Battling Beauties; Russia's Elgin Marbles in USA?
Posted 09 December 2004 - 11:19 AM
Why? Because Lopatkina -- along with many other senior & 'recently-retired' K-M dancers -- has been very vocal (to media & others) about her disdain for the reconstruction of Petipa-era ballets by Sergei Vikharev, assisted by Tim Scholl and other American scholars expert in reading the Stepanov-notation "Nikolai Sergeyev Notebooks" now housed at Harvard University. The reconstructed works -- mainly the 1890 Sleeping Beauty and the 1900 Bayadere -- have supplanted the long-known and beloved (to Soviet audiences) versions of ballets staged by Konstantin Sergeyev and others, during the 1940s and 50s.
Among the rumblings heard around town (St Petersburg):
* Russian Nationalism: The notebooks at Harvard are Russia's equivalent of the Elgin Marbles -- artistic treasures that belong to Russia, not to America [hmmm...they may have a point there...but the notebooks made it to the USA through legal acquisitions/bequeathments...the only 'illegal' link in the chain was Nikolai Sergeyev's stealing of the notebooks before the Revolution, when he emigrated to the UK (or whereever he went first with those notebooks).]
* Russian-vs-American Scholars: Who are the Americans to send scholars who can supplant our beloved 'Russian' versions of the classics? Why weren't Russian scholars employed to decipher the notebooks? [They seem to forget Vikharev's key role in this. Vikharev is not American!]
* The Poor Russian Economy: It was a slap in the face of Russians, struggling in the post-Aug 1998 collapse of the ruble, to spend million$ on a frivolous production during the months immediately following that collpse...just to satisfy 'ignorant' Americans' appetite for (& the Metropolitan Opera's wish for) a new, deluxe production. [Those complainers forget that hundreds of craftspeople & dressmakers in St Pete earned much-needed gainful employment due to this production.]
* Management's Maintenance of Secrecy Until Well into the Project: The 'news' about the switch of productions -- shelving the beloved Soviet version & taking-on the 'gaudy American-influenced' version -- came as last-minute news to most of the dancers...giving it all a foul taste of 'conspiracy.' Apparently most dancers & local ballet-going public found out the truth just as the final performance of the 'Soviet' version was about to take place in Winter 98/99, causing a mad dash for tickets & a protest.
...fast-forward almost six years...
On Dec 15, 2004, the balletomanes of St Pete are about to see their beloved Soviet beauty awakened. It is being hailed by many 'balletomanes on the street' as a nationalistic triumph for RUSSIA vs. the gaudy tastelessness of 'New Russians' (& Americans & other westerners) who go cheered productions such as the 1890 Sleeping Beauty reconstruction that permiered in April 1999.
Lopatkina is not alone; she is just the most visible dancer. The overwhelming majority of stars ("Generation of the 70s') who graduated in the mid- to late-70s & during the 1980s...people who remember & love dancers-teachers Natalia Dudinskaya & Konstatin Sergeyev, as well as legendary Soviet designer Simon Virsaladze...have been waiting for this moment when the beloved Soviet 'Beauty' would return, in-full, to the stage of the Kirov Mariinsky. [Parts were performed during a tribute to Natalia Dudinskaya in November 2002 but this was considered not a regular item in the repertoire but, rather, a special performance.]
It's happening in just one week. I look forward to hearing & reading reports!
Posted 09 December 2004 - 01:20 PM
For English-language readers interested in the intricacies of this topic, I recommend the book:
"Sleeping Beauty," A Legend in Progress
by Tim Scholl; pub. April 2004 (available on Amazon.com & elsewhere)
Scholl was one of the American notator-scholars involved in the 1998/99 reconstruction of the 'new/old' Beauty. It's a very well researched book if, understandably, slanted to the 'pro-reconstruction' point-of-view. I agree with a lot of what he wrote but see the Russian 'balletomane-on-the-street' perspective, too, which is greatly minimized in the tome.
Posted 09 December 2004 - 02:15 PM
The 1952 Beauty was performed at the Mariinsky January 21, 2004.
Posted 09 December 2004 - 03:05 PM
p.s. - I do remember hearing from friends that the Mariinsky website made an error in announcing one of two January 2004 Beauties as being of the 1952 Soviet version, while the posters and literature in the theater were correct -- it was the 1890 new-old Beauty. That goes to show you how even the merest rumor of the restoration of the 1952 version sent people scampering about last January!
Posted 09 December 2004 - 03:27 PM
Posted 09 December 2004 - 03:38 PM
One possibility is that the restored Bayadere & Beauty be reserved just for touring; the Soviet hometown versions stay at home. Maybe?
One REALLY WEIRD theory I've heard, from someone who was drinking lots of vodka at the time, is that perhaps Gergiev will sell the production (sets, costumes, & the right to stage the 1890 steps) to the highest-bidding US or European troupe. I wouldn't take that seriously but goes to show you the nuttiness of this discussion among locals.
Posted 09 December 2004 - 04:22 PM
Posted 09 December 2004 - 05:23 PM
Posted 09 December 2004 - 06:15 PM
Posted 09 December 2004 - 09:11 PM
Posted 09 December 2004 - 10:27 PM
Posted 10 December 2004 - 03:14 AM
Posted 10 December 2004 - 04:33 AM
Posted 10 December 2004 - 05:44 AM
I'm no expert on the topic but I do think that the colonial 'robber-travellers' did believe that the cultural heritage of the Ancient world represented by items like the Elgin Marbles and the Obelisks, etc was also their heritage and by bringing these items to the West, they could be presented in all their glory.
Posted 10 December 2004 - 06:20 AM
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