The Firebird

Concert and ballet
Broadcast on 13/01/1980 by Radio-Canada on the series Les Beaux Dimanches
Running time: 01:00:00
Announcer: Henri Bergeron
Conductor: Charles Dutoit, Music Director, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Solo dancers: Jean-Marc Lebeau, Claudia Moore and Louis Robitaille
Producer: Jean-Yves Landry
Set designer: Pierre Despars
Graphic designer: Frédéric Back


During the heyday of the Ballets Russes, Sergei Diaghilev commissioned Igor Stravinsky to compose the music for a ballet based on a Russian folk tale. This version of the tale features a prince and a princess who is actually a bird with feathers of fire. Frédéric Back made a four-minute animated film to illustrate her metamorphosis into the Firebird. Some of his illustrations appear on their own, others with the dancers or the musicians superimposed over them so that flames seem to flicker around the dancers, and the magical bird spreads her wings over the orchestra.

An international success

In 1980, The Firebird competed with 21 other programs in the music category at the 17th Golden Prague International Television Festival in Czechoslovakia. Not only was the program applauded by the delegates of the 29 countries in attendance - a first in the history of the festival - but it was also awarded the Grand Prize by a unanimous vote of the jury. Furthermore, it was the first time the award went to a North American broadcaster. That same year, The Firebird received the prestigious International Emmy Award for best television program in the performing arts category produced outside the United States.