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Which Raymondas have you seen?


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 06 March 2002 - 12:12 AM

Which productions of the full Raymonda have you seen?

The first I saw was Nureyev's for ABT, which I did not like -- I think it's the worst of his productions, even worse than the "Swan Lake." The Martha Graham hip thrusts, the change in the role of Abderachman (sp?) and, worst of all, turning everything into a dream AND stretching the dream over two acts. I saw this several times with different casts.

I've also seen the Bolshoi's, but not the Kirov's. I was interested in Jeannie's comments (in Recent Performances) about Grigorovich's staging (for the Bolshoi) seeming more "moderne" than Sergeyev's (for the Kirov. I haven't seen the Kirov's; a friend who did, and who likes mime, loved it, saying that the story had been gently reduced and pushed to the background, and there was just "cascade after cascade of classical and character dancing.") I thought Grigorovich's looked more "moderne" too, Jeannie. Perhaps it was the style, or the way the dancers sneered at playing courtiers. So I was interested in reading Doug's comments that Grigorovich's was actually more like the Petipa notation.

Doug, I hope you'll comment more on that.

#2 vrsfanatic

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Posted 06 March 2002 - 07:20 AM

I am also awaiting Doug's enrichment of the notation, I have only seen the Kirov full-length Raymonda live. Although it is long, I think almost 4 hours and the story is difficult to follow the dancing is glorious. I have seen Bolshoi on video which is filled with lovely gypsy atmosphere, but alas Raymonda is not a gypsy and snippets of Nureyev POB on video as well as excerpts live, which I disliked immensely.

Having studied various sections of Raymonda with various ballerinas of the Kirov, I have learned that it is perhaps one of the most misunderstood ballets. I will save this discussion for excerpts however, since that is when I have found it to be so misinterpreted.

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 06 March 2002 - 10:36 AM

Oh, vrsfanatic, please share! Start a new thread with "misunderstandings," or whatever you want to call it. I think the lore is just as important as the notation.

#4 BW

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Posted 06 March 2002 - 03:12 PM

Wonderful - perfect timing! Didn't I ask a question about this ballet way back when? My daughter's going to dance in it in about two weeks - in an excerpt that is.

The only version I have seen is The Bolshoi's - on video tape. frown.gif I like the film but it's very dark and hard to really see very well.

#5 doug

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Posted 06 March 2002 - 05:11 PM

I have the Grigorovich Bolshoi production on video as well as the K. Sergeev production with Kolpakova. I will go through them and comment more on which parts I find correspond to what is notated of the ballet. For starters, the women's classical variations in the Grigorovich version are very close to what is notated, as is much of the character suite (but not Spanish) in Act II.

[ March 06, 2002, 05:12 PM: Message edited by: doug ]

#6 Alexandra

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Posted 06 March 2002 - 06:13 PM

That's a lot of work, but I'm sure it will be interesting, and I can't wait for the comments.

When you say "women's classical variations" is that just Raymonda's? Or Henriette and Clemence's too?

#7 Mel Johnson

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Posted 06 March 2002 - 08:57 PM

The first production (complete) that I saw of this was the Kirov/Sergeyev version, and the friends of Raymonda didn't have names. The variations in the dream scene, by additional soloists, were not the same dancers as Raymonda's friends, who got their own variations in Act II. I've got the program here somewhere in a filing cabinet down in the basement - I'll have to go rummaging again!

#8 vrsfanatic

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Posted 06 March 2002 - 10:05 PM

Since the storyline has many different interpretations there are various ideas as to how the role of Raymonda is performed. Taken out of context, excerpt versions vs full-length versions tend to differ. It is important we have established she is of French royalty, not Hungarian.

I am not familiar with the libretto unfortunately, but would enjoy very much the opportunity to read the original. What I know is the old fashioned way in the ballet world, handing down from one dancer to the next. I know this has merit, but sometimes things can get changed with time.

#9 doug

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Posted 06 March 2002 - 10:37 PM

Re: the female classical variations, I mean those for Raymonda, Clemence, Henriette and the vision variations. Most of these variations as danced in the Bolshoi version resemble what is given in the notations for the ballet.

Petipa asked Glazunov for three vision variations. He omitted the music for the third variation (subsequently choreographed by Balanchine and that's another story) and substituted an arrangement of a Glazunov waltz from "Scenes de Ballet" as a variation for Raymonda. The ballerinas performing the two vision variations were not originally Henriette and Clemence.

#10 vrsfanatic

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Posted 07 March 2002 - 07:12 AM

For the sake of my education, and perhaps others too, in the libretto is there a discussion of her character while dancing the variations or just the steps? Having never seen a ballet libretto, I am fascinated as to how that aspect is handled.

I have always been confused by the various interpretations of her role in particular. Having never seen an American full length version, when performed in excerpts, the role of Raymonda can become a bit more of a gypsy instead of French royalty. I have seen the Bolshoi version, various ballerinas, but only on video. For example Pliesetskaya is much more agressive in her approach to the role than say Kolpakova, Makhalia, or Komleva. Having studied the variations with Sulamith Messerer, Irina Kolpakova and Ninella Kurgapkina I have been fascinated by the differences in their interpretations. I was wondering if perhaps you could give us some insite into what the libretto says?

The excerpts I have seen in the US tend to follow more of the Bolshoi approach to this ballet than Kirov. Who staged the ABT version, I think it was back in the early 1980s? Does anyone know? It was not very close to the Kirov staging of the wedding act. Take a look at Makarova in the Ballerina video for yet again another take on, of course, just the wedding variation but it is quite a different idea of the role when put in context!

I would be very happy some insight, if anyone can help!

#11 doug

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Posted 07 March 2002 - 11:16 AM

The libretto is the story of the ballet as printed in the audience program book. Sometimes it differs from the ballet master's notes (which usually contain many more details). The libretto does not generally contain any information about steps.

The Raymonda libretto has been translated by Roland John Wiley and is printed, along with an original cast list and list of dances (including how many dancers performed each dance), in his book, A Century of Russian Ballet (Oxford, 1990), pages 392-401.

#12 fondu65

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Posted 07 March 2002 - 01:19 PM

The only performance of Raymonda that I have seen is the video of Grigorovich's version for the Bolshoi starring Semenyaka, Moukhamedov and Taranda. I must say that, not fully understanding the story line, I found it confusing and only watched it once. This scholarly discussion of Raymonda has made me want to watch it again. Thanks everyone for an extremely valuable and interesting discussion.

#13 Alexandra

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Posted 07 March 2002 - 01:33 PM

Thanks for joining in fondu 65. A nice reminder to the rest of you -- if you haven't seen Raymonda, please don't feel locked out of these discussions. Grab a video, watch it, and join in. The only one I have is the same one fondu mentioned -- the Bolshoi's, with Semyenaka and Mukhamedov. If anyone knows of others, please post.

But it would be fun to take the opportunity to talk about a work a lot of us have seen -- the SAME performance, so we can't wonder if I'd just gone the next night...... smile.gif If you don't own it and don't want to buy it, there are some video stores that let you rent.

#14 Manhattnik

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Posted 07 March 2002 - 02:48 PM

The only full-length Raymonda I've ever seen was Nureyev's rather odd staging for ABT. I don't remember much about it, except for the murky Georgiadis sets and costumes, which made the dancers in one divertissment look like nothing so much as dancing asperagii.

It was, however, hard to fault the casting, with Nureyev as Jeanne de Brienne and Erik Bruhn as Abdel Rakhman (or however they decided to spell it), and various and sundry Raymondas: Gregory, Makarova, Van Hamel, Kirkland. Constant Readers will no doubt guess the one I admired the most.

#15 liebs

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Posted 07 March 2002 - 03:17 PM

I too saw only the ABT version, one 4th of July at the State Theater with D' Antuno and Kivitt in the leads. The production never came to life until the final act when Ruth Mayer and Bill Carter did one of the Hungarian divertissements.


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