St Petersburg, Mariinsky Theatre

The Stone Flower

ballet by Sergei Prokofiev

This performance has been postponed until 4 November (12.00), 2021


Danila: Roman Belyakov
Katerina: Anastasia Lukina
The Mistress of the Copper Mountain: tba
Severian: tba
A Young Gypsy Woman: tba
A Young Gypsy Man: tba

Premiere of Sergei Prokofiev's ballet choreographed by Leonid Lavrovsky – 12 February 1954, Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow
Premiere of the ballet choreographed by Yuri Grigorovich – 22 April 1957, the Leningrad Kirov Opera and Ballet Theatre (Mariinsky Theatre)
Premiere of the revival at the Mariinsky Theatre: 6 December 2016

Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes
The performance has one interval

Age category 6+


Music by Sergei Prokofiev
Libretto by Mira Mendelssohn-Prokofieva and Leonid Lavrovsky, revised by Yuri Grigorovich after motifs of the Ural tales The Malachite Box by Pavel Bazhov
Choreography by Yuri Grigorovich
Designer: Simon Virsaladze
Lighting Designer: Alexei Perevalov
Revival Designer: Mikhail Sapozhnikov
Costume Revival Designer and Technician: Elena Netsvetaeva-Dolgalyova


The Ural master stone-cutter Danila dreams of creating a malachite bowl of hitherto unknown beauty and embodying in stone the delight of a living flower.

In the village Danila and Katerina's engagement is being celebrated. An uninvited guest arrives – Severian the landowner's steward: he demands the malachite bowl he has commissioned from Danila. Dissatisfied with his own work, the craftsman refuses to hand it over. Enraged at such impudence, the steward raises his lash threateningly, but Katerina stands between him and Danila. Forgetting about the bowl, Severian tries to embrace the young woman to whom he has taken a fancy.

All depart. Danila is left alone with his thoughts. From the old masters, he knows that the Mistress of the Copper Mountain possesses the secret of the stone; she is the guardian of underground treasures, and until Danila possesses the secret he will know no peace. Appearing to Danila now as a lizard, and now as a "malachite maiden", the Mistress of the Copper Mountain draws him into her realm, and the stones come alive before the craftsman's eyes: their sharp facets playing, the gems glisten and a stone flower blossoms – it is Danila's dream.


The Mistress of the Copper Mountain reveals to Danila more and more of the secrets of her realm. She has fallen in love with the talented artist and does not wish to lose him. In order to retain her guest forever, the Mistress resolves to make him her mountain craftsman.

Meanwhile, Katerina is gloomy, waiting for her betrothed who has been absent for several days. Severian makes fun of her – "neither a bride nor a wife", and tries to win her love by force. Katerina drives the steward away and resolves to seek out Danila.

Looking for her beloved, Katerina comes to a market and again meets Severian and his cohorts, wandering among the gypsies. The steward tries to take Katerina with him but the people defend her. Katerina flees and Severian is faced with a stranger who looks at him fixedly. Under her gaze Severian is unable to move his feet from the ground. Gathering all his energy, Severian breaks free and runs after the unknown woman, while she tempts him to follow her farther and farther. Only when he is on Snake Hill does Severian understand that before him stands the Mistress of the Copper Mountain. He begs for her forgiveness, but she is unyielding – Severian plunges into the earth.

Katerina's search, too, brings her to Snake Hill: her heart tells her that Danila is somewhere close by. She calls to him. The Mistress responds to the call. The girl runs to her and and begs for her intended to be restored. The girl's love, fidelity and fearlessness touch the Mistress' heart. She releases Danila. Katerina and Danila return to the people.

St Petersburg ballet lives through legends. They are remembered, they are things to be proud of and things to try to bring them back to life. The Stone Flower is one of them, a legend with a history dating back almost sixty years.

For the creators of this ballet, staged in 1957, The Stone Flower has remained in the mind as a beam of light, the light of first serious artistic triumphs. For Yuri Grigorovich it was his first major theatre production, and on a Russian theme, too, set to music by his much-admired Prokofiev. Moreover, it was in this opus that the creative duo with Simon Virsaladze was established, a tandem that would unsure the success of both for many years to come. For the first performers, very young and then known only in ballet circles – Irina Kolpakova, Alla Osipenko, Alexander Gribov and Anatoly Gridin – The Stone Flower made their names famous. They became the creators of roles for the first time rather than mere interpreters of long-existing choreographic texts, they created images. The characters that were conceived revealed their individual natures and the dancers came to be spoken of regularly. And in the context of the history of Russian ballet The Stone Flower was a ray of light – a step forwards from the undanceable nature of the genre of the drama ballet. Today, looking back through the years that much is evident. But back then in 1957 no-one was deliberately preparing any revolutions, it was just that a young choreographer and young dancers did something that they found interesting, and their interests differed from the preferences of the generation of the 1930s and 1940s.

"I remember those hours with great fondness, when together with the lead performers we almost never left the rehearsal hall," wrote Tatiana Vecheslova, the coach of the new ballet, "and all our free time was taken up with thoughts about the production. ‹…› There was never enough time – for work, for talks, for arguments."1 For Vecheslova who had only just stopped dancing, The Stone Flower was her first work as a coach, and this ballet opened up new doors to her. For the designer Virsaladze, the production after tales by Bazhov turned a new page in his artistic life. When preparing for the production, Grigorovich and he travelled to the Urals, and the Georgian Virsaladze discovered not the familiar Leningrad Russia but the village and folk Russia.

This general engagement with a search for the new, in addition to the talent of each creator, became a component part of the legend. And The Stone Flower very soon made his success a legend.

There was the inspiring praise for “the symphonic narrative” from the wise old mentor, the authoritative choreographer Fyodor Lopukhov, who had once sought this symphonism in dance in his own productions. The response about "the concord, harmonious blending of the music, the choreography and the set designs" from the composer Dmitry Shostakovich, who knew himself what working on a ballet was. The general collection of praise was added to by the impressions of stage director Yuri Zavadsky. High praise is never awarded to every newcomer in the profession, but Grigorovich's The Stone Flower was taken to the Bolshoi Theatre – already in 1959 the production had been transferred to the country's main theatre. In Leningrad, if one believes the bare figures of theatre statistics, over thirty years The Stone Flower was one of the most attended productions, between 1957 and 1991 being performed one hundred and ninety-one times. Up until the early 1990s the legend inspired ever more new performers.

And for dancers of the generation of the 2010s who only know The Stone Flower through stories and beautiful old photographs on the walls at school, today the very name of Grigorovich is a legend, a synonym for the spectacular glory of Soviet ballet. The comments, indeed the very presence in the auditorium of a man who knew Stravinsky personally, who saw Balanchine dance on-stage and who heard the tales of Lifar about the production of Prodigal Son – these afford an opportunity to approach the legend. Olga Makarova

1 T. Vecheslova. I Am a Ballerina. Leningrad — Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1964. P. 239.

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