In 1900, the master choreographer Marius Petipa – whose works include Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote and La Bayadère – created Harlequinade, a sweet-hearted romp based on commedia dell’arte characters, for the Tsar and Tsarina. It was a hit, but after the 1917 Revolution the full-length ballet disappeared from the stage.
Alexei Ratmansky, former director of the Bolshoi Ballet and artist in residence at American Ballet Theatre, has deeply immersed himself in the works of Petipa, producing meticulously researched revivals. Through intensive study of the Harlequinade notation held at Harvard University, he has breathed new life into this cheeky, bubbly ballet.
Harlequin and Columbine are in love, but her father, who wants her to marry a rich older man, has her locked up by his loyal servant, Pierrot. Pierrot’s wife, sympathetic to the young couple, helps her escape, and a Good Fairy gives Harlequin a magical slap stick that helps him triumph over the odds and win Columbine’s hand.
Robert Perdziola’s extravagant, colour-saturated design for Harlequinade’s cast of thousands (including more than 30 children) is based on his study of the original sets and costumes. The music is by Riccardo Drigo, a close collaborator of Tchaikovsky’s, who arranged the score for Swan Lake.
After his century-long sleep, the irrepressible Harlequin is wide awake and ready to charm ballet lovers of all ages in this Melbourne-exclusive season.
The antics of Harlequinade, featuring Petipa's inventive choreography and deft humour.Benedicte Bemet. Photography Kate Longley / Artists of American Ballet Theatre. Photography Erin Baiano, Rosalie O’Connor and Mary Sohl
Choreography Marius Petipa
Staging and additional choreography Alexei Ratmansky
Music Riccardo Drigo
Scenery and costume designs Robert Perdziola inspired by Orest Allegri and Ivan Vsevolozhsky
Lighting design Brad Fields
With Orchestra Victoria
Harlequinade is a co-production of American Ballet Theatre and The Australian Ballet.
The Australian Ballet's season of Harlequinade is generously supported by The Melba Cromack Bequest, The Frank & Thora Pearce Fund and the Margaret Ellen Pidgeon Fund for Classical Ballet.