It was the success of the Diaghilev company, which in the 1910s made ballet a fashionable and popular musical genre, that inspired the Hungarian composer Belo Bartok to turn to ballet. However, the eerie expressionist plot which underlies the libretto of The Miraculous Mandarin, did not allow this work to be critically acclaimed in the 1920s. The administration of the Budapest Opera that had vouched to stage the ballet was put off by the “immorality of the plot”. The Cologne Opera House dared to mount The Miraculous Mandarin in 1926, but the performance was soon removed from the repertoire. The music gained recognition only after the composer’s death: since the late 1940s, its choreographic interpretations began to appear in various theaters around the world. Among their authors were Fleming Flindt, Roland Petit, Leonid Lavrovsky, who staged his version at the Bolshoi Theater with a slightly modified (to be less shocking) libretto.
Choreographer Yuri Possokhov, in his version of The Miraculous Mandarin, does not deviate from Bartok's ideas. “The more you listen to this music, the deeper you delve into it and always find something new,” says the choreographer while emphasizing that in creating the choreography he relied mostly on the music. The emotional dance of the soloists does fully justify the intricacies of the magical mystery plot in this minimalist and spectacular performance.