The Seasons (ballet)

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Anna Pavlova in the Bacchante,
St. Petersburg, 1907.

The Seasons (Russian: Времена года, Vremena goda; also French: Les Saisons) is an allegorical ballet in one act, four scenes, by the choreographer Marius Petipa, with music by Alexander Glazunov, his Op. 67. The work was composed in 1899 and first performed by the Imperial Ballet in 1900 in St. Petersburg, Russia.


Composition history[edit]

The score for Marius Petipa's Les Saisons (The Seasons) was originally intended to have been composed by the Italian composer and conductor Riccardo Drigo, who was Glazunov's colleague and close friend. Since 1886, Drigo held the posts of director of music and chef d’orchestre to the Ballet of the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres, while also serving as conductor for performances of the Italian operas in the repertory of the Imperial Opera. Petipa's Les Millions d’Arlequin (also known as Harlequinade) was also in its preliminary stages at the same time as Les Saisons, and was originally intended to have had a score supplied by Glazunov. Since Drigo and Glazunov had an affinity towards each other's assigned ballet, the two composers agreed that Glazunov would compose Les Saisons and that Drigo would compose Les Millions d’Arlequin.

Petipa's Les Millions d'Arlequin was presented for the first time at the Imperial Theatre of the Hermitage on 23 February [O.S. 10 February] 1900. Les Saisons premiered three days later. For both performances the whole of the Imperial court was in attendance.

In 1907, Nikolai Legat staged a revival of Les Saisons at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre. This production was performed on occasion by the Imperial Ballet after the Russian Revolution, being performed for the last time in 1927.

Les Saisons lived on in an abridged edition in the repertory of Anna Pavlova's touring company.

Alexander Glazunov (1896)

Performance history[edit]

St. Petersburg premiere (World Premiere)

Other notable productions

Roles and original cast[edit]

Role St. Petersburg 1900 St. Petersburg 1907
Winter Aleksey Bulgakov Nikolay Solyannikov
Frost Anna Pavlova Agrippina Vaganova
Ice Yuliya Sedova E. Vill
Hail Vera Trefilova Lidiya Kyaksht
Snow L. Petipa Y. Ofitserova
Zephyr Nikolay Legat Mikhail Obukhov
Rose Olga Preobrazhenskaya Vera Trefilova
Swallow Varvara Rïkhlyakova Varvara Rïkhlyakova
Spirit of the Corn Matilda Kshesinskaya Olga Preobrazhenskaya
Faun Mikhail Obukhov Georgiy Kyaksht
Satyr Aleksandr Gorsky Leonid Leontyev
Satyr Aleksandr Shiryayev A. Matyatin
Bacchus Pavel Gerdt Samuil Andrianov
Bacchante Marie Petipa Anna Pavlova

Publication history[edit]


Woodwinds: 1 piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes (2nd doubling english horn in F), 2 clarinets in B-flat and A, 2 bassoons

Brass: 4 french horns in F, 2 trumpets in B-flat, 3 trombones, tuba

Percussion: timpani, triangle, tambourine, military drum, cymbal, bass drum, glockenspiel

Keyboard: celesta, pianino (upright piano)

Strings: harp, 1st and 2nd violins, violas, cellos, contrabass


Marie Petipa and Pavel Gerdt in the Bacchanale of the scene L'Automne. (St. Petersburg, 1900)

Tableau 1A winter landscape

Winter is surrounded by his companions: Hoar-frost, Ice, Hail and Snow, who amuse themselves with a band of snowflakes. Two gnomes enter, and soon light a fire that causes all assembled to vanish.

Tableau 2A landscape covered with flowers

Spring dances with Zephyr, flower fairies, and enchanted birds. Upon feeling the heat of the sun, the assembly takes flight.

Tableau 3A landscape of flowing fields of wheat

Cornflowers and poppies revel in the light and warmth of the sun. They take rest after their exertion. Now naiads appear, who bring water to refresh the growth, and the Spirit of Corn dances in thanksgiving. Satyrs and fauns enter playing their pipes, and attempt to carry off the Spirit of the Corn, but she is rescued by the wind of Zephyr.

Tableau 4A landscape in Autumn

The Seasons take part in a glorious dance (the well-known "autumn bacchanale") while leaves from autumn trees rain upon their merriment.

ApotheosisThe Sable sky

Constellations of stars sparkle above the earth.

Résumé of dances and the mise-en-scène[edit]

List of the numbers comprising The Seasons taken from the Yearbook of the Imperial Theatres, 1899-1900, being the original titles of the dances and mise en scène as originally staged.

  • №01 Prélude

Tableau I — L’Hiver (winter)

  • №02 Scène de l’Hiver
  • №03 Variation du givre (frost)
  • №04 Variation de la glace (ice)
  • №05 Variation de la grêle (hail)
  • №06 Variation de la neige (snow)
  • №07 Coda

Tableau II — Le Printemps (spring)

  • №08 Entrée de Printemps, Zéphyre, les Fées des fleurs, les oiseaux et les fleurs

Tableau III — L’Été (summer)

  • №09 Scène de l’Été
  • №10 Valse des bleuets et des pavots (Waltz of the Cornflowers and Poppies)
  • №11 La Barcarolle – Entrée des naïades, le satyres et des faunes
  • №12 Variation de l’Esprit du maïs
  • №13 Coda

Tableau IV — L’Automne (fall)

  • №14 Grande bacchanale des saisons
a. Entrée des saisons
b. L’Hiver
c. Le Printemps
d. Bacchanale
e. L’Été
  • №15 Petit adage
  • №16 Variation du Satyre
  • №17 Coda générale


  • №18 Apothéose: La Révélation des étoiles


Uses in popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]