first full-length ballet. Ashton brought his very British flavor and humor to his production including stepsisters in travesty to honor pantomime tradition. In 1987 David Walker redesigned the Royal Ballet's production which was supervised by Ashton, only eight months before he died. This staging is in the repertoire of American companies including American Ballet Theater, Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Australian Ballet, and Ballet West. Boston Ballet, May 10-June 8, Boston, MA

Sir Frederick Ashton, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, and Margot Fonteyn, 1957


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