The premiere of Andrei Petrov's latest ballet took place

The premiere of Andrei Petrov's latest ballet took place

The Kremlin Ballet presented the premiere - the ballet "Cleopatra" by its founder and long-term artistic director - chief choreographer Andrei Petrov, who suddenly died in the spring of this year. This is Andrei Borisovich's last ballet. The Kremlin artists dedicated it to the memory of their leader, and in the parquet foyer the theater organized a magnificent photo exhibition “The Kremlin Ballet Theater in the performances of Andrei Petrov.”

The intense nature of historical events that took place 30–40 years before the advent of our era hits the viewer literally from the first minute of the performance. After all, the ballet tells the story of the last queen of Hellenistic Egypt from the Macedonian Ptolemaic (Lagid) dynasty - Cleopatra VII Philopator. Not everyone knows that girls in the Ptolemaic family, to which the Egyptian queen belonged, were called Cleopatra.

It must be said that the theme of Queen Cleopatra was widely in demand in ballet even before Petrov. Thus, back in 1781 in St. Petersburg, Giuseppe Canziani staged a tragic ballet in 5 acts “Cleopatra” to the music of Carlo Canobbio. The most famous ballet dedicated to this woman is, of course, the ballet by Mikhail Fokine, released in St. Petersburg under the title “Egyptian Nights” based on the novella “Night of Cleopatra” by Théophile Gautier to the music of A.S. Arensky “Night in Egypt”, which tells that for the night spent in bed with Cleopatra, a man madly in love with her had to pay with his life. For the first Russian ballet season in Paris, the ballet was significantly reworked and at the premiere in 1909 it was shown under the title “Cleopatra” to a collection of music by Russian composers.

Andrei Petrov does not agree with this opinion, who said about his vision of the image of the Queen of Egypt: “Usually Cleopatra is presented as a kind of vamp woman, but in reality everything is not so simple. She was a prominent statesman, a wise politician, under whom Egypt remained an independent state for 20 years. And romances with Caesar and Mark helped Cleopatra strengthen the position of her country. And this line really interested me.”

The plot, based on her real-life mythologized biography, is also proposed in Petrov’s ballet. Among its main characters, in addition to the queen herself, whose name became the title of the ballet, are such historical figures as Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, but not only... This is the Emperor Octavian (technically accurate Alexei Kozantsev), and his sister Octavia, who, despite his love for Cleopatra, the wife of Mark Antony (this was the last appearance on stage of the beautiful prima of the Kremlin Ballet Irina Ablitsova). This is the Great Pompey (the convincing actor Sergei Vasyuchenko, ex-premier of the Kremlin Ballet and an unforgettable dancer), and the boy pharaoh Ptolemy XIII (Ekaterina Chekryzheva), the younger brother of the Egyptian queen (that he was also her husband, libretto piously silent); his regent, his tutor and the de facto ruler of Egypt, the eunuch Ur Pofin, or Pothin - in this role was played by the magnificent Edgar Yegizaryan (obviously the future potential premiere of this theater); Kasius (Petr Gorbunov, an excellent dancer of the Kremlin Ballet, who, by the way, was once chosen by John Neumeier himself for the main role in his ballet “The Seasons”); Brutus (theater's premier Yegor Motuzov, an artist with boundless charm and dance virtuosity); commander of the Egyptian troops Achilles (the expressive Amir Salimov).

Cleopatra and Mark Antony - Daniil Roslanov. Photo: Provided by the press service of the State Duma

Petrov even shows Egyptian gods in the mystical scenes of his ballet - Isis, Horus, Osiris, Set and Sekhmet - and these scenes, like the entire performance, very impressively designed by the artist Grigory Belov and “dressed” by the costume designer Olga Polyanskaya, are among the most beautiful and the most impressive scenes of the ballet.

All the artists of the Kremlin Ballet were diligent, danced enthusiastically and confidently, as they say, to the limit of their strength and capabilities. The corps de ballet in Petrov’s choreography, built, as always, on the basis of the vocabulary of classical dance, in the ballet “Cleopatra”, which is also equipped with profile poses characteristic of ancient Egyptian reliefs and friezes, is well-trained and precise. But the main task in the performance, of course, lay with the performers of the parts of the main characters, to whose love this ballet, in fact, is dedicated: Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. The part of Caesar performed by Mikhail Evgenov is psychologically and actorly built. His confident and irresistible hero, in the popular expression of the most brilliant Roman commander, truly “came, saw, conquered.” In the role of Mark Antony, Daniil Roslanov distinguished himself with a brilliant and virtuoso dance at the premiere, whose character, performed by this artist, is complex and contradictory.

Olesya Roslanova, in the role of Cleopatra, tried to move away from certain clichés in the perception of the Egyptian queen. She, of course, like other ballet performers and creators, watched the famous Hollywood blockbuster and was influenced by Elizabeth Taylor’s performance in creating the image. But as portrayed by Roslanova, she is, first of all, a loving woman, a strong, strong-willed and very extraordinary person. And in the ballet her character is shown in development. In relation to Caesar, her love is dependent - she fights for life. In relation to Mark Antony - reckless and uncompromising.

— A girl who grew up in a family where killing siblings for the throne is the norm... this is important for the image. At the age of 16, sit on the throne, at 20-22 - meet with Caesar, at 28 - saving the country, go to meet Mark Antony... And we still don’t take the intermediate moments. You need to know this! Well, you can’t help but see the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor,” Olesya Roslanova says about her image and the work on it.


Cleopatra VII ruled Egypt for 22 years successively in co-rule with her brothers (who are traditionally formal husbands) Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, then, having destroyed them, in a de facto marriage with the Roman commander Mark Antony. Some historians still believe that the depravity and deceit attributed to her were real. For example, a judgment about Cleopatra by a Roman historian of the 4th century has been preserved. Aurelia Victor: “She was so depraved that she often prostituted herself, and had such beauty that many men paid with their death for the possession of her for one night.”

Published in the newspaper "Moskovsky Komsomolets" No. 29162 dated November 22, 2023

Newspaper headline:
Death by Night with Cleopatra

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