The original text
The Firebird is the English name for a magical and prophetic glowing or burning bird from a faraway land which is both a blessing and a harbinger of doom to its captor. The concept and image of bird has been central to a number of fairy tales, folk tales, literary, theatrical and other works of art over the ages.
Translations and adaptations
L'Oiseau de feu (1910)
The most famous stage version of the legend was Sergei Diaghilev's production for the Ballet Russe, a large-scale ballet called L'Oiseau de feu (or The Firebird), with a musical score by Igor Stravinsky and a scenario by Michel Fokine and Alexandre Benois. It was first performed at the Opéra de Paris on 25 June 1910 and was an immediate success, catapulting Stravinsky to international fame. Although designed as a work for the stage, with specific passages accompanying characters and action, the music achieved equal if not greater recognition as a concert piece.
The Firebird (2016)
The Firebird (Die Vuurvoël in Afrikaans) is a South African adaptation of the tale as a puppetry and dance performance, using the original composition by Igor Stravinsky, was proposed by IMG Artist International in 2014 and was undertaken by Janni Younge Productions in association with IMG.
According to the Janni Younge Productions website, the production was "... a puppet and dance performance set to Stravinsky’s original score ... [drawing on] ... the symbolism and dramaturgy of Fokine’s original choreography (based on figures from Russian folklore) and reinterprets them in a contemporary South African setting, using larger-than-life puppets and African dance forms."
Direction and puppet design and construction for the production was by Janni Younge and a team of 14 puppet makers, the piece used the original music of Igor Stravinsky, with costume designs by Birrie le Roux, lighting by Mannie Manim and choreography by Jay Pather. A team of 20 went on tour with the production.
Performance history in South Africa
2016: Performed at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown on 30 June and 1 July.
2016: The production then undertook a tour of America from 20 July to 12 August, starting in Philadelphia, then playing Washington, Chicago, Sun Valley, Los Angeles and New York.
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