Le CorsaireKirov vs. ABT
Posted 18 July 2005 - 09:51 AM
I think the Kirov's version makes more dramatic sense. Even though ABT includes more dancing for Medora in Act I, the whole thing is rather silly. Medora is a slave in Lankedem's possession, but she's carried about on a litter wearing a glittery tutu--seems more like a wealthy courtesan to me. Julie Kent as Medora is not particularly afraid of being sold to the Pasha (she flirts with him a good deal), she just likes Conrad more.
The Kirov, on the other hand, shows Medora, Gulnara, and their friends being captured on the beach, and Asylmuratova is quite frantic at being sold in the slave market. This type of situation creates more tension--you realize she may never see Gulnara or her other friends/family again. ABT's Medora doesn't seem to have connections to anyone except a rather vague friendship with Gulnare. She doesn't know the other slave girls and only seems to notice them when they ask her to intercede with Conrad on their behalf.
A nice touch the Kirov includes is that the pirates don't just rescue Medora and her friends; they include all the woman being sold. ABT's pirates wave their swords at the slave girls menacingly as they take them to the grotto.
ABT does include a dance for the pirates in Act I that the Kirov omits, as well as a bit of important mime in Act III that goes a long way toward advancing the plot (when Medora tells Conrad that she's the one who cut Birbanto's arm).
As far as the Jardin Animé (Pas des Fleurs) goes, I think we can all agree that between the boys and girls from the Vaganova Academy, the three huge fountains in the back, and a large, perfect corps, that the Kirov has everyone beat. If only they'd do something about that hideous backdrop and fuzzy "garlands" that appear to be made of large pipe cleaners.
Do we know what the original Le Corsaire was like in terms of Medora's characterization? I was surprised at the large differences between the Act I music in these productions; it leads me to believe that Act I was originally rather longer than it is currently presented by either company.
Posted 18 July 2005 - 10:13 AM
Posted 18 July 2005 - 10:44 AM
Posted 18 July 2005 - 10:55 AM
Posted 18 July 2005 - 11:06 AM
Posted 18 July 2005 - 04:37 PM
Julie Kent as Medora is not particularly afraid of being sold to the Pasha (she flirts with him a good deal), she just likes Conrad more.
The difference could be in the approach of the two companies. I remember when ABT’s “Le Corsaire” was broadcast, there were interviews with Kevin McKenzie and company members included, and everyone seemed to be trying to convey the impression that the plot was confusing and laughable and not worth bothering with. It is possible to create drama and characters within a fantasy plot. I don’t know for certain, but I feel sure that the original conception of Medora was closer to Asylmuratova than Kent.
Thanks, Hans, very interesting comments!
Posted 18 July 2005 - 05:53 PM
I don’t know for certain, but I feel sure that the original conception of Medora was closer to Asylmuratova than Kent.
I imagine so too, dirac, although Mel's comments seem to imply that a dancer could go from one characterization to the other within moments and no one would bat an eye. Was Le Corsaire thought of as silly at its premiere or was it considered a serious drama?
Posted 18 July 2005 - 07:39 PM
Good question. I hope one of our Russian ballet mavens answers it.
[Was Le Corsaire thought of as silly at its premiere or was it considered a serious drama?
The Kirov version hans desribes reminds me of the prologue to ABT's Swan Lake, where you get to see Odette captured (enslaved) by Rothbart. It sets the context of innocence trampled on by evil (lust, greed, or whatever).
I echo dirac's thoughts about the ABT televised Corsaire. Those cringe-making comments by the dancers suggested to me that they were mouthpieaces for the artistic director. The vision they suggested made me think of plots frequently acted out by Olive Oyl, Bluto and Popeye. Smirk/wink.
I'm not saying that this ballet should be played like an anti-slavery tract, but the original Byron poem -- which audiences at the first performances would most likely have known -- is full of passion and real feeling about the justice and injustice of what is going on. And it seems odd, in our day, to turn these characters into inhabitants of the Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Posted 19 July 2005 - 04:20 AM
Posted 19 July 2005 - 05:35 AM
I only know the ABT production from the video I'm afraid, but if it is the old Bolshoi/Sergeyev then a lot of changes have been made since ABT got hold of it. Which production is the better I'm not sure, the Kirov one makes better dramatic sense, but I prefer the score that ABT uses. The acting appeared better in the ABT version, but whether that was down to the production or the abilities of the dancers I don't know.
By the way there is little to connect the Byron poem with the ballet, basically it's just the names. Conrad is the corsaire in both, but Gulnare is the main female character, saved from the burning seraglio by Conrad after a raid, she rescues him from prison and kills the Pasha. Medora is referred to only as Conrad's grieving wife who is dead on his return to his island lair. It's still a good read I would say.
Posted 20 July 2005 - 07:58 AM
Posted 20 July 2005 - 10:25 AM
I question the wisdom of committing it to video while it was still relatively new to the company. They had not yet hit their stride in it and make a much better impression now. I guess the commercial calculation was the lure of the new. Once again, art and commerce butt heads.
Posted 20 July 2005 - 11:04 AM
Posted 20 July 2005 - 12:40 PM
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