Night and Day

Ballet fantastique in one act
Music by Ludwig Minkus

World Première
30th May [O.S. 18th May] 1883
Imperial Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow

Original 1883 Cast
The Queen of the Night
Eugenia Sokolova

The Queen of the Day
Ekaterina Vazem

The Night Star
Maria Gorshenkova

The Morning Star
Anna Johansson

The Fly
Pavel Gerdt

The Dove
Varvara Nikitina

The Queen Bee
Alexandra Vinogradova

A Swan
Augusta Ogoleyt

A Naiad
Alexandra Shaposhnikova

The whole of nature has gone to sleep. The Evening Star appears in the company of other stars and planets. Dryads, naiads and nereids appear. They all circle in a dance at the feast of Night. With the first rays of the rising sun, the triumph of Day begins. Nature comes to life. All the ethnic groups living in Russia join together to welcome the sun. The common delight expresses itself in a great round dance. The Spirit of Russia reigns over all on the wings of an eagle, surrounded by embodiment of the arts, sciences and industry.

The coronation of Tsar Alexander III and Tsarina Maria Fedorovna by G. Becker (1888)
The Coronation of Tsar Alexander III and Tsarina Maria Feodorovna by G. Becker (1888)

Night and Day (La Nuit et le Jour) was produced for the festivities held at the Imperial Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow in honour of the coronation of Tsar Alexander III and Tsarina Maria Feodorovna, who were crowned at the Uspensky Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin three days prior to the ballet’s premiere. The Tsar, an avid balletomane, was so impressed by the ballet that he ordered the work to be performed a second time two days later for a performance attended only by his immediate family. A March from Night and Day was among the Tsar’s favorite pieces, and he often requested that his orchestra play it during Imperial Balls and other social events for the Saint Petersburg royalty and nobility.


Related pages




  • Beaumont, Cyril (1937) Complete Book of Ballets. London, UK: Putnam
  • Letellier, Robert Ignatius (2008) The Ballets of Ludwig MinkusCambridge Scholars Publishing
  • Wortman, Richard (2000) Scenarios of Power: From Alexander II to the abdication of Nicholas II. Princeton, New Jersey, US: Princeton University Press