Jazz Ballet Valery Teryoshkin

December 7, 2011

Some time ago, the Jazz Ballet Valery Teryoshkin in Krasnoyarsk (Siberia) announced they would stage tthe premiere of the ballet The Master and Margarita on December 4, 2011 in the local Philharmonic Hall. The ballet wanted to celebrate the 120th anniversary of Mikhail Bulgakov.

Art director Olga Sergeevna had created a ballet allegory for which she had been inspired by the novel to show three aspects of love: the happy love, the dark love, and the love which sells its soul. It would be represented in a particular concept: instead of the Master, Bulgakov himself would be shown, and instead of Margarita would be shown his three wives. The crowd scenes would be danced by the children of the ballet's school. The choreography was designed on music by Igor Kornelyuk, the composer of the soundtrack of Vladimir Bortko's TV series Master i Margarita, and by Angelo Badalamenti, who is internationally known for his music for the TV series Twin Peaks.

But just before the show would start, the spectators were informed to their surprise that they would be watching the ballet Movement for the truth. It appeared to be the same ballet, but with a different title.

The name change was the ballet's reply to a letter they got from Sergey Shilovsky, a grandson from a previous marriage of Elena Sergeevna, the third wife of Mikhail Bulgakov. Just before the premiere, he had sent a letter in which he wrote that, as an heir of Bulgakov, he had given no permission for this show and that he wanted it to be banned. Unless - you can guess the line of thinking - the Philharmony came up with a sufficient amount of money.

Shilovsky didn't care about the fact that the ballet is not retelling the plot of the novel. "Without my permission The Master and Margarita can not be staged by anyone," he said in a telephone interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda. "I have obligations to others who have bought the rights to the novel. I heard about the show in Krasnoyarsk only a few days before the premiere. We could gave negotiated, but negotation is a process, and there wasn't enough time. I had no other choice but prohibiting the performance."

It is not known how much money Shilovsky wanted for granting permission, but art director Olga Sergeevna said he was asking “an obscene amount”. So the ballet's management decided to apply some changes, and to delete the words The Master and Margarita from the title.

It is not the first time that Shilovsky tries to throw a spanner in the works. It was due to him, for example, that Yuri Kara's film Master i Margarita from 1994 could not be shown in the cinema theatres for 17 years. And in the year 2000, he nipped Vladimir Bortko's first attempt to film the novel for the channel NTV in the bud, so Bortko had to wait for five years before he was able realize his dream for the channel Telekanal Rossiya.

Interesting detail: when it comes to assert his rights, Shilovsky often uses the argument that he wants to preserve the integrity of the literary legacy of his illustrious grandfather. But Shilovsky's grandfather was army officer Yevgeny Alexandrovich Shilovsky (1889-1952), who had been married to Elena Sergeevna before she even knew Mikhail Bulgakov. Or, seen from a different angle, he's just lucky that his grandmother cheated on her husband when she was 36 years old, and that she had no children with her next husband Bulgakov. Honni soit qui mal y pense...

Click here to listen to Shilovsky's arguments

Share this page |