The Golden Age (Shostakovich)

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The Golden Age (or The Age of Gold) (Russian: Золотой век, Zolotoi vek), Op. 22, is a ballet in three acts and six scenes by Dmitri Shostakovich with libretto by Alexander Ivanovsky. It premiered in 1930 at the Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet (Kirov Theatre).[1] Choreographers: Vasili Vainonen - the first act,[2] Leonid Jacobson - the second act,[3] V.Chesnakov - the third act.

The premiere took place in October 1930 at the Mariinsky Theatre (Theatre Kirov of Leningrav). It was performed eighteen times[4] The work was initially censored due to its inclusion of modern European dance styles.[5]

Plot[edit]

The ballet is a satirical take on the political and cultural change in 1920s' Europe. It follows a Soviet football team in a Western city where they come into contact with many politically incorrect bad characters (the Diva, the Fascist, the Agent Provocateur, the Negro and others). The team fall victim to match rigging, police harassment, and unjust imprisonment by the evil bourgeoisie. The team are freed from jail when the local workers overthrow their capitalist overlords and the ballet ends with a dance of solidarity between the workers and the football team.

Instrumentation[edit]

Woodwinds: 2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes (2nd doubling cor anglais), 3 clarinets (2nd doubling Eb clarinet, 3rd doubling bass clarinet), 2 saxophones, 2 bassoons (2nd doubling double bassoon)

Brass: 4 French horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, euphonium, tuba

Percussion: timpani, triangle, woodblock, tambourine, flexatone, ratchet, snare drums, cymbals, bass drum, tam-tam, xylophone, bayan, harmonium.

Strings: violins, violas, cellos, double basses, banjo.

Suite[edit]

Shostakovich extracted a suite from the ballet, Op. 22a. It has four movements:

  1. Introduction (Allegro non troppo)
  2. Adagio
  3. Polka (Allegretto)
  4. Danse

He also arranged the Polka for solo piano (Op. 22b) and piano for four hands (Op. 22c), in 1935 and 1962 respectively.

The second edition[edit]

In 1982, Yuri Grigorovich and Isaak Glikman revived the ballet with a new libretto. Grigorovich also chose to integrate other works of Shostakovich into the score.[6]

They moved the action to the USSR in the 1920s to a restaurant called The Golden Age. Conflict unfolded between the Soviet Komsomol and the gang.

The premiere was held November 4, 1982 in Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre.

The third edition[edit]

In 2006, the playwright Konstantin Uchitel wrote a new libretto for the same music.[4] The action takes place in our time. Old man and old woman met and remember his youth and his love.

The premiere took place on 28 June 2006 at the Mariinsky Theatre.[5]

References[edit]