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Naiad & the Fisherman - Extracts 1/3 (performed by the Bolshoi Ballet)

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Uploaded on Sep 4, 2009

1/3 Here is Pyotr Gusev's staging of extracts from Jules Perrot's "La Naïade et le pêcheur" («Наяда и рыбак»), a.k.a. "Ondine, ou la Naïade" («Ундина, или Наяда»).


This performance was filmed at the Kremlin Palace of the Congresses in 1989, with Nina Speranskaya as the Naiad Ondine, Maria Bylova as Giannina, & Stanislav Chazov as the Fisherman Mattéo.


**History -
The celebrated ballet "La Naïade et le pêcheur" ("The Naiad & the Fisherman") began life under the title "Ondine, ou La Naïade" in a staging by the great ballet master Jules Perrot. The ballet was first presented at Her Majesty's Theatre in London during the heyday of the Romantic Ballet, premiering on June 22, 1843 between performances of Donizetti's operas "Belisario" & "Lucrezia Borgia". The first performances featured the legendary ballerina Fanny Cerrito in the title role of the naiad Ondine, while Perrot himself appeared in the principal male role of the fisherman Mattéo. The music was composed by Perrot's favorite collaborator, the prolific Cesare Pugni. When the London music publisher Ollivier brought out Pugni's full-length score for "Ondine, ou La Naïade" in piano reduction, the composer dedicated his score to the Duchess of Cambridge Princess Augusta, grandmother of Queen Mary of the United Kingdom.

Perrot utilized Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué's 1811 "Undine" as the basis for his subject. Frederick Ashton would later create his own ballet adapatation of "Undine" in 1858 for the Royal Ballet.

In the theatres of London - as with many other theatres throughout Europe at that time - ballets were given merely as diversions between acts of operas & were often only 1 or 2 acts. It was only in Russia that an entire evening or afternoon was devoted exclusively to ballet. Jules Perrot was engaged as ballet master to the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres throughout the 1850's. Together, Perrot & Pugni (who had accompanied the ballet master to Russia) staged many of the ballets they had produced for Her Majesty's Theatre in elaborately expanded editions for their Russian audiences. The original London production of "Ondine, ou La Naïade" was given in 1 act & 6 tableaux, but for the St. Petersburg edition the ballet was expanded to 3 acts & 5 tableaux with its title changed to "La Naïade et le pêcheur" (or «Наяда и рыбак» in Russian). The ballet premiered on February 11 (o.s. January 30), 1851 at the St. Petersburg Bolshoi Theatre with Cerrito re-appearing in her role as the naiad Ondine. The production was an enormous success & from then on, Perrot's "La Naïade et le pêcheur" would remain in the repertory of the Imperial Ballet at regular intervals via several revivals mounted years later by Marius Petipa.

The last notable revival of the ballet during the Imperial era in Russia was staged by Cesare Pugni's grandson, the legendary character dancer & ballet master Alexander Shiryaev for the great Anna Pavlova. This revival premiered on December 20 (o.s. December 7), 1903.

For the excerpts shown in this performance, Pyotr Gusev used his vast knowledge of the Imperial Ballet's repertory at the turn of the 20th century. This performance gives us an extremely rare glimpse of the ballets of old with regard to choreography. How much of it is "authentic" I cannot say, but it certainly seems to be, for the most part, the real thing.

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