Paquita is the creation of French composer Édouard Deldevez and Paris Opéra Ballet Master Joseph Mazilier. It was first presented at the Salle Le Peletier by the Paris Opera Ballet on 1 April 1846 and was retained in the repertory of the Opéra until 1851.
In 1847, Paquita was staged for the first time in Russia for the Imperial Ballet of St. Petersburg by Marius Petipa and Pierre-Frédéric Malavergne, being the first work ever staged by Petipa in Russia. In 1881, Petipa produced a revival of the ballet for which he added new pieces specially composed by Ludwig Minkus. This included the Paquita pas de trois for the first act and the Paquita grand pas classique and the Mazurka des enfants for the last act. Petipa's version of Paquita was retained in the repertory of the Mariinsky Theatre until 1926.
Petipa's 1881 additions for Paquita survived long after the full-length ballet left the stage. Today these pieces, particularly the Grand pas classique, are major cornerstones of the traditional classical ballet repertory and have been staged by ballet companies throughout the world.
Petipa's choreography for the Imperial Ballet's production of Paquita was notated in the Stepanov method of choreographic notation around 1902. The notations were made while Petipa himself taught and rehearsed the great Anna Pavlova for her début in the title rôle. Today, this notation is part of the Sergeyev Collection, a cache of notations and other materials that document many of the works in the Imperial Ballet's repertory during the twilight of the Russian Empire.
In 2001, director Brigitte Lefèvre asked French choreographer Pierre Lacotte to produce a revival of the full-length two act Paquita for the Paris Opera Ballet. Although Lacotte re-choreographed all of the ballet himself, he restored Joseph Mazilier's original mime sequences and mise-en-scène, as well as Petipa's 1881 additions. Paquita was performed again by the Paris Opera in 2007.
Roles and original cast
|Role||Paris, 1846||St. Petersburg, 1847||St. Petersburg, 1881|
|Paquita||Carlotta Grisi||Yelena Andreyanova||Ekaterina Vazem|
|Lucien d'Hervilly||Lucien Petipa||Marius Petipa||Pavel Gerdt|
The story takes place in Spain during the occupation of Napoleon's army. The heroine is the young gypsy girl, Paquita. Unbeknownst to Paquita, she is really of noble birth, having been abducted by gypsies when she was an infant. She saves the life of a young French officer, Lucien d'Hervilly, who is the target of a Spanish governor who desires to have him killed by Iñigo, a gypsy chief. By way of a medallion she discovers that she is of noble birth, being in fact the cousin of Lucien. As such, she and the Officer are able to wed.
History of the Paquita grand pas classique
In Marius Petipa and Ludwig Minkus's original staging of the Paquita grand pas classique in 1881, only one variation was included for the leading ballerina Ekaterina Vazem, being a polonaise arranged for solo violin. By the end of the 19th century it was customary for five variations to be included when the Grand pas classique was performed in the context of the full-length ballet.
The tradition of including a series of multiple variations began in 1897 at a gala at Peterhof in honor of Empress Catherine II. The ballerina Mathilde Kschessinskaya danced the role for the ballerina in this performance and invited several soloists to feature in their favorite variations extracted from various ballets.
The inclusion of multiple variations was again given in 1902 for a farewell benefit gala that was performed at the Mariinsky Theatre in honor of Enrico Cecchetti, who was departing St. Petersburg to take up the directorship of the ballet academy of Warsaw. Since nearly all of the leading ballerinas of the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres were his pupils they all wished to pay him homage, and the Paquita grand pas classique was chosen as the perfect vehicle to allow all of the ballerinas to perform. On the evening of this gala, some twenty-one variations were performed, solidifying a tradition of including a series of variations for various ballerinas that has continued to the present day.
Rudolf Nureyev staged the piece in 1964 for the Royal Academy of Dancing, and at La Scala in 1970. Nureyev also staged it for the Vienna State Opera Ballet and American Ballet Theatre in 1971. For all of his productions of the work Nureyev used John Lanchbery's adaptation of the music. In 1984 Natalia Makarova staged a new version of the Paquita grand pas classique for American Ballet Theatre with music again arranged by Lanchbery. To date the company still retains Makarova's staging in their repertory, and many companies throughout the world have staged her version of the piece.
In 1974 the Ballet Master Nikita Dolgushin produced a staging of the Paquita grand pas classique for the Maly Theatre Ballet of St. Petersburg. For his production Dolgushin called upon the former ballerina Elizaveta Gerdt—who performed in Marius Petipa's original version of the piece— to assist in restoring the Paquita grand pas classique to its form as performed during the early 20th century.
In 1978 the Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet's newly appointed artistic director Oleg Vinogradov staged a new version of the Paquita grand pas classique for the company, a staging largely based on the version Pyotr Gusev staged for the Maly Theatre Ballet in 1952. The Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet still retain Vinogradov's version in their repertory, and many companies throughout the world include his version of the piece in their repertories.
Gallery of historical images
(left to right) Elsa Vill, Pierre Vladimirov and Elizaveta Gerdt in the Pas de trois from Paquita. St. Petersburg, 1909 (clockwise from left) Erin Joseph, Patricia Barker, Bathurel Bold and Kimberley Davey in the Pacific Northwest Ballet's production of the Paquita grand pas classique. Seattle, 1998
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