The Legend of love
Here is a legend I want to tell you, a Legend of love, self-sacrifice, jealousy and a difficulty of choice. We have already visited The Bolshoi, but I couldn’t skip this Arif Melikov’s Premiere. The splendid tale of forbidden love returns to the Bolshoi stage after a ten-year absence. Honestly speaking, after the first sounds of orchestra I wasn’t quite sure if I go through three acts, but then the whole ballet was in one breath.
The Legend of Love is one of Russian master Yuri Grigorovich’s earliest choreographic works, and its storyline explores the conflict between love and duty through its two heroines. Queen Mekhmeneh Bahnu’s younger sister, Princess Shyrien, is dying. A stranger enters, claiming he can cure the princess. He demands the Queen’s beauty in return, and she obliges. But, as for me, the veil on the “ugly” queen added a certain mystery and I liked her even more. I won’t go on about the dancers, there were absolutely stunning, but I certainly want to say some words about the outfit of the characters and decoration. Women clothed in ocre leggings and black skirts with gold coins added to the oriental spirit of the ballet, lending greater coherency to the libretto and the ballet’s choreographic language. Mostly black scene with just a Palace made an exquisite complement to the dance, which was turning from the slow, romantic “speaking” of lovers to the crowded bustling dance of the courtiers.
But let’s move further, once saved, the princess instantly falls in love with a local artist, Ferkhad, who believes it’s impossible to even dream of being with Shyrien. Act Two offers us a dramatic conflict. The village people have no water and have to cut through a mountain in order to procure some. The Queen, as you’ve already guessed, is also in love with Ferkhad, who meanwhile has found his true passion in the Queen’s sister. The Princess eloped in order to be with Ferkhad and soon caught by the guard. This ballet also has its vision scene, similar to my favorite “Bayadere”. While at the mountain, Ferkhad dreams he sees his beloved in the water of the stream. They dance a romantic pas de deux and then Shyrien leaves… Notable in the choreography is that only during the second pas de deux Shyrien and Ferkhad actually touch each other. It rather effectively emphasizes the lovers’ longing for each other.
“Legend of Love” ends in an surprising way. After Shyrien begs the Queen to allow them to be together, the Queen agrees, but this time changes her part of the bargain: Ferkhad must give up his work on the mountain and leave everyone without water. Ferkhad cannot betray the hopes of the people. So, he heads off to the mountains and leaves all the ladies.
Lovers separated, the Queen is still disfigured and Ferkhad became a hero, because the happiness of people stands for him on the first place. This story offers plenty of food for thought, especially in our 21 century. But…isn’t Ferkhad is just an egoist, who seduced two women, but decided to play cool? )))
Masha D.Ballet, Bolshoi theatre, The Legend of Love