Libretto by Sergei Prokofiev, based on tales from Perm Province
Set design and production by Mikhail Larionov, with Sergei Prokofiev and Thadée Slavinsky
The ballet was written in 1921. This version was first performed in Perm in 2011. Running time: 1 hour
The Perm version of The Buffoon is a bold experiment combining the choreography of Alexey Miroshnichenko with set design and costumes based on the original sketches by futurist artist Mikhail Larionov for the first production.
Impresario Sergei Diaghilev commissioned Sergei Prokofiev to write the score for The Tale of the Buffoon who Outwits Seven Other Buffoons in 1914 on the crest of the success of Le Sacre du printemps, taking a collection of tales from Perm Province as inspiration. After selecting several stories about the resourceful Buffoon who cheats stupid rich men, Prokofiev wrote the libretto and quickly finished the piano reduction score of the ballet. The completion of the work was interrupted by World War I; the première of The Buffoon did not take place until 1921. Until recently, the ballet had completely disappeared from choreographers’ field of vision.
The Buffooness, the Buffoon’s wife
Their seven daughters
A nanny goat
Once upon a time there lived a Buffoon. The Buffoon had a Buffooness for a wife. One day, the Buffoon was sitting on his big Russian oven and thinking about what kind of joke to play. The Buffooness was washing the floor. The Buffoon had an idea, jumped off the oven, and said, “Look here, my girl. There are seven buffoons coming over. I’ll tell you to cook us a meal, you refuse, and then I’ll pretend to kill you. When you fall over, I’ll pick up that whip. When I hit you the first time, you move a little. The second time, you turn over. And then the third time, you get up and make like you’re going to cook for us. Then we’ll sell the whip for lots of money.” No sooner said than done. Seven buffoons appeared, saw the miracle, and paid three hundred roubles for the whip.
Ballet in one act to the music of a symphonic suite “Scheherazade” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
The ballet was inspired by the life of one of the most amazing women of the 20th century — the last Empress of Iran Farah Pahlavi.
Her life journey is as remarkable as a fairy tale. The only daughter of an officer whose family, once affluent, was in a difficult financial state, she, nevertheless, had been highly educated and moved to study in France. Like many Iranian young people who were studying abroad at this time she was on scholarship established by the Shah. During his official visits to foreign countries, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi met with most accomplished local Iranian students, and it was on one such occasion that he noticed Farah Diba, a student of the École Spéciale d'Architecture, and was completely charmed by her. Several months later she became his wife. Farah Pahlavi placed the heavy weight of being responsible for cultural and social life in the country on her shoulders. She was building hospitals, schools, kindergartens, she was fighting for women’s rights, and organized communes for lepers where they could live life more fully. She supported both traditional culture and modern art, through her patronage, dozens of artifacts from foreign collections were returned to Iranian museums. Farah had grown immensely popular among people of Iran, and in 1967 the Shah made an unprecedented decision — Farah was crowned, and became the first and only crowned Empress (Shahbanu) in the history of the country. It was not just the title that she received, but she was named to be the regent should anything happen to the Shah before the Crown Prince's 21st birthday. During the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Farah Pahlavi, together with the Shah, was forced to leave Iran. Time took her husband and two of her four children away from her, but she herself is now in good health.
This is the second performance by choreographer Alexey Miroshnichenko that was inspired by non-artistic historical facts (created in 2016, his "Cinderella", a reflection on the realities of the Soviet ballet world, has received the "Golden Mask" Award). And it is the first ballet he has done where choreography does not involve pointe work.
Alexey Miroshnichenko has worked on this ballet together with the team of artists, with whom they very often create in collaboration. Set designer Alyona Pikalova has masterfully placed artifacts and Items of Persian art into a symbolic world of the performance. Tatiana Noginova’s ballet costumes design reflects a true spirit of that historic period. Stage lighting set by Alexey Khoroshev has built an imaginary world that is on the borderline between reality and a fairy tale. And finally, the musical director of the premiere Artyom Abashev is playing with our perception of time and space, making the symphonic suite of Rimsky-Korsakov shine with all the shades one can imagine.