Kristin at Tales of Faerie had a wonderful entry on the Firebird Ballet last week and I wanted to make sure no one missed it. It even had a little extra for me in it--Kristin doesn't know this--because she mentions Maria Morevna as a reverse Bluebeard tale, which it is of sorts, meaning flipped genders--and thus was included in Bluebeard Tales From Around the World because it is often mentioned as such in Bluebeard discussions. But this really isn't a Bluebeard entry, it is a Firebird Ballet entry.
You have to go over to her blog to read it all, but here's the start to tantalize you into doing so. I have never seen this ballet performed and would love to do so. Over time I have gotten several of the other romantic fairy tales ballets off my list from Swan Lake to Sleeping Beauty to Coppelia to Cinderella but Firebird has proved elusive in the areas I've lived. Of course, I was enough of a balletomane as child to forever think of Maria Tallchief in the role.
I had mentioned, a while ago, that the plot for the Firebird ballet was a combination of Russian fairy tales, but what are the fairy tales the ballet drew from?Kristin links to one of the tales on SurLaLune, but there are three Russian Fairy Tale collections hidden away on SurLaLune if you want to read more Russian tales.
The ballet basically took two common characters found in Russian folklore, Koshchey the Deathless and the Firebird.
The villain of the ballet is Koshchey, who holds ten young princesses captive. The Russian tale "Koshchey the Deathless" tells of the hero, Ivan, who goes in search of the Princess he knew of from the lullabies his nurses sang to him. The compassion he has on a man being flogged (Bulat the Brave) results in Bulat accompanying him on a series of quests, basically doing everything for him, including freeing the Princess Vasilisa from Koshchey and finding his death, to kill it. The death itself is in an egg in a duck in a hare in a coffer under an oak on an island in the sea. In the ballet they simplified it to just being an egg he has to smash.
Poster of a Costume Design