Grand stage

Les Ballet de Monte Carlo tour
STARRING Ekaterina Petina, Matej Urban


The Taming of the Shrew

Ballet by Jean-Christophe Maillot in two acts
music by Dmitri Shostakovich



Choreographer: Jean-Christophe Maillot
Assistant to Choreographer: Bernice Coppieters
Set Designer: Ernest Pignon-Ernest
Costume Designer: Augustin Maillot
Assistant to Costume Designer: Jean-Michel Laîné
Lighting & Video Projection: Dominique Drillot
Assistant: Stefani Matthieu
Dramatist: Jean Rouaud

1 hour 50 minutes

one interval

Premiered on July 4, 2014.

Rather than turn The Taming of the Shrew into a macho how-to manual for taming shrewish women, the idea was to stage the encounter between two powerful personalities who see themselves reflected in one another. Their antisocial and unpalatable characters stem primarily from their instinct for solitude, an imposed loneliness inflicted on them by personalities seemingly incompatible with the norm. This character trait explains the excesses that have led them to where they now find themselves, with no man or woman capable of matching their larger-than-life nature. Two albatrosses in a flock of sparrows. This is love at its most unusual, and the proof is in the ending: although we might have assumed him to be interested in nothing more than his father-in-laws fortune, Petruchio does not abandon his new wife after the wedding, but takes her with him, rather than helping himself to her dowry. He has a genuine interest in Katherine, and the real dowry and prize is her essence. He puts her through a series of tests to ensure he hasnt made a mistake, and that he has indeed met his match. He hasnt made a mistake, and neither has she. She yields to her husbands demands, not because she is weaker, but because she recognises in him something of herself. Rather than submitting, she is in fact playing at submission. Yet the two lovers see each other as plain as daylight, and Petruchio isnt fooled by his wifes new and apparently docile nature. To the outside world, at least, and to those who knew the fierce and untamed woman Katherine once was, social norms have been preserved, and society at large heaves a collective sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that even the most wayward rebels eventually submit to convention. Yet in reality, Katherine and Petruchio continue their merry, unusual dance in perfect harmony, and in a series of subterfuges and subtexts, succeed in forging a relationship far removed from the ordinary.


Baptista is a wealthy gentleman and father to Katherine and Bianca. Convention dictates he must marry off his eldest daughter first, yet the suitors who clamour to his home have eyes only for his beautiful youngest. But the happiness of his daughters is of little importance to him. Securing the right sons-in-law is what matters, and Katherines attitude leaves him with little hope.

Katherine comes with a comfortable fortune to her name, which should allow her to have her pick of disinterested suitors, but her ill-tempered nature has the candidates fleeing from the slightest hint of marriage. She watches disdainfully as her sister is overcome with lovesick sighs, but as for herself, no man seems to be enough. Is she a misanthrope, or merely a woman with incredibly high standards?

A furious onlooker of her own life, her sister Bianca is held hostage by the situation, forced to watch suitor after suitor slip away for as long as Katherine remains unmarried. A cruel state of affairs indeed, for Bianca is as sunny and sweet as her older sister is disagreeable and churlish. The younger woman is the embodiment of the feminine ideal of the times: wealthy, graceful, docile and beautiful. Yet Katherine remains impervious.

Gremio is an elderly gentleman with a lecherous streak and no interest whatsoever in the shrewish Katherine and her formidable ways. Gremio has his eyes firmly set on the virginal Bianca, and his old age and hideous appearance do not give him pause for thought in his ardent quest for his hearts desire, proof if ever was needed that a large fortune can blind one to ones flaws.

Another of the young womans admirers, Hortensio, is a self-absorbed dandy concerned with keeping up appearances, interested only in Bianca as a mirror image of himself. Petruchio, meanwhile, is his exact opposite, a rustic fortune-seeker will little time for social niceties, and potentially the key to solving the situation at hand.

Lucentio is the epitome of gilded youth, a handsome, charming and cultured young man from a well-to-do family. He and Bianca are from the same background, are the same age, and share the same passion for one another. A meeting of minds, hearts and worlds. Who would stand between them? Katherine, naturally...

Hortensio imagines that Petruchio, an outrageous, monstrous character, would be capable of accepting to marry the equally monstrous Katherine, if not to seduce her. Although Hortensio doubts that Petruchio would be interested. How poorly he knows his own friend! In fact, this seemingly crude man is unscrupulously interested, and Petruchio sets his sights firmly on Katherine, soon getting the measure of her, seeing through to her essence, above and beyond convention. Perhaps monsters are the only ones to truly see clearly after all.

Grumio is Petruchios servant, and is as servile and as obliging as one could hope for, docile enough to play along with his masters schemes and tricks. The Widow, meanwhile, isnt entirely inconsolable, and doesnt intend to remain alone for too long. Yet she does have some criteria, namely that her second husband be from a similar class and have a similar fortune to his name. She can compromise on the rest. Hortensio soon catches her eye.

The Housekeeper sees Baptista as her rightful reward for having watched over the household for so long, yet the master of the house is obsessed with the task of marrying off his daughters. Discouraged and aware that the house will fall empty once the girls have married, she accepts old Gremios advances. In return, she shall end her days in comfort and wealth, if not love, reaching the higher echelons of society through nothing more than arrogance and money.