The Magic Flute
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A comedic tale for audiences of all ages, this charming work tells the story of a young girl who loves a poor but proud boy, yet is forced by her crafty parents to wed a wealthy older man.
The Magic Flute, a ballet, has nothing to do with Mozart’s opera. While it shares the title and wonder-working instrument, it is a typical late-19th century pantomime-ballet in the tradition of the revived La Fille Mal Gardée (Petipa-Ivanov, 1882) and Harlequinade (Balanchine’s recension of Les Millions d’Harlequin (Petipa-Drigo, 1900).
The Magic Flute, choreography by Lev Ivanov, music by Riccardo Drigo was first performed March 10, 1893 as curtain-raiser for a performance at the Imperial Ballet School, St. Petersburg; Ivanov’s part was not admired. The cast included Mikhail Fokine (aged 13) as Luke, Stanilava Belinskaya (13) as Lise; Agrippina Vaganova (14) and Serge Legat (18). The ballet entered the repertory of the Maryinsky Theater the following April 23, with Ivanov’s steps further developed.
Anna Pavlova first danced Lise at the Maryinsky, December 19, 1901, with Nicholas Legat as Luke and Enrico Cecchetti as The Marquis. Aided by Cecchetti, Pavolva made her own version for her widely touring company with him as The Marquis and Alexandre Volinine as Luke. It was first performed in London, October 7, 1913; the following November 3rd at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Pavlova danced the ballet for many years.
In George Balanchine’s youth, in the Maryinsky Theater, he performed both the parts of The Marquis and Luke. It was at his suggestion that Peter Martins choreographed this ballet for the School of American Ballet’s annual workshop, creating his own version without reference to past productions. For the New York City Ballet production Mr. Martins has expanded the ballet, also adding new sets and costumes and children from the School of American Ballet.
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