Posted 13 August 2006 - 11:57 AM
Bolshoi ROH London The Bright Stream 10-08-06
Zina Svetlana Lunkina
Pyotr Yuri Klevstsov
The Ballerina Maria Alexandrova
The Classical Dancer Sergei Filin
The Accordion Player Gennady Yanin
The Old Dacha Dweller Alexei Loparevich
His Wife Irina Zibrova
Galya Anastasia Stashkevich
Gavrilych Egor Simachev
The Milkmaid Anastasia Yatsenko
The Tractor Driver Alexander Petukhov
Zina’s Friends Victoria Osipova
The Bright Stream is that rare phenomenon in ballet, a comedy, blessed with a zestful, melodic Shostakovich score. Its fresh choreography by Ratmansky, along with the tongue-in-cheek designs of Boris Messerer, fill the original libretto created by Fyodor Lopukhov.
Its farcical plot- even though stemming from the era of the socially commited Soviet dramballet- centers on the age-old theatrical gag of a husband (Klevtsov) courting his own, disguised, wife (Lunkina), while imagining he’s flirting with another woman. Other time-worn gags, such as cross-dressing (Alexandrova and Filin) to embarass foolish suitors (Zibrova and Loparevich), and a man impersonating a dog (Petukhov) to thwart a suitor’s designs (Yanin) on his beloved (Staskevich) provide additional fodder for dancing and mime that add up to an evening of delightful entertainment..
The scenario has to do with the visit of dancers and musicians to a Soviet farm collective for the celebration of the harvest festival. A local woman was a ballet schoolmate of the visiting ballerina; the local woman’s husband almost immediately starts flirting with the ballerina. Another older local woman is smitten with the classical dancer, while her older husband fancies the ballerina. The visiting accordion player goes after a student, whose boyfriend , the tractor driver, objects.
The ballerina sets the events of the second act by suggesting her school friend disguise herself with one of her dance costumes, and ‘dance’ with her own husband.. The ballerina will crossdress to meet with the older woman attracted to the classical dancer. The ballerina convinces her male colleague to dress as a sylph for the tryst with the older local man.
The tractor driver will dress as a dog to protect his girlfriend. And there you have the events of the second act..
Lunkina as Zina, the local girl with ballet training, is truly delightful. She is the most elegant country girl you can imagine in her close-fitting, short, white dress. Her mime was truly expressive and her dancing showed a linear purity, ‘love for dance in its own right’ in the setting of a comedy. Klevtsov was a fitting partner, strong, articulate. He has a muscular presence that harkens back to earlier male Bolshoi physiques.
Alexandrova showed her exuberant technique and open movements with a delicious flair for the comedic story line. Filin showed a generosity of spirit in his capacity for the farcical. He was truly amusing as the cross-dressed sylph, where the comedy lay in the appreciation of the gender-specific classical foot and leg technique of pointe dancing. In spite of all the prodigious skills displayed by Filin, the pointe work looked truly funny on a man. Alexandrova, en travestie, repeated a variation performed earlier by Filin full of sharpness and ballon, ending with a series of retires passes sautes, on one leg, with changes of direction.
The man as dog (Petukhov) was funnier than it sounds. He was a desperate dog. At one point the dog rode a bike to catch up to his pursued beloved.
Irina Zibrova and Alexei Loparevich as the old dacha dwellers created wonderful cartoon characters. I especially enjoyed Zibrova’s variations on ballroom moves with delicious timing.
The ensemble dances that closed the first act and those of the finale showed Ratmansky’s sure hand in manipulating large groups in interesting patterns. The sets, costumes, and the choreography were all first-rate. The same can be stated for the entire Bolshoi company. And so was the conducting of Pavel Sorokin and the Bolshoi orchestra.
A memorable evening.