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The Stars of the White Nights 2020
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19 July 2018 (Thu), 19:00 World famous Mariinsky Ballet and Opera - Mariinsky II (New Theatre) - Classical Ballet Arif Melikov "The Legend of Love" (ballet in three acts)

Running time: 3 hours 5 minutes (till 22:05)

The performance has 2 intermissions

Schedule for Arif Melikov "The Legend of Love" (ballet in three acts) 2020

Conductor: Boris Gruzin
Dancer: Renata Shakirova

Composer: Arif Melikov
Choreography: Maestro Yuri Grigorovich
Set Designer: Simon Virsaladze

Orchestra: Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra
Ballet company: Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet

Classical Ballet in 3 acts

Premiere of this production: 23 March 1961, Kirov Theatre, Leningrad, USSR

he Legend of Love was the second ballet by the young Leningrad choreographer Yuri Grigorovich staged at the Kirov – now Mariinsky – Theatre, and it was a ballet that was to change both his life and the destiny of Soviet ballet. As with The Stone Flower – his first production at the Kirov Theatre – Grigorovich created The Legend of Love together with Simon Virsaladze. The designer executed the sets in the form of an old book, the pages of which are adorned with Arabic script. The characters in The Legend as if come down to us from the pages of this book – the proud, cruel and deeply passionate Queen Mekhmeneh Bahnu, who pays the price of her own unparalleled beauty to cure her dying sister Shyrin and the artist Ferkhad, who is captivated by the young and gracious Shyrin and who spurns Mekhmeneh Bahnu’s love... The crowd scenes of processions and dances of courtiers are mixed with a truly tender duet between Ferkhad and Shyrin which in turn resounds as a provocative contrast to the pitifully frenzied choreographic monologue of Mekhmeneh Bahnu. The scene of Mekhmeneh Bahnu’s pursuit of Ferkhad and Shyrin who have fled the palace to save their love is rhythmic and drama-filled. But the inner lives of the protagonists and the tortuous trials of the spirit that their love must endure are exposed in the trios of the entire three acts with Mekhmeneh Bahnu, Ferkhad and Shyrin: the action literally freezes and only the protagonists remain in the limelight. The choreographic text of the ballet is based on classical productions. But the classical pas are as if seen through the prism of some oriental plot – the typical poses of the arms, the carrying dance motifs of Persian miniatures and the capricious ornamental script in the lace-like tracery of the Arabic alphabet. In 1961 this ballet restored symphonic dance to the Mariinsky Theatre, linking Grigorovich with the great master of the previous century – Marius Petipa, who created such grand dance and symphonic tableaux.

Libretto: Nazim Khikmet

Act I

Scene 1 
The royal apartments of Queen Mekhmene Banu are plunged in mourning - her young sister, Shireen, is dying. The Vizier and the courtiers are full of anxiety. Mekhmene Banu is in despair. A Stranger, who appears out of the blue, says he will cure the Princess but, in return, Mekhmene Banu must sacrifice her beauty. In order to save the life of her sister whom she loves deeply, Mekhmene Banu accepts the Stranger’s cruel terms. Shireen is brought back to life.

Scene 2 
In the palace garden, the young court painter, Ferkhad, suddenly comes across Queen Mekhmene Banu and Princess Shireen who are taking a walk, surrounded by courtiers and the palace guard. The two sisters exchange gazes with Ferkhad and love for the young painter is born in their hearts. The procession moves off. Ferkhad is entranced by the beauty of the young Shireen. In the hope of seeing Ferkhad, Shireen secretly returns to the garden The two young people are greatly attracted to each other. 

Act II

Scene 3 
Mekhmene Banu is overcome by passion for Ferkhad. Nothing can distract her thoughts from the handsome youth. She realizes in despair that now she has lost her beauty, she will be unable to win his love.

Scene 4 
The young Shireen dreams of happiness with her loved one: the thought that they may soon meet gives her great joy and also fills her with anxiety. Ferkhad makes his way into Shireen’s chamber and the lovers elope from the palace. Torn by jealousy, Mekhmene Banu orders that the lovers be seized. The fugitives are caught. The lovers’ pleas that they be granted their happiness are in vain. Mekhmene Banu sets Ferkhad an impossible task: in order to win Shireen, he must first bore a hole through the iron mountain which blocks the way to a water source. For the sake of his love, Ferkhad is willing to attempt the impossible. He bids farewell to Shireen. 


Scene 5 
The populace are tormented by thirst. As each day passes there is less and less water. And without water there can be no life. In order to attain water the mountain has to be destroyed.

Scene 6 
Ferkhad, who is in the mountains, dreams that he has gained access to the water and before him he sees his beloved Shireen.

Scene 7 
Mekhmene Banu is tormented by her passion and love for Ferkhad. She dreams she is beautiful again and that Ferkhad loves her. Shireen breaks into Mekhmene Banu’s reveries. She implores her sister to recall Ferkhad.

Scene 8 
A great hope has brought the populace to the mountains. If Ferkhad manages to accomplish the impossible, their lives will be saved. Queen Mekhmene Banu and Shireen appear surrounded by their suite. Overcome by happiness at their meeting, the lovers throw themselves into each other’s arms. The Queen is prepared to give Ferkhad the hand of Shireen, but the former feels that he cannot go back on his duty. Mekhmene Banu and Shireen are full of respect for the great altruism of Ferkhad who is ready to sacrifice his personal happiness for the sake of his people.

Schedule for Arif Melikov "The Legend of Love" (ballet in three acts) 2020

"The Legend of Love" Act II: Yekaterina Chebykina (debut)
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"The Legend of Love" Act II: Yekaterina Chebykina (debut)

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