When choreographing Pulcinella with Jerome Robbins, Balanchine created a libretto of his own.  The ballet combines the traditional Italian commedia dell’arte figure with aspects of Goethe’s Faust character. Beginning with Pulcinella’s funeral procession, the ballet depicts his resurrection through a pact with the devil, his continued career of mockery, petty crime, and debauchery, his defeat of the devil at a spaghetti feast, and a celebration of his victory by dancing. Pulcinella was first choreographed by Léonide Massine in 1920 for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.

Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), born in Russia, is acknowledged as one of the great composers of the twentieth century. His work encompassed styles as diverse as Romanticism, Neoclassicism, and Serialism. His ballets for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes included The Firebird, Petrushka, The Rite of Spring, and Apollo. His music has been used in over thirty ballets originating with New York City Ballet from 1948 through 1987, including Danses Concertantes, Orpheus, The Cage, Agon, Monumentum pro Gesualdo, Rubies, Symphony in Three Movements, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Concerto for Two Solo Pianos, Suite from L’Histoire du Soldat, Concertino, and Jeu de Cartes.

Repertory notes provided courtesy of and adapted from New York City Ballet Online Repertory Index. Additional sources: Choreography by George Balanchine: A Catalogue of Works, An Eakins Press Foundation Book, published by Viking (1984); and Repertory in Review: 40 Years of the New York City Ballet by Nancy Reynolds (1970; The Dial Press).  Photo credit: Photo © Martha Swope
The George Balanchine Trust -Pulcinella
Choreography:  George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust
Music:  Pulcinella: Ballet with Song in One Act after Pergolesi (1919-20)
Composer:  Stravinsky, Igor
Premiere:  1972
Average Length:  37 minutes
No. Dancers:  54