Matilda Kschessinska as Flora, the Goddess of the Spring, and Vera Trefilova as Eros, the God of Love, in “The Awakening of Flora” (1895)
It was on this day, the 6th August [O.S. 25th July] 1894, that Petipa and Riccardo Drigo’s one-act ballet anacréontique “The Awakening of Flora” was premièred at Peterhof Palace in Saint Petersburg, with Matilda Kschessinska as Flora, Nikolai Legat as Zephyrus and Pavel Gerdt as Helios.
“The Awakening of Flora” was created and staged as part of the celebrations for the wedding of the Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, the daughter of Tsar Alexander III, to the Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich. The ballet was later transferred to the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre, where it made its Imperial Theatre début in the 14th January [O.S. 2nd January] 1895 with the original cast members from the Peterhof première. This performance was part of a farewell benefit performance for the ballerina Maria Anderson, one of Petipa’s most celebrated soloists, who had sadly been forced into retirement after sustaining horrific burn injuries in an accident that occurred during a dress rehearsal of “Cinderella”, in which her costume caught alight on an ironing device.
In the original theatre programme, the choreography for “The Awakening of Flora” was erroneously credited as having been a joint effort between Petipa and Lev Ivanov. When a review in the Saint Petersburg Gazette also credited the choreography to both Petipa and Ivanov, Petipa wrote to the newspaper correcting their error. In reality, Petipa has choreographed the ballet alone, while he and Ivanov had created the ballet programme together.
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