Classical Ballet Boris Asafiev "Flames of Paris" (Ballet in three acts)|
World famous Bolshoi Ballet and Opera theatre (established 1776) - Small Stage
Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes
The performance has 1 intermission
Schedule for Boris Asafiev "Flames of Paris" (Ballet in three acts) 2014
Composer: Boris Asafiev
Director: Alexei Ratmansky
Choreography: Vasily Vaynonen
Ballet company: Bolshoi Ballet
Orchestra: Bolshoi Theatre Symphony Orchestra
Classical Ballet in 3 act
Premiere of this production: 03 July 2008 Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, Russia
Alexei Ratmansky’s new version
The Flames of Paris was first presented by Vasily Vaynonen at the Bolshoi in
1933, with decor by Vladimir Dmitriev, and Yuri Fayer conducting; the lead roles
were danced by Vakhtang Chabukiani and Marina Semyonova. Revived in 1947, with
Olga Lepeshinskaya, Alexei Ermolayev, Asaf Messerer and Sofia Golovkina, it was
awarded a USSR State prize. The last production was in 1960 and remained in the
repertoire till 1964.
The 20th century gave us the ballets of George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins,
Frederick Ashton, Roland Petit, John Neumeier, Twyla Tharp - and all these names
may be seen on Bolshoi billboards. (Along with the names of Christopher
Wheeldon, Declan Donnellan, Pierre Lacotte who, in the 21st century, created
productions specially for the Bolshoi Theatre). The 20th century, however, also
has a rich Soviet legacy which has been well and truly forgotten and not always
justifiably so. In many ballets of that time, after all, there were dances of
great beauty on which more than one generation of dancers and spectators were
brought up. Today there is a tendency throughout the world to return to
narrative ballet and therefore the revival of works by the outstanding Russian
20th century choreographers is more than fitting.
In Memoriam of the
Great French Revolution
Each of the Bolshoi Ballet's 'restoration'
projects has its own specific character. The present project, perhaps, is one of
the most interesting and unusual. The Flames of Paris belongs neither to the
pearls of the pure classics of classical dance (take, for instance, the recently
restored Le Corsaire), nor to the works of the Soviet period, which were
subjected to uncalled for attacks at the hands of the powers that be (take, for
instance, The Bright Stream). Though it did not disappear without trace, the
greater part of it has been lost…
Produced in the 30's of the last century in Leningrad, at
the then Kirov (today Mariynsky) Theatre, and soon transferred to the Bolshoi,
it was to become one of Stalin's - who was not a particular fan of this genre of
the performing arts - favorite ballets. The Flames of Paris was presented on the
eve of the anniversary of the October Revolution, and later continued to be
included in the ranks of works which were always brought out for an airing on
anniversaries of this sort. And this is hardly surprising, the flames of Paris,
after all, is about the conflagration of the great French Revolution. And it had
a new 'hero' type which, up to then, had not been encountered in ballet - one of
its main characters was the populace, revolutionary in mood and ready for
The 30's of the last century, saw the age of 'dramballet'.
Theatre directors actively collaborated with the choreographers. Dance was
called for only when justified by the development of the action. And the plot
unfolded via pantomime, various forms of 'walk' and other devices of the sort.
But Vasily Vainonen liked to mount dances and, since in his youth, he had been a
character (folk) dancer, gave his preference to this dance form. His The Flames
of Paris brought out on stage, virtually the whole Company and provided
first-rate material for a demonstration of the brilliant skills of the numerous
character dancers, there were also plenty of classical numbers to perform, both
from the point of view of dance and acting. The plot, moreover, made it possible
to avoid head-on collision with the canon of 'dramballet'. How, after all, if
not via dance, was the populace expected to express its emotions?
Alexei Ratmanky, who likes to play with styles, could hardly
have passed this title by. If it were not for Petipa, but also the achievements
of the Soviet choreographers, Russian ballet would not have secured the position
which it now occupies in the world. It is important to know one's history,
particularly as, if its 'lessons' are not heeded to, they only too easily
Delighting in Vainonen's rhythmically refined dance
combinations - his nickname was Vaska-the syncopator - Ratmansky has attempted
to make maximum use of the preserved fragments in his new ballet. Interwoven
into its fabric, are the Vainonen Basque dance, the Mireille and Antoine Mistral
pas de deux, the farandola, two carmagnoles and, of course, the famous Jeanne
and Philippe pas de deux, the perennially popular ballet competition and concert
Choreographic considerations apart, Alexei Ratmansky
was also motivated in his choice by 'ideological' factors. Perhaps, in our
fairly cynical age, it is worth remembering how the aspiration to "freedom,
equality and brotherhood" once had the power to bond people together. At any
rate, it remains one of the finest slogans in mankind's history. On 14 July each
year, the whole of France celebrates the anniversary of the great French
Revolution. And the Marseillaise has become the national anthem.
all that, a ballet is not a filmwhich cannot be modified and may be regarded,
should the wish so take one, as no more than a memento of the age. Theatre is a
live art. It demands dialogue, including dialogue with the 'original source'.
And Alexei Ratmansky (with assistance from dramatist Alexander Belinsky)
has entered into this dialogue. The plot has undergone several changes. Instead
of one pair of chief characters, there are now two, linked to each other by the
emotional ties of the love duet. The original version of this ballet was without
a love line. But it was also without the execution of one of the main heroines,
forcing her friends to quake in their shoes and giving them firsthand experience
of the horrors of revolutionary terror.
It is difficult to list all the dancers participating in the
production, there are many leading soloists, including talented soloists from
the Bolshoi Ballet’s younger generation of dancers - Anna Antonicheva, Maria
Alexandrova, Yekaterina Shipulina, Nina Kaptsova, Natalia Osipova, Vladimir
Neporozhny, Andrei Mercuriev, Denis Savin, Ivan Vasiliev and many others. One of
the interpreters of the role of Queen Marie Antoinette (there are three in all)
is people's artist of the Soviet Union, today teacher-repetiteur, Lyudmila
The first series of premiere performances took place on 3,4, 5
(morning and evening) and 6 July. The second will be on 15, 16 and 17
A suburb of Marseilles, the town
which gave its name to the French National anthem. Through the forest
a large group of people are on the move. This is the
battalion of the Marseillais who are on their way to Paris.
A cannon which they are taking with them indicates their intentions. Among
the men of Marseilles is Philippe.
It is by the
cannon that Philippe makes the acquaintance of the peasant girl Jeanne.
He kisses her on parting. Jeanne’s brother, Jerome, longs to join
In the distance is the castle of the
Marquis Costa de Beauregard, the local seigneur. Hunters are returning
to the castle, among whom are the Marquis and his daughter, Adeline.
The ’noble’ Marquis makes advances to the pretty peasant girl, Jeanne.
The latter tries to free herself from his pawing, but only manages
to do so with the help of Jerome, who comes to his
Jerome is beaten up by the hunters from
the Marquis’s suite, and thrown into a prison cellar. Adeline, who has
observed the scene, frees Jerome, and in their hearts a mutual feeling
for each other is born. The sinister, old woman Jarcasse, who has been employed
by the Marquis to keep an eye on his daughter, informs her
adored master of the escape. The Marquis slaps his daughter and orders her
to get into a carriage, accompanied by Jarcasse. They are going
Jerome bids farewell to his parents.
It is not safe for him to remain on the Marquis’s estate.
He and Jeanne go off with a detachment of the Marseillais.
Their parents are inconsolable.
Volunteers are enrolling in the detachment. Together with the crowd, the
men of Marseilles dance a farandola. The men put on red caps
in place of their old headwear. Jerome is given a gun
by the leader of the insurgents, Gilbert. Jerome and Philippe
’harness’ themselves to the cannon. The detachment moves off to Paris
to the strains of the Marseillaise.
The sound of the Marseillaise gives way
to an elegant minuet. The royal palace. The Marquis and Adeline have
arrived here. The Master of Ceremonies announces the start of the
Rinaldo and Armida, a court ballet, with the Paris
stars Mireille de Poitiers and Antoine Mistral:
Armida and her friends. Armida’s forces return from a campaign. Prisoners
are led in. Among them is Prince Rinaldo.
Amour aims an arrow
at the hearts of Armida and Rinaldo. Variation — Amour. Armida
Pas de deux Rinaldo and Armida.
of Rinaldo’s bride appears. Rinaldo abandons Armida and sails off
in a boat after the phantom. Armida conjures up a storm.
Waves cast Rinaldo onto the seashore, he is surrounded by
Dance — Furies. Rinaldo falls dead at Armida’s
King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette make their entrance.
Greetings, oaths of loyalty and toasts to the prosperity of the
The tipsy Marquis chooses the Actress as his next
’victim’, and starts to ’court’ her in the same way as he had
Jeanne, the peasant girl. The strains of the Marseillaise are heard
from the street. The courtiers and officers panic. Making use of this,
Adeline escapes from the palace.
A square in Paris, into which
the men of Marseilles march, among whom are Philippe, Jerome and Jeanne.
A shot from their cannon is to give the signal for the start
of the assault on the Tuileries.
Suddenly, in the square,
Jerome catches sight of Adeline. He rushes over to her. The
sinister, old woman Jarcasse spies on their meeting.
meantime, in honor of the arrival of the detachment of men
from Marseilles, a barrel of wine is rolled out into the square.
Dances get underway: the Auvergne dance gives way to the Marseillaise
dance, then the temperamental dance of the Basques starts up,
in which all the chief characters take part: Jeanne, Philippe, Adeline,
Jerome and Gilbert, the captain of the Marseillais.
crowd, flushed with wine, petty brawls break out here and there. Stuffed dolls
of Louis and Marie Antoinette are torn to pieces. Jeanne with
a spear in her hands dances the carmagnole to the singing
of the crowd. Philippe, who is drunk, lights the fuse, there
is volley of cannon fire, after which the crowd dashes off
to storm the Tuileries.
Against a background of shots
being fired and the beating of drums, Adeline and Jerome declare their love
for each other. They are oblivious to what is going on around
The Marseillais break into the palace. They are led by Jeanne, waving
a flag. Fighting. The palace is taken.
The crowd fills the square which
is decorated with lanterns. Members of the Convention and new
government mount the tribune.
The crowd rejoices. The famous artists,
Mireille de Poitiers and Antoine Mistral, who before had entertained the
king and his courtiers, now perform the Freedom dance for the people. The new
dance is little different to the old, only now, the actress holds the
Republican flag in her hands. Artist David is sketching the
By the cannon, from which the first volley had been
fired, the President of the Convention unites the hands of Jeanne and
Philippe. These are the first young newly weds of the new Republic
The sound of Jeanne and Philippe’s betrothal dance gives way to the
muffled thuds of the falling knife of the guillotine.
condemned Marquis is led in. Seeing her father, Adeline rushes over
to him, but Jerome, Jeanne and Philippe beg her not to give herself
away. In order to revenge the Marquis, Jarcasse betrays Adeline,
revealing her true origins. Roused to fury, the crowd demands her death.
Beside himself with despair, Jerome tries to save Adeline, but
to no avail. She is guillotined. Frightened for their lives,
Jeanne and Philippe restrain the struggling Jerome.
continues. To the strains of Ca ira, the triumphant populace
moves downstage towards the audience.
Schedule for Boris Asafiev "Flames of Paris" (Ballet in three acts) 2014