Synopsis by Craig Butler
In 1799, Johann Wolfgang Goethe penned a poem called The Sorcerer's Apprentice that was based upon a much earlier tale by the Greek poet Lucian. This poem served as the basis for a popular classical piece by Paul Dukas, as well as for this ballet version, staged at Opera Frankfurt and filmed in 1955 by Michael Powell. The familiar story -- told by an unseen narrator as it is being interpreted by dancers -- focuses on a young apprentice to a powerful magician. Dissatisfied with his lot, he wishes to be a sorcerer himself. When his master is out of the room, the apprentice decides that he will use the wizard's magic tools himself -- specifically, to enchant a broom to do his heavy work, such as fetching and carrying buckets of water. The broom complies, but to the student's horror, it continues bringing water long after the job is finished. Unable to find the correct manner of breaking the spell, he takes an axe to the broom and splits it in two -- with the result that there now are two brooms carrying twice as much water as before. Eventually, the sorcerer returns, sees what has occurred, and removes the spell from the brooms, returning everything to normal. Originally running 30 minutes, an edited version running 13 minutes is also in circulation.