The Buryat people have many legends animating nature in a lyrical way. One of them tells about the Baikal and about the confluence of two great Siberian rivers, the Angara and the Yenissei. This legend was the foundation for one of the best Buryat ballets “The Beautiful Angara”. The libretto is written by the playwright N. Baldano.
The poetic and musical plot inspired L. Knipper and B. Yampilov to compose the music of the ballet. The intonation and rhythm of the ballet music are close to folklore melodies, there are genuine folk tunes in the score. At the same time simplicity and naturalness are combined with symphonic development. In the performance Baikal appears as a magnificent and fair ruler, Yenissei is reserved and courageous, Black Whirlwind is negatively warlike, Angara is touching and poetic. The theme of Angara is developed and becomes the impressive theme of Angara and Yenissei’s love. The result of this development is the triumphant hymn-like final theme when the people glorify the union of the two great Siberian rivers.
The music of the ballet inspired the choreographer M. Zaslavsky to make a colourful and bright performance where the USSR People’s Artist I. Moiseyev contributed as a consultant. Zaslavsky is one of the originators of the Buryat ballet. The performance of “The Beautiful Angara” skillfully combines Buryat folk dancing and classical choreography. The setting and costumes were made by the artists A. Timin and M. Shestakova.
But it is universally acclaimed that the most impressive thing of the ballet was the title part performed by the talented ballerina Larissa Sakhyanova. The role of Angara is one of the masterpieces of the outstanding Buryat ballerina.
The first night of the ballet was in January 1959. After “The Beautiful Angara” being performed at the Second ten-day festival of Buryat art and literature in Moscow the great Russian ballerina, the USSR People’s Artist Galina Ulanova said kind and warm words to the authors and makers of the performance. She said: “The material chosen for the ballet is interesting – it is something epical, magnificent like the Baikal itself. The ballet is colourfully decorated, it is clear that it was made with love. The performers were working with inspiration… I liked your Larissa Sakhyanova very much. She has got wonderful arms, she dances with inspiration and jumps easily… I’m sure, your ballet will be a very good ballet.” These were prophetic words.
“The Beautiful Angara” deserved its success thanks to the plot, national colouring, melodic variety and the composition of the ballet.
In 1972 the second edition of the ballet “The Beautiful Angara” won the Russian Federation Glinka State Prize. The authors of the performance, the composers L. Knipper and B. Yampilov, the choreographer M. Zaslavsky, the artist A. Timin, the performers Larissa Sakhyanova and Pyotr Abasheyev, became the Russian State Prize winners.
The performance of “The Beautiful Angara” has been shown over 500 times. And each time the house was full. The ballet is one of the best ballets of the Buryat theatre. More than one generation of spectators will admire it again and again.