Pygmalion, or The Statue of Cyprus

Grand ballet in four acts and six scenes, with an apotheosis
Music by Prince Nikita Trubetskoi
Libretto by Prince Nikita Trubetskoi
Décor by Matvei Shishkov with Mikhail Bocharov (Act 1, scene 1 & Act 2, scene 2), Mikhail Bocharov (Act 3, scenes 3 & 4) and Heinrich Wagner (Act 4, scene 6, apotheosis)
Costumes by Pavel Grigorev

World Première
23rd December [O.S. 11th December] 1883
Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre, Saint Petersburg

Original 1883 Cast
Pygmalion
Felix Kschessinsky

Galatea
Eugenia Sokolova

Osiris
Pavel Gerdt

Ramses
Lyubov Radina

Plot
On the square of the Temple of Aphrodite, the Pharaoh Osiris, disguised as a merchant, meets Pygmalion, who is demonstrating his creation – the statue of Galatea. Osiris wants to buy the statue, but Pygmalion flatly refuses to sell. In love with his creation, the artist begs Aphrodite to bring her to life. Aphrodite gives him a talisman, a palm branch that gives life to the sculpture, but if the branch is broken Galatea will perish. When she comes alive, Galatea falls in love with Osiris and he abducts her. But Ramisa, the Pharaoh’s lover, is jealous of Galatea and when she learns that Galatea’s life is dependent on the palm branch, she helps Pygmalion to get into the Pharaoh’s palace at the very moment when he is crowning Galatea as his queen. A struggle breaks out between Pygmailion and Osiris. Seeing that Pygmalion is impeccable, Galatea snatches the talisman from his grasp, snaps it and falls down dead.

 Eugenia Sokolova as Galatea (1883)
Eugenia Sokolova as Galatea (1883)