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Work

Reinhold Glière

Reinhold Glière Composer

The Red Poppy, Op.70 (ballet)   

Performances: 18
Tracks: 70
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Musicology:
  • The Red Poppy, Op.70 (ballet)
    Year: 1928
    Genre: Ballet
    Pr. Instrument: Orchestra
    • Act 1
      • 1.Introduction
      • 2.Coolies' Dance
      • 3.Scene: Tao-Hoa's Entrance
      • 4.Restaurant
      • 5.Malik's Dance
      • 6.Boston Waltz
      • 7.Scene of European Dance. Captain's Entrance and Sailor's Dance
      • 8.Tao-Hoa's Scene
      • 9.Variation with Gold Fingers
      • 10.Coolies' Victory Dance
      • 11.Dance of the Soviet Sailors: Apple
    • Act 2
      • 1.Introduction: Scene in the smoking room
      • 2.Scene
      • 3.Dance of the Chinese Women
      • 4.Adagio of Four Goddesses
      • 5.Adagio No.1
      • 6.Prelude
      • 7.Tao-Hoa's vision
      • 8.Scene: Procession
      • 9.Sword Dance
      • 10.Phoenix
      • 11.Adagio No.2
      • 12.The Rose Ship
    • Act 3
      • 1.Charleston
      • 2.Dance in the Restaurant
      • 3.Preparation of the Chinese Theatre
      • 4.Umbrella Dance
      • 5.Puppet Dance
      • 6.Chinese Acrobats' Dance
      • 7.Scene: the Conspiracy
      • 8.Scene of Confusion
      • 9.Captain's Scene
      • 10.Tao-Hoa's Scene; the departing ship
      • 11.Rebellion Scene
      • 12.Tao-Hoa's Death
      • 13.Apotheosis
Glière was a composer of the same generation of Rachmaninov, with whom the comparison is appropriate. Both composers wrote three symphonies, of which the second symphonies were composed in the same year. Their musical languages were similar in many respects, to the point of occasional resemblance. Both were happy to work in the Russian romantic tradition. But unlike Rachmaninov, who ran afoul of the October Revolution and went into permanent exile, Glière remained in Russia and adapted without great strain to the conservative artistic rules imposed by Stalinism. The 1926 ballet The Red Poppy was perhaps the most enduring success in a career that enjoyed the recognition of the regime, which named him People's Artist.

It is a full-length ballet, lasting two hours and comprising three acts and 36 numbers. The story takes place in a Chinese port. The main characters are Tao-Hoa, a Chinese girl, her manager, and the Russian captain. The action involves the revolt of the exploited coolies working in the docks, and several scenes in a cosmopolitan restaurant. This posed several problems to the composer, obliged to combine musical elements of diverse origin, from pentatonic melodies representing the Chinese setting, to a Charleston to suggest American influence, to the Internationale to portray the Russians. In view of these difficulties, Glière had a remarkable success in handling the materials. The most outstanding numbers were later collected in a suite—most of them belonging to the first act—that has become much better known than the complete ballet. The ballet opens with a pentatonic Introduction describing the docks. The Dance of the Coolies describe the oppression of the dock workers. Tao-Hoa enters in the following scene, a beautiful lyrical moment. Several European dances follow, including the Boston Waltz. The Russian captain and sailors arrive, and there is a scene between Tao-Hoa and the captain where Glière masterly and inextricably combines the theme of the girl with the first phrase of the Internationale. This wonderful number is followed by the Variation with the Golden Fingers. The Coolies' Victory Dance that comes next is the one that opens the suite. The first act concludes with the famous Dance of the Russian Sailors that closes the suite. The second act takes place in an opium den, in an atmosphere of dream. The Dance of the Chinese Women precedes two dreamy adagios, an intense Prelude and a Procession and Sword Dance that sound like soundtrack music as well as "Phoenix." The lyrical Adagio is the emotional climax of the act. The third act opens with a Charleston. After several dances in the restaurant and the Chinese Theatre comes the rebellion and the interesting Scene of Confusion. The captain has a scene before the departure of his ship. The work concludes with an optimistic Apotheosis.

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