Premiere at the Mikhailovsky Theatre: 5 June 2010
Laurencia is part of a distinct vein of Soviet choreography often referred to as ‘Stalinist classicism’. This is a luxuriant, spectacular, and ‘theatrical’ production, in the most sublime sense of the word. The heated emotions and pace of the action, which give the impression of a coiled spring suddenly being released, are vividly conveyed through the medium of dance, where classical steps are fused with fiery Spanish rhythms. Virtuoso solos and duets, harmonious ensembles, thrilling crowd scenes: against the background of these tempestuous dances, a dramatic tale unfolds, in which the joy of requited love is brutally destroyed by violence, which in turn is met with an explosion of popular rage. The story is based on a play, Fuente Ovejuna, by the Spanish dramatist Lope de Vega.
The harsh sound of military music is heard and the Commander appears. The people give him a cautious welcome, but he does not pay much notice: his attention is drawn to the beautiful Laurencia. Ordering everyone to disperse, the Commander detains only her. Her friend Pascuala remains with her. Laurencia rejects the Commander’s advances. Annoyed, the Commander orders his soldiers to bring Laurencia and Pascuala to his castle, but the girls manage to escape.
In a secluded location by a forest stream, Frondoso reveals his feelings to Laurencia. But the capricious girl responds evasively. The sound of a hunting horn is heard. It is the Commander out hunting in the forest. Soon he appears before Laurencia and tries to kiss her. Frondoso fearlessly throws himself at the Commander, saving Laurencia from her hated admirer. The Commander vows revenge on both of them.
A group of girls come to the stream to wash clothes. They are more occupied with chatting than laundry, especially as Mengo also arrives: it is always fun when he is there.
Jacinta runs in, chased by soldiers. Mengo defends Jacinta, but the soldiers knock him down. The Commander returns. Jacinta begs for his protection, but he hands her over to the soldiers.
Laurencia, now convinced of Frondoso’s faithfulness, bravery and devotion, agrees to marry him.
The whole village merrily celebrates Laurencia and Frondoso’s wedding. One dance follows another, but the merrymaking is interrupted when the Commander appears, looking sombre. He has come to take his revenge. He gives orders for Frondoso to be imprisoned and Laurencia to be taken to his castle.The people are horrified.
At night the men gather together in the forest. They know they must fight the tyrant, but from fear and indecision they merely clench their fists and utter curses, they do not act. Laurencia enters unsteadily, battered and with her dress torn, but her will is strong and she is filled with fury. She shames the men for their inaction and calls on them to rise up and fight. Her impassioned call fills their hearts with courage. All the village women support Laurencia. The people of Fuente Ovejuna decide to enter the Commander’s castle.
Armed with knives, scythes, clubs, and sticks, the people storm in the inner rooms of the castle like a fearsome tidal wave. They free Frondoso from incarceration and set off to get even with the Commander. He tries to flee, but the peasants capture him. He offers them gold to let him go, but is met by an indignant refusal. The dead tyrant’s helmet set up on the pole symbolizes the victory of the people of Fuente Ovejuna.