Jekyll & Hyde

Dancers Cameron Thomas and Gavin Abercrombie. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Dancers Cameron Thomas and Gavin Abercrombie. Photographer Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Choreography by VAL CANIPAROLI
Music by Krzysztof Penderecki, Frédéric Chopin, Henryk Górecki,
Wojciech Kilar AND Henryk Wieniawski
Sets and Costumes by DAVID ISRAEL REYNOSO
Lighting Design by JIM FRENCH
Artistic consultant and dramaturge Carey Perloff
Music compilation, editing, and arrangement by RAMONA PANSEGRAU
Recorded music played by Finnish National Opera Orchestra
Sound Design by ERNO HULKKONEN
Choreographer’s assistant and Stager MAIQUI MAÑOSA
Additional staging by Oğulcan Borova

Ballet in two acts based on the novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson


Prologue: Stevenson’s Dream
Robert Louis Stevenson is lying in bed, ill and feverish, wrestling with a painful lung condition. He tries to write but is unable to concentrate. His nurse, Alison Cunningham, administers his nightly injection of opium to relieve the pain. As the drug begins to take effect, a sense of euphoria comes over Stevenson. An image begins to evolve in his mind of a respectable and upright man wrestling with his own dark impulses: this is Dr. Jekyll. As he emerges in Stevenson’s imagination, Dr. Jekyll arrives at his laboratory, where he begins working on dangerous experiments, seeking to explore the dual personality inside every human being. As the opium takes effect, Stevenson slumps into sleep; but in his nightmares, the story of Dr. Jekyll continues to grow.

Scene 1: The Insane Asylum
The stage is filled with beds and mental patients, dominated by an intimidating Head Nurse. Dr. Jekyll and his colleague Dr. Lanyon enter the room arguing about Dr. Jekyll’s latest experiments into human personality, which Dr. Lanyon describes as “scientific balderdash.” Some wealthy benefactors have been invited to watch Jekyll perform his experiments in an effort to generate funds to further his work, but his efforts are a failure.

Scene 2: Dr. Jekyll’s Laboratory
Jekyll makes a decision to experiment upon himself. He creates and then ingests a dangerous potion designed to bring out what is hidden in his innermost consciousness. At the same time Stevenson takes more opium, we catch a glimpse of Mr. Hyde, the embodiment of evil that is within Dr. Jekyll, waiting to emerge. For a moment both Jekyll and Stevenson sense Hyde’s presence. In the midst of that discovery, Stevenson forces Jekyll to dress and leave for Sir Danvers Carew’s dinner party.

Scene 3: The Street
Dr. Jekyll rushes through the rain-soaked night landscape of London, past street lamps and through the fog, towards Dr. Carew’s house. He can’t escape the feeling of Mr. Hyde within him.

Scene 4: Sir Danvers Carew’s Estate
We find ourselves at the home of Sir Danvers Carew filled with guests. Dr. Jekyll is greeted by Sir Danvers, Mrs. Carew and his fiancée, their daughter Nellie. Jekyll and Nellie begin an intimate conversation, but he is distracted, his mind still on his dangerous experiment. Nellie gives Jekyll the gift of an ornate cane. Carew invites his male guests to escape with him to Deacon Brodie’s Tavern for the rest of the evening; Dr. Jekyll follows them out.

Scene 5: Deacon Brodie’s Tavern
The men arrive at a bustling tavern, full of prostitutes, drugs and danger, but also characterized by sexual appetite and high spirits. Dr. Jekyll is brought down the stairs and into the pulsating space by Carew along with Dr. Lanyon, Mr. Utterson and Mr. Enfield. Deacon Brodie escorts in a young prostitute named Rowena, the “new girl”. When Deacon Brodie behaves badly towards her, Dr. Jekyll tries to intervene to protect her and she becomes smitten by him. But as his libido rises, Dr. Jekyll becomes aggressive towards Rowena. Realizing that the drug has been successful and that his “other self” is emerging, he grabs his coat and cane and attempts to flee. Rowena follows him from a distance, worried about what is happening to him.

Scene 6: The Street and Dr. Jekyll’s Hallucination
As Dr. Jekyll moves towards his house, Rowena trails behind him in the darkness. She sees Dr. Jekyll enter through the red door, where Stevenson is waiting on the other side, ready to unleash the evil of Mr. Hyde within Dr. Jekyll. Mr. Hyde emerges before our eyes, triumphant and fully formed.


Scenes 1 & 2: The Ballroom/The Street
In the midst of a brilliantly lit ballroom full of fashionable people, Mr. Hyde arrives and makes a grand entrance from the top of the staircase. The party guests greet Hyde, but everyone is mystified: who is this strange man who seems so familiar? Hyde flirts with Nellie and tries to seduce her. But at the height of the party, he starts to begin to feel “odd”, as if the drug is wearing off. Realizing that he needs to escape before he is “discovered”, Mr. Hyde grabs his coat and cane and dashes up the steps and out into the street. In his panic, he collides with a child, whom he proceeds to beat with his cane, before disappearing into the night.

Scene 3: Mr. Hyde’s Hallucination
Mr. Hyde returns home, where Stevenson continues to activate the struggle between good and evil inside Mr. Hyde. Another hallucination begins, and Hyde fights to stay in the world of danger and violence that he has come to inhabit with such relish.

Scene 4: Dr. Jekyll’s Bedroom
Slowly the hallucination fades, and Mr. Hyde is transformed back into Dr. Jekyll. In his withdrawal, the apparition of Nellie Carew haunts him. Time passes. Dr. Jekyll is unable to return to his old self; he is alone, a ruined man.

Scene 5: Dr. Jekyll’s Laboratory
Dr. Jekyll, unkempt and disheveled, writes a letter with instructions that from now on, a man named Mr. Hyde should be allowed to freely enter his home. He shows it to his butler, Mr. Poole. Dr. Lanyon, Mr. Utterson, Mr. Enfield, and Sir Danvers Carew force their way into the room to see what is happening to their reclusive friend, urging Jekyll to come with them to Deacon Brodie’s Tavern. Dr. Lanyon stays behind for a moment to seek more information from Dr. Jekyll; Jekyll reluctantly agrees to ingest the dangerous potion in front of Lanyon. Guided by Stevenson, the transformation begins. Lanyon is horrified to witness his friend turning into something so violent and unfamiliar. By the time Hyde fully emerges, Dr. Lanyon is slumped dead on the chair. 

Scenes 6 & 7: Deacon Brodie’s Tavern/The Street
Hyde arrives and takes over the tavern. He pays the Madame, engages in a sexually aggressive way towards Rowena, and bullies the crowd, enjoying their fear. He then gives the Madame his card and asks her to send Rowena to him later that evening. Rowena is frightened but has no choice. Hyde stalks Sir Danvers Carew and hands him a calling card. He then heads for the door, knowing that Carew will follow him into the street. Once they are outside and alone, Hyde wreaks his violence on the unsuspecting Carew, bloodying his cane in the process.

Scene 8: Dr. Jekyll’s Bedroom
Arriving back at his house, Mr. Hyde places the cane beside his bed. He waits behind the red door for Rowena, who arrives escorted by the Madame. As she approaches, Rowena recognizes the red door of Mr. Jekyll’s home, but when the door opens, it’s Mr. Hyde. Hyde pays the Madame and slams the door in her face, trapping Rowena inside. When Rowena sees the bloody cane, she immediately intuits her fate. A violent tussle ensues. As the Maid pounds on the door, Mr. Hyde strangles Rowena with her own scarf.

Scene 9: Dr. Jekyll’s Laboratory
Hyde carries Rowena’s body offstage as the laboratory reappears. Nellie forces her way into the room and is shocked to see Mr. Hyde rather than Dr. Jekyll. Sensing danger, Nellie tries to run away, but Hyde stops her. We watch Hyde, Nellie and Dr. Jekyll locked in an intense struggle; just as Hyde is about to murder Nellie, Dr. Jekyll is able to take control for a moment and Nellie escapes.

Scene 10: The Confrontation
Left alone together, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde face off in a final battle for control. Ultimately, we realize that Mr. Hyde has completely taken over Dr. Jekyll’s inner “goodness”. Stevenson appears, his mind flooded with opioids as he imagines the climax of his story, in which Dr. Jekyll is pushed back into the abyss, leaving Hyde behind.

Scene 11: Epilogue
We find ourselves back in the asylum, where Mr. Hyde takes his place with the insane. Stevenson is in the final throes of his creation. In the last moments, a hemorrhage takes Stevenson’s life, and he sinks back onto the bed. Both he and his creation have finished their terrifying journey.

Jekyll & Hyde is a production by the Finnish National Opera and Ballet, Helsinki.
World Premiere at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet on November 6th, 2020
North American Premiere: Kansas City Ballet, October 13, 2023, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

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