One of the most intriguing events of the 1st All-Russia Ballet Forum, which is currently underway in the cultural centre of Siberia Krasnoyarsk (November 22nd to 28th), is the revival of the ballet “The Red Poppy” by Reingold Glier.
This production, as well as the forum itself, is dedicated to one of the most significant memorable dates of this year – the 100th birth anniversary of the great Russian ballet dancer Galina Ulanova. A perfect performer, she was iconic in the role of Giselle, Juliet, and a female swan. She danced equally perfectly in “The Red Poppy” ballet too.
What urged a well-known composer, Reingold Glier — the last romantic of the 20th century, as he was called — to create this ballet was a small article in the former Soviet newspaper “Pravda”. So he wrote the music, and the première show of the first Soviet ballet, based on a “revolutionary” plot, took place in 1927. “The Red Poppy” ballet was a great success in 1927.
In the Bolshoi Theatre alone “The Red Poppy” was shown 300 times in 3 seasons, and then “The Red Poppy” was staged, practically, in all cities of the former Soviet Union, in the former socialist countries and even in the USA. Moreover, there appeared the Red Poppy cafes and sweets, and also the Red Poppy perfume. “The Red Poppy” ballet was shown in Moscow in 1960 for the last time, and then it was forgotten as an anachronism.
However in February this year the Rome Opera Ballet, under the direction of Carla Fracci and her husband, the director, Beppe Menegatti, the ballet was re-staged for the first time in almost 50 years. It has been radically changed: now it is a story about love and aspirations for freedom in the broad sense of the word — an eternal topic. With Nikolay Androsov’s choreography, and the husband and wife team of Oksana Kucheruk and Igor Yebra in the leading roles together with local dancer Vito Mazzeo (now with the San Francisco Ballet) the première of the new version of Glier’s ballet stirred up much interest. Vladimir Vassiliev, who lives part of the year in Rome and is Carla Fracci’s friend and ex-partner, saw the ballet and has now brought the production back home.