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The ultimate story of sin and redemption, Prodigal Son's powerful message, expressive score, and dramatic movement make it eternally impactful.
Serge Diaghilev, who founded Ballets Russes in 1911, was a ballet and opera impresario who brought together the best of new music, dance, and visual art in his productions. George Balanchine was hired by Diaghilev in 1924 and created several ballets before the company disbanded in 1929, after Diaghilev's sudden death.
Prodigal Son was the last of Balanchine's works for Ballets Russes; it premiered in 1929, opening what was to be the company's final Paris season. Diaghilev commissioned Sergei Prokofiev to write the score and Georges Rouault to design the Fauvist sets and costumes. The ballet's story comes from the biblical parable, but Boris Kochno added much dramatic material and, to emphasize the themes of sin and redemption, ended the story with the Prodigal's return home.
Prodigal Son was enthusiastically received by both audience and critics and was one of Balanchine's first ballets to achieve an international reputation. Its eternal themes, expressive score, and abstract but thoroughly dramatic movement make it as modern, exciting, and powerful today as it was in 1929.
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