Ballet in two acts after a libretto by Paul Foucher and Joseph Mazilier (1846)

Choreography Alexei Ratmansky, Marius Petipa · Composer Edouard-Marie-Ernest Deldevez, Ludwig Minkus, u.a.

Thursday, 10. July 2003
07:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Duration est. 3 hours · 1 Interval between 1. Akt and 2. Akt (est. 07:50 pm - 08:20 pm )

Premiere at 13. December 2014

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Musikalische Leitung
Zubin Mehta
Eike Gramss
Bühne und Kostüme
Gottfried Pilz
Manfred Voss
Sören Eckhoff

Sir John Falstaff
Ambrogio Maestri
Lucio Gallo
Rainer Trost
Dr Cajus
Ulrich Reß
Anthony Mee
Mario Luperi
Mrs Alice Ford
Adrianne Pieczonka
Rebecca Evans
Mrs Quickly
Marjana Lipovsek
Mrs Meg Page
Katarina Karnéus
  • Soloists and corps de ballet of the Bavarian State Ballet
  • Bayerisches Staatsorchester
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It is a story superbly told by the ballet of the 19th century: A young aristocrat, Lucien d'Hervilly, falls in love with the beautiful gypsy girl Paquita in the Spanish province of Saragossa, an area heavily besieged by French military troops. Lucien, however, is already betrothed to the daughter of the Spanish governor, Don Lopez de Mendoza, in what is considered a most beneficial political alliance. Driven by his nationalistic loathing for the French assailants, Don Lopez – together with Paquita's jealous guardian, the gypsy Inigo – concocts a plan to assassinate Lucien.

Paquita, however, eavesdrops on their conspiratorial exchange and foils their scheme. In a moment of utter desperation, when the young couple despairs of the supposedly insurmountable class difference which divides them, the true identity of Paquita is revealed. She is, in fact, Lucien's cousin who was thought abducted by bandits when only a child.

The ballet's plot as set down in the libretto does not pretend to obey the laws of narrative realism or plausibility; mistaken wine goblets, a portrait hanging at the right place at the right time, and a locket cherished and preserved since childhood are the elements which determine the story's unraveling. Like in many of the great operas by Verdi, the most momentous truths lie concealed beneath the apparently inconsequential improbabilities of the plotline. In this case, the artistic verity of the ballet Paquita unfolds itself in the overwhelming force of its choreographic and formal grandeur. With this piece, Marius Petipa yet again succeeded in transforming a French romantic ballet into a major work of Russian classicism, attesting once more to his standing as the greatest genius of 19th ballet.


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Act I The Valley of the Bulls near Zaragoza in Spain 1813, the country is occupied by French troops.

A stonemason is about to finish the inscription on an monument in memory of the murder of the French Count d’Hervilly, his wife and their daughter by bandits, fifteen years previously. The monument was ordered by count d'Hervilly's brother, the French General d'Hervilly. He comes to unveil the monument, accompanied by his mother and his son Lucien. Also present for the festivities are the Spanish Governor of the Province, Don Lopez de Mendoza, and his daughter Serafina. Doña Serafina and Lucien are betrothed – a political calculation, as usual in those days.

For the festivities of the unveiling of the monument a group of gypsies has been engaged to provide dance entertainment. Inigo is their leader, Paquita the first dancer.

The gypsies first show a delightful pas de trois, then a great ensemble dance, the pas des manteaux, for which half of the gypsy girls dress as men. Highlight is the pas de sept bohémiens where Paquita can show her dancing skills, accompanied by six girls.

Lucien is immediately attracted to the young gypsy who is so outstanding within the group of gypsies. With his interest in Paquita Lucien gets in the way of Inigo who is passionately in love with Paquita. She does not return his affection, while she has taken notice of the young French officer who so boldly tries to defend her against the attacks of the furious Inigo. She turns to Lucien with confidence to show him a medallion that she has preserved, carefully hidden, since childhood. She is convinced that the portrait must give an indication of her parents. And even now, in this place, everything seems reminiscent of this long ago moment of her childhood when she had to witness the bloody massacre from which she was narrowly rescued. But in her quarrel with Inigo she loses the medallion which Inigo quickly grabs. Paquita is desperate with the loss.

In the meantime the Governor Don Lopez hatches his own plot. In no way does he consider a conciliatory marriage between Serafina and Lucien. He plans Lucien's death. He takes advantage of Inigo's jealousy. Together they plan the murder of the young French officer. Paquita and Lucien meet once again. Lucien declares his love for her. She draws his attention to the great complications of their situation: his engagement to Serafina, his high social rank. She is not even willing to give him a small bunch of flowers as token of her affection. He does not take 'no' for an answer. Only Inigo seperates the two.

The festivities are coming to an end. Inigo initiates his murderous intrigue: he hires a gypsy girl to present Lucien with some flowers that were allegedly sent by Paquita. For Lucien this is the sign that Paquita is prepared to meet with him in a secret place. Only Inigo knows what actually is awaiting him there…

Act II
A deserted underground tavern, inhabited by the gypsies

Paquita thinks of the handsome officer whom perhaps she will never meet again. She hides as she notices the arrival of Inigo and the Governor Don Lopez. The two discuss details of the murder of Lucien. Four gypsies are part of the plan. Inigo plans to make Lucien unconscious with a drink of wine, poisoned by a sleeping powder. Then he is to be stabbed to death. A tricky revolving wall is part of the plan.

Paquita gives herself away with a loud noise and needs all her powers of persuasion to convince Inigo that she has neither heard nor seen anything. Then Lucien appears, drenched by a thunderstorm and convinced that Paquita has asked him to come to a meeting. Paquita tries to make him realize the imminent danger. They sit down for a meal. In its course Inigo's plans to make Lucien drink the poisoned wine. However, Paquita succeeds in a daring action to exchange the glasses of Lucien and Inigo. Inigo drinks the poisoned drink he has prepared for Lucien and falls asleep. To her great joy Paquita even discovers her lost medallion that slipped from Inigo's pocket in all the turmoil. Lucien and Paquita throw Lucien's coat over Inigo's head and escape. The gypsies, hired for the murder, arrive and stab the person at the table, hidden under Lucien's coat. They are horrified to discover that they killed Inigo.

A large ballroom in the house of the French commander in Zaragoza

In the French commander's house the ball is in full swing. French ladies in splendid dresses come with the impressive members of the Napoleonic army. There are also members of the Spanish aristocracy in their national costumes. While the guests line up for contredanse and gavotte, Lucien’s grandmother is concerned about his absence.

Full of amazement the crowd separates: Lucien and Paquita appear hand in hand and tell about their adventures. Lucien declares that he wants to marry the girl who saved him. Paquita, however, still refuses his marriage proposal. When she discovers the Governor of the Province, Don Lopez, among the guests she unmasks him as the main schemer in the thwarted intrigue. He is arrested and led away. Suddenly a painting catches Paquita’s eye. It is the portrait of a French officer. No doubt – the person on the painting is identical with her medallion – and that proves that Paquita is the daughter believed dead of the murdered Count d’Hervilly! Happily the General now gives his blessing to the marriage of his retrieved niece with his son and the festivities can continue.

Clad like a lady of French aristocracy Paquita returns and dances amidst the guests of the ball the famous Grand Pas, a brilliant suite of entrée, adagio, solo variations culminating in the soli of Lucien and Paquita and a virtuoso coda.

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A team of artists and scientists with Alexei Ratmansky at the helm reconstructs Marius Petipa's full-length ballet Paquita for the Bavarian State Ballet. This enterprise stands fully in the company's tradition of critically examining and probing the great works of the 19th century.

By consulting a considerable amount of source material, Alexei Ratmansky will stage a reworking which will attempt to do justice to the spirit of the original version as well as to the audience's high expectations and – in comparison to the 19th century – radically altered modes of reception. As with all the prior reconstruction-projects of the Bavarian State Ballet, both artistic and scientific advisors will support the choreographer in the analysis of the musical and choreographic sources at hand. The advisors for this specific production are, most notably, Maria Babanina, Doug Fullington and Marian Smith. Originally from St. Petersburg, the pianist and music historian Maria Babanina has been with the Bavarian State Ballet since 1990, in which capacity she arranged the musical scores of La Bayadère, Raymonda and Le Corsaire. Doug Fullington, who retains a long-standing employment with the Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) in Seattle, recreated Le Corsaire for the Munich company by consulting the so-called Sergejew-papers. These documents contained – among other things – choreographic records in Stepanov-notation which Ivan Liška integrated in his own reworking of the piece. Correspondingly, Alexei Ratmansky will bring to life the Stepanov-notations of Paquita as deciphered by Doug Fullington.

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Zubin Mehta was born in 1936 and grew up in a musical family in his native Bombay. After first studying medicine for two semesters he concentrated on music in Hans Swarowsky's conducting class at the Vienna academy.

Zubin Mehta won the Liverpool International Conducting Competition in 1958 and was also a prize-winner at the Koussevitzky Competition in Tanglewood. By his mid-twenties he had already conducted both the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras and retains close ties with both.

Zubin Mehta was Music Director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra from 1961 to 1967 becoming Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in 1962, a post he retained until 1978. In 1969 he also became Music Adviser to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and was made Music Director of that orchestra in 1977. In 1981 he was made Music Director for life. Zubin Mehta has conducted nearly two thousand concert performances with this extraordinary ensemble on tours spanning five continents. In 1978 he became Music Director of the New York Philharmonic commencing a tenure lasting 13 years, the longest in the orchestra's history and, since 1985, he has been chief conductor of the Maggio Musicale in Florence.

Zubin Mehta made his debut as an opera conductor with Tosca in Montreal in 1964. Since then he has conducted at the Metropolitan Opera New York, the Vienna State Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, La Scala Milan, and the opera houses of Montreal, Chicago and Florence as well as at the Salzburg Festival.

Zubin Mehta's list of awards and honours is extensive and includes the "Nikisch-Ring" from the Vienna Philharmonic as well as having been made, in 2001, an honorary member of the orchestra. He is an honorary citizen of both Florence and Tel Aviv and was made an honorary member of the Vienna State Opera in 1997. In 1999 Zubin Mehta was presented the "Lifetime Achievement Peace and Tolerance Award" of the United Nations by Lea Rabin. In April 2001 President Chirac created him "Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur". In January 2004 the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra bestowed the title of "Honorary Conductor" on Zubin Mehta.

Zubin Mehta has been Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera and the Bavarian State Orchestra from 1998 to 2006. Quite apart from his commitments and responsibilities for the musical leadership of new productions, repertory performances and concerts associated with this position, he has also led the State Orchestra on two major European tours and the whole opera company on tours to Japan.

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