The Ballets of Serge Prokofiev

Serge Lifar with Felia Doubrovska in The Prodigal Son (1929)

The young Prokofiev was championed by Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes.  He composed five scores for the company between 1915 and 1929, but only three of these compositions were accepted by Diaghilev to become ballets – of these only one exists today in its original form, Balanchine’s Prodigal Son. 

All further commissions ceased with the death of Diaghilev in 1929.  However in 1930 Serge Lifar, the last major male star of the Ballets Russes, commissioned Prokofiev to write a ballet for him, On the Dnieper

Eventually the pull of his homeland proved too much and Prokofiev returned from exile to live in Russia.  Here he composed his three full-length narrative ballets, Romeo and Juliet (1938), Cinderella (1948) and The Stone Flower (1954).  In 1975 Yuri Grigorovich turned the score Prokofiev wrote for Sergei Eisenstein’s film Ivan the Terrible into a full-length ballet. 

The story of Prokofiev’s early years, his career in the West and his relationship with the Ballets Russes is explored, looking especially at his early ballets and showing examples of four of them:  Chout: The Tale of the Buffoon (1921), Le pas d’acier (1927), The Prodigal Son (1929), and On the Dnieper (1932)

Prokofiev returned to Russia permanently, moving his family to Moscow in 1936.  Here he embarked on writing his great masterpieces, the three Soviet- era ballets Romeo and Juliet (1938), Cinderella (1945) and The Stone Flower (1954)This talk focuses on Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s masterpiece Romeo and Juliet for the Royal Ballet (1965) and Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella (2013) for the San Francisco Ballet and the Dutch National Ballet, while referencing other productions as well.  The Stone Flower is little known in the West but is still in the repertory in Russia, as is Ivan the Terrible;  excepts from both ballets will be shown.

Presentation: this presentation is illustrated by PowerPoint slides, along with archive film clips and DVDs shown to illustrate the topic.

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close