April 26, 2017. Boris Eifman Ballet Theater is going to perform a premiere of "RUSSIAN HAMLET" Ballet in the Alexandrinsky Theater

A ballet by Boris Eifman
Music: Ludwig van Beethoven, Gustav Mahler
Sets and costumes: Vyacheslav Okunev

In this ballet Boris Eifman refers to the life story of Prince Paul, later becoming Emperor Paul I of Russia. Here the choreographer does not endeavour to simply stage this well-known plot borrowed from the history of the Romanov’s dynasty – the struggle for power between Empress Catherine the Great and her son – but with psychological insight so characteristic of his style tries to offer a philosophical view and analysis of how political power distorts human relations and brings a human personality to a collapse turning a crown prince into a half-madman.

“The life of Prince Paul, afterwards Paul I of Russia , bears a striking resemblance to that of Prince Hamlet (contemporaries began calling Prince Paul ‘a Russian Hamlet’ already during his life); it is enigmatic in more than one aspect, full of ill omens and mysticism. A young Prince of the great Empire, with a bright outlook and brilliant education, he eagerly strived to prepare himself for the service of his Motherland, but assassination of his father – Emperor Peter III, dislike of his mother – Empress Catherine II who was afraid of her own son and heir, the atmosphere of never-ending spying, intrigues, fear and humiliation was what eventually brought Paul to live in his own imaginative world of fantasies and hallucination, persecution mania and spiritual loneliness. From the days of his childhood he was prone to mysticism (historical records have documented a story of Paul’s meeting the ghost of Emperor Peter the Great), and he presaged his own tragic end; this was the reason why he so passionately climbed to power to have time for progressive reforms in Russia. He was not understood, cruelly killed by the court nobility and cursed. The hero of our ballet is Prince Paul in his younger years. We depict him in the period when he was full of bright ideas, far-reaching ambitions, and about to come across the first tragic turns in his life. This is a search for an answer to the eternal Hamletian dilemma: ‘To be or not to be?”