Tchaikovsky. PRO et CONTRA

A ballet by Boris Eifman

Music: Pyotr Tchaikovsky

Sets: Zinovy Margolin

Costumes: Olga Shaishmelashvili, Vyacheslav Okunev

Light: Alexander Sivaev, Boris Eifman

Tchaikovsky. PRO et CONTRA is the result of Boris Eifman’s years-long contemplation of the great composer’s personality and creative world. The premiere took place shortly before the anniversary of the choreographer, who celebrated his 70th birthday on July 22, 2016.


Pyotr Tchaikovsky is perhaps Eifman’s most favorite composer. The choreographer created such notable performances as The Idiot (1980), Red Giselle (1997), Musagete (2004), Anna Karenina (2005) and Eugene Onegin (2009) set to his music. The ballet Tchaikovsky, released in 1993, that toured with great success all over the world, deserves special attention. Today, Boris Eifman offers a new, original choreographic creation that reflects modern artistic and technological possibilities of the ballet theatre – Tchaikovsky. PRO et CONTRA.


“Having been focused on Tchaikovsky’s music for many years, I realized how deep and bottomless the composer’s world was. I became aware of the diversity of themes related to his creative life, his personanlity, his relationship with the loved ones. These issues had not been sufficiently considered by me earlier. I wanted to create a work, in which I could delve deeper into the environment of Tchaikovsky’s creative torment,” Eifman resumes.


The choreographic score of the new production shows variety and accurately conveys emotional experience of the characters. The ingenuity of the body language allowed Boris Eifman to explore insightfully the internal conflict, from which Tchaikovsky suffered painfully and which became a source of unbearable mental suffering and predestined the tragic confessional tone of his music.

“Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is a creator, whose music has guided me for decades and given me creative energy. His works immerse the listener in the indomitable flow of feelings, awaken dreams and fantasies, transforming and subliming a man.


I have always tried to understand why the composer that reached enormous fame and completely fulfilled his gift, created such tragic music? There is no doubt: the main source of the torment that withered his soul was the oppressive awareness of his own otherness, interpreted by Tchaikovsky as a curse. But not only had the fatal inner split doomed the composer to unimaginable suffering. The inevitability and absolute power of fate, the hostility of the world, the eternal loneliness of a trembling soul – all this deprived Tchaikovsky of even illusory hope of finding peace and happiness.


How a great artist creates his masterpieces is always a mystery. It is just as difficult to understand this as it is to fathom his private life. First of all, where lays the dividing line between commonplace trivialities and the artist's creative work? In his destiny these two components are intertwined. Joy and suffering, victory and defeat, the heights of ratio and storms of passion – all is to be laid upon the altar of great achievements in art. This is the destiny of any artist; he is constantly surrounded by enthusiastic admirers and detractors, aficionados and slanderers.


Tchaikovsky’s life is a non-stop dialogue with himself; his music is a confession, full of pain and anger.”


Boris Eifman



Act I


The great composer passes away. Painful visions burst into the fading consciousness.

Tchaikovsky’s family tries to ease the last moments of his life. Scenes of his past recur in his memory.

The young composer feels lonely in Saint Petersburg. Von Meck becomes Tchaikovsky’s patroness.

Pyotr Ilyich meets Antonina Milyukova.

Tchaikovsky is tormented by dark doubts. His fate, his alter ego, a multi-faced tempter is beside him. He is Rothbart and Drosselmeyer, a guardian angel and an evil demon. Only the creative world of dreams provides salvation.

Tchaikovsky creates The Nutcracker. The composer’s heroes defeat evil and find happiness. He is now left with the pain of loneliness.

Concern of von Meck for Tchaikovsky inspires him.

Moments of triumph are replaced by persistent pretensions of Milyukova.

Composer’s internal dialogue does not come to an end.

Social condemnation pushes Tchaikovsky into marriage with Milyukova.



Act II


A desire to be like everyone else dooms the composer to torment.

Von Meck’s support helps Tchaikovsky to live and work. But what a shame it is to accept charity!

Tchaikovsky finds salutary oblivion in creative work. Characters of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin come to life through music.

A return to the everyday world is joyless. Rejected Milyukova surrenders to ignoble desires.

Composer writes The Queen of Spades, plunging into the mysterious world of card game.

Insanity overcomes Milyukova, and horror-struck Tchaikovsky moves away from this abyss.

Correspondence with von Meck discontinues... Exhausted composer takes the last step – into immortality.

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