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On 15 May 1920, Igor Stravinskyís new ballet Pulcinella was premiered at the Opéra in Paris. Danish choreographer Kim Brandstrup has recently created a new version for BRB.
Pulcinella is a comedy about the ballet's namesake Pulcinella, the underdog, and how he comes to be the envy of everyone. He lives with his jealous girlfriend Pimpinella, and is trying to get some sleep, but is constantly interrupted by his friend Fourbo, and two flirtatious girls. The girls' father chases them away, but their jealous boyfriends return and beat Pulcinella up. Finally, fed up with being picked on all the time, Pulcinella arranges for his friend Fourbo to take his place
and pretend to be dead. Much to his surprise, it turns out that people actually liked him and secretly wanted to be like him, so they start to dress like him. After enjoying this for a while, he returns as a mysterious cloaked figure and pretends to bring the seemingly lifeless Fourbo (who everyone thinks is Pulcinella) back from the dead. When Pulcinella finally reveals himself every one is relieved and happy to see him, and, unlike Romeo and Juliet, everyone lives happily ever after.
The music, unusually, features three singers in the pit with the orchestra. The music is, like Apollo, a neo-classical piece. It was written much earlier than Apollo however, and is actually Stravinskyís first piece in this style. It is much more recognisably the style of the light and tuneful world of music 250 years ago.
In early 2006, the Danish choreographer Kim Brandstrup created a new version of Pulcinella for BRB. It is quite common for choreographers to create new steps to the music of already established ballets. Romeo and Juliet is a good example. The three best-known 'British' choreographers of the last century, Kenneth MacMillan, John Cranko and Frederick Ashton all created their own versions of Romeo and Juliet to Prokofievís music, but MacMillanís is the only one that is regularly performed in the UK today.
You can see Kim Brandstupís Pulcinella, alongside Apollo and The Firebird, in London, Plymouth and Sunderland this autumn. Click here for details.
Click on the thumbnails below to see some photos of Pulcinella.