SCHÉHÉRAZADE

PREMIERE
PARIS, 4 JUNE 1910

SCENERY & COSTUMES
LÉON BAKST

MUSIC
NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV

CHOREOGRAPHY
MICHEL FOKINE

 

Schéhérazade lasted barely 20 minutes and consisted of only one scene - but it had an astonishing effect upon audiences when first performed in 1910. The oriental and voluptuous set and costumes designed by Léon Bakst made his reputation as a theatre designer.

Bakst's imposing set suggested the inside of an enormous harem of the most intense bright green, which contrasted with the slaves' costumes of gold and silver and the moody blues and violets of the costume of the Shah.

The story combines the themes of forbidden sex, high drama and violent death. Shah Shahriar tests the faithfulness of his favourite concubine Zobeide, by pretending to go on a hunting trip. As soon as he is out of sight Zobeide obtains the keys to the slaves' quarters from the chief Eunuch. While the concubines and the slaves indulge in exciting and riotous dancing, the Shah returns and kills them. Zobeide alone is spared, but when she sees her favourite Golden Slave murdered, she stabs herself and falls dead at the Shah's feet.

Schéhérazade was so popular that it remained in the repertoire after the death of Diaghilev in 1929. It was regularly performed throughout the world when the company continued under the Russian, Colonel W. de Basil, as Les Ballets Russes
de Monte Carlo.

audio / Anna Volkova talks