Dracula

Wojciech Kilar / Krzysztof Pastor

  • Act 1

    55 min.

  • Intermission

    20 min.

  • Act 2

    1 h 05 min.

Duration: 2 h 20 mins

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Ballet in two acts with a prologue
Libretto: Paweł Chynowski after Bram Stoker’s novel
Music: Wojciech Kilar (film scores and excerpts from Kościelec 1909, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra & Symphony No. 5)
Arrangement: Michael Brett
World premiere: 6 September 2018, West Australian Ballet, Perth
Polish premiere: 28 April 2022, Polish National Ballet, Warsaw

Dracula, Krzysztof Pastor’s choreography set to a selection of music by Wojciech Kilar, became a ballet sensation of 2018. Commissioned by the West Australian Ballet, it was given its debut in September 2018 in Perth. The company wanted to expand its repertoire to include a ballet adaptation of Bram Stoker’s world-famous horror novel and its 1992 Oscar-winning film version by Francis Ford Coppola with a score written by Wojciech Kilar. Having accepted the commission, Krzysztof Pastor decided to go beyond Coppola’s movie and showcase a wider selection of Kilar’s music in his production, which is set to a carefully arranged score put together by Michael Brett that features themes from Kilar’s soundtracks for Wajda’s The Promised Land and Chronicle of Amorous Accidents, Hoffman’s Leper, Zanussi’s Wherever You Are, and Majewski’s Jealousy and Medicine, as well as such self-standing works as Kościelec 1909, Symphony No. 5 (Advent Symphony), and Concerto for Piano and Orchestra.

The character of a pale aristocrat in a red-lined black cape endowed with demonic sexuality who drinks human blood was first introduced by John William Polidori in his 1819 short story The Vampyre, inspired by Southern European legends. The author, a young English physician with artistic aspirations, was so deeply in love with Lord Byron that he modelled his titular vampire, Lord Ruthven, on the famous Romantic poet, traveller and dandy. In the 20th century this portrayal became part of the popular culture thanks to a succession of film adaptations. The vampire featured in the novel by Irishman Bram Stoker, the eponymous Count Dracula, loosely inspired by Vlad the Impaler, a medieval voivode of Wallachia, had a different mien, including a long white moustache. The most frightening vampire, a bat-man with a naked scull, sharp fangs and claw-like fingers, was created in 1922, during the silent film era, by German director Friedrich Murnau in Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, remade in 1979 by Werner Herzog, whose production, Nosferatu The Vampyre, starred Klaus Kinski in the title role.

Krzysztof Pastor’s vampire draws on the English archetype: he is a beautiful aristocrat, with a slender figure and long dark hair, a man haunted by a terrible curse that only love can break. Pastor’s Dracula is a moving period show about love that survives death. The eponymous count goes to war and fights bravely (excellent sword fighting scene). Having received a false message of his death, Dracula’s wife Elizabeth commits suicide. When a smug bishop refuses to bury her, the tormented count kills him with his rapier and tears a crucifix from his own neck. Possessed by evil, he turns into a broken-down old man. He departs to London, where there is a wonderful ball scene unfolding to Kilar’s score for Leper. Dracula, still in the guise of a beautiful young man, meets a girl by the name of Mina who bears unsettling resemblance to his beloved late wife. She will help the poor soul free himself from evil. For the love of her, Dracula will make the ultimate sacrifice.

Krzysztof Pastor’s Dracula was nominated for the prestigious Helpmann Award for Best Ballet and received three Performing Arts WA Awards, for Best New Work, Best Costume Design, and Best Musical Arrangement. The show is set to return on stage in Australia in November 2021, when it opens at the Queensland Ballet, Brisbane.

Cast

Credits

Polish National Ballet
Orchestra of the Polish National Opera

  • TRANSYLVANIA,

    PROLOGUE

    Transylvania, 15th century. Brave Count Vlad Dracula set off to war against the Turks to defend his homeland. Rumours of his heroic death soon spread, and his grief-stricken wife Elisabeta threw herself from the castle tower. But the courageous count hadn’t perished after all. He returned to his castle and became sick with despair over the loss of his beloved wife. When the clergy refused the burial of the suicide victim, Dracula renounced God and humankind, transforming into a cruel vampire.

  • FROM LONDON TO TRANSYLVANIA,

    ACT I 

    Scene 1. Jonathan’s farewell

    London, end of 19th century. Jonathan, a young solicitor, is going to Transylvania to finalise the mysterious Count Dracula’s purchase of an estate in England. Before he leaves, he and his fiancé Mina visit the house of her friend Lucy to say goodbye to their friends. Lucy’s mother, Mrs Westenra, who has a heart condition, is being courted by the eccentric Professor Van Helsing. Vivacious Lucy has two suitors: aristocrat Arthur and psychiatrist Doctor Seward, but she is favourably inclined towards Arthur. Meanwhile, Mina is filled with serious misgivings about Jonathan’s departure for a distant country. Bidding him farewell, she offers her beloved a decorative likeness of herself and then confesses her sadness to Lucy.

    Scene 2. In front of Dracula’s castle

    A coach carrying Jonathan arrives at the Count’s castle in Transylvania. The passengers include a mother with a baby and a little boy. When Jonathan leaves his companions, he sees they have become inexplicably anxious.

    A party is underway at Dracula’s Castle. Jonathan has no idea that this is a meeting of vampires. He feels uncomfortable harassed by women. Finally, the host dismisses the guests, and the solicitor goes straight to business. When they conclude the transaction, Jonathan accidentally cuts his finger. Dracula becomes excited and tries to suck the blood from his guest’s hand. He then notices in Jonathan’s bag Mina’s portrait. An uncanny resemblance between her and his beloved wife Elisabeta strikes him.

    When Jonathan, being tired from his journey, is finally alone in a bedroom he is accosted again by the obtrusive vampires. Dracula unexpectedly rescues him by appeasing them with the body of a baby. The obtrusive behaviour of his host concerns Jonathan, so he decides to follow him.

    Meanwhile, the mother Jonathan met on his journey is at the castle’s gates, distraught and seeking her lost children. Nuns have found just one of her children, and she realises her infant has been lost without a trace.

    Scene 4. The vampires’ lair

    Vampires gather in the gloomy vault of the Count’s castle, where they do their ghastly dance. Dracula also arrives and shuts his semiconscious companions in boxes and then takes his own place. Creeping in after him, Jonathan only sees the lid of the box closing. When he raises the lid of Dracula’s bed, the Count tries to pull him inside. He is rescued by the mother of the missing baby, who appears suddenly in the vault, holding a crucifix. Dracula slams the lid shut, and the brave woman leads the shocked Jonathan away.

  • FROM TRANSYLVANIA TO LONDON,

    ACT II

    Scene 1. Renfield

    The inmates at the London mental asylum of Doctor Seward include the exceptionally peculiar Renfield. He is obsessed with insects and birds, which he maniacally devours. His growing frenzy gives the doctor concern and scares the other inmates. He gets especially tense when Dracula’s boxes from the Transylvanian castle are carried past the asylum windows by porters. When the doctor, concerned about the safety of other inmates, leads them out of the room, Dracula appears at the window. Then, Renfield invites him inside and declares his submission.

    Scene 2. Lucy’s Engagement

    Mrs Westenra is having an engagement party for her daughter Lucy and her new fiancé Arthur. The partygoers have no idea they are being observed. When the guests move to the garden, Lucy – weary from dancing – falls asleep. Suddenly Dracula appears next to her. A dose of her fresh blood restores him to the form of young Count, who blends in unnoticed with the company returning indoors.

    Seeing Lucy passed out, her mother seeks the help of Doctor Seward and Professor Van Helsing – an expert on supernatural phenomena. He discovers a bite mark on the neck of the fainting Lucy and leads her from the room with Arthur’s help. As the party goes on, Mina notices the handsome stranger, while the Count recognises her as the girl from Jonathan’s portrait. He considers her to be an incarnation of his beloved wife Elisabeta. Their relationship grows into fascination.

    Mrs Westenra is worried about her daughter’s health and bids the guests’ goodbye. Only Mina stays, still shocked by her uncontrolled weakness for a strange man. The next moment, however, she notices Lucy sleepwalking into the sinister arms of Dracula. Disconcerted by the presence of Mina, the vampire leaves his victim in her faint state. Mina rouses her friend from sleep and realises that the seducer was the same stranger who had also charmed her that evening.

    Mrs Westenra and her family friends are concerned about Lucy’s weakness. Professor Van Helsing suspects a vampire is involved, so he tries to safeguard the girl from future danger. Garlands of garlic were meant to protect her from another attack of the evil force. Mrs Westenra stays to watch over her daughter but when she falls asleep from fatigue, Dracula reappears. The woman awakens and is so terrified that she suffers a heart attack and accidentally destroys all of the Professor’s safeguards. Now there is nothing to stop the vampire, who sucks out the rest of helpless Lucy’s blood.

    Scene 3. Jonathan’s return

    Mina meets Jonathan as he returns from his journey, but her joy is overshadowed by the death of her friend Lucy and her mother. Mina and Jonathan go to their friend’s asylum, where they encounter Arthur and Professor Van Helsing. Doctor Seward wants to consult the professor about Renfield’s case. They notice that the patient gets excited by the sight of Mina, but his behaviour is more suggestive of concern than aggression. He seems to want to warn and protect her.

    Scene 4. Lucy the vampire

    Trying to protect her from a vampire’s fate, Lucy’s friends arrive at the cemetery and open her grave, but her body is missing. Meanwhile, she circles around them, desperately trying to get close to her beloved Arthur and give him a sinister kiss. The vigilant Van Helsing saves him, and Doctor Seward drives an aspen stake through her heart. The devastated Arthur joins to the annihilation of the vampire and thus, frees his beloved Lucy from eternal damnation.

    Scene 5. Dracula’s death

    Mina wants to protect Renfield from the vampire’s vengeance, but she arrives too late and witnesses his death. Her confrontation with Dracula is full of passion. He shows her the portrait of his beloved wife Elisabeta, and Mina finally understands Dracula’s pain and longing for his late wife. Touched by all this, she automatically surrenders to his power.

    The returning friends are shocked by the disturbing scene. Taken by surprise, the vampire tries to flee. When everyone rushes after him, Jonathan stays to guard his fiancée. Now returned to his ancient form, Dracula reappears and is drawn toward Mina as she was his beloved wife. He gets wounded, but Mina defends him from further harm. Filled with emotion for the miserable Count, she kisses tenderly the repulsive old vampire. Moved by her gesture and wanting to protect her from his own fate, he begs Mina to help him die, freeing him and herself from eternal suffering. Dying, he is the young Count Dracula once more.

Sponsors

  • Patrons of the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Partners of the Opera Academy

  • Partners of Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Partner of the Polish National Ballet

  • Media patrons