A scene from The Firebird Ballet.
Around the New Year, the National Shevchenko Opera and Ballet Theatre staged a premiere which played to full houses. The ballet Vikings was put on with a promotional assistance from the Embassies of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, the Ukrainian Academy of Dance and the Arts Development Promotion Fund. The ballet (libretto by O. Bystrushkin and Yu. Stanishevsky; music by composer Yevhen Stankovych; orchestra conducted by Volodymyr Kozhukhar; choreography by Viktor Lytvynov; scenography by Mariya Levytska) in the language of dance and music tells a story of love of King Harold III, ruler of Norway, for Yelyzaveta, the daughter of Yaroslav the Wise, ruler of Kyiv (11th century). Yelyzaveta, after marrying Harold, played a notable role in the history of the 11th century Norway - she founded the capital city of Oslo and contributed to Christianising Scandinavia. The ballet is based on essentially classical principles but with modern elements. It has both vividly energetic and lyrical scenes. The leading dancers of the Shevhenko Ballet troupe were at their best.

Another premiere was The Firebird by Stravinsky. Claude Debussy called Stravinsky's music for this ballet "wonderfully original." Viktor Lytvynov, choreographer, Volodymyr Kozhukhar, orchestra conductor, and Mariya Levytska, scenographer, combined their efforts to create an elegant performance with Tetyana Holyakova and Leonid Sarafanov dancing the two leading parts. Artem Datsyshyn danced Koshchiy, a somewhat unusual part for him, and was warmly received by ballet lovers for his superb plasticity. For the first time ever this ballet was performed in Paris on June 25, 1910. Sergey Diaghilev, the famous Russian ballet producer, commissioned Mikhail Fokin, no less famous choreographer, to stage The Firebird for the Russian Seasons in Paris.

Viktor Lytvynov and other creators of the ballet Vikings.

Painters A. Golovin and L. Bakst were commissioned to create the scenery. After Kyiv, The Firebird is to be shown in Germany and Switzerland. The National Opera and Ballet Theatre has planned many tours for 2000. In February, its touring troupe showed its performances at the Bodensee Festival held at a place not far from Munich. Next, the touring troupe will go to Germany, France, Switzerland and Belgium. In summer, the National Opera and Ballet Theatre orchestra and ballet will go to Japan, and in autumn to Spain. The next premiere will be the opera Romeo and Juliette by Gounod which is going to be a joint Ukrainian–Hungarian– German project; the opera will be sung in French.

By H.-H. Pylypenko
Photographs by Oleksandr Putrov