Vladivostok, Primorsky Stage, Great Hall

A Thousand and One Nights

Ballet in two acts




Ayyub Guliyev

Scheherezade: Saki Nishida
Nurida: Katerina Floria
Shakhriar: Kanat Nadyrbek
Slave: Yuri Zinnurov


Music by Fikret Amirov
Libretto by Maksud and Rustam Ibragimbekov
Choreography by Eldar Aliev
Set and Costume Designer: Pyotr Okunev
Lighting Designer: Sergei Martynov
Video Designer: Vadim Dulenko
Principal Coach: Alexander Kurkov
Coaches: Alexandra Grivnina, Alexandra Arkhangelskaya, Sergei Zolotarev


Act I

The powerful ruler Shahriar takes leave of his beautiful wife Nurida. An ardent hunter, he goes hunting, being escorted by bowmen. Left alone, Nurida is not sad long without her husband. By her command, numerous servants arrange a bacchanalia in which her favorite Slave takes part. Shahriar suddenly returns home to throw everybody into a stupor. He is shocked by his beloved wife’s cunning and by her betrayal. Nurida vainly entreats his husband for mercy. Shahriar is deaf to her entreaties, and the unfaithful wife is adjudged to die.

With his mind distracted by grief, Shahriar takes a decision to punish capitally all young women in the country. The ruler’s executioners set about their work. The girls’ entreaties are in vain. Shahriar is incapable of pity.

The ruler’s eye lights on one of the doomed girls. She is Scheherazade, and at the last moment Shahriar orders to stop the executioners’ work. Scheherazade begs the ruler to suspend the execution and listen to her interesting stories which celebrate the best qualities of women such as beauty, love and wisdom. Scheherazade agrees.

Act II

At the first night Scheherazade tells the ruler a story of the beautiful Girl who was delivered by the fearless Sinbad from death in the claws of the fateful bird Roc. Deeply smitten with the Girl’s beauty, Sinbad falls in love with her and she returns his love. And they lived happily ever after.

The next night comes, and Scheherazade tells Shahryar another tale of Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp, Princess Budur and the Sorcerer. The young Aladdin fights through his deathful troubles and vanquishes the Sorcerer for the sake of his love for Princess Budur. The lovers are forever together with each other, and love conquers all.

However the pain of Shahriar’s emotional wounds inflicted by Nurida cannot pass off, and the next night Scheherazade sweeps the ruler along with her by telling the tale of the forty thieves, their Chieftain, Ali Baba, and his wise housemaid Margiana who saves her master’s life.

Scheherazade gains Shahriar’s heart more and more by her beauty, chastity and womanliness. Shahriar’s heartache gives way to love, and he confesses his love for Scheherazade.

Shahriar goes hunting again, leaving Scheherazade alone. The girl feels sad, thinking of her beloved. When Shahriar returns home, he finds Scheherazade amid the favorite characters of the tales she once told him. The lovers are happy.


The Orient or the Oriental tale has been a hobbyhorse for ballet theaters over the entire history of their existence. Oriental ballets are truly fairy because of special plastique, unordinary rhythms, exotically ornate melodies, gorgeous scenery, and costumes worthy to be called objets de vertu.

The ballet A Thousand and One Nights was premiered at the Azerbaijan Opera and Ballet Theatre in Baku in 1979. The music was written by Fikret Amirov (1922-1984) who had become a national pride by that time. His creative experience embraced original orchestral pieces – such conductors as Bernstein and Stokowski would include them in their concert programs – as well as operas and ballets on topics of Azerbaijani history. “I want Azerbaijanian music to be played throughout the world,” he said and boldly wove Oriental melodies into European classical forms, imitating a folk orchestra’s sounding he remembered from his childhood.

Any other Oriental culture was another source of inspiration for Fikret Amirov. Before composing the ballet he made tours of Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Morocco and India. During each tour he endeavored to carefully study local traditions. “I aimed to penetrate deeply into the Arab culture of music, Arab sense of rhythm, beauty of Arab musical rites. I studied historic and architectural landmarks. I was faced with the task of making a synthesis of the national and the panhuman.”

A Thousand and One Nights became a quintessence of his creative explorations and achievements. “The ballet was conceived as a hymn to the woman, her wisdom and spiritual beauty and inspired by the national character, sapience and humanistic sounding of the outstanding medieval monument of Arab literature,” the composer wrote.  

The libretto was created by the renowned Ibragimbekov brothers: Rustam, a future coauthor of Nikita Mikhalkov’s award-winning movies, and Magsud, a writer, scenarist and film director.

They incarnated their conception in two acts of the ballet. With the truly Oriental wisdom, they made a selection from the book to choose the first and primary tale The Story of the Ruler Shahryar and his Brother. Its narration alternates with the three most popular tales told by Scheherazade: Sinbad the Sailor and the Roc, Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. All the stories demonstrate such female chief traits as love, beauty and wisdom.

In accordance with the plot, the music backcasts the coloring of the Middle East. The ballet Orient is real, not nominal. The composer includes a tar (‘traditionally crafted long-necked lute’) in the score and uses an endless repertoire of percussion instruments – bongos, tom-toms, a xylophone, a vibraphone, drums, bells, timpani, cymbals, etc. – to express the rich Arab rhythmic. Their role in the score is so all-sufficient that some scenes run accompanied by percussion only, whether solo or ensemble.

The use of a female voice on the choral background gives a special tint to the tone color. Their sounding emerges in the key moments to create a fermented mood in the beginning of the ballet or to express the grief of women doomed to death or to sing the victory of good and the woman’s force in the love duet of Shahryar and Scheherazade.

Fikret Amirov dedicated A Thousand and One Nights to his well-beloved wife. “To Aida, my helpmate” is written down on the cover page of the score.

The first night in 1979 was a triumph. The ballet truly expressed the poetry of the ancient tales in sounds, movements and pictures and dazed the audience by its originality and variety of colors.

First in Russia’s Far East the ballet-goers have an opportunity to watch A Thousand and One Nights choreographed by Eldar Aliev. Born in Baku, he staged the ballet in America and Europe over the years. The new version has been created by Eldar Aliev for the Primorsky Stage.

Natalia Rogudeeva

Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes
The performance has one interval

Age category 12+

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