Music by Valery Gavrilin
Choreography by Vladimir Vasiliev (revisions)
Alexander Belinsky, Author libretto
Vladimir Vasiliev, Author libretto
Bella Manevich, Designer
Alexander Lavrenyuk, Musical Director
Premiere of this production: 31 May 1986
Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Libretto by Alexander Belinsky
and Vladimir Vasiliev
after the story Anna on the Neck by Anton Chekhov
From the History of the Ballet
A television ballet film, with its long close-ups of the dancers, the acting episodes minus dance constructed according to the principles of dramatic theatre and the montage of alternative scenes, appears to be “untranslatable” into the medium of theatre. But it was on the basis of his television ballet film that Vasiliev created the original two-act ballet, Anyuta, which had its premiere in 1986, first in Italy, at Teatro di San Carlo di Napoli, and, later in the same year, at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre. And the creation was a great success.
The part of Anyuta was created especially for Yekaterina Maximova. In this, her second encounter with the role, her first being that in the television film, Maximova added many new traits to her characterization of the heroine, enlarging the image overall, while at the same time providing a more subtle delineation of the part. As is always the case with her interpretations, Yekaterina Maximova went beyond the contours of a specific image, creating an in-depth and multi-dimensional portrait. In Maximova’s Anyuta, one could perceive Anya from Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, Nerina from Talents and Admirers by Ostrovsky and Ibsen’s Nora. Without the slightest hint of overstatement, Maximova created a generalised image, imparting a truly Chekhovian intonation to her dancing of Anyuta. In this role she created an image of Beauty that was poignantly captivating and very fragile. As in the television version of the ballet, the part of Pyotr Leontevich was danced by Vladimir Vasiliev. The dancer’s outstanding acting ability was revealed here from a new angle, showing rare psychological insight and a disarming truth in his character’s behavior. Vasiliev’s Pyotr Leontievich was both touching, ridiculous and strikingly authentic. A key theme in Russian literature, that of the “small man”, was given an evocative portrayal in his creation of this role.
(text from the handbook, abridged
The author, Vladimir Vasiliev, tells about his ballet:
The melodies and rhythm of a literary work, which without hearing we sense fairly distinctly in the case of great writers, can only be conveyed in ballet if the visual harmonizes with the aural: music, noises, silent interludes, etc...
I say this since I have never been able to imagine a choreographic form for the expression of human thought without one or other of the above components, and when I heard the music of Valery Gavrilin, the composer chosen by producer Alexander Belinsky for the television ballet film Anyuta, it acted as a spur to my imagination. And I am still surprised at the perfect match in the skills of these two artists — the artist of the word and the artist of music.
We had need of a third artist — an artist, this time, in the literal sense of the term. This was to be designer Bella Manevich.
In our production of Anyuta, based on the well-known story, Anna on the Neck by Anton Chekhov we — composer, designer, choreographer-producer and conductor — sought for clarity and simplicity. The means we have chosen are by no means innovatory, indeed we reverted to the fine old forms of narrative classical ballet.
Following the death of his wife, Pyotr Leontievich, a school-teacher in a provincial town, is left with three children on his hands: a grown-up daughter, Anna (Anyuta), and two little boys, Petya and Andryusha. Grieving for the untimely passing away of his spouse, Pyotr Leontievich takes increasingly to the vodka bottle.
Modest Aleeyevich, a middle—aged official, asks for Anna’s hand in marriage. Anna accepts his proposal in the hope her marriage will save her family from poverty and herself from a life of undiluted tedium and semistarvation. Anna breaks up with her sweetheart, a poor student, and goes to live with Modest Alexeyevich. She realizes only too soon that her marriage will bring her no benefits: her husband, who is close-fisted and cold-hearted, with a practical, pragmatic outlook, has no intention of helping his wife`s relatives.
At a ball given to celebrate the Christmas holiday, Anna`s youth, intelligence and beauty win the hearts of all the men present. Artynov, a rich landowner, army officers and finally even His Excellency compete for the attentions and sympathy of Modest Alexeyevich`s young wife. They are ready to do anything in order to please Anna.
Anna is quite swept off her feet by her rapid ascent to fame. The attentions and love bestowed on her by the upper crust of society in a provincial town cause her to forget everything: her hateful, boring, dull-witted, as he now seems to her, husband, her drunkard father, her wretched, half-starving brothers, her former sweetheart.
Modest Alexeyevich, who immediately realizes that he stands to gain from his wife`s popularity, encourages her love affairs. His career and position in society come first for Modest Alexeyevich. Very soon he is awarded the order of St. Anne and he waits impatiently for new favours from his wife`s suitors.
Pyotr Leontievich is declared bankrupt. His few remaining belongings are confiscated and, on a frosty New Year`s Eve, he and his children are turned out into the street.
© Photo by Yelena Fetisova
© Bolshoi Theatre Libretto
1 Teatralnaya ploschad (1 Theatre Square), Moscow, Russia
4/2 Teatralnaya ploschad (4/2 Theatre Square), Moscow, Russia