The Valkyrie is the second of the four music dramas that constitute Richard Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung. It was performed, as a single opera, at the National Theatre Munich on 26 June 1870.
More than the other Ring dramas, The Valkyrie has achieved some popularity as a stand-alone work, and continues to be performed independently from its role in the tetralogy.
The story of The Valkyrie is based on the Norse mythology told in the Volsunga Saga and the Poetic Edda. II n Norse mythology, a Valkyrie from Old Norse Valkyrian “chooser of the slain”- is one of a host of female figures who choose those who may die in battle and those who may live. Selecting among who die in battle, the Valkyries take their chosen to the afterlife hall of the slain, Valhalla, ruled over by the god Odin.
Valkyries are attested in the Poetic Edda (a book of poems compiled in the 13th century) – Archaeological excavations throughout Scandinavia have uncovered amulets theorized as depicting Valkyries. In the Viking Age stylized silver amulets depicting women wearing long gowns, their hair pulled back and knotted into a ponytail, sometimes bearing drinking horns, have been discovered throughout Scandinavia. These figures are commonly considered to represent Valkyries or Dísir. According to Mindy MacLeod and Bernard Mees, the amulets appear in Viking Age graves, and were presumably placed there because “they were thought to have protective powers”.
In modern culture, Valkyries are popular subject of works of art, musical works, cinema and poetry.
The story of Dr. Faust was one of the favorite topics in the music for many romantic composers. The magic of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe`s literature tragedy gave fantasy in the minds of the creators of that time – Schubert, Berlioz, Liszt and many others, were inspired by the immortal tragedy, and created their own musical version of Faust.
Charles Gounod also proposed his own version. He managed to write a truly romantic work – a real mystical drama, which we still, after more than fifty years, can see on the world opera stages.
The story: Germany, sixteenth century – A scientist lives in the medieval Wittenberg. Faust is tormented by his excruciating feelings from the meaninglessly time spent on science. He wants to regain his youth and sells his soul to the Devil, who appears in the image of Mephistopheles. Being in doubt before his choice, Faust succumbs to the persuasion of Mephistopheles, seeing the image of the beautiful Margarita. Triumphing over human weakness, the Devil organized a meeting with Faust who becomes young and rich, and the beautiful girl …. But love there was no love between them, only passion ….
And in the end, broken hearts, and the death of our heroes….
The famous opera “Faust” also includes ballet scenes, which became an independent ballet called “Valpurgiev Night”.
This artwork “Faust” is also an allegory telling us about women, who are ready to make a deal, where they exchange their youth, beauty, and innocence for “yellow metal” … But unfortunately, we can see – how her beautiful silk clothes for a young girl – are just fragments of fabric, her leg decorated with lace flowers is held by a dirty iron chain… And perceived wealth – is a shining dust…. Where Mephistophel ‘s ball rules, there will be no happiness… Only suffering, pain and despair…
In this work I also included a part of the installation “Sacred Gold” by Margarita Henriksson.
In 1877, a dance performance was for the first time staged at the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre, which everyone knows today. So, the famous ballet “Swan Lake” was born. Since then, the history of world`s ballet choreography relates to a magical “medieval” tale about an enchanted girl, a prince in love and an evil wizard.
It is believed that Tchaikovsky was inspired by a visit to Bavaria, where the composer saw the famous Neuschwanstein – the “Swan Castle” of King Ludwig II. By the way, the scenery for this classical performance still is a Gothic castle in the mountains. In 1871, the composer wrote the one-act children’s ballet “Swan Lake” for his relatives.
The original story says: Prince Siegfried celebrates adulthood. A friend of the prince, having seen swans flying, invited him to hunt. The young man falls into the “mountainous wilderness” with the lake. In the moonlight, enchanted swans drop their wings, becoming girls led by Odette. The prince falls in love with her.
Beauties are dancing at the ball in the palace for the prince, but he is full of memories of the lake and does not want to choose a bride. Suddenly, the “evil wizard” von Rothbart arrives with his daughter Odile. The insidious girl pretends to be Odette and seduces the prince. He takes an oath of allegiance, thereby betraying Odette. “The scene instantly darkens, an owl cries out, the clothes fall off von Rothbart, and he appears as a demon. Odile laughs. The window opens with noise and a white swan with a crown on its head appears in the window. The prince throws away the hand of his new girlfriend with horror and, clutching his heart, runs out of the castle. “
At the end of the 20th century, different versions of “Swan Lake” appeared on the world stages, not related either to classical dance or to the old staged tradition. In search of new meanings, choreographers abandoned the traditional fairy tale. A fairy tale becomes the starting point for many reflections on the burning problems of our time. Ballet is often created using different techniques of modern dance and the so-called “actual dance”.
So, “Swan Lake” has stood the test of time. This ballet, always in demand, always changing and always beautiful, is time itself. Tchaikovsky’s music, as well as the metaphorical battle between good and evil, is not only a decoy for the general public, but also an object of interest for art historians: volumes have been written about ballet. This is a social phenomenon that goes far beyond pure theatricality. Symbol and model. Enthusiastic role model and avant-garde challenge.
In the work “Swan Lake” , Margarita did step out from the basic idea and decided to portray the prince as a white swan, who protects his beloved Odette from the evil wizard, the lords of the ravenous Raven. The girl anticipates an unequal battle, but in the sky a flock of white swans is already flying to help them…
The Little Humpbacked Horse
“The Little Humpbacked Horse” is a combination of several fabulous stories, some were probably heard in Siberia. The author of the fairy-tale, Petr Ershov, used many folk fairy tales in his work (“Fairy-tale of Ivan-Fool,” Siobka-Burka, “Heat-Bird,” Vasilisa-Wisdom” etc.).
In the world there are fairy-tales with similar content. The roots of the fairy-tale goes back to eastern tales. The oldest you can find in ancient Egyptian fairy-tales “The Doomed Prince”. Other you can find in the medieval Norwegian fairy-tale “De syv folene” (“Seven Horses”), about the three sons who take care about the king’s magic horses. The reward for doing this is a beautiful princess. In this assignment, the younger son is assisted by a magic horse who speaks human language. There are similar stories in Slovak, Belorussian, and Ukrainian folklore.
The fairy-tale about “The Little Humpbacked Horse”, as classical Russian fairy-tales, begins with the words “Many years ago in the great empire of Russia, where wicked winds and cruel storms tormented the lives of poor peasants.” It´s about the magical story of a simple peasant boy, who have a friendship with his his fairy pony. On their journey, they travel in many fairy lands and brought to the Russian kingdom a “Firebird,” a beautiful young princess and a magic ring. The fairy-tale was first published in 1834 and became such a favorite and was so often repeated that it soon joined the oral tradition of Russian folklore, that had been Yershov’s inspiration. In Fearless Ivan and His Faithful little Humpbacked Horse, folklorists use this classic tale, capturing the full charm and exoticism of the original.
On the different scenes of Russian theatres, it´s possible to watch a ballet, written based on this fairy-tale called “The Firebird.” The music for this ballet was written by the famous Russian composer Igor Stravinsky 1910.
In the work “The Little Humpbacked Horse” Margarita used the sketches of girl`s dress, created by artist N.Prima
The work shows a fragment from an old legend about the beloved old Russian hero Sadko. Over the centuries, paintings, illustrations, lacquer miniatures have been devoted to this hero, and even an opera was written by the great Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov, which has not left the stage of the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg since the beginning of the 19th century.
Sadko is a young musician from Veliky Novgorod. At the beginning of the story he is poor and proud. His only treasure is the musical instrument of the harp, on which he plays, moving from one feast to another.
But soon he is involved in incredible adventures that are developing at an unprecedented speed… With the help of the witching charms of the sea princess, he gains richly and hires ships with merchant goods to travel to different lands…
Now Sadko – passionate and courageous, hoping to find the legendary “Bird of Happiness”. Goes through the Volkhov, Ladoga and Neva, to the open sea, and then turns south and recovers for a long voyage. During the trip, he successfully sells the Novgorod goods, which taken with him and his wealth increases. After spending many years traveling Sadko turns the ships back to Novgorod.
On the way back, the caravan of his ships falls into a terrible storm. The waves hit the side of the ships, the wind breaks the sails. Sadko understand that this is the frenzied father of the sea princess – to whom a tribute was promised. Without hesitation, the hero bravely throws himself into the cold waves, plunging into the possessions of the richest and most almighty ruler of the underwater kingdom…
In the work “SADKO” Margarita used the elements from the painting “Ocean”, created together with artist N.Prima
The story of the fairy tale “12 Months” is as follows: A long time ago, at Christmas, in winter Petersburg, the young queen issued a decree – she wants to get an unusual gift – “A basket of snowdrop flowers”! She was ready to give a big reward in gold coins for this. Not far away from the city, near the forest, live an insidious stepmother with her daughter in a small poor house. Hearing the decree, they dream of getting the promised gold coins. They are cowardly and lazy, so they decide to send their stepdaughter to find the flowers. They kick out the stepdaughter in the cold night, in severe frost, strictly telling her: – Don’t return to home without flowers!
The girl wanders through a dark, snowy forest, illuminated only by cold stars. In the scary thicket, she unexpectedly meets the fabulous twelve brothers, who sit around the fire. Together with them, near the fire Santa Claus is sitting. The girl began to speak with them and soon she knows all their names, that coincide with the names of the months of the year. All brothers listen attentively the girl`s sad story and decide to change December Month to April Month for a few minutes. The girl collects a full basket with spring flowers, heartily thanking the brothers, and returns to home.
The stepmother and her daughter took the precious flowers and brought them to the palace. When the young queen sees the snowdrops, she was so delighted for this magic present, she asked the women: – where such flowers grow in the winter in Russia?
The scared stepmother and her daughter must admit that the flowers were found by their stepdaughter. The poor girl was brought to the palace immediately.
The young queen listened with very big interest to the girl’s amazing story, admires her braveness, and decided to give the status of maid of honour and many gifts to her.
And in the finale of the fairy tale – the elegant dressed young maid of honour, together with her queen and other courtiers, celebrates New Year in the beautiful palace.
In the work “12 Month” Margarita used the elements from the painting “Theatrical Petersburg”, created by artist N.Prima
For more than 125 years the ballet “Nutcracker” has been living on the stage – and all this time the choreographers continue to seek new approaches to the music of Peter Tchaikovsky, and the fairy tale by Ernst Hoffmann to get new original incarnations again and again. The most magical New Year’s music, written by Tchaikovsky, well known around the world as the ballet “Nutcracker”.
Often in classical operas or ballets there are one or more famous numbers that become iconic and beloved by the public. The ballet “Nutcracker” has many such of numbers – the dance of the “Fairy of a Dragee”, the most delicate “Waltz of the Flowers,” a series of dances: Chocolate, Coffee, Tea and many others. And all the children who watched this ballet always dreamed of being in the place of Marie and the Nutcracker in this fabulous place of chocolate, caramel, marshmallows, and other goodies…
The story of the ballet:
“The main action of the ballet happens in the holly night of Christmas. Guests and the godfather Marie, who came with a bunch of gifts for the children, gathered in the house of Stahlbaum. Among them stands out a doll designed for chopping nuts – The Nutcracker. A clumsy toy with a wide smile, immediately liked the girl Marie. All the children had already gone to bed, and she still could not part with the Nutcracker.
The girl began to play, so much that she did not notice how everything began to change around. The Christmas tree became huge and a strange rustle was heard. An army of mice appeared in the room, and the Nutcracker suddenly came to life, turning into a handsome young man. He immediately gathered an army of soldiers and went to the enemy, but their forces were unequal. Marie, seeing this, decided to help the Nutcracker and threw her shoe at the King of Mice. The enemies were afraid of a sudden attack and fled.
When Marie woke up, her godfather appeared in front of her, appearing in the image of a wizard. He spoke about an amazing fairy-tale world, which is not easy to get into, overcoming a snowstorm. But Marie and the Nutcracker go to this country. They find themselves in a wonderful city, where there are a lot of sweets and guests around them. The “Dragee Fairy” throws a magnificent ball in their honour and Marie becomes a real princess after the Nutcracker told how she saved him. When the celebration ends, the wizard helps Marie return home from her wonderful journey”.
Interesting facts about ballet:
- Information has been preserved that at the first performance of the ballet at the Marinsky Theater (December 1892), the audience was unusually surprised precisely by the sounding power of the orchestra. In particular, the celesta musical instrument attracted their attention.
- Starting with the performances of The Nutcracker, a tradition has emerged to give secondary roles to students of choreographic schools.
- Dance “Coffee” is based on the Georgian folk lullaby.
- According to the German legend, the nutcrackers bring good luck and protect the house. Therefore, these wooden mechanical dolls were popular as Christmas gifts for children.
- The Christmas tree, which is usually set on stage in the first act, weighs about a ton.
- During a gentle dance of snowflakes, confetti fall on the stage, the total mass is about 20 kg.
- For the whole performance, about 150 different costumes are shown on stage.
- The largest silkworm was made in Germany and had a height of more than 10 meters.
- Frank Russell Galey performed the role of The Nutcracker at a record age of 74 years and 101 days old.
In the work “Nutcracker” Margarita decided to portray Mary dreaming about becoming a ballerina, and Nutcracker brings luxurious pointe shoes to her as a gift for Christmas…
LEDA and the SWAN
Allusion… the imagination sends us to the world of the famous ballet and to the mythological narration about “LEDA and the Swan”… Love where deception, conquest and, perhaps, to some violence is clearly traced… Love where one hero follows the unrestrained nature… and an another – the involuntary victim of the dominating passion…
The sad saga
In the valley of fairy lakes, a black prince – a vicious swan lived,
full of passionate love in the dance of a young fairy.
Deciding to steal the symbol of perfection that would take possession of her innocent soul,
and under cover of the black silk of the night, he stole Leda,
dancing over the water.
The tragedy has come to pass! The light will fade!
And in the silence of the midnight stone temple, the crown of marriage of darkness,
is laid upon the Demon and the symbol of God’s purity…
Leda and the Swan is a story and subject in art from Greek mythology in which the god Zeus in the form of a swan, seduces (or in some versions, rapes) Leda. According to later Greek mythology, Leda bore Helen and Polydeuces children of Zeus, while at the same time bearing Castor and Clytemnestra children of her husband Tundareus, the King of Sparta.
Theater: 1939 – “Bacchanalia”, a surreal ballet to music from the scene “Grotto of Venus” of the first act of R. Wagner’s opera “Tannhäuser”, choreographed by L. F. Myasin, the libretto and in the design by S. Dali. A swan was depicted on the back curtain, and Leda and the swan became characters of teamwork. The scenery was made on the basis of the artist’s painting of the same name of the same year.
The story goes that the Padishah Shahryan found out one day that his first wife was unfaithful to him. He thus resolved to marry a new girl each day as well as behead the previous day’s wife, so that she would not have the opportunity to be unfaithful to him. He had killed 1,001 such women by the time he was introduced to Scheherazade, the vizier’s daughter. Against her father’s wishes, Scheherazade volunteered to spend one night with the Padishah. Once in the king’s chambers, Scheherazade asked if she might bid one last farewell to her beloved sister, who had secretly been prepared to ask Scheherazade to tell a story during the long night. The king lay awake and listened with awe as Scheherazade told her first story. The night passed by and Scheherazade stopped in the middle. The king asked her to finish, but Scheherazade said there was no time, as dawn was breaking. So, the king spared her life for one day to finish the story the next night. The following night, Scheherazade finished the story and then began a second, more exciting tale, which she again stopped halfway through at dawn. Again, the king spared her life for one more day so she could finish the second story. And so the king kept Scheherazade alive day by day, as he eagerly anticipated the finishing of the previous night’s story. At the end of 1,001 nights, and 1,000 stories, Scheherazade told the Padishah that she had no more tales to tell him. During these 1,001 nights, the king had fallen in love with Scheherazade. He spared her life and made her his queen.
1910, the ballet “Scheherazade” made a splash in Paris. After the ballet all woman shouted “bravo” at the premiere of the “Russian Seasons”, they began to dress in a “la oriental” shalwar and turbans. They dreamed to have the same costumes as the heroes of the bright performance. Fabric manufacturers launched canvases with ornaments in blue and orange tones, from jewelers – oriental brooches and necklaces – fashion-mongers bought everything, to look like the ballet artists. Sergei Diaghilev was counting on a sensation when he conceived a ballet on a fairy-tales “1001 Nights” with the magical music by Rimsky-Korsakov, and exotic oriental flavor for the show in Paris.