Scheherazade: The Tale of One Thousand and One Nights

    23:00, Wed 4th – Sat 7th December 2019 at ADC Theatre
    Michaelmas Week 8

    Cambridge University Ballet Club presents this original production of ballet show to appear on ADC theatre stage in December.


    The story of Scheherazade is a frame story used as a device to present a collection of folk tales with origins in ancient and medieval Arabic, Persian, Indian, Greek, Jewish and Turkish folklore and literature, known collectively as ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ or ‘Arabian Nights’. Unlike most ballets, the narrative of Scheherazade is driven by female characters and their desires and choices.  Its empowering story of a woman risking her life to liberate others from oppression will resonate with modern audiences, with particularly potency in the current political climate, serving as a reminder of the humanity, struggles, and dreams shared between diverse cultures.While many story ballets faithfully recreate traditional programmes, Scheherazade as a ballet has never been standardised.  Our production is an original creation in terms of both story adaptation and choreography, set to Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s romantic score.  Featuring soaring violin solos, playful clarinet melodies, and rumbling brass-forward themes, the piece is invigorating and heart-breaking, moving the body to dance and the soul to triumph with the heroine. 


    This ballet is set to Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic interpretation of the Arabic Folktale One Thousand and One Nights. In the dramatic opening, the Sultan Shahriyar discovers his Queen cheating on him.  Furious, he commands that she be executed.  He vows to each night take a new bride, and each morning behead her, so he can never again be betrayed.  After several years, Scheherazade, a courageous young woman determined to end this terrifying regime, becomes the Sultan’s bride.  On their wedding night, Scheherazade tells the tale of Sinbad the Sailor and his harrowing encounter with the vicious Roc seabirds, but dawn breaks before she reaches the conclusion. Shahriyar, captivated, decides to spare her one more day to hear the ending.  The following evening, Scheherazade finishes that tale but begins another, and in this way postpones her execution indefinitely, taking the audience along for the stories of Alaeddin and the Wonderful Lamp and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.  After one thousand and one nights, Scheherazade declares that she knows no more tales.  Shahriyayr, angry with himself for the vow he made over five years before, and with Scheherazade for putting him in a position now where he is challenged to uphold it, tells the guards to prepare her to be executed at dawn.  But as the Sultan sleeps, he dreams Scheherazade and the tales she told, and begins to piece together the metaphor of his own life that she had woven into them.   Shahriyayr awakens to see Scheherazade standing before him, heartbroken, and he embraces her tenderly, promising to spare her life and to love her forever as his Queen.


    Sultan Shahryar
    The Mighty Roc
    Ali Baba
    Lady Badr al-Budur
    The Evil Magician
    The Head Thief
    Lady Badr al-Budur

    Production Team

    Costume Designers –
    Technical Director
    Music Editing –
    Video –
    Sound –
    Lighting Designer
    Assistant Lighting Designer
    Publicity Designer
    Stage Manager
    Show Recording – ,