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94. LE FILS PRODIGUE (also called PRODIGAL SON)


Ballet in Three Scenes


Music: By Sergei Prokofiev (Op. 46, 1928-29, commissioned by Serge Diaghilev, 1927). Book by Boris Kochno (after the biblical parable).

Choreography: By George Balanchine.

Production: Scenery and costumes by Georges Rouault. Scenery executed by Prince A. Schervashidze; costumes executed by Vera Soudeikina.

Premiere: May 21, 1929, Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, Théâtre Sarah-Bernhardt, Paris. Conductor: Sergei Prokofiev.

Cast: The Prodigal Son, Serge Lifar; The Father, Michael Fedorov; The Siren, Felia Doubrovska; The Servants, Eleanora Marra, Nathalie Branitzka; Confidants of the Prodigal Son, Léon Woizikowsky, Anton Dolin; Friends of the Prodigal Son, 12 men.
I. 1. The Prodigal Son leaves the paternal home, accompanied by his two confidants.
II. 2.The Prodigal Son meets his friends and takes part in their festival. 3. Entry and dance of the Siren, which takes place beside the Prodigal Son. 4.The Confidants of the Prodigal Son entertain the guests. 5. The Prodigal Son dances with the Siren. 6. The Siren and the Friends of the Prodigal Son force him to drink. 7. The Confidants, the Friends, and the Siren strip the sleeping Prodigal Son and take flight. 8. The awakening and lamentations of the Prodigal Son. 9. Promenade of the Siren, the Confidants, and the Friends of the Prodigal Son, laden with their spoils.
III. 10. Return of the repentant Prodigal Son to the paternal home.

New Productions by Balanchine Companies: 1950, New York City Ballet: Scenery and costumes by Georges Rouault, recreated by Esteban Francés.

Video/DVD: 1995, Nonesuch, The Balanchine Library: Choreography by Balanchine [1978]; 2004, Kultur, Balanchine (I,1; III, 10: departure and homecoming; rehearsal with Balanchine).

Revisions: After the death of Diaghilev and the disbanding of his Ballets Russes, the Balanchine choreography for Le Fils Prodigue was not seen until it was revived for the New York City Ballet in 1950 as Prodigal Son. At that time and subsequently the cast of characters was listed somewhat differently: Servants became Sisters; Confidants became Servants; Friends became Drinking Companions. The number of Drinking Companions was smaller (12 in the original, 9 in the New York City Ballet revival). In 1977, the dances of the two Servants (men) were omitted from the New York City Ballet production; they were restored in the 1980 American Ballet Theatre staging. Longtime observers have noticed other changes, but Balanchine said that the choreography remained essentially the same.

See also: 267  

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