Music- Sergey Prokofiev
Libretto by Nikolai Volkov, based on Charles Perrault’s story “Cinderella”
Choreography- Valentin Grishchenko
Costumes designer- Yulia Zhuravlyova
Stage designer- Maksim Ushakov
Light designer- Maksim Kuroshou
Ballet in two acts.
Duration: 2 hours (1 intermission).
Premiere: November 21, 1945, Bolshoi Theater, Moscow.
Sergey Prokofiev first dreamed up the idea for the ballet Cinderella in winter 1940, after the premiere of Romeo and Juliet. Galina Ulanova, who danced the lead role, inspired the composer to create a ballet just for her. Theater critic, art expert, and dramatist Nikolai Volkov composed the libretto for Prokofiev. Work on the ballet was going well, but World War II nearly shattered those plans.
The ballet finally debuted on November 21, 1945 in Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, produced by Rostislav Zakharov. The performance was given in grandiose style, as it was perceived as a tribute to the Russian people’s great victory. All the artists involved were awarded the Stalin Prize –Prokofiev for the fourth time. For various reasons, the first Cinderella was danced by Olga Lepeshinskaya, while Galina Ulanova danced the role in later performances. Less than five months later, Cinderella was produced and staged in Leningrad by Konstantin Sergeyev.
Since then, the ballet has been performed at various stages around the world, in different versions. Charles Perrault’s fairy tale has become a favorite of choreographers. One of the first globally-renowned stagings was Frederick Ashton’s adaptation, produced in London. In his production, the ugly sisters and the step-mother were danced by men. In 1987, Rudolf Nureyev introduced French theater connoisseurs to his version of Cinderella at the Paris Opera.
Contemporary ballet choreographers have not forgotten Cinderella. In 2002, Alexei Ratmansky’s version, with its intriguing choreographic turns, was performed at the Mariinsky Theater. Instead of the Season Fairies, Cinderella meets punks, and the Prince looks for the magic shoe’s owner at a gay club.
A room in Cinderella’s father’s house. It’s getting late. Two girls embroider a silk scarf. They are Affected and Furious, Cinderella’s half-sisters. The Stepmother dislikes Cinderella and makes her do all the menial work around the house alone. Embroidery does not last long—a quarrel arises between the sisters over the scarf. The sisters, dancing, tease the silent Cinderella. The sunset is fading outside the window. Everyone leaves. Cinderella is left alone. She takes up the usual task of cleaning the room. The news is brought, and the whole family is invited to the Prince’s ball at the Palace. Time to get dressed! The dance master requires repetition of the learned dance and bows. Finally, everything is in order. Put on luxury dresses, made great hairstyles — it’s time to go! The house is empty. Cinderella is left alone with her sad thoughts. She plunges into a world of dreams, dreaming of a ball in the Palace. A Fairy appears from nowhere. She undertakes to fulfill Cinderella’s wish to attend the ball. Cinderella looked sadly at her old dress and worn-out shoes, and suddenly there was a pair of wonderful shiny shoes in front of her.
At the command of the Sorceress, the fairies of the seasons appear to dress Cinderella for the ball. Fairy-brings Cinderella to an old clock and says that exactly at midnight, dwarfs will appear from it, which will warn her about the time to return home. Exactly at midnight, she must leave the ball; otherwise everything will revert to its original form.
Joyful Cinderella goes to the palace. A magnificent ball takes place in the palace. The guests perform in the ceremonial court dance. At this moment, Cinderella appears. She is so beautiful that all eyes are drawn to her. The enchanted Prince can’t take his eyes off her. But he himself with his handsomeness captivates the heart of a girl. Cinderella feels at ease in the Palace. She goes up to her sisters, who don’t recognize her in her gorgeous outfit. Amid the fun and dancing, happy Cinderella completely forgets about time. But suddenly a dwarf appears. The old clock reminds her: “It’s time, Cinderella!” “It’s time” — the pendulum inexorably knocks, and Cinderella runs headlong from the palace. It is midnight. In a hurry, Cinderella loses a slipper. Like a whirlwind, the Prince rushes after Cinderella. Suddenly the rays of the moon fall directly on the slipper. The Prince picks it up and joyfully presses it to his heart: by this slipper he may be able to find the one he loved at first sight.
The Prince loses his peace and demands to find the owner of the slipper. He decides to go in search of the stranger himself. The Prince travels all over the world. He meets a lot of beautiful women. But in none of them can he find even the remotest resemblance to the girl who has taken possession of his heart. Disappointed and sad, the Prince returns to his hometown.
Cinderella’s house. Everyone is confused. It’s the Prince approaching. He’s still looking for the girl who lost her slipper at the court ball. The sisters and Stepmother bow flatteringly to the Prince, and they try to put on the slipper that has been handed to them, but in vain: it’s too small and fits none of them.
The Prince’s gaze accidentally falls on Cinderella, modestly standing by the fireside. Suddenly, from behind Cinderella’s corsage, a slipper falls — exactly the same one that the Prince found in the palace garden. The Stepmother and sisters are unable to utter a word from surprise and amazement.