The Seagull: Summer Premiere at the Bolshoi

The Seagull: Summer Premiere at the Bolshoi

On the 1st of July, the world premiere of The Seagull ballet based on the play by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov will take place on the New Stage of the Bolshoi Theater. We’d like to share what we know about the production today.

Who is working on the ballet

It's no accident that this summer premiere at the Bolshoi received the ‘world’ status: the production is being created exclusively for the Bolshoi Theater, and this Seagull will be shown for the first time on the major ballet stage of this country.

 An international team has been working on the production. The libretto was written by Alexander Molochnikov together with Olga Khenkina. Collaboration of the actor, screenwriter and director with the Bolshoi Theater began with an opera. But ballet experience for Molochnikov, who has been director of the Chekhov Moscow Art Theater since the age of 22, is a new creative stage. Olga Khenkina also comes from the directing school of the Moscow Art Theater, many theatergoers know her as the "right hand" of Oleg Tabakov.

In an interview with Esquire magazine, Alexander admitted: “I have no experience in ballet yet. I’d like to create a performance that would be interesting to everyone, and ballet is a very specific kind of art, I don’t want it to be for ballet lovers only. This doesn’t mean we should do something primitive... "

According to Alexander Molochnikov, the ballet production based on Chekhov's comedy won’t be classical. Translation of the play into the genre of classical dance is an experiment as such, and the director's point of view only adds originality to the new Seagull.

 A powerful team is working on the premiere - choreographer Yuri Possokhov and composer Ilya Demutsky. By the way, they both have experience of successful collaboration with another director. Together with Kirill Serebrennikov, Posokhov and Demutsky worked on two productions for the Bolshoi Theater - the ballets A Hero of Our Time and Nureyev. It was the choreographer Yuri Possokhov who proposed this joint production to Alexander Molochnikov. Tom Pye, one of the leading contemporary theater designers, who used to work with the Metropolitan Opera, is in charge of the set design for The Seagull. Emma Ryott[3]  from Great Britain, who created the costumes for Orlando, another recent Bolshoi premiere, designs costumes for the artists. The stage lighting is designed by David Finn, who has worked on performances in Europe, the USA and Canada.

The new look of Chekhov's characters

The lead role of Konstantin Treplev in the ballet production by Possokhov and Molochnikov is being rehearsed by Bolshoi Theater principal Artem Ovcharenko. In this play, Treplev becomes a performance artist, a "complex personality" and almost a revolutionary.

 As Artem Ovcharenko said in an interview with GQ magazine, the new Seagull won’t remind you of the previous ballet performances:


“I danced a different version of The Seagull, choreographed by John Neumeier, and what is being created now means an absolutely different approach to choreography, direction, images, to all the characters. It will be a completely different performance, unlike any other that I’ve seen in drama theaters, in ballet."

In an attempt to rethink the classical Chekhov's characters, the new Seagull will certainly acquire not only a new form, but also other facets of content. The director emphasized that Treplev's character turned out to be contradictory, and that is why it is interesting:


"I’d like to tell a story that everyone understands, a story about a director who, with all his provocative art, is kind of under house arrest in this village."


Being a “literary” ballet, The Seagull has a powerful semantic and contextual basis. Connoisseurs of both ballet and Russian literature will have an opportunity to compare their impressions from reading the book and emotions from the premiere ballet production.