Allegoric Images of an Ancient Russian Legend in Two Acts
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The Alkonost is a two-act ballet depicting the essence, nature and life of a mythical creature, part-woman and part-bird, and her passionate relationship between two very distinct, contrasting worlds – the safe, tranquil, idyllic world of Paradise and the jagged, tumultuous, mortal world will both intimately and significantly fulfill her destiny throughout all eternity. This destiny takes her on a journey of celestial honor, glorification, triumph, and splendor to passion, ecstasy, pain, death, and finally, her re-birth out of the mortal earth.
Beyond the Heavens
The Overture is set within the mystical Gardens of Paradise, a world beyond the heavens filled with unexplainable beauty and tranquility. The music captures a sense of awe, wonder, and excitement as to what is about to transpire, and gives the sense to the listeners that they are about to witness something spectacular.
Every 777 years, according to the Ancients’ Lunar Calendar, the heavenly beings perform a sacred liturgy of anointing and choose the Alkonost who will become “The Anointed One”: her destiny. The stars and the constellations say that it is so. Other mythical creatures (Angels, Sirins, Gamayuns, Finists, Seraphs, etc.) are found within this sacred gathering. This is a scene filled with pomp, brilliance, regality and joy.
As The Alkonost is recognized by all of the heavens and celestial bodies, the angels sing a hymn in her honor. The text is as follows: “Worthy are you! Worthy are you and blessed are you; You who are chosen to carry your message to the world of the mortals! Worthy are you!” The Scroll of the Ancients is given to The Alkonost, a momentous occasion. Within the scroll lay secrets and knowledge that now only she possesses. During this portion of the Liturgy, celestial beings offer gifts, incense and mythical offerings at the altar to help aid and prepare The Alkonost for her long journey toward Earth. As the Presentation draws to a reverent cadence, thunderous and rapturous excitement fills the heavens.
Members of the Heavenly Hosts revere and honor The Alkonost and offer their prayers for safe travels, while others in groups bow humbly when she looks upon them. The Finists (part male, part Falcon) show their loyalty, devotion, and respect toward The Alkonost with a sacred dance. Protecting her throughout her entire life, the Finists accompany her to Earth. This is an important and vital task. The Finists, ordained to guard and protect her, are warrior-priests, chosen for their courage, bravery, and pious devotion.
The trumpet sounds, indicating the Grand Festival Dance; a high point in ceremony. All present dance with abandonment and ecstasy. As the excitement begins to peak, the heavenly beings bid The Alkonost and her faithful guides a fond farewell as they descend to the mortal Earth.
The Mortal Earth
Bitonalities, polytonalities, and stark, angular motifs paint a bleak world of dark and shadow. The listener is at the edge where earth meets water. The landscape is rocky, unobtainable, and jagged. The Guardians prepare the horizon, tides, and currents of the sea for the arrival of The Alkonost with their dance. Although they are, in a sense, immortal, the Guardians can never leave Earth. An age-old curse enslaves these creatures to inhabit the space between the dark ocean and the boundless sky.
The Alkonost arrives, accompanied by the Finists. It is as if the whole world bursts forth into one great and ancient song. The Alkonost must ritually wash herself after the long journey in preparation for a cosmic marriage. Her essence will be united with the seed of mortal man. This ancient rite is an old custom practiced by the Alkonosts before her. Towards the end of this scene, a glimpse of The Alkonost’s youthful energy is evident. She begins to become playful with the handsome Finists and, for a brief moment, loses sight of her purpose and destiny. Suddenly, a sense of seriousness breaks upon the scene. The Alkonost and the Finists engage the sea with conjuring motions and respectful movements.
The Alkonost dances with all of the grace and blessings of the heavens. Within this dance, she matures, and the Finists show immense respect and honor as their queen. Mankind begins to become enticed by her beauty and her innocence. The Alkonost knows that she is being watched. Soon, she will engage her many lovers. The Finists, torn between love and sacred duty, cannot resist her any longer. The Finists smite a vast majority of the men, killing them—others escape the wrath and jealousy of the Finists by fleeing. The Finists advance toward her. They enjoy the sweet fragrance of release, as did many of the other men.
The Alkonost, in giving birth to the egg, will soon die in pain and agony. Her whole life and spirit is sucked out of her, contained within the egg. She offers the egg to the Finists, and falls dead. The Finists faithfully guard the egg while all creation mourns the loss of The Alkonost.
The Finists must protect the egg at all costs. If the egg becomes damaged or eaten by a Leviathan or some other vile creature from the sea, the soul of The Alkonost will be lost forever, doomed to never return again.
The egg cracks; life is making its way through the shell. The Heavens and the Earth hold their breath. Light scintillates and bursts forth in a stunning display as The Alkonost comes out of the egg reborn! The Finists, the Guardians of the Horizon, and all of heaven and earth resound in praise and thanksgiving. The Finists, Guardians, and others bow in reverence and adoration.
As the music nears the end, The Alkonost makes her way forward; as the final chord is played powerfully and fully by the orchestra, she extends her arms, shifts her gaze towards the heavens, and flies!