World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Pulcinella (ballet)

Pulcinella (Maurice Sand)
Choreographer Léonide Massine
Music Igor Stravinsky
Based on An 18th-century play
Premiere 15 May 1920
Original ballet company Ballets Russes
Characters Pulcinella
Genre Neoclassical ballet
Type Classical ballet

Pulcinella is a ballet by Igor Stravinsky based on an 18th-century play—Pulcinella is a character originating from Commedia dell'arte. The ballet premiered at the Paris Opera on 15 May 1920 under the baton of Ernest Ansermet. The dancer Léonide Massine created both the libretto and choreography, and Pablo Picasso designed the original costumes and sets. It was commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev.


  • History 1
  • Movements of the complete ballet 2
  • Pulcinella Suite 3
  • Suite italienne 4
  • Story 5
  • Importance 6
  • Notes 7
  • Sources 8
  • External links 9


Diaghilev wanted a ballet based on an early eighteenth-century commedia dell'arte libretto and music believed (in Diaghilev's time) to have been composed by Giovanni Pergolesi. (Although the music was then attributed to Pergolesi, much of that attribution has since proved to be spurious;[1] some of the music may have been written by Domenico Gallo, Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer, Carlo Ignazio Monza and possibly Alessandro Parisotti.) Conductor Ernest Ansermet wrote to Stravinsky in 1919 about the prospect, but the composer initially did not like the idea of music by Pergolesi. However, once he studied the scores, which Diaghilev had found in libraries in Naples and London, he changed his mind. Stravinsky rewrote this older music in a more modern way by borrowing specific themes and textures, but interjecting modern rhythms, cadences and harmonies. Pulcinella is scored for a modern chamber orchestra with soprano, tenor, and baritone soloists. It is often considered to be the first piece of Stravinsky's neoclassical period.

Movements of the complete ballet

The ballet is scored for 3 solo singers (1 soprano, 1 tenor, and 1 bass), 2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns in F, 1 trumpet in C, 1 trombone, a concertino of strings (2 violins, 1 viola, 1 cello, 1 contrabass), and the ripieno (8 violins, 4 violas, 3 celli, and 3 contrabasses). A performance of it typically lasts 35 minutes.

  1. Overture: Allegro moderato
  2. Serenata: Larghetto, Mentre l'erbetta (tenor)
  3. Scherzino: Allegro
  4. Allegro
  5. Andantino
  6. Allegro
  7. Ancora poco meno: Contento forse vivere (soprano)
  8. Allegro assai
  9. Allegro – alla breve: Con queste paroline (bass)
  10. Andante: Sento dire no'ncè pace (soprano, tenor & bass)
  11. Allegro: Ncè sta quaccuna po (soprano & tenor)
  12. Presto: Una falan zemprece (tenor)
  13. Allegro – Alla breve
  14. Tarantella
  15. Andantino: Se tu m'ami (soprano)
  16. Allegro
  17. Gavotta con due variazioni
  18. Vivo
  19. Tempo di minuetto: Pupillette, fiammette d'amore (soprano, tenor & bass)
  20. Finale: Allegro assai

Pulcinella Suite

The Pulcinella Suite is derived from the ballet and has no singing parts. The suite was revised by the composer.

The ballet score was revised in 1965.

The Pulcinella suite consists of eight movements:

  1. Sinfonia
  2. Serenata
  3. a: Scherzino b: Allegretto c: Andantino
  4. Tarantella
  5. Toccata
  6. Gavotta (con due variazioni)
  7. Vivo
  8. a: Minuetto b: Finale

Suite italienne

Stravinsky based the following works on the ballet:

  • 1925: Suite d'après des thèmes, fragments et morceaux de Giambattista Pergolesi for violin and piano (in collaboration with Paul Kochanski).
  • 1932/33: Suite italienne for violoncello and piano (in collaboration with Gregor Piatigorsky).
  • 1933: Suite italienne for violin and piano (in collaboration with Samuel Dushkin).
  • Somewhat later, Jascha Heifetz and Piatigorsky made an arrangement for violin and cello, which they also called Suite italienne.


The story of Pulcinella is taken from a manuscript from Naples, dating from 1700, containing a number of comedies portraying the traditional character of the popular Neapolitan stage. The particular story used is entitled Quartre Polichinelles semblables ("Four identical Pulcinellas").

The ballet unfolds in one single act and features Pulcinella, his girlfriend Pimpinella, his friends Furbo, Prudenza and Rosetta, and Florindo and Cloviello. The story starts with Florindo and Cloviello serenading Prudenza and Rosetta. The two women are unimpressed and reply by showering the suitors with water. Prudenza's father, a doctor, appears and chases them away.

A new episode begins with Rosetta with her father appearing. Rosetta dances for Pulcinella and they kiss. But Pimpinella sees this and interrupts the scene. Florindo and Cloviello arrive and jealous of Pulcinella, they beat him up. Pulcinella is then stabbed, but this is actually a mockery to get Pimpinella to forgive Pulcinella. Furbo disguised as a magician appears and resurrects Pulcinella's body in front of everybody. Pimpinella indeed forgives Pulcinella, Prudenza and Rosetta succumb to Florindo's and Cloviello's wooing. The ballet ends with the marriages of the couples.


Pulcinella was the gateway to Stravinsky's second phase as a composer, the Jerome Robbins, who both danced, Robbins in the title role, for their 1972 Stravinsky Festival.


  1. ^ Dunning 1988.
  2. ^ Saint Louis Symphony Program Notes, in External Links


  • Dunning, Albert (1988). "Un gentilhomme hollandais, diplomate-compositeur, à la cour de Louis XV: Nouvellesrecherches sur le comte Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer". Revue de Musicologie 74, no. 1:27–51.
  • White, Eric Walter (1966). Stravinsky: The Composer and His Works, second edition. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-03983-4.

External links

  • Programme notes
  • Source for the composers, on whose music Stravinsky based the score

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.