"It's an old game: the transforming game of carnival. But what does the carnival laugh at? It laughs, and this is crucial, at everything. He laughs at morals and the mores. The patches are his favorite costume, and he does not shy away from exposure. He laughs at power. He laughs at what otherwise frightens and scares. The carnival plays its inverted game with above and below, good and evil, beautiful and ugly, man and woman." (Rüdiger Safranski)
"Le Carnaval romain" is the successful extract of a great opera flop. For in this Ouverture caractéristique for large orchestra, Hector Berlioz reworked some themes of his opera "Benvenuto Cellini," which as a "child of pain" had failed among his works at the premiere in 1838 at the Ópera in Paris.
Scene change: fairground bustle in St. Petersburg. A puppeteer enters the scene. The puppets come to life. A game of seduction and jealousy develops between Petrushka, a ballerina and a Moor, which ends fatally. This is how the plot of Igor Stravinsky's ballet "Petrushka" can be briefly summarized. In this work, very real life at the fair mixes with the play of puppets, with the initial puppet show eventually turning into a real tragedy. As in the carnival, the boundaries between reality and fiction blur; the puppets seem to become real people. What is appearance, what is reality? Is it all just a game?
Between the two works of the game with appearances: a scandal! Vienna experienced a turbulent premiere. The audience went wild, and not with enthusiasm. Peter Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto divided the minds, and the famous Viennese critic Eduard Hanslik wrote about this premiere: "Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto brings us for the first time to the gruesome idea of whether there might not be pieces of music that one hears stink." But critics can not only be merciless, they can also be hugely mistaken. The verdict on Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto was passed by posterity, and it quickly became an indispensable part of the Romantic concert repertoire. A masterpiece.