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Pharaoh's Daughter at the MetJuly 28-30


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#16 Hans

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Posted 01 August 2005 - 09:47 AM

There's a new review that dirac just posted in links. One of the things the reviewer says is that Lacotte's version is "better than the original," a remark I find absurd considering that he hasn't seen the original (and based on what I've seen of Lacotte's other work, I have a tough time swallowing the idea that his best is better than Petipa's worst). The reviewer also claims that Petipa reached his choreographic "acme" with Raymonda. Of course if he happens to like Raymonda, that's fine, but to flat-out state that it's Petipa's best ballet (perhaps it was his most popular in its day?)...well, I don't think I'll be paying much attention to his reviews in the future.

#17 atm711

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Posted 01 August 2005 - 10:51 AM

I heard a lot of rumbling in the lobby that "the Bolshoi is not what they used to be” -




When were they ever --'what they used to be'? I saw them on their first visit to NY in '56 and was fed all the propaganda of how great the Company was ---"Our ballerinas would have been lucky to be in the Bolshoi corps, etc., etc." At the time we had the same comments I am hearing on this thread---the principals are great, But.....I did not see them this season (my one-person strike about the high prices), but in that first NY season there looked like there was a lot of dead-wood in the Company,--is that true today? But I suppose the stars still have it---on one of their visits I saw Vasiliev and Besmertnova (the only role I liked her in) in Spartacus--and I must admit they were fabulous, but the ballet was not to my taste.

#18 FauxPas

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Posted 01 August 2005 - 01:08 PM

I would correct that "better than the original" to probably say "no better than the original" because the Pugni music and the over-the-top Jon Hall/Maria Montez story are common to both. I think that the complaints about campy exoticism, lack of dramatic depth and musical quality would be common to any version using that libretto and score.

As for the choreography, I think that Aspicia's role changed with every ballerina who danced it and many famous ones did. Cyril Beaumont in his "Book of the Ballets" has a chapter on "Fille du Pharaon" with description from various balletomanes of the different ballerinas who danced the role. Carolina Rosati was 36 years old, had a bad foot and was closing out her career when she danced it at her farewell benefit in 1862. She evidently was very grand and impressive in her mime but the dancing wasn't what it was during her 1840's heyday in Paris. Henriette D'Or (Viennese of French extraction) played a princess who loved totally with abandon and she had a brilliant allegro technique. Virginia Zucchi could terrify the viewer with her fear at a stage lion that should have made her laugh. Zucchi wasn't young when she danced in St. Petersburg and her technique wasn't on D'Or's or Kschessinskaya's level. Other ballerinas who danced it were Ekaterina Vazem, Marie S. Petipa (wife of M.P.) and Marie M. Petipa (daughter of M.P. who cut all the classical variations). Kschessinskaya had sole ownership of the role after 1900 and her version would have been the one to survive had it been better notated and kept in the repertory. All of these ballerinas had very different looks and body types and techniques. All of them probably danced their own version of the choreography. Petipa probably wasn't afraid to change or replace some things that were too naive or old-fashioned or didn't reflect his development as a choreographer.

That is why I wasn't bothered by fouettes in one of Aspicia's variations and Romantic steps in another because the choreography probably was pretty hybrid by the end of the 19th century. However, the piece was meant to entertain and amaze with exoticism, pageantry and melodramatics. It is there. Either you can enjoy that in ballet or you feel it cheapens and degrades what should be a purer aesthetic experience. That is why I think we have this division of opinion about the merits of the work.

#19 bart

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Posted 22 October 2005 - 01:11 PM

There's a new review that dirac just posted in links.  One of the things the reviewer says is that Lacotte's version is "better than the original," a remark I find absurd considering that he hasn't seen the original (and based on what I've seen of Lacotte's other work, I have a tough time swallowing the idea that his best is better than Petipa's worst).

I just returned to this thread after reading Clive Barnes's column (Dance, November 2005) on resurrected classical ballets. Whether or not you agree with Barnes, I love the sting in this comment:

QUOTE:
"Both [the ROB/ABT revival of Ashton's] Sylvia and [Suzanne Farrell's reconstruction of] Don Quixote aimed at authentic facsimiles of their first versions, rather than any subsequent revisions. Authenticity is a word that seems to stick inthe craw of any Russian company. It comes as no suprise that Pierre Lacotte (a choreographere of many steps but no phrases who specializes in pallid 19th-centuryh pastiches) decided with his Bolshoi version of the Petipa/Pugni The Pharaoh's Daugher to ignore the Stepanov notation of Petipa's choreography in the Harvard Collection, and to choreograph and design a completely 'new' version of his own. Presumably he thought he knew better than Petipa. The resultant tasteless farrago demonstrates that he did not."

On the other hand, Barnes loved the Ratmansky "Bright Stream": QUOTE: "the Bolshoi's new artistic director has choreographed a beautifully satirical comedy, funny in itself, and also helped by Boris Messerer's spot-on period designs... Way to go! If you can't be authentaic, at least be imaginative."

#20 Solor

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Posted 22 October 2005 - 10:41 PM

OH GOD, here we go

why in the **** does ballet always have to be this big ole thing that is filled with all this meaning? If a ballet has foutees and big jumps in one section and then petite allegro in another, why is it all of the sudden 2 different styles? Why cant it all just be BALLET....end of story?

DAUGHTER is a GREAT ballet.....the Act I opening dances of the Huntresses are Grrrrrrr8 to the schmoltzy music of Pugni.......the adagio when Taor 1st meets Aspicia as well as the 3 variations that follow, again to that rum-ti-tum music of Pugni. I LOVE the Act II Grand Pas - I think its the best part of the whole ballet - a true Danse d'ecole, and of course the underwater scene. And lets not leave out the scene of the slave getting condemed by the snake....100% politically incorrect!

Cant we just have fun? What would you rather have....Giselle? Some viliage girl who goes postal when she finds out her boyfriend is really a prince betrothed to some snotty royal lady? Hey if he didnt really like her he wouldnt have been there in the 1st place, Im pretty sure that he wasnt using her for.................Compared to that the plot of DAUGHTER is equally ridiculous.......BUT, who cares?

#21 Helene

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Posted 22 October 2005 - 10:55 PM

OH GOD, here we go

why in the **** does ballet always have to be this big ole thing that is filled with all this meaning? If a ballet has foutees and big jumps in one section and then petite allegro in another, why is it all of the sudden 2 different styles? Why cant it all just be BALLET....end of story?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

It's usually so that the ballerina has proven that she has mastery over everything: jumps, turns, petit allegro, grand allegro, adagio, etc. Otherwise she'd be a soubrette or a Romantic heroine.

#22 Ostrich

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 08:52 AM

Does Nikolai Tsiskaridze seem to have recovered entirely from his horrific injury and operation? Of course, it may be hard to judge from seeing him in Pharao's Daughter, as he doesn't really do anything in the way of grand leaps. And by the way, I also consider the underwater scene to be a gem of a piece of choreography. But that huge snake... :unsure:

#23 nysusan

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 10:19 AM

Does Nikolai Tsiskaridze seem to have recovered entirely from his horrific injury and operation? Of course, it may be hard to judge from seeing him in Pharao's Daughter, as he doesn't really do anything in the way of grand leaps. And by the way, I also consider the underwater scene to be a gem of a piece of choreography. But that huge snake...  :unsure:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hi Ostrich,

I'd never seen Tsiskaridze before the Met engagement, and neither Pharaoh's Daughter nor Bright Stream really provided a good basis to judge his technical abilities, esp with regard to grand leaps. He was impressive in his stage presence & the expansive nature of his dancing, but I would love to have seen him in DonQ or in Spartacus. Perhaps the fact that he wasn't cast in either of those productions indicates that he's not 100% recovered, or perhaps they're just not in his repertoire. I don't know. In any case he was my favorite among the men the Bolshoi brought to NY and I look forward to seeing him in the Ardani "Kings of Dance" program in February.

And I agree, I loved the underwater scene in Pharaohs daughter - all 3 "lake" variations were wonderful & Lunkina was luminous in it. I really enjoyed the whole ballet on it's own terms. Not a classic for the ages but a wonderful spectacle & an enjoyable evening's entertainment.
Susan

#24 Ostrich

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 12:13 AM

As far as I know, neither Spartacus nor Don Quixote are in Tsiskaridze's repertoire, but it does seem strange that they didn't give him a chance to show his full ability. Wasn't "Queen of Spades" originally scheduled to be performed? That would have been "his ballet" and one in which I am sure it would be fascinating to see him. I am delighted to hear about Lunkina again. I saw her only once, in Giselle, but she stole my heart completely! She has an exquisitely loving quality in her dancing.

I WISH I could see Kings of the Dance - at least on video! However, I wonder whether it really is such a good idea. However, this is off-topic and I'd better post my concerns about it in a separate topic.

#25 coda

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Posted 28 October 2005 - 02:06 PM

You are right, Ostrich, Tsiskaridze never danced leads in "Don Q." or "Spartacus" - not because “they didn't give him a chance” but because he never felt any affinity with the role of Basil as he explained in his interviews. When he was still a young soloist, he danced the comic giga (or gigue) in Don Q. and was so hilarious there.
The role of a rebellious slave Spartacus would hardly suit him. He said more than once that he would have loved to dance Crassus but did not want to compete with the role created by the late Maris Liepa. He even asked Grigorovich to change the role slightly to suite his own personality. May be we will be lucky to see it one day.
You are so right in saying that “The Queen of Spades” is ‘his ballet’. I can not regret more that this outstanding, in my opinion, production created in October 2001, exactly four years ago, has not been seen in the West until now. It was scheduled for the Bolshoi’s season at Opera de Paris in January 2004 and was cancelled due to Tsiskaridze’s severe injury 3 months earlier. The same reason did not allow to include this ballet in the Bolshoi’s repertoire at Covent Garden in summer 2004. Then we saw that impresarios in the USA did not invite it; the same will happen this summer when the Bolshoi tours four English cities for almost four weeks. When talking to some impresarios I learned that they are not prepared to show new ballets and feel safer with such titles as “Swan Lake” or “Nutcracker”.
I came back home from Moscow yesterday after a most amazing ballet week at the Bolshoi (“Le Dieu blue” with Tsiskaridze and Liepa and the Kremlin Ballet was another bonus) and saw “The Q. of Spades” on the 26 of October. Nikolai and Ilse in this production remain as powerful as ever. Moreover, Nikolai’s portrayal of Hermann matured and deepened. The audience watched this ballet with bated breath and the applause was absolutely unanimous and overwhelming (which is not very typical of Russian audiences where certain types of spectators don’t bother to clap at all).

#26 nysusan

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Posted 29 October 2005 - 04:27 AM

The role of a rebellious slave Spartacus would hardly suit him. He said more than once that he would have loved to dance Crassus but did not want to compete with the role created by the late Maris Liepa. He even asked Grigorovich to change the role slightly to suite his own personality. May be we will be lucky to see it one day.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


That's funny, after the Bolshoi's visit to NY I was thinking that I'd love to see him as Crassus (with Marcelo Gomes as Spartacus for some dream casting)

Meanwhile I'm looking forward to seeing him in the Four Kings program in NY in February. The website doesn't say who will dance in Jeune Homme, but I think he'd be very interesting in it. Does anyone know if he has performed this role previously?

#27 Ostrich

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Posted 29 October 2005 - 08:06 AM

Thanks, coda, for the info re. Tsiskaridze's roles. Do many ballet companies allow their dancers this much freedom with regard to which roles they want to dance and which they don't? Certainly I know no dancers in our local companies who would dare do that! Won't you tell us a bit more about your week at the Bolshoi? Also, I've been waiting eagerly for reports about "Le Deux Blue" and would love to hear your comments about it.

#28 coda

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Posted 29 October 2005 - 04:03 PM

Yes, Nysusan, Tsiskaridze performed in "Le Jeune Homme et la Mort" at a Roland Petit Festival in Japan over two years ago. The NY Center website shows now that this ballet will cast Vishneva with one of “Four Kings”, my guess - with someone else. :rofl:
Regarding the Ostrich’s question: “Do many ballet companies allow their dancers this much freedom with regard to which roles they want to dance and which they don't? Certainly I know no dancers in our local companies who would dare do that!”
In theory, if an artist can not grasp some particular role, it would be only honest of him to turn it down. In real life, many dancers will be happy to dance anything regardless of their suitability for those roles. I think this subject has been discussed in the past (may be here or may be on another forum) with respect to Lopatkina explaining in her interview why she will not dance Aurora and some other roles.
I agree with her because, in my opinion, freedom of artistic choice is very important. I personally dislike short-necked Odettes and similar miscasts.
Tsiskaridze, with his very special, striking appearance, is also very selective. For example, he loved the role of Mercutio and danced it in two productions of “ R & J”, by Lavrovsky and by Grigorovich. However, the role of Romeo never appealed to him.
Dear Ostrich, I promised to write about “Le Dieu blue” somewhere else.

#29 Ostrich

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Posted 30 October 2005 - 05:19 AM

I think it is wonderful for dancers to be allowed artistic freedom of choice. I suppose that a large part of the reason why this is not possible for many companies, however, is that they simply don't have enough dancers to allow the principals to be "picky".

I quite agree that Spartacuse would not suit Tsiskaridze, though why he feels unsuited to Romeo I am at a loss to imagine.

However, I've wandered badly off-topic here, and to come back, I'd like to know what I forgot to ask earlier: did Tsiskaridze partner Lunkina in Pharao's Daughter? If not, who was she partnered by?

#30 nysusan

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Posted 30 October 2005 - 06:17 AM

Tsiskaridze partnered Zakharova. Lunkina danced with Vladamir Neporozhny and Alexandrova was partnered by Dmitry Gudanov.


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