The libretto of Firebird was conceived by Michel Fokine, Igor Stravinsky, Diaghilev, and his Ballets Russes. It is the story cobbled together from several folktales, and over the years many choreographers have taken away and added to the story. Carolina Ballets’ Firebird opens in an enchanted forest of the evil sorcerer Kastchei, who enters, and we see him hiding a precious egg which holds his soul. If this egg remains safe he will remain immortal. As he leaves, Prince Ivan enters to go hunting, but the beautiful Firebird flits throughout the forest, and he is distracted. He puts down his bow and tries to capture her but then quickly realizes he should not try to own a wild thing, so he lets her go. In her gratitude, the Firebird gives Prince Ivan a magic feather saying if he is ever in danger he should wave the feather and she will rescue him.
Prince Ivan, a bit dazed by the encounter, wanders through the forest until he comes upon many beautiful princesses, but he does not realize they are under the spell of Kastchei. Prince Ivan immediately falls in love with the Princess Katerina, with whom he dances, but she implores him to leave as she knows Kastchei could put him under a spell and turn him into a gargoyle, as has been done to many other young men.
As night falls, Kastchei and the gargoyles appear and try to capture Prince Ivan and just as it looks as though all is lost, he remembers the magic feather and the Firebird appears carrying Kastchei’s egg. As she smashes the egg, Kastchei immediately dies; the spell is broken and the beautiful princesses are free. The gargoyles are turned into their former princely state. The ballet ends with the beautiful wedding ceremony of Prince Ivan and Princess Katerina, and they all live happily ever after.