Carmen was first set as a ballet by the famed Russian choreographer Petipa in 1845. It was based on the Mérimée novella and premiered in Madrid some thirty years before Bizet's opera was first heard. Subsequent versions followed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, some using and some discarding Bizet's music. In 1949, Roland Petit created a successful vehicle for himself and his wife Zizi Jeanmaire using the Bizet score. Maya Plisetskaya always dreamed of dancing the role of Carmen and had approached Shostakovich for a score. He demurred out of respect for Bizet's celebrated opera. It was eventually Plisetskaya's husband Rodion Shchedrin who agreed to provide the music after seeing his wife and the choreographer Alberto Alonso working on some choreographic ideas. His Carmen Suite ballet, based on Bizet, and scored only for strings and, in its theatricality, a showcase for Plisetskaya's considerable dramatic gifts. Shchedrin's Carmen Suite, one of the darkest settings of Mérimée's tragic story, deeply symbolic and overtly sensual, premiered at the Bolshoi Ballet on April 20, 1967.