Igor Stravinsky


ballet in one act

Recommended age +


Revised version and staging: People's Artist of the Russian Federation Andris Liepa 
Musical director: Honoured Artist of Ukraine Viktor Ploskina
Designer (based on scenography and costumes by Alexandre Benois): Anatoly Nezhny 
Lighting designer: Nina Ivankina
Assistant choreographers: Honoured Artist of Russia Igor Pivorovich, Honoured Artist of Russia Svetlana Romanova 
Assistant designer: Elena Netsvetaeva-Dolgaleva 
Running time: 40 minutes
Premiere: 6 June 2018

The performance was created with the participation of ViM Union

Carnival festivities in St Petersburg. Booths in Tsarina’s Meadow. A motley crowd is here: soldiers, merchants, dandies from St Petersburg, an old countess with her lackey, cadets, maids, and artisans. Organ grinders and street dancers appear. They feel chilly; nevertheless, they start to perform. The hustle and bustle is interrupted by the drumbeat. Two grenadiers of the time of Nikolai I pull the crowd aside and open a booth hidden behind a cotton curtain. A conjurer appears: the Magician is attired in oriental costume. He makes a pass with his hands and plays the flute. There are three puppets in the booth: the Moor to the left, the Ballerina in the middle, and Petrushka to the right. The puppets begin dancing, first inside the booth, and then amid the crowd. The Ballerina, a shallow coquette, alternates between the Moor and Petrushka; overcome with jealousy, the latter hits the rival with a stick. The lights go down. The curtain falls. The grenadiers enter: a drum roll is heard. 


Petrushka's dismal bleak room. Loneliness reigns here, like in a cell. A piercing shriek breaks the silence. The Magician’s foot forces Petrushka through the door. Pitiful and miserable, he falls on the floor. Petrushka cries. The Magician is rude and cruel to him, and his beloved Ballerina is infatuated with the Moor. Suddenly the Ballerina appears. Petrushka is happy. His feelings make him spin around. Oh, at last she is here! But the Ballerina is not going to stay in Petrushka's room any longer. She does not understand his joy and in fear moves back to the door and leaves. Petrushka is desolate and unneeded again. In despair, he rushes to the portrait of his merciless master, the Magician, and lets loose a stream of threats. What is to be done? There’s no way out. Flown into a frenzy, Petrushka breaks the wall of his room. The sound of an accordion is heard in the distance. Oh, there life and merriment are! Darkness. The grenadiers re-enter and beat drums.   


The Moor's room with exotic designs on the walls. The lazy Moor is lying on the sofa and playing with a big coconut. He likes the strange noise coming out of the nut, so he tries to crack it with his sabre, but he fails and starts praying. There is some supernatural power in the coconut – a deity for the stupid Moor. 


The door opens, and the Ballerina appears on the threshold. She is playing a cheerful melody on the cornet. The Moor is not very happy to see her and does not even try to hide it. But the Ballerina conquers him with her coquetry. The Moor tries to hug her. Suddenly the door flies open and Petrushka storms in screaming. Seething with rage, he runs around the room. The Moor thrusts him out. The Ballerina is delighted with the Moor's strength and courage and throws herself in his arms. The grenadiers re-enter and beat drums.


The carnival festivities continue. Night is falling. A group of nursemaids glide along slowly in a dance, followed by a peasant with his bear and a drunken merchant with two young gypsy girls. The merchant throws a pile of banknotes in the crowd. Coachmen and grooms dance to get warm. Masqueraders run in. Dances and merrymaking stop. Something is going on behind the cotton curtain of the booth, as if someone were trying to get out. Finally a frightened Petrushka runs out, the Moor chasing him. The latter kills Petrushka. The policeman on duty is sent for. But the Magician appears and explains to the crowd that it is just a death of a puppet and nothing more. He shows Petrushka's body filled with sawdust. The crowd disperses. A sudden piercing scream breaks the silence. In the pale glow of the moonlight, Petrushka appears on the roof of the booth. He shakes his fists threateningly at his tormentors.