The Limpid Stream
The Limpid Stream (Russian: Светлый ручей, "Svetlyi ruchei", also translated as "The Bright Stream") is a ballet score, Op. 39, in 3 acts, 4 scenes, composed by Dmitri Shostakovich on the libretto by Adrian Piotrovsky and Fedor Lopukhov and choreography by Fedor Lopukhov, premiered in Leningrad (Mikhaylovsky Theatre) in 1935.
The plot centres around a group of ballet dancers who have been sent to provide sophisticated entertainment to a new Soviet collective farm. After some complicated amorous intrigues, it turns out that the honest country-bumpkins have more to teach the city-folk than the other way round.
Woodwinds: piccolo, 2 flutes (flute II = piccolo II), 2 oboes, cor anglais, Eb clarinet, 2 Bb clarinets, bass clarinet (= clarinet III), 2 bassoons, contra-bassoon (= bassoon III)
Brass: 6 French horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, Brass Band (1 Eb Cornet, 2 Bb Cornets, 2 Bb Trumpets, 2 Eb Altos, 2 Bb Tenors, 2 Bb Baritones, 2 Bb Basses)
Percussion: timpani, triangle, tambourine, snare drums, cymbals, glockenspiel, xylophone, bass drum, gong, wood blocks
Strings: violins, violas, cellos, double basses, harp
The other two ballet scores written by this Russian composer are The Golden Age, from 1930, and The Bolt, from 1931. "All three were banned shortly after their premieres, leaving Shostakovich's reputation so damaged that he was reluctant ever to write for the lyric stage again." The Bright Stream's deliberately simple-minded melodies, banal harmonies, straightforward rhythms, and garish colors had the work playing successfully in both Leningrad and Moscow from June 1935 through February 1936. However, an editorial in Pravda in early February 1936 condemned the ballet and, by implication, its musical suite; both works were withdrawn.
Shostakovich produced a suite from the ballet, Op. 39a, with five movements:
- Russian Popular Dance
- Pizzicato Allegretto
Alexei Ratmansky, currently an artist in residence at the American Ballet Theatre and the former director of the Bolshoi Ballet, first came across the full score of the ballet in a recording made by Gennady Rozhdestvensky in Stockholm in 1995. Unable to restore the original choreography of the ballet, which was never notated, Ratmansky wrote his own choreography and staged the new version of The Limpid Stream with the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow in 2003.
- Homans, Jennifer (2011-10-20). "Back in the USSR". The New Republic.
- "Dance of Death" by Judith Mackrell, an article in The Guardian
- The Bolshoi Theatre of Russia: The Bright Stream at the Met
- The Kennedy Center Performances: American Ballet Theatre