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Anna KareninaAre we in for a treat?


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16 replies to this topic

#1 Effy

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Posted 24 March 2004 - 02:46 AM

Last Sunday attending an introduction to Alexei Ratmanskys new ballet Anna Karenina, whiich will premier April 2 with the following cast. Marie Pierre fgreve/Mads Blangstrup, Caroline Cavallo/Andrew Bowman, Nina Anishivilli/Kenneth Greve and Gitte LindstrŲm/Jean Lucien Massot. The part of Karenin will be shared by Peter Bo Bendixen/Mogens Boesen.

I expect (but do not know) that Silja Schandorff would join the production at a later date (She is still injured).

Based on the to pas de deux thats was shown, it look very beautifull and the costumes by Michael Melbye looks fine. So we keep our fingers crossed?

Snippets: Thomas Lund and Gudrun Bojesen is nominated for Dancer of the Year and La Sylphide and the program with 3 modern ballets is norminated for best dance production aty the upcoming Reumert awrds

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 24 March 2004 - 11:23 AM

Sounds promising! I'll be interested to read the reports.

#3 Effy

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 09:10 AM

Casting

Anna: Marie Pierre Greve/Caroline Cavallo/Nina Anishivilli
Vronsky: Mads Blangstrup/Andrew Bowman/Kenneth Greve
Karenin: Peter Bo Bendixen/Mogens Boesen
Betsy: Tatiana Ratmanska/Tina HÝjlund
Kitty: Gudrun Bojesen/Femke MÝlbak Sloth
Ljovin: Nicolaj Hansen/Cťdric Lambrette
Serosha: Andreas Kaas
Steva: Alexander Sukonnik/Thomas Flindt Jeppesen
Dolly: Claire Still/Josee Howard

Very good choises for the caracter parts. Gudrun Bojesen will beb a great Kitty

#4 autodidacte

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Posted 02 April 2004 - 07:47 PM

Yesterday I went to the opening night of Anna Karenina with Marie-Pierre Greve as Anna Karenina and Mads Blangstrup as Vronsky. As much as I was disappointed that Silja Schandorff wasn't doing the part as Anna Karenina I was also excited to see how Marie-Pierre Greve would manage this diffucult part which is, I believe, her first major one in in some years. She has not yet been very convincing in dramatic roles.
However, she didn't disappoint me this time, and the audience was thrilled (which it, admittedly, always is at opening performances). She had obviously put a lot of work into the part, and she succeeded in showing new sides of herself. She is a technically gifted dancer, and last night she was bursting with confidence. Maybe this part will be a new breakthrough for her.
Mads Blangstrup was absolutely wonderful! He is undoubtedly one of the most dramatically gifted dancers of the company, and I just can't imagine anybody else doing the part better - not even Kenneth Greve.
Unfortunately, even though M-P Greve and Blangstrup each were good in their parts, they just didn't match. You never really understood why they had fallen in love with each other. The scenography may have had something to do with it. I have never been an admirer of Mikael Melbye (in Sylfiden you had too sit precisely in the middle of the audience to bee able to see what was happening on the stage) but talking with other people during the intermission, I got the impression that his projections were a hit. Personally I think that there were too many of them, and they took away the attention from the story and the beautiful pas de deuxs. All in all, there were too many scenes. It seemed to me that there were people walking in and out of the stage all the time which was quite annoying. At an introduction that I attended a week ago, Melbye made a great fuss about the costumes which were supposed to be transparent in order to show the souls of the dancers. Well, they didn't seem specially transparent to me, and I was sitting in the second row orchestra!
Due to the problems mentioned above, the other dancers didn't really get the chance to do an impression on me. But I have tickets for both today and tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to abstracting from the many projections and focusing on the dancing the second and third time.


By the way Silja Schandorff told me during the intermission that she probably will not join the production - not even next season. That's a shame; she would have added a whole new level to Anna Karenina.

#5 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 02 April 2004 - 08:08 PM

Thank you for the report, autodidacte and welcome to the fray! We're glad you joined in.

What a shame Schandorff won't dance the role. We missed her entirely on the tour to America and the loss was felt.

#6 Effy

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Posted 02 April 2004 - 11:28 PM

I too attended the opening night and my overall view is that it is a very good ballet, although a bit shorter than I would prefare. Ratmansky do not beat about the bush, the scene are hastely stated. Anna is out of the train almost before it stops. Think how Kenneth McMillan would have dragged that scene around with at leat 20 people leaving the train before Anna. I am very familiar with Tolstoys book, and allthough at lot of important story line (Kitty, Ljovin, the whole Russian society)
is cut to a minimum, was is left is very true to the book, and you can see little details showing that they really knows the material, like Kitty dancing with the master of ceremony at the ball, Anna vearing a black dress, the dream about the two Alexeis (Tolstoy have given the same first name to both Vronsky and Karenin
)
The costumes are lovely but a Leigh points out hardly see-though, but that is probably because of the projections which means that you cannot light from behind, thereby spoiling the transparant effect, which I do not not miss. I am not to keen on the projections allthough the show a good selection of old Russia they tend to dwarf the dancers. The fycical elements of th decor are very good The train, the gates , the furniture and I think you would have had as good a decor with an open stage.

As for the dancing Ratmansky show great talents for moving people around and the de deuxs are many and good. However, as Leigh points out, threy would be more impressive if he had kept the corps at bit more still. Some times Anna and Vronsky are even mirrored by one or two couples toing the same steps.

As for the dancers, Marie Pierre Greve is doing a fine Anna, but I think the part would be stronger witha more face-on and less timid ballerina like Silja (I hope she is wrong re. the casting). I also think that a slower start to the ballet where we see Anna as little Mrs. Perfect sorting out her brothers crisis would have helped build the caracter. When someone is going to fall - it will be a greater effect if we know where there are falling from. Mads Blangstrup is great as Vronsky. Readers of this forum will known how highly I regard his talent, and he do not let me down. He has that nag for the drama and can be touching. His dancing is build on the dramatic tradition and he links directly to our great dramatic and romantic dancers. I was too far back in the audience to be able to tell how well he and Marie Pierre Greve acted together, but my oveall impression was very good, although he cleary commands the stage better than she does. She is a lovely dancer with an impressive face, long lines , in short everything you could want from a ballerina, but she does not project as strongly as you would wish, but this could certanly be a turning point. I am also looking forward to Gitte LindstÝm in the part,building on a great Tatiana.

I would have loved to see more of the supporting cast, as they are so greaty casted. Gudrun Bojesen a lovely Kitty, Nicolai Hansen a timid Ljovin could easyly have been used more.

The mucis is lovely. And in all the ballet resemples both Onegin and Manon. In short I think the RDB have gained a ballet that could be a mainstay in the repetoire and shows that the mission of being the greatest story telling ballet company in the world is the right mission. I am also aware that I and the rest the audience very much wanted it to be a succes and that we therefore pushed the applauses perhabs a little more than what was deserved, but I think we all saw Anna Karenina as a good step in the right direction and wanted to let everybody know that.

#7 KayDenmark

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Posted 03 April 2004 - 04:47 AM

I also enjoyed the ballet, although unlike the other correspondents, I thought Melbye's scenery was fantastic. The projections really gave a sense of time and place, much more effectively than the Royal's usual paint-and-upholstery sets. And that train! Well-done, realistic, and terrifying. Great stagecraft, from my point of view.

I will agree, however, with the others about the costumes. Anna spends the first act in dowdy black and starts off the second looking like Little Bow Peep. (Those who want photos can find them on the Royal Ballet's website) It isn't until the final scenes that she gets a fantastic scarlet number that really says something about her character. Meanwhile, Vronsky's white Imperial Army uniform makes him look like a pasta chef.

While I don't have a strong opinion of either Marie-Pierre Greve or Mads Blangstrup as dancers, I thought Ratmansky's unimaginative choreography gave them very little to do. They seem to be constantly repeating the same ten steps, whether in the throes of ecstasy or the depths of despair. There were some interesting touches to their parting scene, but overall, I'm just not impressed with Ratmansky's skill as a dancemaker.

Yet another virtually non-dancing role for Peter Bo Bendixen, as Karenin! The last time I saw him, he was Golfo in Napoli, also mostly standing around. I'd re-examine my contract, if I were him.

#8 autodidacte

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Posted 03 April 2004 - 06:11 AM

Those who have been criticizing Caroline Cavallo on this forum should see her in Anna Karenina or forever hold their peace!!! She is absolutely lovely in this part! As I wrote earlier, M-P Greve surprised me positively yesterday and showed new sides of herself but thatís nothing compared to Cavallo. You could actually read the whole story in her face. The ballet is a little too short and moves along too fast, so it requires a great ballerina to bind together the many scenes and bring life to Ratmanskyís sometimes (I agree with kaydenmark) monotonous steps. Cavallo managed it brilliantly. Everything she did was motivated and you really felt with her. Her dancing and facial expressions made up a whole, and suddenly scenes that had seemed superfluous yesterday made sense. I have till now been neutral towards Cavallo but after the performance today I have fallen in love with her as a ballerina.
Andrew Bowman is a very strong dancer (some of his jumps really impressed me) but unfortunately he is a bit weak in dramatic parts. However, you shouldnít underestimate a good partner. Cavallo and Bowman were a perfect match, completed each other and really seemed in love. They are used to dancing together, and Cavallo obviously had confidence in him, which showed in her performance. Also Cavallo and Mogens Boesen were a good match. They had that connection that I missed between Peter Bo Bendixen and M-P Greve.

As to the supporting cast which I tried to study closer today (even though it was hard to take oneís eyes off Cavallo), Tatiana Ratmanska as Betsy had already grown since yesterday. Even though I think that her role as the aristocrat hypocrite, Annaís tempter and at the end her betrayer should have been elaborated, she made the best of her time on the stage. Gudrun Bojesen was a natural-born Kitty but her part in the libretto doesnít make sense. In the novel she and Ljovin represent the opposite of both Annaís world of reckless passion and Betsyís poisonous aristocracy. Her admiration for Anna as a role model at first and her dissociating herself from Anna after the affair with Vronsky illustrates how deep Anna has fallen. Ratmansky has chosen only to include the first part. But the part being as it is in the libretto, itís too small for Bojesen, and I think itís a shame that some of the younger dancers from the corps didnít get a shot at it.

Re. Schandorff as Anna Karenina, I asked Ratmansky during the intermission if she is going to join the production. It turns out that she was never supposed to be in the production Ė injured or not Ė and that M-P Greve was cast for the opening night from the beginning (I thought that Greve/Blangstrup got it because Kenneth Greve didnít have a partner for the opening night). I would have chosen differently but after all Iím not Ratmansky. One day, I would like to sit down with one of these choreographers and find out whatís going on in their heads when picking a cast. Sometimes their choices just donít make sense to me.

#9 jorgen

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Posted 03 April 2004 - 03:53 PM

I saw the premiere and I agree in general with posters above. I find it a very fine production. Melbye's inventive scenography was surprisingly good, his best for ballet work so far. The projections on the halfcircle background works good, the train wagon is magnific. The music is very powerful and beautiful when heard live. The leading pair is on almost all the time, one could wish more room and time was given to the rest of the characters. The tempo is high with quick floating scene shifts. 2x45 minutes is a bit thin. Ratmansky says in the programme todays audience doesn't have patience for more than two acts. But I certainly do.

The ballet is dependent on having a very good leading cast. I liked Marie-Pierre Greve and Mads Blangstrup very much, I haven't seen M-P Greve in such a big role before. I am sorry to hear that the obvious first cast Silja Schandorff is not on. I had taken for granted Silja was to take over after Nina Ananiashvili with Kenneth Greve. So, is Kenneth Greve to dance it only once? Or who else would he partner? Maybe Silja is supposed to be "saved" for the Bournonville Festival?

I think it's a ballet you can enjoy seeing many times since there is much room for the leading pair to grow in their roles and making them their own. Again, Silja would have been perfect...

#10 autodidacte

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Posted 03 April 2004 - 07:41 PM

Kenneth Greve is going to dance the 26th of April together with M-P Greve. I too find it strange that he apparently functions as a spare partner in this production.

#11 Effy

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Posted 03 April 2004 - 10:32 PM

The Reviews are online. Erik Aschengreen Berlingske Tidendeis very positive. Henrik Lyding, Jyllands-Posten less so. So far none in the Politiken.
Re. Silja Schandorff I have always that this gifted dancer was also very lucky re. castings. Swanlake and The sleeping beauty produced in her prime etc. However the lists of parts she have not got is getting longer than it should be : Romeo & Juliet, Onegin and now Anna Karenina. Without opening old discussions, I would like to point out that Caroline Cavallo has danced all of those leads, so why not Silja Swith the better lines and stronger projection. She would have been my first choice if I was in charge.

#12 aspirant

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 12:24 AM

Cavallo did really shine in this role. She danced much more with her face and certainly carried the ballet which moves at lightning speed (several years compressed into as many seconds at times).

The pas de deux is intricate, a bit odd and often bridging on violent (in both the friendly and not so friendly scenes). The role of Karinin (Bendixen/Boesen) is of a stone wall, but occasionally this translates into very little dancing and a lot of standing around with a crooked arm summoning Anna.

The ball scenes blend into Betsy's Salon and back again, sometimes you barely have time to register what is going on before things are rolling around and shifting again. Sometimes it works effectively, but other times you are left almost gasping for breath trying to keep up.

It has been reduced to a story of three (Karenin, Anna and Vronsky) which is not the same story as the novel, but a smart decision given the timeframe and depth of the book. The costumes are beautiful, I am impressed with the bustles (they don't seem to get in the way). Anna has many costume changes, the most glaringly obvious her last red dress at the Opera. They may as well painted a giant scarlet 'A' on her forhead, it was a bit much for me.

I agree that it is reminiscent of Manon, though it is hard to beat that bedroom scene in terms of love triangles.

#13 autodidacte

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 08:15 AM

I had looked much forward to seeing Nina Ananiashvili as Anna Karenina since I have heard much about her but never seen her dance. She had beautiful arms and all in all a very expressive body language but I donít think Kenneth Greve was the right partner for her. I donít know how tall she is but she looked tiny next to him. I recognize that I as a Dane being accustomed to RDBís great miming can sometimes be harsh towards foreign dancers who have not been taught in the same tradition. But I donít think itís too much to ask for that a dancerís dance and acting make up a whole. After having been enchanted by Caroline Cavalloís perfect performance yesterday, I must admit that I was a little bit disappointed by Ananiashvili. She didnít have as good stage presence as Cavallo.
But then again, I may be a little harsh. I would like to hear from others who have seen her as Karenina. I know that she is returning in the part later in this season. I have also been informed that she has had leading parts in Bournonville ballets at the RDB earlier in her career, and Iím eager to hear from people who have seen her in those parts. Was she good and did the Danish audience like her?

Unfortunately Jean-Lucien Massot is injured and will be out the rest of the season. But Gitte LindstrÝm will be partnered by Andrew Bowman later this season (why donít they let her dance with Kenneth Greve since he apparently doesnít have a partner?)

#14 Effy

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 11:57 AM

I have seen Nina A, but not yet Cavallo, so I cannot compere the two, but I would say, allthough not a bad Anna, she did not bring anything to the role that Marie Pierre Greve had not shown us allready and she did seem a bit out of focus. Greve was great. The look on his face in the first scene, was proof eneough how well he is suited for the role.

Nina A, did some fine performances here in the early 90ties in La Sylph and Don Q. I think although Anna K is a taxing role, it will not necessaryly be better by casting a star.

I look forward to more casts and more performances with the onces I have seen. It has been a long time since I have been this thriled about a new original ballet for RDB

#15 Effy

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Posted 07 April 2004 - 12:27 AM

Reviews from Weekendavisen and Politiken agrees that the ballet are to compressed and neither like the decor. Re. dancers they both find first cast a bit subdued, third cast very positive for Greve and disappointed with Nina A. Weekendavisen is very pleased with the second cast (Cavallo/Bowman) but they are not revied by Politiken.


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