Bolshoi in N.Am. - 'Don Q' reviews/comments
Posted 04 October 2004 - 08:25 AM
Please place your reviews and comments here. Looking forward to them!
Posted 09 October 2004 - 06:45 AM
By Christine Temin, Globe Staff | October 9, 2004
Posted 10 October 2004 - 07:18 PM
Her Kitri this afternoon was notable for perfect line, style, and taste.
Posted 10 October 2004 - 08:44 PM
Other nice things about the production - it's not at all fussy. It reminds me of Croce once writing about a production of Paquita being "choreographically bald" - this isn't crammed with steps. The dancers fill them out. The most fun about seeing the Bolshoi in Don Q is you're left with the feeling you're seeing them at their best.
Posted 12 October 2004 - 03:23 AM
Posted 13 October 2004 - 07:34 AM
Alexei Fadeechev restored, then streamlined a bit, the 1902 version of Alexander Gorsky, after that of Marius Petipa. The 1902 Gorsky had been added to and embellished by numerous choreographers of the Soviet period, so that, by 1999 (the year of Fadeechev's restoration/trimming), the 1902 Gorsky could best be seen only at the Kirov-Mariinsky Theater, while Kiev, Novossibirsk, Perm, and other 'USSR' theaters had also added the Bolshoi embellishments, such as the vaudevillesque 'sailor dance' in the Tavern Scene. Had Fadeechev maintained the complete score of Act I and the corps-de-ballet choreography from the Dream Scene intact, I'd give his production the golden crown; alas, he gets second prize behind the Kirov. But, hey, 'second best' behind a Kirov's production isn't all that bad!
Certainly the dancing on view last Sunday at the Wang Center was mostly of a very high order, beginning with the exquisite, long-limbed Kitri of Anna Antonicheva. Unlike the straining of Maria Alexandrova (a ballerina of great dramatic impact who tends to push her limits, technically), Anna Antonicheva's Kitri dances with felicitous facility. Her Act I 'castanet solo' was exciting and ample, without the grotesqueries of gymnastics; the Dream Scene solo floated with technically-secure positions; while the Act III Grand Pas de Deux solo was brisk and oh-so-feminine. Finally -- for the first time in a long time -- a Kitri who cares more about charming her Basil than being offered a contract at Cirque du Soleil!
Dmitri Belogolovtsev's Basil offered wonderful partnering, including numerous one-armed high lifts throughout the ballet, not only at the end of Act I. Belogolovtsev's Basil has much improved since I first saw him in the role, in '99, but his acting remains a bit lackluster and the technique in the Grand Pas de Deux was spotty (especially the opening diagonal of jumps in the solo).On the other hand, he pulled-off an outstanding menage of 'barrell jumps' around the perimeter of the stage during the pdd coda.
Timofei Lavrenchuk looks like the perfect Espada, with his dark handsome looks and flashy 'attitude'! However, his classical technique seemed 'off' on Sunday. The willowy Maria Allash danced Espada's girlfriend in Act I, the Street Dancer, with great flair. It's a shame that much of the music & choreography of this segment of the ballet has been cut in the Fadeechev version.
The Dryad Scene of the Bolshoi is a bit of a let-down, in that, again, chunks of music (especially for the corps) have been excised. Even worse, the intricate formations -- hops and emboitees danced by clusters of ballerinas, in 'canon' fashion -- are simplified here, so that the rococco-like effect is washed out. Also, this seemed to be the most UNDER-populated Dream Scene I've even seen by a major ballet troup...there were maybe 16 dryads on the stage (versus 30-plus at the Kirov). That scene's soloists were fine: young Xenia Pchelkina was a cute Amour, though not quite as charming as the Bolshoi's Nina Kaptzova in the role. Ekaterina Schipulina was a majestic Dryad Queen, lovely at the start of her solo but technically uncrisp as the dance progressed, with a final sequence that eschewed the usual developes-a-la-second into fouettes. [Schipulina did simpler pique arabesques into passe pose, instead. We DID see those developes-fouettes at the end of Kitri's dream solo, instead of Kitri's usual diagonal of pique-arabesques/attitude poses.]
Act III included the one dance that, to me, is best performed in the Bolshoi version of 'Don Q' (compared to Kirov or any other troupe): the group 'Bolero' at the start of the wedding scene. Those long, white-lace-flounced gowns worn by the corps ladies are surely among THE most splendid costumes in all of balletdom!
The two female soloists in the Grand Pas were both delightful: Anastasia Meskova (who is best-known as Juliet in the Poklitaru version of R&J) flew through the jete variation, while the dark-haired Olga Stebletsova dazzled in the gentle Waltz, with secure passe balaces.
And what is a great 'Don Q' without the character/national dances? This production -- like the Kirov's -- is replete with fabulous Spanish and Gypsy dances...but none a spectacular as the soulful Gypsy Dance performed by Yulianna Malkhasiants in Act II. Her entire body vibrated with the passion of a deceived gypsy. And each of us in the 1,000-plus audience felt like she was dancing for us, for Malkhasiants has the power to make one forget that there is anyone else on stage, while she dances. Between Yulianna Malkhasiants and her Kirov counterpart, Galina Rakhanova, we have two of the finest exponents of classical-character dancing in the world today (or in any age, I suspect).
October 12, 2004
Posted 13 October 2004 - 09:46 AM
Natalia, on Oct 13 2004, 11:34 AM, said:
Allash danced the Queen of the Dryads on Saturday night and I also was surprised that she didn't do the developes-a-la-second into fouettes, until Gracheva did them in her variation.
One thing that has me a little confused about this production. The ones I've seen previously identify Mercedes as "a street dancer" but the Bolshoi program listed Mercedes and the street dancer (act 2) as 2 separate dancers. Based on this I assumed that Mercedes was Espada's girlfriend (act 1 & 2) and the street dancer was the one that tried to seduce Espada with the castanet dance in the tavern, before Mercedes danced on the table.
Can anyone clarify?
Posted 13 October 2004 - 10:26 AM
Natalia, on Oct 13 2004, 03:34 PM, said:
I also find it interesting that the Bolshoi locates the final act in a palace. After all, according to a certain tradition one only wears tutu in court (or in fairytales and dreams, of course)
In the Russian versions the street dancer and Mercedes (the girl in the long red dress in the tavern scene) are two different characters. In the Bolshoi production there is moreover a spanish dancer in the tavern scene - they have very little in common, except that they all seem to want Espada...
Posted 13 October 2004 - 10:26 AM
Posted 13 October 2004 - 12:16 PM
Marc Haegeman, on Oct 13 2004, 02:26 PM, said:
re. Mercedes-Street Dancer as one role: Does anyone remember the short-lived, post-Baryshnikov ABT version, staged by Vladimir Vasiliev, when the Mercedes character danced throughout the ballet (including the Street Dancer segment)? I believe that Susan Jaffe danced that role for ABT.
Posted 13 October 2004 - 04:58 PM
Posted 14 October 2004 - 10:11 AM
Posted 30 October 2004 - 01:42 PM
Unfortunately, the one thing that was missing was cast inserts in the program. After the performance, I managed to hunt down a staff member who had a xeroxed copy of the hand-written cast list, and she graciously allowed me to copy it. It's possible that this was the full list that would have been printed, but, sadly, it left off two of Kitri's friends in Act I, who may have also danced the variations in the Grand Pas de Deux, and Amor.
The Production was very clean and non-fussy, down to the fanless Fan Variation in the Grand Pas. I don't know if there is rich mime in any production of this ballet, but after seeing La Sylphide a couple of weeks ago, I really missed it. Where the casting overlapped, I think I saw a re-run of the Boston performance that Natalia described above: a rather blah Basilio by Belogolovtsev -- I wondered why so many of the women were interested in him, when Lavreniuk's Torreador and about half the men's corps were so more vivid -- a Driad by Shipulina that started out beautifully, but faded as it went along, a charismatic but technically sloppy performance by Lavreniuk, and Malkhasiants' fervent Gypsy, a real highlight. I thought Georgy Geraskin, who danced the Act II Bolero with Anna Antropova, had more of a balance between character and technique than either Belogolovtsev or Lavreniuk. Those black tight costumes are so cruel to the men, though, showing off every wrinkle in line, and Basilio lives in them.
Gracheva danced Kitri. I don't know if I've every seen anyone but a rhythmic gymnast who could so easily and crisply hit her nose with her leg in quick develope to the front and hit her ear with her shin in develope in 2nd. I didn't see a strained bone in her body or unproportionate excess, and what I liked about her performance was that it was danced in spirit -- Kitri was rather the filly -- rather than played for bravura. She was going to get her cheers, and excerpt during the curtain calls, never demanded them from the audience.
Although I've never seen a different version, Natalia's description of the Dream Sequence, was right on the mark. I wasn't sure why the corps were there in the first place, except for convention. The formations didn't have any focus to them and were unbalanced; I kept waiting for the dancers to get somewhere, as they looked like they were in transition for most of the scene, and never really created a picture. If the corps doesn't have a unified vision, there's not much for either the idealized Kitri or the Driad to play off against, and while beautifully danced, there was no bloom or resonance in the Dream solo. Amor, who may have been danced by Pchelkina (if that golden blond hair was not a wig), is the only part that "pops" regardless of who is dancing in the background. It was a nice contrast though, among the light-footed, bright Amor, the pristine Shipulina (at least until she faded), and the full-"voiced" Gracheva.
Because I had never seen a full-length Don Q before, I never knew that the Grand Pas had variations in it: I loved them, particularly the soft second variation, danced superbly by Nelli Kobakhidze, another highlight. I hadn't really noticed the women's backs or arms very much until Kobakhidze took her opening pose before her solo, which was a breathtaking moment. The two soloists -- Meskova danced the first variation well -- wore gorgeous lemony-yellow tutus. If Meskova and Kobakhidze were also Kitri's friends in Act I, then the woman in orange (vs. goldenrod), who I think would have been Kobakhidze, also excelled through clarity, but even more so, her musicality.
I still don't love the score, and I'm not sure I would see this ballet very often because of this, but there was one gorgeous except from Act II, and my brain has squished "Gypsy" and "Bolero" so that I can't remember whose music it was. (I thought it came second of the three dances [after Spanish], but I'm also remembering two people. Vapor lock.) I think this is why I wasn't really taken by Gracheva's performance, even though I liked it very much: I didn't think she had much good music to support her. I sat in the First Mezzanine, which meant that the amplification was apparent, and the orchestra sounded better to me in Romeo and Juliet, where the amplification literally went over my head. The conductor was listed as Sorokin, but from afar, he looked awfully like Klinichev, who conducted on Wednesday, although from their bios, they appear to me in the same age range, and perhaps they both were sporting the Conductor's Haircut.
My vote for the most beautiful costume was the Spanish: three tiers of silver gray lace that took on a golden cast under some lights, edged with pewter, and finished with a rose-peach hip sash. It was a close vote with the gypsy's brilliant red floor-length dress with several rows of ruffles and a black underskirt. But those lacy white corps dresses in Act III are really something, too.
In another thread about the Paris Opera Ballet, there was a discussion about how homogeneous the dancers' bodies are. It wasn't so obvious in Romeo and Juliet, but in Don Q I noticed that every woman's legs were slender. Kyra Nichols would not have fit into this group, let along Merrill Ashley, Monique Meunier, Carrie Imler and Noelani Pantastico (PNB), Alison Roper (OBT), Lorena Feijoo (SFB), etc. or any number of more muscled, athletic dancers whose performances I've loved. To think they might have been sent to Ulan Bator or Minsk had they grown up in Russia.
As a warning to anyone buying tickets at the Paramount, the rows of three seats in the First Mezzanine that are on either side of the entrance into the level, are not staggered. I spent the first act with much of downstage right blocked by about two inches of the hair of the woman in front of me, and with the women next to me leaning into my space so that she could see anything. Also, the base in which the railings are anchored block off half the armrest and scrunch the shoulder into wood. After Act I I moved to the last row of the left side section of the First Mezzanine, on the center-most aisle. I had a full view of the stage -- even there had been someone in front of me, the seat was staggered into the aisle, leaving a great sight line -- and plan to ask for this seat in the future.
Posted 30 October 2004 - 04:40 PM
In Boston, the friends did not dance the Wedding Variations, and Pchelkina danced Amor with both casts I saw. I also thought Kobakhidze was marvelous - I found Gracheva a bit hard-edged and preferred Antonicheva of the two I saw. Will you get to see more than a single cast?
Posted 31 October 2004 - 12:01 AM
Leigh Witchel, on Oct 31 2004, 12:40 AM, said:
Hopefully Sandik, Nyala, Doug and/or Dave were able to see Don Q and will report. Maybe Watermill was able to make the trip up from Portland? One very nice thing was that in his pre-show announcement, Josh LaBelle told people to go see PNB next weekend. It's great to see that arts administrators understand the need for a dance audience in Seattle, not just loyal subscribers to one Company or series.
I'm going to Berkeley next weekend for a quick visit to see one performance of Raymonda. It was originally cast with Stepanenko, but Antonicheva is in the updated cast list, so (knock on wood) I'll get to see her then. Unfortunately, because I'm meeting a friend at the PNB Balanchine Program next weekend, I'll only be able to see one cast. I'm very much looking forward to it, because I love the music to Raymonda, and I would watch paint dry to that music
Edited by hockeyfan228, 31 October 2004 - 12:17 AM.
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