Kara Karayev

Seven Beauties

ballet in two acts

Recommended age 16+


Libretto, choreography and staging: international and all-union competitions winner Yury Puzakov
Set designer: recipient of the Francysk Skaryna Medal, laureate of the State Prize of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Kostiuchenko
Lighting: Ildar Bederdinov
Costumes: Ekaterina Bulgakova
Conductor: Honoured Art Worker of the Republic of Belarus Nikolai Koliadko
Assistant choreographer: Valeria Vopnyarskaya
Running time: 2 hours 5 minutes with one interval
Premiere: 23 November 2013


Act I

Shah Bahram is formidable and brave. His courage and success have ensured his reputation as fearless warrior, a commander who terrifies and appals his enemies. The Vizier accompanies Bahram in all campaigns and entertainments. 
The enemy’s fortress is seized. The soldiers lead out prisoners and carry out loot. The Vizier boasts of the most valuable trophy, Seven Beauties, the prettiest women collected all over the world. Moved by the beauty of the captives, Bahram orders to give them to him. The Vizier is reluctant to do it, but finally obeys. The Shah gives the Vizier a fine dagger as a token of friendship. The Vizier vows fidelity. 
Bahram feasts his eye on the Beauties, being careful not to ruin a fragile world of beauty by his ardour. The Vizier watches the Shah jealously: he hatches a cunning plan to get rid of his master, capture the kingdom and take possession of the Seven Beauties. The malefactor gives a murderer the Shah’s gift, the dagger, and sends him to Bahram.
The sovereign gives a feast in his palace. The guests are enraptured by the dance of the Seven Beauties. Excited by what he sees, Bahram closets himself with them. Befuddled by the night of love, the Shah falls asleep. The murderer steals into the room and thrusts the Shah with the dagger. The murderer’s accomplices pick up Bahram’s lifeless body to throw it into a chasm. In triumph, the Vizier puts on Bahram’s golden burnous that symbolizes power. 
A hamlet in the mountains. Young and light-hearted shepherd Manzar and his sister Aysha are on the way back from the pastures. Playing a game, Aysha stands on the edge of the precipice and notices a body down. Manzar and his friends take the stranger in rich clothes out of the chasm. With his ear on the man’s chest, Manzar hears faint heartbeats. The wounded is transported into the house. Aysha finds the fine dagger covered with blood and scrutinizes it with curiosity. 

Act II

Time has passed. Bahram has recovered, but his memory hasn’t returned yet. The Shah rejoices at life, sunlight, and unexpected happiness. He is in love with the common girl who has returned him to life. Bahram declares his love to Aysha. His feeling isn’t unrequited: the lover’s happiness is shared by Aysha. 
The villagers gather to celebrate the news of Aysha and Bahram’s coming wedding. After stirring dances as well as her exultant dance, the girl gives Bahram her find – the dagger. Bahram recognizes his weapon. He regains his memory. Now he knows who has attempted to kill him. Now that the Vizier’s cunning plan is revealed, it’s time for the Shah to take revenge. Manzar and all the male villagers go to the palace.
The palace. Having occupied the Shah’s place, the Vizier rejoices at his power and enjoys the company of the Seven Beauties. Their revelry is interrupted by the news about the Shah’s resurrection and an imminent siege of the fortress. A new cunning plan comes to the Vizier’s mind.
Bahram and his soldiers are ready to attack the palace. Suddenly its gates open. The Vizier fawns over the Shah, gives him the burnous, stabs the murderer to death, and the Seven Beauties surround the Shah. Bahram loses self-control and follows the seductresses to the world of divine bliss. Aysha’s attempts to stop her lover are in vain. The Vizier is charmed by the girl’s beauty and is eager to make her his concubine. 
The Shah’s bedroom. Dazzled by the phantasmal world, Bahram drains sweet poison of lust and loses his strength. Laughing at a prostrate Shah, the Beauties turn into ugly furies and disappear. When delusion fades away, Bahram remembers about Aysha. The thought of her anguish pierces his heart. Bahram sets off for the hamlet where he was once really happy. 
Grief clutches at Aysha’s heart: she takes his unfaithfulness very hard. Her friends’ efforts to calm her down are in vain: the unhappy girl cannot forget her love. The Vizier and his guards come to her: he suggests treasure for having Aysha’s love. Turned down, the Vizier uses force to take advantage of her. Manzar rushes to help his sister. The guards capture the brave young man, but with his friends’ help Manzar drives him backwards in combat and throws him down into the abysm. 
Pining for Aysha, Bahram begs the girl for forgiveness. Despite her love to Bahram, her pride and pain of the offense prevent her from forgiving his unfaithfulness. Bahram appeals to Manzar and his friends for support, but they demand that he leave the hamlet. Bahram cannot bear their contempt: he prefers death to disgrace. Bahram plunges into the abysm. 
The villagers cluster around Aysha and Manzar. They are not afraid of any tribulations: people’s strength is in unity and loyalty. They are full of hope for the future.