A legend of unrequited love

Ballet in two acts

Libretto  based on the poem by A. S. Pushkin

Music - Boris Asafiev

Choreography -Grishchenko Valentin

Costumes - Julia Zhuravliova

Premiere - September 28, 1934, Kirov Theatre (now Mariinsky Theatre) in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg)

The Fountain of Bakhchisarai is a ballet-poem showing the opposition of two cultures, sophisticated Europe and passionate East. It is set on the plot of the poem of the same name by Alexander Pushkin. During his southern exile, the poet visited the Crimea and the Bakhchisarai Palace of the Crimean Khans. His attention was attracted by the famous "fountain of tears", which, according to legend, was built by Khan Kyrym-Girey in memory of the deceased beloved concubine. The legend touched Pushkin's heart, and in 1821 he wrote the poem "The fountain of love, the fountain of life!" and the famous poem "The Fountain of Bakhchisarai".

The premiere of the ballet about the unhappy love of the Tatar Khan Giray for the Polish Princess Maria took place in 1937 at the Mariinsky Theatre. The creators of the production, playwright Nikolai Volkov, composer Boris Asafiev and choreographer Rostislav Zakharov, put classical dance and music at the service of drama: The “Fountain of Bakhchisarai” became one of the first performances of the new direction of “choreodrama” or “dramatic ballet” in Soviet art.
The plot came out on top in terms of importance of all the elements of the production, artists had to not only perform the dance, but also get used to the role, be in character, work according to the Stanislavsky method.

The premiere was a great success, thanks to Asafiev's music, which perfectly conveyed the character of each persona, and the talent of Russian ballet stars: then the inimitable Galina Ulanova performed the role of Maria, the representation of the Polish princess in her interpretation entered the golden fund of Soviet choreography.

From the day of the premiere, "The Fountain of Bakhchisarai" was on pause only during the War. After World War II, the ballet was resumed, and since then it has been triumphantly marching on world stages, allowing new generations of artists to find their own understanding of the images of Pushkin's ballet.

Gesture becomes a word, parties become monologues and dialogues. The legend of Khan Giray's unrequited love for the captivated Polish princess Maria has turned into a sensual ballet known to the whole world and not only! On the centenary of the poem, the asteroid discovered in 1924 was named after the jealous Zarema, the Khan's beloved wife.
The Tatar commander Khan Giray invades Poland and during one of the raids his army takes the castle, where the Polish nobles celebrate the birthday of Princess Mary. Everyone is killed, and Khan, who fell in love with her at first sight, takes Maria to his harem. In the Bakhchisarai Palace, Zarema, the Khan's beloved wife, is angry because of Maria. Maria rejects Khan and dreams of her murdered lover, but Zarema, in a fit of anger and jealousy, nevertheless kills the captive, and the Khan remains inconsolable.
Act 1

In the old castle of a noble Polish prince there is a ball because of the birthday of his daughter, the young beauty Maria. The princess meets her fiancé, Vaclav, lovers enjoy their pure feelings. Meanwhile, the holiday goes on as usual. Polonaise gives way to mazurka, dance follows dance.
Full text
Suddenly, a scout from the detachment of the Tatar Khan Girey appears, Polish guards are trying to catch him. Immediately comes a formidable message: the castle was attacked! Having drawn their sabers, Poles are preparing to repel the onslaught of enemies. There is a fierce deadly battle, the defenders of the castle die. Khan kills Vaclav with a dagger, sees Mary and, admiring her beauty, takes the girl to his harem.

Act 2

Khan Girey returns to his Bakhchisarai palace, he is greeted with dances and caresses by numerous concubines and his beloved wife Zarema. Khan's army boasts of booty, captived Mary enters to the girls room. Khan looks only at her and does not notice the others. Zarema tries to attract the attention of her beloved husband, but to no avail. Zarema realizes that she has lost Girey's love. Having removed Zarema and leaving her in despair, the Khan leaves.

Later, Girey enters Maria's bedroom, he confesses his feelings to her, dutifully looking into her eyes. But she does not love him and will never love him, her heart is given to the deceased Vaclav. A whole world of memories of her home and her fiancé arises in her memory, she pushes the Khan away, he moves away.

At night, Zarema comes to Maria and tries to prove her main place in the harem, asking Maria to push the Khan away from her. Maria explains that she does not love Khan and does not want to be near him. Zarema calms down, but suddenly sees the skullcap of Girey, who was here earlier. Then, in a fit of anger and jealousy, Zarema kills Maria with a dagger in front of the Khan who entered. Zarema begs Girey to spare her. With a movement of his hand, Girey tells the guards to take her.

Immersed in his thoughts, the Khan sits in the courtyard of the palace. The image of Mary does not let him go, he is inconsolable. At his sign, Zarema is thrown into the abyss as punishment for the murder, but this does not satisfy Girey's mental anguish. Having sent everyone away, he remains alone and suffers at the "fountain of tears".