How did this project come to your attention?
Simon Morrison found the manuscript and told Bard College about it. It was brought to my attention in 2006 when I was getting an honorary degree from Bard. Leon Botstein [the president of Bard] mentioned it to me. Bard is sponsoring the re-creation. Leon Botstein is conducting the American Symphony Orchestra. We have a lot of other sponsors, including my company.
What intrigued you about it?
It's not the same oversized, bombastic score that everyone is used to. It makes more sense, [is] more interesting and varied. I like that it's not the automatic Shakespeare ending. I love Prokofiev. I haven't done Prokofiev before. [Morris has taken on composers such as Tchaikovsky for "The Hard Nut," the choreographer's resetting of "The Nutcracker" in 1970s America, as well as many other classical and popular scores.]
What about the new parts to the score?
There is some music that has never, ever been heard before. That doesn't mean it's unrecognizable. There are themes you know. The ending is completely different, the last several minutes. There are also things in different places. Prokofiev didn't recognize [the staged version]. It's so adulterated. It couldn't be performed until Stalin approved it. He was a ballet fan. The difficult rhythms were evened out; variations were added; things were reorchestrated. Very much a mess was made of his work. This is a restoration.
Has it been reorchestrated?
The manuscript noted what the orchestration was. Prokofiev wrote at the piano, but we know from the suite he approved how it should be done. It isn't redone. We're using some 50 musicians. It's usually done with a gigantic orchestra, 70 to 80 people. That doesn't make it better, just louder.