The Enchanted Forest (libretto)

The libretto for Petipa’s revival of The Enchanted Forest


In a Hungarian forest, Ilka is walking with her friends when suddenly, a storm breaks out. Ilka is separated from her friends and finds that she cannot get out of the forest. The storm continues; Ilka falls into a faint under a large oak tree.

Little genies and dryads appear; seeing the sleeping girl, they admire and take delight in her. Ilka awakes and, finding herself surrounded by unusual creatures, takes fright. They calm her and she begs them to lead her out of the forest, but they cannot agree; she weeps in despair.

All of a sudden, the Genie of the Forest appears. Captivated by Ilka’s beauty, he declares his love for her and proposes that she be queen of his realm. She declines, explaining that she has a fiancé whom she loves. The Genie, angered by her refusal, declares that she will never see her fiancé again and will die here in the forest, and then he makes a gesture as if to mesmerize her. Ilka steps back and faints.

One of the little genies announces to his king that several mortals are approaching. The Genie of the Forest, the dryads and the little genies disappear.

Several peasant men and women arrive searching for Ilka. Seeing her, they call Josy, who rushes headlong to her. Finding her motionless, he takes fright, but putting his hand to her heart and assuring himself that she is alive, he gives thanks to God. Ilka opens her eyes at Josy’s touch, but still under the spell of what has happened to her, jumps in fright and runs away, not recognising Josy.

“Come to your senses! What’s the matter with you? You see it is I, your fiancé!”

Only then does Ilka, recognising him, rush into his embrace. Then she explains what happened to her. After her story, Josy thinks that everything that happened to her was a dream, but Ilka does not believe it.

“You ought to have died – and did not; consequently, this was all a dream.”

Convinced of the truth of her fiancé’s words, Ilka calms down. Rejoicing, all dance a czardas.


Résumé of scenes and dances

Taken from the published piano score of 1909 and Riccardo Drigo’s memoirs.

  • № 01 Introduction et scène
  • № 02 Entrée et danse des Dryads
  • № 03 L’apparition du Génie de la forêt: Scène dansante et galop
  • № 04 Danse des petits Génies
  • № 05 Pas d’action
  • № 06 Danse des Dryads (coryphées)
  • № 07 Variation pour la Première danseuse
  • № 08 Coda-valse (Danse générale)
  • № 09 Scène du désespoir d’Ilka —
—a. Allegro vivace
—b. Andante
  • № 10 Csárdás —
—a. Vivacissimo: Paysans et Paysannes
—b. Entrée d’Ilka et Josy
  • interpolation: Variation of the Genie of the Forest (1889)
  • interpolation: Variation for Varvara Nikitina (cadenza for harp for Albert Zabel, 1889)
  • interpolation: Grand Pas des dryads (for Marie Petipa, 1889)



  • Wiley, Roland John. Memoirs of R. E. Drigo, Part I. Published in The Dancing Times – May 1982, pp. 577–578
  • Wiley, Roland John. Memoirs of R. E. Drigo, Part II. Published in The Dancing Times – June 1982, pp. 661–662
  • Wiley, Roland John (1997) The Life and Ballets of Lev Ivanov. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press