Paquita

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..

Premiere at 13. December 2014

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.