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October 2005 Tour to Berkeley


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#16 socalgal

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 10:20 PM

Me too, NYSusan! I am getting tkts this week for the Wed, 5th of Oct. performance.
It seems that there are great seats still available........lucky us. It is a drive for me, but well worth it......did you happen to glance at the running time? 3 hours and 45 minutes. Whew!

#17 Helene

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Posted 06 October 2005 - 04:55 PM

Extensive casting is up on the Cal Performances site:

http://www.calperfs..../kirov_cast.php

The Opening Night casting (Oct. 12) sounds identical to the LA Opening Night, which is discussed on this thread.

The King
Vladimir Ponomarev
His Queen
Elena Bazhenova
Princess Aurora, their daughter
Diana Vishneva (10/12; 10/15 E)
Ekaterina Osmolkina (10/16 M)
Alina Somova (10/14)
Olesia Novikova (10/13 and replaces Irma Nioradze for 10/15 M)
Prince DesireIgor Zelensky (10/12)
Leonid Sarafanov (10/13; 10/16 M)
Vladimir Shkliarov replaces Andrian Fadeev (10/14)
Anton Korsakov (10/15 M)
Andrian Fadeev replaces Igor Kolb (10/15 E)
Bridegrooms of the PrincessAlexander Kurkov, Maxim Chaschegorov replaces Ruben Bobovnikov, Dmitry Semionov, Vladimir Shkliarov
Lilac Fairy
Uliana Lopatkina (10/12; 10/15 E)
Olga Esina (10/14) and replaces Irma Nioradze (10/16 M)
Elena Vostrotina (10/15 M) and replaces Daria Pavlenko (10/13)
Tendernees Fairy
Ksenia Ostreykovskaya (10/12; 10/13)
Daria Sukhorukova (10/14; 10/15; 10/16)
Vivacity Fairy
Tatiana Tkachenko
Generosity Fairy
Yulia Kasenkova
Courage Fairy
Yana Serebriakova
Lightheartedness Fairy
Yana Selina
Diamond Fairy
Viktoria Tereshkina (10/13; 10/15 E)
Tatiana Tkachenko (10/15 M)
Irina Golub (10/14; 10/16 M)
Ekaterina Osmolkina (10/12)
Sapphire Fairy
Yana Serebriakova
Gold Fairy
Yulia Kasenkova
Silver FairyDaria Sukhorukova
Carabosse Fairy
Igor Petrov (10/12; 10/14; 10/15 E)
Roman Skripkin (10/13; 10/15 M)
Catalabutte
Andrey Yakovlev
Galifron
Andrey Yakovlev
Servant
Islom Baymuradov
Princess Florina
Irina Golub (10/15 M)
Yulia Bolshakova (10/12)
Sofia Gumerova (10/13; 10/14)
Ksenia Ostreykovskaya (10/16) and replaces Daria Pavlenko (10/15 E)
The Blue Bird
Anton Korsakov (10/12; 10/16)
Vasily Scherbakov (10/13; 10/14)
Dmitry Simeonov (10/15 E)
Maxim Chaschegorov (10/15 M)
The White Cat
Yana Selina
Puss in Boots
Anton Lukovkin
Little Red Riding Hood
Elena Yushkovskaya replaces Yevgenia Obraztsova
Wolf
Nikolay Zubkovsky
MaidservantLira Khuslamova
Huntsman
Anton Lukovkin
Maids of HonorsDaria Sukhorukova, Yana Serebriakova, Ekaterina Kondaurova, Elena Vostrotina (10/13; 10/14; 10/16)
Daria Sukhorukova, Yana Serebriakova, Ekaterina Kondaurova, Olga Esina (10/12; 10/15)
Young Ladies
Elena Yushkovskaya, Yevgenia Obraztsova, Yana Selina, Svetlana Ivanova
Nereids
Elena Vostrotina, Olga Esina
NOTE: Casting is subject to change.

Edited based on the casting insert in the Cal Arts/Berkeley Program on 12 October.

#18 Helene

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 09:04 PM

I travelled to Berkeley to see Sleeping Beauty and was quite disappointed on the whole. From the audience reaction, I expect this to be a very small minority view.

"Where's the Plie?"

If I had one overriding thought throughout last night's performance of Sleeping Beauty, that was it. I saw dancer after dancer with long, pencil-thin legs looking superb in sousous and bouree -- and in arabesque once the position was attained -- but feeling two-dimensional when movement and transitions were called for.

An exception was Uliana Lopatkina, whose beautiful and expressive arms and neck, and fluid epaulement gave her an authority that not even Vishneva had. (She didn't have to plie -- she was so alive above the waist.) As a character, though, I thought there was zero chemistry between her and Vishneva, and I found Lopatkina's Lilac Fairy rather static and distant. I am sure this is partly because of the way the role was truncated in the scenes that mattered to the story and characterization -- mitigating Carabosse's curse and leading Desiree to the vision and then to the sleeping Aurora.

When I read that Sergeyev's production reduced the mime, I had mistakenly assumed that this was primarily from the second act, around the Vision Scene. What I was not prepared for was the incomprehensible curse scene in the Prologue. Carabosse strutted around the stage like a caricature that a young boy would make of an overbearing, spinster teacher. In this condensed version of the curse, there was neither buildup -- Aurora would grow up, Aurora would grow into a beautiful young lady, Aurora would dance away at her debut (doesn't sound so bad, maybe Carabosse is not so bitter after all...) and then she'll prick her finger on a spindle and GOTCHA die -- nor any indication of whether the bad thing coming would be a hurricane, nuclear explosion, disappearance, or some unnamed disaster. Would the court be destroyed? There was not much indication that Aurora herself was the target.

The curse was "mitigated" by a series of arabesques on the diagonal, with the Lilac Fair pointing at Carabosse and Carabosse backing downstage. It looked like a power struggle, with the Lilac Fairy winning the battle, but with an enfeebled "I'll be back" Wylie Coyote exit by Carabosse. (Accompanied by bent over addled followers in black, and silly bat-like creatures who had as much power as a stuffed toy.) Besides a coherent story line, what was missing was sense that the Court both underplayed the power and importance of Carabosse's curse and then defied fate. The demand that the Lilac Fairy make it all better, and the bittersweetness of her inability to remove all consequences was nowhere to be found. In this production, the King and Queen promptly forgot the curse -- no extra security to protect Aurora; the only character who remembered it was Catalabutte, who tried to grab the bouquet that was presented by the unknown crone. The rest of the Court had amnesia.

Around the Vision Scene there was little development. The Lilac Fairy appears in a flowing lilac "nightie," and the pas de deux was a bit strange, as Lewis Segal pointed out in his review in the Los Angeles Times; between the costumes and the supported arabesque penches it did feel a bit intimate, but was, thankfully, rather short. The Prince didn't need anyone's help doing anything, it seemed: he found Aurora and figured out on his own that to give her a quick peck her on the cheek was the way to revive her and the court, where he promptly ignored the revived King and Queen. (As a Prince, he'd be expected to pay his respect to the ruling monarchs, just as England's Princess Anne curtseyed to the modern oil monarchs of the Middle East. Longevity and accomplishment do not outrank rank.) The only thing left for the Lilac Fairy to do was to show up in the final scene, back in her Court tutu, to give her final blessing in front of a very effective fountain effect upstage center.

I would have preferred that the first intermission between the Prologue and Act I been cut, and the mime restored to give the ballet some meaning. Sleeping Beauty is not a pure dance drama or an abstract ballet. Cutting the mime made the dancing portions seem short and incomplete to me, and for all of the people on it, the stage looked strangely empty, except when the students made their appearances.

The most effective mime in the entire production was between the King, Catalabutte, and the Servant. First the King OKs the guest list. (Catalabutte repeats the OK to the servant, with the same gestures the King uses.) When Carabosse appears and demands to know why she was not invited, the King blames Catalabutte, who then blames the servant. But when Carabosse rips off Catalabutte's wig and tears out his hair, the servant comforts him, when he could have been vengeful. Neither Catalabutte nor Galifron (the dancing master who is blindfolded at the beginning of Act II) is played as a buffoon, which is common to almost every other production of the ballet I've seen. (Both parts were danced/played by Andrey Yakovlev.) The most effective characterizations in the dancing roles were the suitors: each had his own personality, and for the first time I've seen the ballet, they were not anonymous corps members who prayed that they wouldn't knock Aurora off pointe in the Rose Adagio.

I'm not sure I remember which Fairy was which properly, with the exception of Yana Selina's Carefree Fairy, which is very stylized, and which she performed charmingly. The dancer wearing the pinkish/apricot tutu is the one who started with the energy I'd been missing until that point, but it died out a bit toward the end of her variation. I think it must have been Yulia Kasenkova, because when she reappeared as the Gold Fairy in the last act, her energy and three-dimensional dancing was one of the highlights of the evening. (At last, a plie and a big juicy one at that!) Selina was delightful as The White Cat, as was her straight man, Anton Lukovkin as Puss in Boots. I, too, was impressed by the students in the violinists' dance. Unlike the boys who danced with the Ogre, they blended right in, and I wouldn't have guessed that they weren't in the Company. Kudos to Helgi Tomassen and the San Francisco Ballet School.

I liked Anton Korsakov's Bluebird. It was a bit muscular, but I thought it was quite clean, if not elegant. (And he bent his knees when he landed, no small favor.) Yulia Bolshakova's Princess Florina was brittle and marred by exaggerated extensions, which caused her to go off center. I liked her persona, though; she was giving to the audience.

There is no doubt that Diana Vishneva is a Ballerina in the grandest sense. From the moment she appeared onstage she had a charisma that was unmatched, as if someone had turned up the lights. Her Rose Adagio was rock-solid and authoritative, and she built her performance into a dazzling display during the Wedding Pas de Deux. The only technical issue I saw was that she seemed a bit wobbly in supported pirouettes; she was solid with only one of her partners, one of the suitors. But apart from her entrance and a few moments with the King and Queen, I saw Vishneva, not Aurora. She wasn't a young girl at her first big party, trying things she'd never done before (at least in public), succeeding grandly, and showing delight; she was a World Champion at her first Olympics. Her vision scene made me think of Odette, and although the music suggested purity and repose and not mystery, this was the most developed characterization of the evening. In the Wedding Pas de Deux, she was more like a Queen being coronated than a bride, as if the King and Queen had already abdicated. I'm very used to this in opera, where a fifty-year-old portrays a twenty-year-old, and where the music indicates a lifetime of experience, but perhaps the strength of abstract ballet is that this happens rarely in that kind of ballet.

Zelensky danced Prince Desiree. Apart from the aforementioned supported pirouettes, his partnering of Vishneva looked smooth from the Mezzanine (first level up?). He burst out in his first solo, but by the coda of the Wedding Pas de Deux, he looked a bit tentative and tight, if fluid in his turning jumps and soft in his landings. He looked so slender, though, not like the beefy guy from his NYCB days, and at first I didn't recognize him. (He looks more and more like Michael York the older he gets.)

There were two things that made the trip: seeing the corps, which was superb, especially in the Vision Scene, and Concertmaster Lyudmilla Chaykovskay's renditions of the violin solos, particularly the music used during the set change from the woods to the Court in Act II, known to audiences familiar with Balanchine's Nutcracker as the violin solo in the middle of Act I. Sadly, we could hear the noises of the set change during the solo; they were indistinguishable from the noise made by the toe shoes of the dancers, which sounded like castinets against the Zellerbach floor. (It was clear that the corps was together, because there were no out-of-synch clacks.)

The orchestra itself was loud -- I think it took about ten minutes before it adjusted to the hall with people in it, but once it did, it mostly sounded great, especially the strings. The brass had a few intermittent issues where they didn't blend very well, and they seemed off pitch on occasion. (It was pretty chilly in the Hall.) The conductor for the performance wasn't listed; the program shows Boris Gruzin and Alexander Polianichko as the conductors for the tour. The musicians received as big an ovation as the dancers, which isn't unusual for West Coast audiences.

#19 carbro

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 10:30 PM

"Where's the Plie?"

If I had one overriding thought throughout last night's performance of Sleeping Beauty, that was it.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Obviously, you had many thoughts about the performance (and thanks for so detailed a review :) ), but plie issue is particularly fundamental and pervasive. I'm glad you mentioned it, Helene, because although I haven't seen the Kirov for a couple years, and although they had improved considerably since previous visits during the '90s, the Kirov women's micro-plie has bothered me for a long time. I was beginning to think it was a figment of my imagination, so little comment did it receive from others.

#20 Quiggin

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 11:35 PM

All of Helene's criticisms are valid, and yet I was strangely moved by the production, especially at the end where the Lilac Fairy blessed the court--though they dramatically didn't deserve it. That part was a little Shakespearan for me, like the reconciliation at the end of one of the romances, in Pericles or in Winter's Tale. Lopatkina was as interesting to me throughout, as Vishneva--in her calm bubble of Vishnevaness--was slightly alienating. L. in the interlude with Prince seemed to be able to dart across stage as quickly as a Firebird or NYCB ballerina. I enjoyed watching Zelensky present himself, reeling in and letting out small gestures--hands, wrists, movements of chin. And his dancing was quite fine. (I don't remember him being overweight at NYCB, just a bit scowly). Other things I enjoyed: the strange, staccato, stiff legged dance of one of the middle fairies, perhaps Sapphire; the corps in their lateral pas de quartres and/or sixes, or as a background in a line of 12 on one knee--perhaps when the Prince and Princess are doing backwards traveling arabesques? (The corps' yellow wigs made the men look like women and the women look like men, just at first.) Yes, you could hear everyone touch the floor, like the sound of dominos spilling onto a table, and the orchestra was a little loud--though what a orchestra to sound too loud! If it lacked anything, it missed a little of the perfect focus and dynamic shadings of Agrest and Gergiev, who were in Berkeley the last time around. At times the dancing was merely a elegant froth riding on waves of perfect sound.

But it was Anton Korsakov as Bluebird who was the standout, and belated discovery, for me. His movements are a perfect balance of strong large thrusty gesture and Kirov refinement. There was a good intensity and some degree of risk taking to his dancing. Some his effect is from the pinking shears profile of the backs of his legs: the sharp zig zag of heel to calf to thigh which made his beats doubly effective (Lindsay Fisher at NYCB shared something of this characteristic). Anyhow, the evening was a delight, and the generous number of intermissions most welcome for all the coffee I had drunk before, and the glass of wine later on.

#21 Helene

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 08:44 AM

Quiggin, I didn't mean to imply that Zelensky was overweight, but that he seemed more muscular back then, especially in his legs. In white tights the other night, he looked comparatively wispy to me.

According to the program, Yana Sebrebriakova danced both the Brave Fairy and the Sapphire Fairy, but according to Rachel Howard's review in The Chronicle, Sapphire Fairy was Tatiana Tkachenko, who also danced the Playful Fairy. According to the program, the Sapphire, Gold, and Silver fairies remain the same for all performances, while Tkachenko is scheduled to dance Diamond Fairy on this Saturday's matinee. I'm not sure if this was an unannounced casting change.

Howard also identified Boris Gruzin as the conductor.

#22 Cygnet

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 12:12 PM

Thank you Helene for the detailed play by play! Your's is the best description yet of Diana's stage persona and the weaknesses of the Sergueyev production. Diana is really flamboyant. I've often thought that if Liza Minelli were a prima ballerina, she'd be Vishneva.

#23 drb

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 01:51 PM

I'd like to second the thanks to Helene for the detailed review. And that "As a Prince, he'd be expected to pay his respect to the ruling monarchs, just as England's Princess Anne curtseyed to the modern oil monarchs of the Middle East. Longevity and accomplishment do not outrank rank." is priceless! What is with the two great Russian companies? They seem to equate deleting mime with being modern. Some sort of supreme misunderstanding of Balanchine?
The remark of seeing Odette in Vishneva's vision scene made me remember what for me was the crowning moment of Ashley Bouder's sublime Aurora at NYCB: her vision scene also suggested Odette: Aurora was trapped in a perpetual dream just as Odette was trapped in a swan's body. Both share the same desperation to escape, the paths to escape are exactly the same.

#24 Gina Ness

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 11:38 PM

I just attended the Sunday matinee. Here are some brief impressions. I would like to preface this with the fact that I have not regularly seen the Kirov in the past 20 years or so. During my youth, I saw them pretty regularly as they toured to the Bay Area much more frequently during this time (60s and 70s). I was very excited to see the performance this afternoon. I generally enjoyed the performance very much. The corps was superb. The fairy variations were well danced. I particularly enjoyed the Brave Fairy (is this "Violente" the "Finger Fairy"?), Yan Serebriakova, and the Diamond Fairy, Irina Golub, in Act 3. Carabosse, Roman Skripkin, was a delight. I also liked the lightness of his costume although I felt his make-up should have been stronger considering the lighting I observed at Zellerbach. In general, the costumes really were wonderful. The standout of the entire evening was, alas, not Aurora, but Prince Desire, Leonid Sarafanov. WOW! I was so glad they didn't put a wig with a ponytail on this delightful and superb dancer. He danced with authority, ease, great technical facility, and was so charming! I am now a fan! His Aurora, Ekaterina Osmolkina, was a lovely dancer in many ways but seemed a bit ill at ease in her performance. I was somewhat disappointed in her attitude balances which were non-existent in the Rose Adagio and she had a couple awkward stumbles during the course of the evening....But she is very talented and I'm sure will grow into this role.....Loved Puss in Boots, Anton Lukovkin, and his White Cat, Yana Selina. I was quite disappointed in the famous "Blue Bird" pas de deux. It bothers me that the male variation is cut in half. Anton Korsakov had a rough day, it would seem. His coda brise voles left much to be desired and he had to touch his hand down on his double tour finish at the end of his variation. He was positively sullen his entire performance. The Princess Florina (Ksenia Ostreykovskaya) variation tempo is just too slow. So was the BB pas de deux, for that matter...I noticed this with some other variations, most noticeably the Lilac Fairy (Olga Esina). This variation was almost spoiled with the slow tempo, although the dancer was lovely. Kudos to the Children and Supernumeraries who appeared with the Kirov courtesy of SFB School. They did a great job and just looked so excited to share the stage with the Kirov. I know how that feels. My brother and I had the same opportunity when we were kids to dance with the Kirov and Bolshoi in "Cinderella" and "Ballet School".

#25 Herman Stevens

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Posted 22 October 2005 - 12:38 PM

Thanks, indeed, for your impressions, Helene.

Having recently watched the Kolpakova video of Sergeyev's SB I couldn't agree more: the Carabosse / Lilac stuff in the Prologue and Act I doesn't make any sense unless you've seen a full staging first, so as to accept the Sergeev as a kind of shorthand version. The court doesn't even fall asleep!

#26 Helene

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Posted 22 October 2005 - 03:21 PM

The court doesn't even fall asleep!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yes! The court members just stop walking, as if the Batman villain Mr. Freeze had at them with the ice gun.

#27 Gina Ness

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Posted 22 October 2005 - 08:15 PM

Irina Kolpakova was a lovely Aurora... :flowers: :shake: :bow:


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