Trilby

Ballet fantastique in three acts
Music by Yuri Gerber

World Première
6th February [O.S. 25th January] 1870
Imperial Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow

Original 1870 Cast
Mary

Polina Karpakova

Saint Petersburg Première
29th January [O.S. 17th January] 1871
Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre

Original 1871 Cast
Trilby
Alexandra Simskaya

Bettli
Adele Granztow

Wilhelm
Lev Ivanov

Plot
The imp Trilby protects the home of the young peasant woman Bettli and is in love with the little bird Colibri. According to the laws of the magical lands of elves, Trilby is obliged to love Colibri forever and remain true to her, otherwise his soul will lose its immortality and perish. While protecting Bettli’s cottage, however, Trilby becomes captivated by the girl’s beauty. In order to conceal his infidelity from the Queen of the Elves, he catches Colibri and puts her in a cage, while he, himself, tries to seduce Bettli on the eve of her marriage to the peasant Wilhelm, putting her into a magical sleep in which he transports her to the land of elves. Upset by Bettli’s thoughtlessness, Wilhelm releases Colibri from her cage. The charms that Trilby employed lose their force once Colibri is free and the bride and groom are reunited. As she sets off for her wedding, Bettli sees a vision of Colibri in the form of a young maiden with Trilby lying dead at her feet. The vision swiftly fades, however, with the arrival of guests and the start of the wedding feast.

Ekaterina Vazem as Bettli (1871)
Ekaterina Vazem as Bettli (1871)