In a letter to Ulanova, Boris Pasternak expresses these sentiments:
«Dear Galina Sergeyevna, I watched you yesterday in Cinderella with tears in my eyes the whole time — this is how the impact of all that is truly great in space affects me. I am particularly glad to have seen you in a role which, along with many other images born of the imagination, expresses the marvelous and victorious strength of childish purity, submitting to circumstance, yet remaining true to itself… and it seemed to me yesterday or your perfect interpretation persuaded me of this, that this role very fully and directly expresses your own world, something important in you, like conviction. This force is dear to me in that it poses a threat to that also centuries’ old, false and pusillanimous, cringing court element. How did you manage to extract plastic and emotional continuity from this discontinuous, conventional, disintegrating into pieces ballet?..»
1946 — in January, February, she dances Cinderella. In March, she goes to Leningrad to perform Giselle with Sergeyev, and then more performances in Moscow:
March 8th Cinderella. Preobrazhensky. Closed performance. Women’s Day. 18th Concert. Moscow Arts Theatre. Rachmaninov’s Elegy, Preobrazhensky.
Bolshoi Theatre conductor Yury Fayer rated very highly Ulanova’s concert appearances:
… the concert numbers are miniscule in terms of time and huge in terms of thought masterpieces — lit up with the same great humanity typical of Ulanova’s characters in full-length ballets. When she dances Rachmaninov, Chopin or Saint-Saëns, Schumann or Liszt concert hall audiences, just as theatre audiences, are reminded of eternal themes, the great passions of human life and death.
These appearances made her name widely known to a huge country, to millions of spectators.
May — at the Bolshoi Theatre they work on the ballet Romeo and Juliet.
June, again in pencil, there is a P.S. along the side of the page in the exercise-book:
26th awarded the Stalin prize 1st degree for Cinderella.
July 5th. Romeo, Gabovich. Closed dress rehearsal,
7fh end of season, on holiday till 23 August.
The première of the Moscow version of the ballet Romeo and Juliet took place at the very end of the year. It is recorded in the exercise-book as follows:
December. 23rd Romeo, Gabovich, evening. Juliet.
Creative Review Council. 28th Romeo, Gabovich. First night.
Quite a time after the première, Ulanova writes:
It was with a Shakespeare ballet that Mikhail Markovich Gabovich and I started working together. During rehearsals for Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, we came up against the usual difficulties: evidently, the fact we had been trained in different schools had something to do with this and also the fact I had already danced Juliet in Leningrad, while for Gabovich the role of Romeo was quite new. Therefore our work didn’t gel immediately and required great mutual creative effort. All his characterizations, quite different one to the other, were united by their romanticism, nobility, intelligence.
At the end of the 50’s, Peter Brook saw the ballet: “I too consider that virtuosity in dance, taken on its own, doesn’t mean a thing. But during my last visit to Moscow I saw Ulanova dancing Juliet. She astonished me, no, not by her perfect technique, which no one would question. What struck me was how this comparatively no longer young woman was able to convey the feeling of a young girl for her beloved with a purity, the like of which I have never seen before”.
1947 — January, the production’s success grows, high- ranking guests are invited to it, in the exercise-book is the following entry:
March. 25th. Romeo. Gabovich. Ministers of England, America, France end the USSR.
June. 7th Awarded Stalin prize 1st degree for Romeo.
September. 6— 7fh.Moscow 800th Anniversery Celebration.
Concert at Bolshoi Theatre. Tchaikovsky, The Russian Dence ( from The Humpbacked Horse) Preobrazhensky.
1948—1949 — as always she works a lot. She appears in different cities: Leningrad, Ivanovo, Yaroslavl, Kiev, Minsk, Tallin, Riga, Vilnius,Kaunas, she is applauded by audiences in Hungary — Budapest, Szeged, Debrecen, and Czechoslovakia — Bratislava, Ostrava, Prague. All the cities in which she appears are neatly listed in the exercise-book and, as always, with performance dates.
16th May, 20 years since I left school.
1949 June. 6th Pushkin Jubilee (150 years) Concert at the Bolshoi Theatre, Act 3 Fountain.
7th, Concert for Academicians. Pushkin jubilee.
Hall of Columns at the House of Unions. Fountain Act 3. Adagio
9th — 20th, hospital. End of season.
1st September 1949. 30 years since I enrolled at ballet school.
Ulanova loved the Sankt Peterburg (as it was renamed in the 90’s) Choreographic College, she never forgot it and, in the early 90’s, presented it with some of her costumes and accessories. The opening of yet another Bolshoi Theatre season, is recorded in the exercise-book:
9th The Bronze Horseman. Parasha. Gebovich—Evgeny. First Night.
The ballet The Bronze Horseman was the creation of composer Reinhold Gliére, director Rostislav Zakharov and librettist Pyotr Abolimov. In this complex and monumental ballet Ulanova, as Parasha, followed the Pushkin poetic intonation:
Many consider that Parasha in the ballet should be simple first and foremost, simple yes, but highly poetic. My motivation for this here, is Pushkin himself, Parasha, after all, is the ideal whom poor Evgeny saw in his dreams. And how can an ideal not be poetic?.. And Pushkin’s brilliant poem, and Gliére’s music and, finally, the meeting of the two lovers in the white night of Petersburg — all this, I consider, gives me the right to ennoble and poeticize my heroine’s character.
October — journey to Italy, she sees Rome, Naples, Turin for the first time. She dances Saint-Saëns «Swan» and Tchaikovsky’s Russian Dance.
Verona — the home of her Juliet, Ulanova will visit much later on, when she goes back to Italy as a tourist . The Bolshoi Theatre season ends with a première:
December. 27th dress rehearsel. The Red Poppy.
30th The Red Poppy, Teo-Hoc. Kondretov, Koren. Première.
Ulanova saw The Red Poppy in 1927, in Leningrad, when she was quite young. Now it had been re-named The Red Flower and Ulanova danced the part of Tao-Hoa. In his biography, Galina Ulanova, Boris Lvov-Anokhin writes: “In 1949, it was already difficult to make convincing the somewhat naïve stylization The bed Poppy. Ulanova’s tact, impeccable taste were needed to introduce into the role of Tao-Hoa a feeling of genuine style, rather than tawdry imitation of it”.
1950 — Harrison Salisbury, the New York Times correspondent, saw Giselle at the Bolshoi Theatre on 4 April and, on 5 April, made the following entry in his diary: “How can one record that dream on paper. I can’t that’s for sure. All I can suggest is: come to Moscow, go to the Bolshoi and see Ulanova in Giselle. It is incredible, fantastic perfection, an incredible dream which has come true, the brush of a butterfly’s wing on the eyelash, a dress in finest gossamer studded in diamonds, a poem so beautiful that the heart aches, a barely audible song. It is the most breath-taking and beautiful thing I have ever seen. …They talk about the seven wonders of the world. That’s it — it is a wonder of the world!”
On 16 November 1952, Alexei Simonov gave Ulanova a translation of these lines from the Harrison diary. Apart from being as always full of work, 1950 also brought Ulanova a personal blow:
Leningrad. 12th November. Fountain. Gabovich. Morning. Evening 10.30 pm. Father died.
He never ever talked, whatever the circumstances, about his relationship to the Theatre, he never ‘advertised’ it and in general was a man of very few words — reticent and even reserved. Probably he would have been very surprised had someone praised him to the skies as dancer, director, or as a man whose whole being was devoted to theatre. His service to theatre was just as natural a process to him, as breathing, it was his life.. He loved theatre life, as he did all forms of life, — he loved his family, he tried in every way to make Mother’s life easier, he was very attentive and loving to me — true, without any outward signs of this — and I, without kisses and expressions of affection, knew this for sure, just as I knew that in the morning the sun would come up and in the evening the stars would shine…
1951—1953 — Galina Ulanova’s popularity is such that postcards, carrying her photograph, are printed of her in their thousands. The artists Martiros Saryan, Georgy Vereysky, Yury Pimenov, Nikolai Sokolov, Vadim Ryndin do portraits of her, she is sculpted in various roles by Elena Yanson-Maniser, Vera Mukhina, Mikhail Anikushin, Nikolai Nikogosyan, E. Nikolayev. In 1951, porcelain figures of Ulanova in different roles, are reproduced at the Leningrad Porcelain Factory, from the original models by Elena Yanson-Maniser, and now any member of the public could buy them.
In January, 1951, filming of the ballet Romeo and Juliet continues.
In May, the Bolshoi Theatre celebrates its 175th anniversary, jubilee performances are underway, in the exercise-book, there is a short entry:
I’m given People’s Artist of the USSR and the Order of Labor…
May, 29-30th I fly to Italy:
14th july Florence. Solo concert. Teatro Communale Kondratov.
2Sth Milan. Solo Concert. Teatro La Scala Barinova, violin.
29th.Venice. Teotro Lo Fenice Rostropovich, violoncello.
Solo concert with instruments.
1952 starts off with tours of the USSR: April — Minsk, May — Leningrad, Minsk, June — Gorky, Kuibyshev, Ufa, July— Kazan, and ends with a season in China — Peking, Hang- chou, Canton, Shanghai. Her 30th May performance in Minsk is attended by Alexander Vertinsky who, on May 31st, writes as follows to his wife: « … I was dumbfounded! It is a miracle! Neither in Russia, nor abroad, have I ever seen such a dancer. There is no one to compare with her … My God, how she dances! Her body sings like a nightingale — each gesture, each movement, each muscle … Her technique is invisible! It vanishes, dissolves in a huge spurt of inspiration which sets fire to everything»
Ulanova, despite her injuries, and with no thought for herself, gives a lot of performances.
1953 — Leningrad. filming at studio, month of Fountain. Gusev, Plisetskaya, Zhdanov .
1953 — opening of season. September, 2Sth Romeo — Hofman, first performance. 23 years on stage.
She records her partner’s debut in her exercise-book.
1954 — another Bolshoi Theatre première. Choreographer Leonid Lavrovsky produces Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet The Tale of the Stone Flower.
February. 10th, Stone Flower, Dress rehearsal. 12th Stone Flower, première. Preobrazhensky,Chorokhovo, Yermoloyev.
Prokofiev wrote his musical portrait of Katerina with Ulanova’s individuality in mind. The ballerina, as always, read the literary original — Bazhov’s fairy tales, but concentrated mainly on Prokofiev’s music, which she listened to very attentively. The ballet was unwieldy and prosaic, and Ulanova was dissatisfied with her work on the role.
Katerina was to be Ulanova’s last role. The ballet was soon dropped from the repertoire. Maya Mikhailovna Plietsetskaya, who had danced before one hundred and fifty dancers aroused in me, it was as if they had stepped out of a Gozzoli fresco or Botticelli painting and I wanted thousands of my compatriots to have the opportunity of sharing with me such a great pleasure. To have come from so far and then hear the performance had been cancelled, that you wouldn’t be dancing — what a disappointment that must have been! Elementary decency, politeness demands that (someone) tell you:
«We have our blockheads too. This is their doing. The way they behaved to you was both stupid and rude.» Please accept my apologies … . Paris doesn’t forgive insults, an insult to its guests is an insult to itself, and it will not forgive the authorities whose days are numbered because of their behavior to you and your colleagues». (Goncourt prize-winner Maurice Drouon).
From 27 May, Ulanova and her partners danced in Berlin and its surroundings performing, as recorded in the exercise- book, a Chopin waltz, Shumanovsky’s Nocturne, Saint-Saëns’s Le Cygne, numbers from Romeo and the Fountain.
Morning of the 30th, train to Moscow via Warsaw — 2nd June, evening — Moscow.
July, August, September, October are recorded in the exercise-book by the words — «filming Romeo».
December. 26th 8.30 Mother dies
In class, Mother became fault-finding, demanding, not forgiving the slightest mistake. She reacted in the same way to my performances. I knew: she would praise only when praise was due, and would tell me about all my mistakes.
1955, January, the notes in the exercise-book, start off with the following entry:
15th première of film Romeo and Juliet of the House of Cinema. Zhdanov, Koren, Yermoleyev, Redunsky, Ilyushchenko, Olenine.
February, 6th Giselle, première after 4 and e half years. Zhdanov, Lepuri, Plisetskaya.
Giselle with Ulanova — meant long queues at the box- office, crowds milling round the theatre, an auditorium packed from the Gods downwards with a happy, expectant audience. You could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium. It was expectant and waiting: waiting for Ulanova’s Giselle.
«What struck me above all was the difference between Giselle and Juliet, two characters with fairly similar lives. In one of the most conventional of genres, the actress created unconventional, alive and enchanting characters. The Giselle madness scene remains forever in one’s heart, like Pushkin’s poetry. The one and only and incomparable». Thus actress Tatiana Doronina assesses the phenomenon of actress Galina Ulanova.
1956 — 1st October flight to London. Covent Garden. 3rd Romeo, Zhdenov, Richter, Koren.
In October, the Bolshoi Theatre had a London season This was the first time the entire Company had been on tour abroad— performing for the first time the full-length ballets Borneo and Juliet and Giselle, as well as concert numbers. And it was Ulanova’s debut in these ballets before a foreign audience.
3rd October Romeo, Zhdenov, Rikhter, Koren.
… It was very frightening. Afterwards, we learnt from the newspapers that Laurence Oliver, Vivian Leigh, Tamara Karsavina, Margot Fonteyn had been among the audience. But to begin with we were just afraid, terribly afraid, this, after all, was our first foreign tour. At the end of the first act, there was a deadly hush in the auditorium. A brief second which seemed to last an eternity. It wasn’t clear how this silence would develop…What would follow? It felt as if a storm were about to break …Then the entire theatre got to its feet, there was thunderous applause, shouting…There is no way of guessing what lies ahead
Ulanova took curtain calls, flowers rained down from the gallery, they fell over the stage at her feet. She had taken Londoners by storm, they had fallen for her.
On 4 October a review appears in the Daily Mail by Arnold Haskell, a leading English ballet critic: «Superb, splendid, moving — such is the Moscow ballet›, and on Ulanova ‹ . just as Pavlova before her, she achieves a miracle in theatre… She has everything — perfect technique, concealed by flowing, effortless dance, subtle intellect, exceptional sensitivity. She is more than a ballerina, taking possession of the stage. She is a real live Juliet, in whose fate we are emotionally involved›. Margot Fonteyn: ‹It is magic. Now we know what we lack. I can’t even try to speak about Ulanova’s dance, it is so marvelous I can’t find words for it».
12th October Giselle, Fadeyechev.