Born into a world of Russian classical msuic, Igor Stravinksy made his mark in his homeland but left for France as a young man. His previous compositions won him a spot composing ballets for Serge Diaghilev's famed ballet company. The Firebird (1910), Stravinsky's first prooduction for the company was an imediate sucess and was soon followed by Petrushka (1911). His next work, however, has become infamous in its own manner. The audience attending the premiere of the Rite of Spring (1913) reacted rather violently to the new work and proceded to riot the streets of Paris.
I give you here the Firebird which follows the story Tsarevitch Ivan. Here is are the main points of the plotline as written by the Pacific Northwest Ballet.
Tsarevitch Ivan, out hunting, spies the glittering Firebird in Kastchei's enchanted garden and, drawn to her cosmic energy, traps her. They dance a powerful pas de deux as she struggles in his grasp and finally wins her freedom, leaving him a magic feather with which he can recall her strength in his time of need.
A group of young Princesses—Kastchei's captives—enters the garden to dance in the moonlight, and Ivan and the loveliest Princess are drawn to one another. They communicate their new love as they perform a folk dance with her companions. With the approach of the dawn, the Princesses return to the castle, warning Ivan to escape before Kastchei appears.
Not yet understanding the power of the enemy, Ivan tries to follow. He is threatened by Kastchei's monsters, and incurs the wizard's wrath. The Princesses return, and Ivan realizes fully the danger to the woman he loves. Remembering the magic feather which will summon the Firebird to his aid, he waves it, and she reappears to help him drive off the monsters and Kastchei.
The exhausted Ivan and the Princess reconfirm their love, and the Firebird prepares them to face their last difficult task—the destruction of Kastchei's evil soul. As Ivan breaks open the egg that contains it, new life is liberated, and love triumphs over evil.
Her mission accomplished, the Firebird—somewhat sadly—relinquishes Ivan and the Princess to the future that awaits them. In the presence of well-wishers, children, and flowers, the new Tsar and Tsarevna are crowned as benevolent leaders of the regenerated world.
In 1919, Stravinsky wrote a suite of the music from the Firebird to be performed without the ballet accompaniment. While both versions are commonly used in performances today, I can only offer the 1910 version for your listening pleasure. There are few differences between the two with most of the music identical in each rendition.The Firebird (1910)
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal