In honor of the 1909 arrival of the Ballets Russes in Paris, Valery Gergiev leads the Mariinsky Theater Orchestra in a marvelous “Stravinsky night” at their home theater featuring the explosive cocktail of the composer's ballets The Rite of Spring and The Firebird.
The Rite of Spring (in French, the “Sacre du Printemps”) is nearly as well-known by the name the “Massacre du printemps” (the “massacre" of Spring): the scandal that followed the first performance of Stravinsky’s ballet at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in May 1913 changed dance history. The audience was shocked by the ballet’s primitive violence, rejecting it so categorically that the work was banned after eight performances. Long forgotten, Nijinsky’s original choreography is recreated her by Millicent Hodson and the Mariinsky Ballet.
The Firebird is a Russian folk tale transformed into a two-scene ballet by the young Stravinsky on a commission from Diaghilev. Premiered at the Paris Opera in 1910, its choreographer Fokine proved innovative enough to seduce audiences yet traditionalist enough to avoid shocking them, a combination that led to the ballet’s immediate success.