The summer night atmosphere in the impressive ambience of the Pula Arena will surpass any other experience of the new summer – don’t miss out on experiencing these favorite, unforgettable compositions by Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky and Ravel, led by the virtuosic and energetic maestro Valentin Egel with the Rijeka Symphony Orchestra and the famous Rijeka Ballet, whose dance to the music of Bolero pushes the boundaries of the imaginable and the possible!
Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (1844. – 1908.): Scheherazade, Orchestral Suite, Op. 35
I. The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship (Largo e maestoso – Lento – Allegro non troppo)
II. The Legend of the Kalendar Prince (Lento – Andantino)
III. The Young Prince and The Young Princess (Andantino quasi allegretto)
IV. Festival at Baghdad. The Sea. Ship Breaks upon a Cliff Surmounted by a Bronze Horseman. (Allegro molto – Lento – Vivo)
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840. – 1893.): Romeo and Juliet – Fantasy-Overture, TH 42, ČW 39
Andante non tanto quasi Moderato — Allegro giusto
Maurice Ravel (1875. – 1937.): Boléro
Russian Night Under the Stars
This Russian night under the stars contains a thousand more nights as well as the most beautiful love story ever told and the uninterrupted orchestral crescendo of Boléro! It is clear why it is a Russian night – Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian composer, as was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, while Frenchman Maurice Ravel created the resplendent artistic orchestration of Boléro per the order of a Russian dancer and artist, Ida Rubinstein, for her ballet troupe, and the ballet was choreographed by Bronislava Nijinska, a Russian ballerina, choreographer and pedagogue.
The most beautiful melodies of select classics in the inimitable atmosphere of the Pula Arena!
“The Thousand and One Nights” is an Arabic collection of fairy tales, humorous and educational stories, legends and anecdotes which are the unique legacy of ancient Arabic, Indian and Persian stories, and which were first presented to European readers in a French translation by Antoine Galland at the beginning of the 18th century. The oriental history and the magical fairy-tale tone of Scheherazade’s narration also captured the heart of the Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
There is more than a story in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. In this orchestral fantasy composed in 1887, the two main characters are immediately presented with their themes – the Sultan, bold, daring and uncompromising, while we imagine the enchanting solo violin as Scheherazade, who with her dazzling imagination, ingenuity and wisdom overwhelmed the Sultan and thus saved her own life.
Sultan Shahriar, convinced of the treachery and infidelity of women, vowed to execute every one of his wives after the first night. But Sultana Scheherazade preserved her own life by interesting the sultan with the stories she told him over the course of a thousand and one nights. Motivated by curiosity, the Sultan repeatedly postponed her execution, and ultimately gave up on the bloody dismissal entirely. Quoting numerous verses from the poets and never losing hope, she devised miracles that related to the Sultan, leaving him delighted with the stories.
Of the thousand and one stories, which to choose? The composer chooses to take us to Sinbad’s ship in the first movement, sailing the sea of the exotic East with all the danger and excitement of the orchestral waves. The doors of the Orient open wide with the wind instruments in the second movement. The third movement starts gently with the story of a young prince and princess, caressing the audience with one of the most beautiful, most sensual parts of the suite. In the final movement, the Sultan is impatient; he wants to hear the continuation of the story, which returns us to the ship in the middle of a storm. This musical adventure thriller culminates with enormous waves and a shipwreck. At the same time, it shatters the Sultan’s idea of executing Scheherazade. His theme is replaced by linking all the exciting adventures presented by Scheherazade. Stories of deep, full emotions against sabers, intellect and patience against tyranny. Her triumph is a powerful win – both life and love!
The composer was also the conductor for the premiere of Scheherazade, which was held with great success in St. Petersburg on November 3, 1888. It became his most powerful and most popular work!
Rimsky-Korsakov was a member of the Five (Pyatyorka), a group of Russian composers who established a national style of music in the second half of the 19th century. The group was also called the Mighty Handful, as well as Balakirev’s Circle after their artistic leader Mily Balakirev. Tchaikovsky’s overture-fantasy Romeo and Juliet is dedicated to Balakirev himself.
The greatest love story of all time, that of Romeo and Juliet, came neither easily nor quickly to the notational record of its composer, Tchaikovsky.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky had confided in his friend, the aforementioned composer Balakirev, that he had exhausted his creative energy, upon which his friend proposed Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet as a subject. In that year, 1860, Tchaikovsky was the same age as Shakespeare when he had written his drama about the most famous lovers. He accepted the advice and the challenge. In composing the overture, Tchaikovsky included the introduction of Friar Laurence, the quarrel between the Capulets and the Montagues and the love theme of Romeo and Juliet. He composed slowly and with difficulty, deeply scrutinizing the work, “an old, but always new topic,” as he said himself, before he arrived at anything that he considered worth publishing. He finished the first draft after nine years and dedicated the work to Balakirev. The premiere of the work was held in 1870 in Moscow with Nicolay Rubinstein as conductor, and though the audience was more or less satisfied, the reaction was lukewarm. After listening to his audience, he spent the entire summer revising his overture-fantasy, adding a whole new introduction, drastically revising both the notes and orchestration. This version premiered in 1872 with great success. Tchaikovsky did not stop there – he continued adding changes until 1880, when the final version was ready for concert performances. It was his first big masterpiece! Many have later stated that this is the most beautiful love music ever written.
The French composer, pianist and conductor Joseph Maurice Ravel is best known for his Boléro, composed to order for the ballerina Ida Rubinstein for her ballet troupe. A work of unsurpassed orchestral skill, Boléro is characterized by technical perfection, smooth form, rich instrumental color and innovative harmonies, pervading dance rhythms and firm anchoring within the framework of tonality. The premiere on November 22, 1928 at the Paris Opera, choreographed by Bronislava Nijinska and with set design by Alexander Benois, was already a sensational success. The first concert performance was held in Paris on January 11, 1930 with Ravel himself conducting, and after Arturo Toscanini performed with the New York Philharmonic, contrary to Ravel’s expectations and predictions that his work would never be played at symphony concerts, Boléro did not cease to triumph at both ballet performances and concerts. It is a work of infectious rhythm, a memorable melody and an exciting, uninterrupted orchestral crescendo. After only a few notes of Boléro, everyone recognizes which song it is; it has long since entered popular culture and established itself permanently as an adored, favorite musical phenomenon.
Andonis Foniadakis, one of today’s leading European choreographers, almost prophetically foresaw the ban on physical contact that would otherwise be implicit in ballet. In his Boléro for the Rijeka Ballet, five dancers danced and bounced on trampolines at the premiere on November 9, 2018, each in their own space. The reactions of the fascinated audience have been ecstatic since then, at all performances in Rijeka as well as at numerous guest performances. Now eight dancers are deployed on the walls of the Arena in Pula in an adventurous crescendo for you!