Aliens, crystals, and monsters, oh my! As the countdown to Artistic Director Ib Andersen’s world-premiere of The Firebird begins, we are sharing 10 things you should know about this Russian fairy tale ballet.
The Firebird was the first ballet of the Ballet Russes to have an all-original score composed for it.
The story of the original production combined the myths of The Firebird and Kastchei the Deathless into one fascinating story.
Originally the Firebird hands Prince Ivan one of her feathers as a talisman, but in Andersen’s production the Firebird hands the prince a crystal.
There are a total of 48 costumes being created from scratch for Andersen’s production by renowned Italian costume designer Fabio Toblini.
All of the monster costumes were embroidered by Toblini himself which make the monsters look like pieces of machinery with buttons and tech gadgets.
Monsters. Sketch by Fabio Toblini.
Igor Stravinsky was only 28 years old when he composed this innovative work. The strength of this composition would lead to a long period of collaboration between Stravinsky and Sergei Diaghilev, the founder of Ballet Russes, which would produce two more iconic ballets: Petrushka and Rite of Spring.
The principal ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who was originally cast as the Firebird in the Ballet Russes production refused to dance the part after hearing the music Stravinsky had written. She declared that she detested the music and had to be replaced by another dancer.
Ballet Arizona had a custom 90-foot-long screen built by German company, Gerriets, who specializes in creating set pieces for the theatre, in order to make Andersen’s multi-media ballet come to life. The screen will detach into 4 separate pieces that will need to be assembled and disassembled before and after each production at Symphony Hall.
The Firebird has been restaged, reproduced, and rechoreographed by numerous choreographers over the years, including George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Graeme Murphy, Alexei Ratmansky, Alvin Ailey, and now Ib Andersen.
From dancers, to the production crew and seamstresses, it will take about 70 people to make Andersen’s The Firebird happen each performance.