The Sacrifices to Cupid

Grand Ballet in one act
Music by Ludwig Minkus
Libretto by Marius Petipa

World Première
3rd August [O.S. 22nd July] 1886
Peterhof Palace, Saint Petersburg

Original 1886 Cast
Eugenia Sokolova

Maria Gorshenkova

Marie Petipa

Pavel Gerdt

Imperial Mariinsky Theatre première
7th December [O.S. 25th November] 1886

In the forest, outside the temple of Cupid, a statue of the god sits on a pedestal, at which shepherds and shepherdesses leave gifts and pray to the god. Hylas appears and places a wreath of roses at the foot of the pedestal. Lisa, his beloved, appears, but becomes jealous because she thinks that Hylas has come for another shepherdess. She reproaches him, but after vows and hesitation, Lisa forgets all and the two swear eternal love to one another. Happy at the reconciliation, the shepherds and shepherdess dance and withdraw into the copse. Paris rushes in, looking for Chloë. She appears and listens to the birds, unaware that it is really Paris imitating a nightingale. Chloë runs from tree to tree, trying to catch the nightingale. Finding Paris at last, she runs to him; a scene of jealousy ends in peace and a passionate kiss. Suddenly, Venus appears from inside the temple. Chloë tears herself away from Paris and wants to run into the forest, but Venus promises to protect the lovers. Cupid arrives with a brilliant cortège. Considering the sacrifices left at the altar unworthy, he puts out the light and would destroy the temple. Venus reproaches him; the shepherds and shepherdesses fall at her feet; forgiven, Cupid rushes to his mother, who unites the loving couples. Hymen appears, assuring them that true happiness resides in love; the lovers’ enthusiasm is expressed in dances.

Olga Preobrazhenskaya as Chloë, Olga Leonova as Venus, Varvara Rykhliakova as Lisa, Zinaida Georgievskaya as Hymen, Nikolai Legat as Hylas and Sophia Repina as Cupid in Ivanov's revival (1893)
Olga Preobrazhenskaya as Chloë, Olga Leonova as Venus, Varvara Rykhliakova as Lisa, Zinaida Georgievskaya as Hymen, Nikolai Legat as Hylas and Sophia Repina as Cupid in Ivanov’s revival (1893)

The Sacrifices to Cupid was the final ballet composed by Ludwig Minkus as Ballet Composer of the Imperial Theatres before the post was abolished by Ivan Vsevolozsky in 1886. A ballet with a pastoral, allegorical plot in the 18th century manner, it is possible that the ballet was a recreation of one of Charles Didelot’s many allegorical ballets based on Greek-Roman mythology, or rather that Didelot’s ballets were what inspired Petipa to create this ballet. 

The Sacrifices to Cupid premièred on the 3rd August [O.S. 22nd July] 1886 at Peterhof Palace in Saint Petersburg in honour of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna. The ballet later premièred at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre four months later on the 7th December [O.S. 25th November]. It was in the role of Chloë that Eugenia Sokolova gave her farewell benefit performance after twenty years on the stage.

In 1893, The Sacrifices to Cupid was staged in a revival by Lev Ivanov, which premièred on the 8th October [O.S. 26th September] at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre with Olga Preobrazhenskaya as Chloë.

Olga Preobrazhenskaya as Chloë (1893)
Olga Preobrazhenskaya as Chloe (1893)



  • Letellier, Robert Ignatius (2008) The Ballets of Ludwig MinkusCambridge Scholars Publishing

Photos and images: © Dansmuseet, Stockholm © Большой театр России © Victoria and Albert Museum, London © Государственный академический Мариинский театр © CNCS/Pascal François © Bibliothèque nationale de France © Musée l’Opéra © Colette Masson/Roger-Viollet © АРБ имени А. Я. Вагановой © Михаил Логвинов © Михайловский театр, фотограф Стас Левшин. Партнёры проекта: СПбГБУК «Санкт-Петербургская государственная Театральная библиотека». ФГБОУВО «Академия русского балета имени А. Я. Вагановой» СПбГБУК «Михайловский театр». Михаил Логвинов, фотограф. Martine Kahane.