"The Red Poppy" is blooming again
Experts say that one of the most intriguing events of the 1st All-Russia Ballet Forum, which is currently underway in the cultural centre of Siberia Krasnoyarsk (November 22nd to 28th), is the revival of the ballet “The Red Poppy” by Reingold Glier. The premiere show took place on November 23rd.
This production, as well as the forum proper, is dedicated to one of the most significant memorable dates of this year – the 100th birth anniversary of the great Russian ballet dancer Galina Ulanova. A perfect performer, she was iconic in the role of Giselle, Juliet, and a female swan. She danced equally perfectly in “The Red Poppy” ballet too. By means of plasticity she told us a story of the tragic love of a Chinese actress for the captain of a Soviet ship, which called at a Chinese port. Her heroine died from a bandit wound: the bandits wanted to kill here beloved. Dying, the Chinese actress addressed her compatriots with an appeal for a “revolution” and for the liberation from the English colonizers, and at that very moment the revolutionary symbol - a big red poppy - appeared in the sky.
What urged a well-known composer, Reingold Glier - the last romantic of the 20th century, as he was called - to create this ballet was a small article in the former Soviet newspaper “Pravda”. So he wrote the music, and the premiere show of the first Soviet ballet, based on a “revolutionary” plot, took place in 1927. “The Red Poppy” ballet was a great success in 1927.
Among the ballet characters were policemen, men-servants, officers and courtesans, sailors and dancers of all nationalities, and also Phoenixes and goddesses. There were fantastic creatures and the Buddhist Temple there too. “The Red Poppy” ballet was really a spectacular event. The composer was criticized for the “bourgeois” foxtrot and Charleston but the Russian Sailors’ Dance “Yablochko” was always a great success. In the Bolshoi Theatre alone “The Red Poppy” was shown 300 times in 3 seasons, and then “The Red Poppy” was staged, practically, in all cities of the former Soviet Union, in the former socialist countries and even in the USA. As one would say today, the ballet turned into a very popular brand. Moreover, there appeared the Red Poppy cafes and sweets, and also the Red Poppy perfume. However, the Chinese delegation, which visited the former USSR in 1950, did not like the name because it was associated with opium poppies. To avoid a diplomatic scandal, the word “poppy” was replaced by the word “flower”. For the last time, “The Red Poppy” ballet was shown in Moscow in 1960, and then it was forgotten as an anachronism.
Before “The Red Poppy” ballet was re-staged in Krasnoyarsk, its libretto was radically changed: now it is a story about love and aspirations for freedom in the broad sense of the word. This is an eternal topic, which has attracted the attention of not only people in Russia but also in other countries. The premiere of the new version of Glier’s ballet took place in the Teatro dell’ Opera in Rome this February. The famous Italian ballerina Carla Fracci was the initiator of this idea. By the way, the Carla Fracci Group produces the Giselle Perfume. Perhaps the Red Poppy perfume will also appear on its offer list.