Shostakovich - The Bolt - Part 1/8





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Published on Oct 18, 2008

The Bolt: Suite from the Ballet, Op. 27a

Ballet in three acts and seven scenes with libretto by Vladimir Smirnov

1. Overture (Introduction)
2. The Bureaucrat (Polka)
3. The Drayman's Dance (Variations)
4. Kozelkov's Dance with Friends (Tango)
5. Intermezzo
6. The Dance of the Colonial Slave-Girl
7. The Conciliator
8. General Dance of Enthusiasm and Apotheosis (Finale)

Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)
Conductor: Dmitry Yablonsky
Performer: Russian State Symphony Orchestra
World Premiere: April 8, 1931 at the Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet, Leningrad

Shostakovichs second ballet is a caustic and colourful tale of skulduggery and counter-revolutionary wickedness in a Soviet factory. The drunken and lazy Lyonka hates his work. Encouraged by a dangerous and subversive anti-Soviet schemer and also by the appalling example of the (equally drunken) local priest and his lazy and ignorant congregation, Lyonka is drawn into a plot to sabotage his factory by dropping a large bolt into a piece of machinery. Only the noble intervention of a group of brave Young Communists succeeds in saving the workplace and protecting the revolutionary future from the reactionary forces of darkness and conservatism.

The waspish and delightfully colourful score bowls along like a childrens cartoon-film, every number full of drama and parody and fine take-offs of serious and popular music of every kind. Among the highlights are the opening scene when the workers gather in the morning for their physical fitness class before hitting the conveyor belts, the appearance of pompous and opinionated officials and bureaucrats, a ridiculous church-going episode, and the exciting scene when the sabotage-conspiracy nearly succeeds and is only foiled at the last moment. There are also plenty of numbers which mimic the whirling and hammering sounds of modern factory machinery.

The original choreography was by the outstanding Fyodor Lopukhov, later famous for his restagings of the ballet-classics, but at this period best known for his avant-garde work. In The Bolt he made much play with dancers imitating the workings of machinery. Tatyana Brunis gaudy designs of a factory interior added to this effect.

The Bolt was not a success at its first performance and was immediately taken off. Shostakovich immediately began recycling the work in other pieces and also compiled a lively and entertaining concert-suite. Recent reconsideration and a revival, however, suggest that the ballet is very amusing and effective when staged complete.


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