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Petrouchka, the ballet, was composed by Igor Stravinsky in 1910-11. The setting takes place at the Shrovetide fair in Admiralty Square, St. Petersburg, in 1830. The main characters are the Charlatan, the wicked director of amusements, and the puppets he keeps confined backstage ... the Moor, the Ballerina, and Petrouchka. When the Charlatan blows his flute, the three puppets spark to life, transformed into real people with real feelings. They leap from their little stage and dance in a frenzy among the thrilled and astounded carnival-goers.
Later, the Charlatan throws Petrouchka back in his dark cell. Petrouchka is humiliated and yearns to escape the Charlatan's cruel treatment. He also tries to express the love he feels for the Ballerina, but she rejects him for the Moor.
In the final scene, evening has come, and the carnival is in full swing. There is much dancing and merriment in the street. Suddenly Petrouchka runs through the square, followed by the Moor in hot pursuit, brandishing a sword! The crowd is horrified when the Moor catches up and cuts Petrouchka down. The Moor then flees with the Ballerina.
Petrouchka tries to rise, then falls back lifeless. The Charlatan calms the crowd and police by showing them that the dead man is merely a puppet filled with sawdust. The crowd, relieved, departs and the Charlatan walks slowly towards his booth, dragging the limp figure behind him. Suddenly, Petrouchkas ghost appears on the roof of the theater, his cry now in the form of an angry protest. The Charlatan flees in terror, with a single frightened glance over his shoulder. The scene is hushed, leaving the spectators to wonder who was real and who was not.
The character, Petrouchka, was first danced by Vaslav Nijinsky and many years later by Rudolph Nureyev.
September 12th, 2013
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