ballet in one act based on motifs of A. Pushkin verses
Annotation for booklet
"Verses written at night during the insomnia" beckoned to me for a
long time. It is so, because this frontier condition of insomnia
between the sleep and the reality is very creative. The inspiration
is given to a composer, an artist or a poet just at that very
period. I had no approach to this poem for a long time. But at the
time the conception of composing a ballet came into existence I
thought its embodying through plastic "movements to be the most
The main character in the Prologue is silence of the night. There
are neither themes nor tunes in this music but only the night
rustles and sounds. The orchestra echoes each word and each line of
Pushkin's poem. This musical material goes through the whole score
of the ballet, from time to time arising both in the interludes and
in the epilogue. This is like a symbol of night, a symbol of
insomnia... On the whole the music of the ballet is a system of
symbols, each with its own meaning: a clock and the bells measuring
off the Poet's lifetime or a prayer without saying, giving
benediction to the Poet, which sounds in the Prologue, in the scene
"Autumn", composed as the Poet's monologue, and in the Epilogue. A
theme of the Black Man, represented by the leit-timbre of the
saxophone and the bass-clarinet is important as well. I was afraid
the theme of demons and darkness would prevail over the light coming
out from Pushkin's poetry. As a result the score of the bal let was
even to be slightly changed in order to introduce this
light-carrying note into the finale. As for the Poet, it wasn't my
purpose to make a hero out of him. He is just a deep-suffering man,
and so there is a note of tragedy in the music.
The music of the ballet is satiated with numerous latent and evident
quotations-allegories. The first intonation from Glinka's romance
on Pushkin's poem "I remember a wonderful moment...", which became a
symbol of clock and bells, can be named among the main ones. The
theme of Glinka's "Waltz-fantasia" arises in the episode "Ball" as
well as the motive of the waltz "Christmas-tide" from Tchaikovsky's
"The Seasons", "The Waltz" by Ravel, or the waltz from Prokofiev's
"Cinderella", which are not so evident. For me the scene of the ball
in its musical aspect is a peculiar history of waltz, which
flourished in XIX century and later was developed by the composers
of XX century. Some latent musical quotations also arise in the
scene "The Orient", such as the Chorus of girls from "Ruslan and
Lyudmila" by Glinka and the Chorus of the Polovtsian girls from "The
Prince Igor" by Borodin. An orchestra version of the romance "It is
time, my friend, it is time..." from my vocal cycle "The Echo" for
the voice and the piano sounds in the epilogue.
"The Insomnia" is a ballet-fantasia, and so I wouldn't like
any definite conceptions or versions to be thrust on the spectators.
The premiere of the performance is timed to 200th anniversary of
A.S.Pushkin's birth, but it is our fantasy on what a creation is, on
what a creator feels though it were a poet or a composer, a painter
or a writer, a choreographer or a scientist, rather than just a
jubilee report of the Bolshoi Theatre and its productive group. Our
ballet is about one of the sleepless nights of an Artist...
What is insomnia? This is a condition of pure creation free from any
daily needs or social problems (however there is no doubt they leave
their imprint), this is a moment of quest, meditation, revaluation,
doubt and affirmation.
We tried to present our version of this conception to the
spectators. And let them judge whether it turned out well.
"The Insomnia" is not so much a story about a concrete man,
Pushkin the poet, as probably it is reflecting on impulses of a
creative personality, on difficulties and torments of being an
artist. I like both the main conception of the ballet and the way
it has been embodied on the stage by choreographer Alexander
Petukhov, conductor Vladimir Andropov, composer Sergey Zhukov.
The sets of the performance represent the deep-blue endlessness,
the space, not black but ultramarine like a tropical butterfly.
There are a few Empirestyle details in the sets, but the stylized
armchairs and chairs are all the same blue. The armchairs, the
lustre look like those come from a hall of the Nobiliary Assembly.
It seemed to me that the action of the ballet was to develop in a
single space. And the main thing about it is that I succeeded in
convincing of my conception the author of libretto and the
choreographer. The scene of action of the performance is an empty
ceremonial hall, and different scenes appear and replace each other
only in the main hero's imagination...
I started working on the ballet with interest, the more so, as it
was my first experience as a conductor in producing a ballet. Music
by Sergey Zhukov, that is both contemporary but not vanguard,
tuneful and traditional in the good sense of the word, has
successfully been embodied in the dance pattern, composed by the
ballet-master Alexander Petukhov.
There is a line in Pushkin's "Verses written at night during the
insomnia" that served as a starting point to create the ballet -
"Babbling of the Weird Sister". Three Weird Sisters are three old
women, spinning the thread of human fate. The theme of fate can be
named among the main motifs of the ballet. The central episodes of
the Poet's life, such as the youth, autumn, the Orient, the ball,
settled by various characters from his works, are reflected in the
scenes of his visions. And the through theme of the performance is
that of the Black Man, who constantly goes side by side with the
Poet. All these motifs, which nourished Pushkin's creative work, are
close and clear to each of us. I would like the audience to be
interested in "The Insomnia".