April 9-12 and 16-19, 2008
The Classic Story: Firebird
The Crucible’s version of this classic Russian folktale begins in the enchanted garden of the evil sorcerer, Kashchei. A group of beautiful maidens have discovered a magical orb, whose power lures them to it, trapping them just as the evil Kashchei appears. The maidens struggle to break free of the orb’s power, but cannot release themselves, and Kashchei leads them away.
Suddenly, a fire ball explodes, and the mysterious Firebird appears in its wake. She is enjoying herself in the forest when Prince Ivan, who is out hunting, spots her. He is entranced, and gives chase. After a wild pursuit, Prince Ivan finally captures the fantastic creature. The Firebird pleads for her freedom, and finally Prince Ivan grants it. In return, she presents him with a magic feather, telling him it can be used to summon her if he is ever in need.
Prince Ivan climbs the wall into Kashchei’s garden and spies the group of maidens frolicking and dancing. Hiding in the trees, he watches them, and quickly becomes smitten with the maiden Tsarevna. He reveals himself and much merrymaking ensues. Ivan and Tsarevna have fallen in love at first sight, but all too soon trumpets and fire herald Kashchei’s return.
Kashchei is furious that his garden has been invaded and his guards attack the group, capturing Ivan. Tsarevna pleads for mercy, but Kashchei only revels in her despair, calling for his henchmen to torture Prince Ivan. Remembering his gift from the Firebird, Prince Ivan pulls out the feather. The Firebird comes to the rescue, and emboldens the maidens to put up a fight. Working together, Ivan and Tsarevena discover that the secret to Kashchei’s immortality lies within the orb; they smash it and break all his evil spells. Good triumphs over evil, prince and princess declare their love in a wedding ceremony, and live happily ever after.
Sergei Diaghilev commissioned a complete score for his ballet for the 1910 season of Ballet Russe. The resulting Firebird score was the fruit of close collaboration between librettist and choreographer, Michel Fokine, and Igor Stravinsky, and marked the first time music was created specifically for, and as an integral part of a ballet. Diaghilev was a great talent scout and a visionary who promoted collaboration between the arts. Stravinsky became celebrated as one of the greatest composers for the ballet. While they may be rolling over in their graves, we beg their forgiveness for the creative liberties taken with their music and libretto for this unique production.