"Esmeralda" is a ballet written in accordance with the canons of the romantic theatre of the mid-nineteenth century. In early 1840-ies Pugni was ordered to create music for the ballet by the famous novel by Victor Hugo "Notre-Dame de Paris". The libretto was written by one of the most famous choreographers of the time, Jules Joseph Perrot. In the libretto and the staging of "Esmeralda" Perrot saved the storyline of the original, however, the social theme, so vividly expressed by Hugo, in the ballet was turned into a personal drama.
Premiere of "Esmeralda" was held on 9 March 1844 at the Royal theatre in London. Four years later the ballet was staged at the Mariinsky theatre in St.Petersburg, two more years later in Moscow, and in 1856 in Paris. In 1886, Marius Petipa implemented a new staging of the ballet in four acts with the addition of Riccardo Eugenio Drigo’s music. In 1935 year the following version of the ballet in three acts, nine scenes was staged in the same theatre by Agrippina Vaganova, who involved composer Reinhold Glier into the work on "Esmeralda". Later in this version the ballet was performed in many other stages. Throughout the twentieth century, «Esmeralda» was performed on many stages of Europe in productions of different choreographers.
Conductor - the laureate of international contest Evgeny Khokhlov,
Choreographer – honored artist of Russia Yuri Burlaka,
Art Director – Dmitry Cherbadzhi (Moscow),
Costume Designer – Natalia Zemalindinova (Rostov-on-Don),
Assistant Choreographer – honored artist of Russia Yuliana Malkhasyants (Moscow).
Musical dramaturgy by Yuri Burlaka The original score by Cesare Pugni reconstructed by Alexander Troitsky after the archives of Naples Conservatory of Music San Pietro a Majella Orchestration by Reinhold Glière, additional music by Riccardo Drigo and Antoine Simon Spanish dance in scene 2, Adagio, Allegro, Fleur-de-Lys’s variation, coda in Grand pas des corbeilles, and pantomime in scenes 3 and 5 reconstructed by Andrey Galkin Variation of Esmeralda’s friends in scene 1 and Adagio in scene 5 choreographed by Yuri Klevtsov
Scene One. At the Parisian ‘Court of Miracles’ the beautiful gypsy girl Esmeralda marries the poet Pierre Gringoire, to save him from death in the hands of the Truands. The archdeacon of Notre Dame cathedral, Claude Frollo, is obsessed with the girl and orders his deformed henchman, Quasimodo, to abduct her. When Quasimodo attacks Esmeralda in the street, she is rescued by the King's Archers, led by their handsome captain Phoebus de Chateaupers. Phoebus is enchanted by the girl and gives her a scarf that was given to him by his fiancée, Fleur-de-Lys.
Scene Two. In her room, Esmeralda dreams of Phoebus and makes it clear to Gringoire that their marriage is strictly one of convenience, and teaches him to dance instead. Left alone, she is harassed by Frollo. She escapes, and he leaves with a dagger she has dropped.
Scene Three. Fleur-de-Lys and her mother hold a grand celebration for her engagement to Phoebus. Esmeralda, Gringoire and gypsy girls arrive to entertain the guests. Esmeralda is heartbroken when she sees that Fleur-de-Lys’s fiancé is none other than her beloved Phoebus. Fleur-de-Lys notices that Esmeralda is wearing the scarf that she gave to Phoebus and realising that he has fallen in love with another, angrily calls off the engagement.
Scene Four. Frollo hides in Esmeralda’s room and spies upon her date with Phoebus. Unable to bear it, sneaks up behind the lovers and stabs Phoebus with Esmeralda’s dagger. Phoebus falls unconscious. Frollo calls for the authorities and shows them the body of Phoebus and the dagger that was used to stab him, which is identified as Esmeralda's. The poor girl is taken away and sentenced to death.
Scene Five. At the city square, the Festival of Fools is under way and Esmeralda is due to be hanged for the murder of Phoebus. Her friends and Gringoire are all present and bid her farewell. Frollo offers to save her if she becomes his, but she refuses. Just as Esmeralda is led to the gallows, Phoebus arrives alive and well, having survived and recovered from the stabbing. He reveals the true culprit to be Frollo and announces that Esmeralda is innocent of any crime. Frollo takes a dagger and attempts to do away with them, but Quasimodo wrests the dagger from his master and throws him into the river Seine. Esmeralda and Phoebus are happily reunited.
Cesar Pugni (1802-1870).
Libretto By Jules Perrot.
Choreography By Marius Petipa.
Staging and new choreographic
version by Y. Burlaka.