Franceska Da Rimini ballet

Music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky

Choreography by Anatoly Emelianov

The premiere of the ballet was held on June 7th, 2018 in Moscow, Russia.

History of the performance

Pyotr Tchaikovsky

In 1876, P.I. Tchaikovsky was looking for a topic for creating an opera, and he came across with the libretto of critic K.I. Zvantseva. The basis of the libretto was Dante’s Divine Comedy, specifically the Fifth Song from the first part, Hell, where Dante notices Francesca da Rimini among the restless souls. Tchaikovsky was not going to create an opera with such a plot, but the tragic story of the dead lovers deeply excited him. As a result, a symphonic fantasy appeared, telling this sad story in the language of exclusively music. But beautiful melodies combined with a beautiful legend could not fail to get on the ballet stage!

For the first time, the ballet Francesca da Rimini was staged by Mikhail Fokin at the Mariinsky Theater in November 1915 to the music of Tchaikovsky. That very evening another ballet was going on in his production – Eros, also to the music of Tchaikovsky (Serenade for String Orchestra). It was a charity concert. Critics didn’t like“Francesca”- the work seemed too illustrative, literally reproducing the libretto, without its own choreographic theme. The heroine’s dramatic story about her love and death was not even “danced”: Fokin decided it with pantomime.

The following production was carried out in 1937, with the help of the “Russian Ballet of Colonel de Basil” (under this pseudonym was hiding Vasily Voskresensky, entrepreneur and organizer of Russian ballet performances abroad), on the stage of the Royal Theater “Covent Garden” in London. The libretto was created by ballet choreographer David Lishin in collaboration with G. Clifford.

In 1958, Francesca was danced in the Theater of the Champs Elysees by Jeanine Charrа’s troupe of the Ballet of France.  As a choreographer, Sharra invited Serge Lifar, who was fired from the Paris Opera.

In 1959, the work of K.F. Boyarsky became a notable production of Francesca da Rimini. He carefully studied all the materials related to Fokine’s underestimated production, and tried to rethink the work: Francesca’s story became more intense and dramatic, a wedding scene, replacement of  the fiancé,  Franceska’s fainting and many other directorial discoveries appeared.

The ballet Francesca da Rimini experienced many productions in the theaters of the USSR.

Anatoly Emelyanov turned to this material with the troupe of his theater “The Crown of Russian Ballet”. Today, Francesca is included in the repertoire of Modern Russian Ballet – Emelyanov’s Dance Troupe.

The content of Francesca da Rimini ballet

Dante, accompanied by his companion Virgil, descends to the second circle of hell, where the souls of sinners rush in a frantic, unstoppable whirlwind. It turns out that the people who have tasted forbidden passion are doomed to suffer there  forever. Dante recognizes one of the tormented souls – it is a beautiful girl Francesca. She tells the poet the mournful story of her love.

Two families – da Polenta from Ravenna and Malatesta from Rimini – lived in a long family enmity until Guido da Polenta decided to extinguish the flames of this feud, marrying his daughter, the beautiful Francesca, to Giancotto Matalatesta. But according to the tradition, the younger brother of the fiancé, young and attractive Paolo, came to match the girl, and she fell in love with him.

She was deeply disappointed with the wedding with the ugly, spiteful, and jealous Giancotto, the cruel master of Rimini. And the two lovers continued to meet, unable to live without each other. They behaved chastely, knowing that their passion was forbidden. But once they happened to read a novel together, as if in a mirror reflecting what had happened to them. This was a book about the  Knight of a Round Table, Lancelot, who fell in love with Queen Guinevere, wife of King Arthur. Their love was also mutual and irresistible! When Francesca and Paolo read until the kiss of Lancelot and Guinevere, they could not restrain themselves – merged in a hug, and the book fell out of their hands. But at  that very moment Francesca’s legal spouse entered. Giancotto did not have mercy on the unfaithful wife and her lover – he killed both of them. Since they committed a sin by violating the sacrament of marriage, both got to  the second circle of hell.

Having told his story, Francesca again merges into the frantic cycle of sinful souls, and Dante, exhausted by pity and fear, passes out.

About performance The Polovtsian Dances.