Festival 'Quick Reports'for Feb 27/Mar 2 period; bigger reviews to fol
Posted 28 February 2003 - 01:22 AM
I promise - SINCERELY PROMISE - the usual detailed reports early next week. You see, my friends & family are concerned that I have been up, writing on my computer, way too late at nights, then all mornings at the internet cafe, so I am literally being ORDERED to RELAX with ice fishing and banya at a dacha all-day Saturday. But we will be back at the Mariinsky in time for the all-important 'Swan Lake' Saturday night.
Last night's premiere of the one-act "Princess Pirlipat" ( a preamble to "The Nutcracker") was an enormous success!!! My God, what a masterpiece, replete with dancing -- yes, Marc, lots of dancing ;) -- choreographed by Kirill Simonov; a rich, tuneful score by Sergei Slonimsky; and drop-dead-gorgeous scenic & costume designs by Mikhail Chemiakin. The 'look' of the work is very similar to that of the Simonov/Chemiakin Nutcracker. Now'the Kirov-Mariinsky, in effect, has a three-act 'Nutcracker,' as 'Princess Pirlipat' relates the earlier sections of E.T.A. Hoffman's tale of the Nutcracker Prince. And what an evening of luxurious, intriguing, complex visual beauty on the stage...coupled with divine orchestral accompaniment to the baton of Valery Gergiev!
The casting was a huge secret until the last minute. Even two days ago, when the posters went up announcing that the title role would be danced by one 'Ekaterina Kondaurova' and nobody knew who-the-heck was Ekaterina Kondaurova -- actually a little pupil from the Vaganova Academy -- balletomanes were scratching their heads wondering what was up. In the end Kondaurova danced only a couple of scenes as the infant princess...the TOTALLY UNANNOUNCED Natalia Sologub, in fact, danced the adult Princess Pirlipat. This made for an interesting juxtaposition with the heroine of the next ballet, Masha in 'The Nutcracker,'as Sologub was dancing THAT role, too. Sologub was her brilliant, elastic-limb, free-form dancing self, in both roles & was wildly cheered at the end of the evening!
Andrei Merkuriev was a high-flying, likeable Nutcracker Prince in both ballets. Anton Adasinski was the most complex (devious, yet piteable) Drosselmeyer on record! There are many, many divertissement dancing passages in both ballets, giving demisoloists and character dancers of the Kirov ample opportunity to show-their-stuff. 'Pirlipat'includes some national dances by foreign guests to the Pirlipat court (or whatever it is called!)....Spaniards, Turks, Cossaks, Hungarians. All a tribute to Petipa's sort of ballet, which always included national dances.
The main stage set of 'Pirlipat'' is a gorgeous trellised garden with Faberge egg motifs...baby Pirlipat's birth is depicted with her emergence from an aqua-colored Faberge egg! There is a Torture Garden for execution of rats...what sets the story of the rats hating the humans into motion...I'll cover all of this in my main review.
The music is GORGEOUS, I am happy to report. The audience breathed a collective sigh of relief as the overture commenced with dreamy-sounding harps. Every main character has a leitmotif. Many of these tunes remind me of similar music in Aram Khachaturian's 'Gayane'...same sort of southern-Russian/Caucasus feel. Lots of violins; lots of solo oboe or clarinet. I am going to RUN to buy the CD when it comes out, it is that good. The very rare electronic beeps & pops happen when something bad happens on stage, e.g., Pirlipat turned into a monster-doll by the Rat Queen.
LOTS of celebrities -- ballet world and otherwise -- in audience. A delighted-looking Boris Eifman and his wife were sitting a couple of boxes from me. (This is HIS sort of ballet, LOL! Lots of sexy innuendos...plus first-class choreography...in my very humble opinion. )
The only negative note last night: the length of the entire event. Curtain time was SUPPOSED to be 6pm - one full hour earlier than usual, at the Mariinsky. Yet we ended the night around 11 pm...one 45-minute ballet, followed by a two-act 'Nutcracker. 'How on earth was the night stretched, you may ask? Here's how:
6 pm - curtain time...but...doors to auditorium opened at 5:50 pm
6:30 pm - 'Pirlipat' ballet really begins
7:15 pm - Pirlipat ends; intermission one begins
8:45 pm - intermission 1 ends (1.5 hours!!); 'Nutcracker Act I begins
9:30 pm - Nut Act I ends; intermission 2 begins
10:05 pm - intermission 2 ends; Nut Act II begins
10:45 - Nutcracker Act 2 ends..the ballet ends...standing ovation/ applause madness begins
11 pm - curtain calls in front of the blue curtain begin & folks commence to leave theater.
Perhaps the sponsors had a cocktail party between the two ballets? (I don't blame them...but I could have gone back to my flat to rest & eat for a while, had we been told...I did not have dinner, thinking we'd be out by 9:30 pmish...) Also, it was rumored that the at least one member of the Putin family was in attendance, incognito (as they often do at Moscow & StPete theaters... they are secretely snuck into a box as lights dim, so as not to cause fuss and necessitate extra security. ha-ha..there were cops with walkie-talkies all over the place but we weren't supposed to notice! Again, this is OK and I am really happy to see that the leader of a nation loves the arts...but still...my tummy was growling by 11 pm, as I managed to eat only one salmon hors d óeuvre and a glass of orange juice at one intermission...long, long lines!)
Bigger review to follow, next week.
BUT IT WAS A HUGE, TOTAL SUCCESS as a ballet - not just a pageant of luxury, which it also is. I hope that Washington, DC gets to see the complete 'Tale of the Nutcracker Prince' next December & not just the Tchaikovsky acts.
- Jeannie Szoradi
Posted 04 March 2003 - 11:57 AM
Friday, Feb. 28: McMillan's MANON
One of the most disappointing performances, all around, due to (a) Vladimir Malkhov not showing up (no reason cited...); (B) being replaced at the eleventh hour by an unprepared Ilya Kuznetson (who I've seen dance DesGrieux in much finer fashion than the sad display here); and © the grotesque and totally-unemotional Svetlana Zakharova in title role. The vivacity of the corps de ballet made me stay-on beyond the first intermission, through to the end.
Saturday, March 1: SWAN LAKE & Maria Kowroski's Odette/Odile
KOWROSKI WAS GORGEOUS, SPECTACULAR and Yes, Virginia - she won the audience with 32 fouetees!!! Seriously, it was one of the great joys of the festival to witness Kowroski's magnificent interpretation, with her eloquent arms & hands, strong technique, and -- best of all -- intelligent dramatic interpretation. She seemed truly in love with her Siegfried, Danila Kursentsov. The Act I pas de trois was memorable.. Anton Korsakov, Irina Golub, and, especially, Irina Zhelonkina in the first female solo. The Cygnets were picture-perfect in synchronization. Nobody beats the Kirov-Marrinsky's national dances in Act III. I adored the Spanish Dance, with Galina Rakhmanova as the most fiery of the back-bending females...and the unequaled Mazurka.
Sunday, March 2: FINAL GALA in honor of Nureyev
A weird evening...almost as long and bizarrely-paced as Thursday night's 'Pirlipat' world premiere.
First it was NDT in Jiri Kilyan's modern dance 'Bella Figura' with its bare-breasted dancers, sparse scenery, manipulation of black drapes.....one wonders WHAT exactly comprised the 'offensive' stage setting that was held-up in Russian customs, as the only 'setting' are two coffin-like plexiglass boxes, each with a nude mannequin
...OK, I'm not prudish but is this really the wisest dance to feature on what is billed as a star-studded gala with well-heeled expatriates paying $100-plus a ticket for a night at the Kirov-Mariinsky Theater. Applause was bare & polite from the parterre...wildly cheering from the local dance connoisseurs in the cheap seats.
Then came the first intermission of 45-plus minutes, followed by a classical divertissement by guest stars...BUT, WAIT! First we had to sit through half of the British-TV Nureyev video -- the one that commences by showing RN on his Mediterranean island -- plus a film of the Aussie 'Don Q pdd'...with 'locals' in the audience snickering at the exccentricities of Aussie ballerin Lucette Aldous' tomboyish interpretation. FInally, we saw live dancers, of which the most remarkable & wildly cheered were the Royal Ballet's Alina Cojocary & Johann Kobborg in 'Flower FEstival in GEnzano pdd' and 'Romeo & Juliet pdd' (McMillan version). Also memorable was Manuel Legris in Robbins' 'Suite of Dances' -- so musically sensitive & gracious! -- and some sizzling excerpts from Petit's 'Carmen/ by Diana Vishnyova and Legris.
Then another 45 minute intermission before the final, magnificent Raymonda Act III, in the Konstantin Sergeyev version, led with high style by Agnes Letestu & Jean-Guillaume Bart.
All in all, a lovely ten days of ballet in this Northern Palmyra!
- Jeannie Szoradi
St. Petersburg, Russia
Posted 04 March 2003 - 07:51 PM
Posted 05 March 2003 - 07:14 AM
For me you are picking up where Suzanne Massie left off with her "Land of the Firebird".
Posted 05 March 2003 - 08:30 AM
I can't tell you how thrilling it is to get a first-hand report like htis....
Thank you again and again for sitting up at your computer typing up your letter t o the world....
But DO get your rest! HOw was the ice-fishing? Did you catch anything? What kind of fish llurk under frozen ice? Not sturgeon? Did you eat it? How do you cook it? (Sorry, thinking about Nutcracker always makes me hungry)
Posted 05 March 2003 - 08:42 PM
But I saw Kowrosky and I have absolutely another opinion. Actually, it's included all appearance of guest stars in St. Petersburg's (first I wrote Russians, but changed) classical ballets. Tsiskaridze in "Bayadere", Letestu and Bart in "Raymonda", Kowrosky in "Swan Lake" were hopeless and looked as foreign bodies comparing to Mariinsky corps de ballet.
It was a big surprise for me with Kowrosky, the ballerina, which I like very much. Weak pas de bourres, "hooked-shape" arms, terrible white tutu with exposed, excuse me, buttocks, artificial acting with no much difference between Odette and Odile. We had some applaudes after white adagio, but much less after variation and complete silence after coda.
Manuel Legris made my day in the gala dancing in Rolan Petit's "Carmen' with Vishneva. The right person in the right place made this old choreography fresh, like it was made yesterday. Compare to his elegance, Visneva was incredible vulgar, which made a great match and worked very well for this duet.
From another hand, Legris didn't save Robbins "Other dances", which looked dated in this evening, the same as MacMillan "Romeo".
The last act of "Raymonda" looks like a very good piece for such events, of course, with good soloists. I said already I don't like Letestu and Bart in Nureev's version of variations.
Posted 05 March 2003 - 09:42 PM
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