Mieczysław Weinberg / Anna Hop



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Ballet in two acts
Libretto: Anna Hop after the novel by Carlo Collodi
Music: Mieczysław Weinberg
Music editing: Anna Hop & Marta Kluczyńska
World premiere: 21 April 2024, Polish National Ballet, Warsaw

The growing interest in Weinberg, a fascinating composer tapping into Polish, Jewish, and Russian culture, means that his music, which up until recently was mainly confined to recordings and philharmonic concerts, is making its way into theatre programmes. While his operatic pieces have already gained considerable recognition (a good point in case is the memorable Passenger shown on our stage for a few seasons), now the time has come to shine a light on Weinberg’s ballet, The Golden Key.

Every child knows the tale of Pinocchio, a wooden puppet that becomes a real boy. While the character was originally conceived by Carlo Collodi, it is important to note that every era has its version of the story. Weinberg’s ballet is based on a reworking of the original tale, Alexei Tolstoy’s book Buratino. Tolstoy, a distant cousin of the famous writer, drew heavily on Collodi yet took the liberty of making some far-reaching changes to the plot.

Weinberg’s ballet is inspired by commedia dell’arte: burattino is Italian for ‘marionette’ and the name of a character of those improvised comedies. In the early 20th century, Igor Stravinsky chose a closely connected protagonist for his Petrushka. While his work was intended for adult audiences, Weinberg’s piece was meant for children, despite including allusions to the oppressive Soviet realities that only grown-ups could infer. The ballet was written between 1954 and 1955; the revised version was composed between 1961 and 1962. You can sense the spirit of Dimitri Shostakovich in The Golden Key: while Weinberg was friends with the composer, his ballet music is thoroughly original. It is a vibrant, multicoloured story full of humour, lyricism, and references to popular dances (waltz, tarantella).

Drawing inspiration from Collodi, Anna Hop weaves an original story fit for the modern age. One thing remains the same: the universal message about the hardships of growing up. The production is also a wonderful opportunity to showcase the magic of stagecraft as we follow the fairy tale adventures of a boy who roams different worlds to eventually return home and face his past.  

Pinocchio is a family ballet: greatly enjoyed by children and admired by grown-ups. All thanks to Weinberg’s playful music, the beauty of dance, the magic of  theatrical imagery, and the deeply meaningful story about the triumph of vulnerability over violence, the pursuit of freedom, and the necessity to sometimes lose one’s way in to grow as a person.


Polish National Ballet
Orchestra of the Polish National Opera


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