Cipollino, or Little Onion as translated from the original, is a fictional character from Gianni Rodari's eponymous Tale of Cipollino (Italian: Il romanzo di Cipollino), also known under its 1957 renamed title Adventures of Cipollino (Italian: Le avventure di Cipollino), a children's tale about political oppression. He also appeared before the publication of the book in the children's magazine Il Pioniere, which Rodari was editor.
Cipollino was popular in the Soviet Union, up to the point of being adapted as a ballet composed by Karen Khachaturian and choreographed by Genrikh Alexandrovich Maiorov, originally staged in Taras Shevchenko National Opera and Ballet Theatre of Ukraine in 1974.
In a world inhabited by anthropomorphic produce, Cipollino fights the unjust treatment of his fellow vegetable townsfolk by the fruit royalty (Prince Lemon and the overly proud Signore Pomodoro) in the garden kingdom. The main theme is the struggle of the underclass against the powerful, good versus evil, and the importance of friendship in the face of difficulties.
Choreographer Genrikh Mayorov Musical Director Andrey Danilov Production Designer Dmitry Cherbadzhi Assistant Choreographer Anna Mayorova
A city square in a fairy land populated with fruits and vegetables who look and behave just like we do. The Radish family socializes with the Onion family, Master Grapelet repairs the citizens’ shoes, Professor Pear plays the violin, and everyone dances. Suddenly Signore Pomodoro announces the arrival of Prince Lemon. The Prince has levied new taxes on his people: taxes on sunlight, rain and wind. People are outraged. In the crowd Cipollino steps on Prince Lemon’s foot. Unable to catch the rebellious insulter, the guards arrest his father Cipollone instead. Godfather Pumpkin needs a house. The entire city helps him to build it. But Signore Pomodoro orders to demolish it, because it is built on the Countesses Cherry’s land. Cipollino decides to avenge the injustice.
Together with his girlfriend Radish Cipollino goes to the castle where old Cipollone is imprisoned. They meet and befriend Count Cherry whose life is sad and lonely. During the ball given by the Countesses for Prince Lemon the friends set Cipollone free. Guards and police hunt for the runaways. Cipollino manages to hide his father and Radish, but gets caught and put in prison. Count Cherry and the beautiful Magnolia set him free. Prince Lemon goes to the dungeon only to see that the rebel has escaped. He orders an artillery attack on the city, but Cipollino and his friends put the Prince into the cannon muzzle. When the smoke from the fire clears, there is no more Lemon, cannon, or guards. From now the city will live in friendship and peace.
Karen Khachaturian (1920 - 2011)
Libretto by Gennadi Rykhlov in Genrikh Mayorov’s version after the fairy-tale by Gianni Rodari
Premiere: November 8, 1974. Taras Shevchenko National Opera and Ballet Theatre of Ukraine, Kiev.