Shéhérazade / Les Biches / Once Upon An Ever After

Choreography Mikhail Fokine / Bronislawa Nijinska / Terence Kohler · Composer Nikolai Rimski-Korsakow / Francis Poulenc / Peter I. Tschaikowksy

Tuesday, 27. October 2009
07:30 pm – 10:30 pm

Duration est. 3 hours · Shéhérazade (est. 07:30 pm - 08:15 pm ) · Interval (est. 08:15 pm - 08:35 pm ) · Les Biches (est. 08:35 pm - 09:10 pm ) · Interval (est. 09:10 pm - 09:40 pm ) · Once Upon An Ever After (est. 09:40 pm - 10:25 pm )

Prices G

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Bayerisches Staatsorchester


Musikalische Leitung
Valery Ovsyanikov
Choreographische Rekonstruktion
Isabelle Fokine
Mikhail Fokine
Nikolai Rimski-Korsakow
Bühne und Kostüme nach den Original-Entwürfen von
Léon Bakst
Christian Kass
Realisierung Bühnenbild
Ulrich Franz
Realisierung Kostüme
Astrid Eisenberger

Daria Sukhorukova
Der Goldene Sklave
Lukáš Slavický
Cyril Pierre
Schah Zeman
Norbert Graf
Erster Eunuch
Vincent Loermans
Drei Odalisken
Ekaterina Petina
Drei Odalisken
Martina Balabanova
Drei Odalisken
Emma Barrowman

Les Biches

Bronislawa Nijinska
Francis Poulenc
Bühne und Kostüme
Marie Laurencin
Christian Kass

Dame des Hauses
Zuzana Zahradníková
Dame in Blau
Daria Sukhorukova
Drei Athleten
Matej Urban
Drei Athleten
Maxim Chashchegorov
Drei Athleten
Nour El Desouki
Mädchen in Grau
Elena Karpuhina
Mädchen in Grau
Mai Kono

Once Upon An Ever After

Terence Kohler
Peter I. Tschaikowsky
Bühne, Kostüme und Lichtinstallation

Ilana Werner
Emma Barrowman
Stephanie Hancox
Variation II
Zuzana Zahradníková
Lucia Lacarra
Alen Bottaini
Marlon Dino
Nour El Desouki
Variation I
Lukáš Slavický
Vincent Loermans
  • Soloists and corps de ballet of the Bavarian State Ballet
  • Bayerisches Staatsorchester
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The Ballets Russes, a formation brought together by Serge Diaghilew in the early 19th century, truly crossed boundaries and reconciled the arts. Their productions were all at once: Ecstatic forays into the past, saturated with the lushest and most vibrant colours, indulging in excess, and of the strictest formal purity – in short, synonymous for avant-garde.

After their triumphant first season in Paris in 1909, the Ballets Russes quickly took the world by storm. At the same time as this unique group made its first appearances in Germany, catapulting its audiences into a state of frenzy, Germany's own dance scene was celebrating equally revolutionary changes. The stylistic heterogeneity of the works by the Ballets Russes, the mysterious mixture of contemporaneity, opulence and exoticism has lost none of its fascination. In staging Les Ballets Russes, the Bavarian State Ballet stayed true to its commitment to critically engaging with works of the past.

Shéhérazade, a tragic tale of love, desire and death which seemed almost lost to posterity, was fastidiously reconstructed, as was Les Biches, a humourous episode set in the Côte d'Azur of the 1902s and exuding the charm, frivolity and eroticism.

Once upon an ever after – an evocative title derivative of fairytale syntax since time immemorial. Terence Kohler's choreography, set to Tschaikowky's – who else!? – Pathétique, is a journey through dance history which redistributes and -interprets staple figures of classical Russian narrative ballet. Giselle and Albrecht are driven away by Rotbart, who is later barred from entering Auroras castle by briars… This to and fro, this flitting through narrative structures and plot lines is mirrored constantly and "ever after" in the artist rosalie's superb light-object stage design for Kohler's creation.


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When the curtain rises the Shah Sharyar is seated on the divan with his favourite wife, Zobéide, on his left hand and his brother, Shah Zeman, on his right. Zobéide solicits the caresses of her lord, but he is in an angry mood, for his brother has hinted that his wives are unfaithful. Sharyar summons the chief Eunuch, who commands three odalisques to entertain their lord with dances. But he soon tires of them and announces his intention of starting on a hunting expedition. The women entreat him to stay, but Zobéide suspects that the journey is a pretext of the Shahriar to seek the favours of another. But he is not to be deterred, and accompanied by his brother, passes out of the harem.

As soon as he is gone the women throng about the blue doors, then bring out caskets of jewels, with which they adorn themselves. Presently two of their number depart and return with the Chief Eunuch, whom they bribe to open the doors. From the first comes a group of slaves in rose, from the second a similar group in green. With ingratiating leers they soon make love to the women and, seizing the objects of their admiration, disappear among the shadows. The Chief Eunuch is now approached by Zobéide who bids him open the last door, which he does in great fear of the consequences. From this door emerges a single slave clad in gold, who fawns at Zobéide’s feet. Fruit and wine is brought in and musicians inflame passions with the thrumming of their tambourines. The women and slaves begin a dance which grows more and more passionate and soon becomes a wild orgy. As the orgy reaches its height, there return Shahriar, mad with rage, and his brother. With a dramatic gesture Shahriar raises his hand and guards, armed with flashing scimitars, pour into the harem and cut down slaves and women. The golden slave is the last to be slain.

Shahriar confronts Zobéide, sad at heart, that she, too, has proved unfaithful. He is minded to pardon her, when his brother indicates the body of her lover. At this his rage rekindles and he motions to the guards, but Zobéide snatches a dagger from the nearest and kills herself. As she expires, Shahriar buries his face in his hands.


Scene and time: A summer afternoon on the Côte d’Azur; a villa with wide open windows and undoubtedly also open doors, furnished with an atmosphere of luxurious minimalism, favoured by the fashionable interior designers of the nineteen-twenties.

Dramatis personae: A crowd of young women (the “Biches” of the title*), a mysterious figure in blue, the sophisticated hostess and three rather sportive lads who in their tight-fitting bathing costumes cause the inevitable erotic confusion among the female element.

A frivolous game of flirtation (and behind the scenes maybe more than that): a mixture of giggling naivety and snobbery, the portrait of an age and a society, “the most stylish ballet ever invented”. It is a playful, slightly spiteful comment on the kind of fashionable party in which – although mirrored in a clearly defined epoch – the luxury craving “smart set” of all times can recognize themselves. 

With this work Bronislawa Nijinska pioneered neoclassicism in ballet, long before George Balanchine. After Fokine’s reforms and the avant-garde experiments of her brother Vaslav, Bronislawa Nijinska again used the pure, classical vocabulary in her choreographies, expressive both of the music and the dramatic situation, in a masterly way. The greatness of the music, choreography and setting allows “Les Biches” to transcend its era and speak to the discerning public of each new generation. 

*Les Biches is French for the young hinds, but figuratively also used for young ladies.

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