In 2009, the 100th anniversary of the Diaghilev Saisons Russes was celebrated throughout the world. And next year, one of the Sergei Diaghilev enterprise’s most successful productions, the ballet Petrouchka, will also be marking its centenary. The Petrouchka premiere took place on 13 June 1911, at the Theatre du Chatelet, in Paris, and was a great success. Igor Stravinsky’s innovative and complex music (“Petrouchka is an example of the fact that it is possible, in torturing the ear, to pour balm on the soul” — the words of the ballet’s producer), which was subsequently to become a 20th century classic, Mikhail Fokine’s, brilliant in its apparent simplicity, ’puppet-like’ choreography, and Alexander Benois’s bright, exquisite and at the same time permeated with the spirit of the Russian lubok (cheap, popular print) and vertep (puppet Nativity play), sets and costumes.... Sergei Diaghilev managed to bring to life and combine the creative aspirations of three people who, in the final count, created a real performing arts masterpiece each component of which was remarkable and formed an inherent part of the whole. Vatslav Nijinsky danced Petrouchka — a role which was to become his crowning achievement, the charming Tamara Karsavina — the Ballerina. This ballet, permeated with the spirit of Petersburg, the Silver Age and the World of Art movement, would appear from time to time — like a precious jewel — in the theatre. In 1920 it was produced at the former Maryinsky Theatre, in Petrograd, by Leonid Leontiev, who himself at one time had danced in the Diaghilev enterprise productions. At the Bolshoi Theatre Petrouchka was presented in 1921, 1964 and 1982.

The present Bolshoi Theatre production is the work of choreographer Sergei Vikharev and ballet scholar Pavel Gershenzon — it was thanks to them that last year the ever popular with the public Coppelia entered the Theatre’s repertoire.

The premiere series of performances will be on 2, 3 (at 12.00 and 7.00) and 4 July. Shown together with Petrouchka on 2, 3 at 7.00 and 4 July will be Russian Seasons and the Big Classical Pas from the ballet Paquita; and on 3 July at 12.00 — the Big Classical Pas from Paquita.

Sergei Vikharev is rehearsing with Ivan Vasiliev. Photo by Damir Yusupov.