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4 score excerpts from Petipa's 1903 "The Magic Mirror"

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From the Youtube poster:

"Here are 4 extremely rare pieces from Marius Petipa's ill-fated ballet "Le Miroir magique" ("The Magic Mirror"). The ballet was set to the music of the avant-garde composer Arseny Koreshchenko, & was given its first performance for Petipa's retirement benefit at the Mariinsky Theatre on 22 February [O.S. 9 February] 1903. With my upload is the set design of Alexandre Golovine. Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra conducted by Alexander Lazarev. CD Melodiya 5634-A, 1994.

1. Scène
2. Adage (this is likely the work of Riccardo Drigo, who Petipa had revise the score)
3. Variation
4. Valse de la Princess (Variation pour Mlle. Mathilde Kschessinskaya)


Now, can you imagine a reconstruction of this, or even a completely new Snow White ballet set to this original score...? You can't ask for a better "musique dansante" example! I would vote for a YES!.clapping.gif


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Hey everybody; here is the libretto for The Magic Mirror, as well as the original cast list; have a look and tell me what you think.

World Première

9th February 1903

Imperial Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg

Original 1903 Cast

The Princess

Mathilde Kschessinskaya

The Prince

Sergei Legat

The Queen

Marie Petipa

The King

Pavel Gerdt

The Princess’s Nurse

Nadezhda Petipa

Chief Steward of the Household

Victor Gillert

A Polish Magnate

Josef Kschessinsky

The Princess’s retinue

Anna Pavlova

Lyubov Egorova

The Prince’s retinue

Alexander Oblakov

Mikhail Fokine


Act 1 – A garden in front of the palace

· Introduction

· Scene: the gardeners

· Entrance of the King and Queen

· Supplemental – Waltz “Flora”

· Entrance of the merchants

· Variations (a) Barcarolle

(b) Scottish dance

© Lace workers of Brussels

(d) Russian dance

(e) Variation (sellers of gemstones)

· Scene: the Mirror

· Dances: Little polonaise


· Scene

· Entrance of the Prince and Princess

· Grand Pas d’action (a) Adagio

(b) Allegretto

© Variation I

(d) Variation II

(e) Variation of the Prince

(f) Variation of the Princess

(g) Coda

Scene 1

Gardeners, men and women, are decorating the garden, weaving baskets and preparing garlands for the Queen.

Scene 2

The King and Queen enter with courtly ladies and cavaliers; the Queen is young and beautiful, the King old; he tries to please the Queen. Baskets and garlands are brought to the Queen.

Scene 3

The King orders the lace merchants to be led in, whom he has summoned, together with the lace-makers and workmen of their countries, and also the merchants of old Bohemian crystal and precious stones. Among other objects, there is a beautiful ‘magic’ mirror, which possesses the property of reflecting the most beautiful woman in the entire realm. The Queen, seeing her own reflection, is delighted, much to the joy of the King, who buys the mirror. The Queen, rejoicing, invites the courtiers to dance.

After the Mazurka, the King orders for the mirror to be taken to the Queen’s room. The Queen looks into the mirror again, but to her question, “Am I the most beautiful of all?” the mirror reflects the image of the Princess. The Queen is horrified. In the loud distance, trumpets are heard; the Queen is upset.

Scene 4

The Princess and her fiancé, the Prince enters with their retinues. The King is overjoyed. The secret envy of the Queen, who recognises in the Princess’s face the image that reflected in the mirror, that is, of the one woman whose beauty exceeds her own.

At the end of the Pas d’action, the Queen, extremely upset, asks the mirror again, “Who is the most beautiful of all?” and once again, the mirror presents the Princess’s image in all its beauty. This time the Queen, in a fit of envy and anger, faints. All rush to her assistance.

Act 2

· Entrance and scene

· An impracticable forest

· Dance of the Dryads

· March of the gnomes

· Dance of the gnomes

· Variation of the Princess (with the accompaniment of anvils)

· Scene: the Queen as a beggar and the Princess

· Scene finale: return of the gnomes/death of the Princess

Scene 1 – A park

At the rise of the curtain, the Queen is on stage, her gaze fixed on the mirror. She says to herself, “As long as the Princess is here, I will not be the most beautiful… she must die!”

Scene 2

The Queen calls for the Princess’s nurse and says to her, “Listen carefully to my commands: you will go into the forest with the Princess and you will kill her!”

Horrified, the nurse pleads, “Take pity, take pity on the young Princess, whom I love so much!”

“No!” answers the Queen, “there shall be no mercy. She must die and you must obey me. If not… you will die…”

She hands her a dagger.

Scene 3

They announce the Princess’s arrival. She has come to ask the Queen to be present at her wedding. Hiding her envy, the Queen receives the Princess courteously and agrees to her request. Then the Queen asks her to go into the nearby forest with her nurse to pick forget-me-nots, of which the Queen is extremely fond. The Princess, delighted that she can bring pleasure to the Queen, kisses her hand and leaves with the nurse.

Scene 4

As soon as she leaves, the Queen walks up to the mirror and says to herself: “Now I shall be the most beautiful of all.”

Scene 5 – A dense forest

The Princess enters with her nursemaid. Compelled to obey the Queen, the nurse is trembling. The Princess looks around in all directions and says to her, “This forest frightens me; there are no forget-me-nots here; why did you bring me so far from the castle?”

“The Queen commanded me,” the nurse answers.

“Why?” asks the Princess.

“She commanded me to bring you to this forest and to kill you!”

“Me? Why? What have I done?”

“You are more beautiful than she,” the nurse sobs.

“And you must kill me for that? No, no that is not possible! You would not commit such a horrible deed!”

“It must be thus,” the nurse answers, weeping and holding the dagger in her hand.

The Princess pleads on her knees, “Take pity on me, on my youth!”

The nurse, powerfully moved, throws down the dagger, and embraces her, kisses her, saying, “Stay here, try to get your bearings and find a way out of this horrible forest.”

They pray. Then the nurse kisses her warmly again and saying, “May the Lord protect you,” she flees like one insane.

Scene 6

The Princess calls after her for help, but in vain. The nurse is too far away to hear the Princess’s calls. Trembling, the Princess looks to find her way, walking through the trees and trying to get out of the forest, she disappears among them.

Scene 7

Little by little, the stage fills with dryads, who have gathered for diversion.

Scene 8

After the dryads’ dance, a curtain rises at the back of the stage and in the clear distance; the Queen’s shade is seen, wrathfully threatening the Princess’s nurse for having spared her. The nurse falls at the Queen’s feet and begs for her forgiveness. The Queen rudely throws her back. Then the Queen commands that she herself be dressed in peasant’s clothes so that she may realise her own intention, having conceived the idea of giving the princess a poisoned apple. The Princess’s maid dresses her. The Vision disappears.

Scene 9 – Huts and a cave on rocky hills

Gnomes come out of the cave and down from the hills: some are carrying sheaves of brushwood; others are digging out passageways in the crags.

Scene 10

The Princess rushes in, frightened, for she cannot find her way out of the forest… suddenly she finds herself surrounded by gnomes, who are fascinated with her and try to calm her down. The Elder of the Gnomes leads her into his hut, where she is attired in a dress of tree leaves.

Scene 11

A merry dance of the gnomes

Scene 12

The Princess appears in her dress of leaves, strewn with dew-drops. The gnomes ask her to dance and she agrees. The gnomes stand in groups and beat time on their anvils, accompanying the Princess during her dance. After the variations, the Elder of the Gnomes takes the Princess into the hut and advises her not to admit anybody during his absence. The gnomes depart for work with their implements.

Scene 13

The Queen, dressed as a peasant girl and carrying a basket of apples, appears stealthily and knocks on the door of the hut.

Scene 14

The Princess comes out, meets her with compassion and gives her some bread. In gratitude, the Queen offers an apple (poisoned). The Princess at first declines the apple, then accepts it, takes a bite and, stunned, falls down as if dead. The Queen gloats over her deed and fails to notice that she has dropped her handkerchief; seeing that the gnomes are returning, she runs out.

Scene 15

The gnomes joyfully return, but horror seizes them at the sight of the Princess. The Elder of the Gnomes finds the handkerchief and shows it to the others, evidence that an outside has been there.

Act 3 – The Grand Forest

· Entrance and scene

· Scene: the Prince’s dream (the sun shines)

· Dance of the sunrays

· Scene: the sun sets/appearance of the moon and stars

· Grand pas of the Princess, zephyrs and the stars (a) Waltz

(b) Adagio

· Variations (a) Shooting Stars

(b) Zephyrs

© The Princess

· Coda

· Panorama

Scene 1

The Prince appears in search of the Princess. He is despondent, sorrowful and tired. He sits down next to a large tree to rest and falls asleep.

Scene 2

The Prince’s dream – sunlight and dance of the sunrays

Scene 3

The sun slowly sets and the moon appears in its place, surrounded by stars.

Scene 4

Grand pas of the Princess escorted by zephyrs and stars

Scene 5

The Prince (that is, his shade) wants to draw the Princess into his embrace; they rush towards each other, but they cannot come together. At the very moment they are about to embrace, darkness falls and everything disappears.

Scene 6

The Prince awakens, still under the influence of his dream. He tries to orient himself to the forest, looks around, asking himself, “What path must I take to return to the castle?”

He climbs the tree; as he does, at the back of the stage, a valley appears; the sky is studded with stars. From the height of the tree, the Prince sees the castle; he climbs down and exits in the direction of the castle.

Act 4

· A torchlight procession: funeral march

· Dance of the immortal flowers

· Grand mime scene

· March

· Divertissement – (a) Polish dance

(b) Pas de deux

© The Prince’s variation

(d) The Princess’s variation

(e) Coda

· Czardas

· Yodel dance

· Variation I

· Variation II

· Variation III

· Coda

· Saxon character dance

Scene 1

The gnomes are carrying the Princess away in a glass coffin covered with flowers; they place the coffin deep in a grotto. The gnomes leave praying; one remains to stand guard and then falls asleep.

Scene 2

Dance of the everlasting flowers

Scene 3

The Elder of the Gnomes comes forward; behind him follows the King, Queen, the Prince, the nurse and the King’s grooms. The gnome shows them the place where the Princess rests. The Queen conceals her joy. The King is sorrowful. The nurse is crying. The Prince, in despair at the sight of the dead Princess, approaches the grating. He breaks the grating and the coffin. At that instant, the apple rolls out in front of the Prince.

Scene 4

The Princess comes to life… the Queen stands in astonishment, as if turned to stone. The others express their great joy. The Princess stands up (she is wrapped in a gold coverlet), glides along like a shade as the coverlet falls away; she sees the Prince, who rushes to embrace her.

The Queen’s horror…

The King’s excitement…

The Prince’s delight and the pervasive joy

The gnome hands the King the handkerchief as material evidence of who gave the Princess the poisoned apple. The King recognises the Queen’s handkerchief and shows it to her asking, “Is this your handkerchief?”

“Yes,” the Queen answers trembling with anger and fear, “I don’t understand how it came to be in the hands of this gnome.”

“Was it you who gave her the poisoned apple?”

“No… no…” in her fury, she cannot pronounce another word.

The King asks his daughter who gave her the apple. The Prince also begs her to recount everything. The Princess answers, “A poor peasant girl, who was carrying a basket of apples.”

At that moment, the nursemaid, all in tears, no longer able to keep the secret, tells everything that happened, but the Princess stops her and finishes the story. The King is frightfully angry and threatens the Queen with the dungeon. A sudden derangement of the Queen’s mind, who, in an attack of insanity, tells all what she ordered done and then falls dead.

Scene 5 – A hall in the castle

The betrothal of the Prince and Princess

In this last scene, character dances and classical pas.

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