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Kirov in Orange CountyREVIEWS


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#1 Giannina

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 11:13 PM

The Kirov has come to the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, Calif. I think tonight was opening night. They presented Romeo and Juliet with Vishneva and Fadeev in the title roles. It was sorely lacking. I shall try to concentrate on the positive.

I had seen Vishneva only once, years ago, and she was not good. I went tonight hoping to like her and I do. This impression was helped immensely by the fact that there wasn't a single hyperextended leg position the entire evening. This ballet doesn't give her much to do, but what she did was quite good. Most of all it was secure; I was never nervous about whether she'd get through a passage without a mishap, a rare quality indeed. Her acting wasn't commendable in the 1st Act but she was very good in the final act, especially her confrontation with her father.

The choreography....

Well, there WAS one terrific piece of choreography: a solo for Mercutio in Act I. Mercutio was danced by Sarafanov, a very young looking man with technique and pizzaz to spare. His death scene was understated in comparison to most that I've seen and therefore more realistic. The final scene had Romeo lifting Juliet in the most death-defying lift I've seen: horizontal over his head, then shifting her vertically with her body draped over his hand and carrying her up the stairs of her bier. The problem was that her gown had fallen over his face and he really didn't have a good view of those stairs.

The costumes....

But I must mention that for most of the ballet Tybalt was clad in tights of every color imaginable, plus a head of red hair. He was a beacon!

The orchestra....

Vishneva was a mass of wounds. She had a large bruise on her left upper thigh that was visible under her diaphamous costumes. By the end of the ballet she was bleeding from her right knee.

The pointe shoes were blissfully quiet.

The ballet started early: 7:30p.m. It ended at 10:50!!

Giannina

#2 WindFlyer

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 12:02 AM

Had the pleasure of meeting Giannina at intermission :)

...and back to the performance, I agree with her general impressions. I had never seen this version of this Ballet, and I was left with the distinctive impression that this choreography does not give dancers much to sink their teeth into.

Sarafanov (as Mercutio) certainly stole the show in Acts I and II; and Kuznetsov was much to my liking as he played a caddish and mean Tybalt with incredible gusto (I've seen him a couple dozen times over the past handful of years, and except for one off night in St. Petersburg, he has always impressed me by his dramatic qualities).

I had never seen Vishneva and Fadeev as partners, and I have to say, there seemed to be very little chemistry between them until the third act... (I'll be interested to read the impressions other viewers have from the other pairings).

...also, I'd dare say that both principals seemed to dance their best when *not* dancing together... (I hope this changes for Sunday, when I get the same pairing for Swan Lake :dry: ). Vishneva really came into her own in the final act, displaying much of the dramatic talent that has given me a handful of unforgettable evenings of dance.

Like Giannina, I was astounded by the lifts of a dead Juliet in the final sceneŚwalking up steps too! :)

As usual for the Mariinsky, the orchestra was in top form, rendering the 'cinematic' Prokofiev score with great flash and beautiful glow... and on the solo passages, the violin, cello and oboe soloists shone!

...more to come from me after Sunday.

#3 art076

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 08:38 AM

I wasn't too thrilled about last night's Romeo & Juliet - it was more like Romeo & Juliet: The Pageant... a long (three hours and twenty minutes) parade of lush costumes, elegant walking and folksy dancing, punctuated by very emotive moments every now and then from principals. The whole thing reminded me of seeing a Broadway musical that has been running for years and years - though the performers themselves are still highly skilled in their own right, the absence of the director has let the production fly away. The actors have all developed their own interpretations of the roles, and those interpretations don't ever quite meet - thus the dramatic unity is virtually gone.

Diana Vishneva was ravishing and threw herself into the role, but she was only on stage in snippets - and her characterization differed so much from everyone else's that it barely registered. There's a problem, I think, when the audience applauds more for Leonid Sarafanov's Mercutio in Act 1 than it does for Juliet. Islom Baymuradov, as Benvolio, was really into his role: he put forth so much melodramatic effort that he looked like a cartoon with his bright red hair and brightly colored costume, especially in comparison to more subdued acting from everyone else.

The Kirov has some of the world's best trained dancers, and you could certainly see some of that last night, but I think this production needs a director...


PS - Darn, I'm bummed that I missed you, Giannina and WindFlyer. I'll PM you to coordinate better on Friday!

#4 WindFlyer

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 02:20 PM

...though the performers themselves are still highly skilled in their own right, the absence of the director has let the production fly away. The actors have all developed their own interpretations of the roles, and those interpretations don't ever quite meet - thus the dramatic unity is virtually gone.

...The Kirov has some of the world's best trained dancers, and you could certainly see some of that last night, but I think this production needs a director...

Very good observation... I kept thinking why the whole thing wasn't gelling together and could not put my finger on any one thing in particular. I think you might have.



...Islom Baymuradov, as Benvolio, was really into his role: he put forth so much melodramatic effort that he looked like a cartoon with his bright red hair and brightly colored costume, especially in comparison to more subdued acting from everyone else.

Might you be thinking of Ilya Kuznetsov as Tybalt, or did I get my characters mixed up?



Darn, I'm bummed that I missed you, Giannina and WindFlyer.

Me too. Let's try again on Sunday :beg:

#5 art076

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 09:25 PM

...Islom Baymuradov, as Benvolio, was really into his role: he put forth so much melodramatic effort that he looked like a cartoon with his bright red hair and brightly colored costume, especially in comparison to more subdued acting from everyone else.

Might you be thinking of Ilya Kuznetsov as Tybalt, or did I get my characters mixed up?


Yes you're right - my mistake!! Kuznetsov's Tybalt is who I meant, missed it by one line on accident!!

#6 WindFlyer

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 11:20 PM

Yes you're right - my mistake!! Kuznetsov's Tybalt is who I meant, missed it by one line on accident!!

We've all done it :rolleyes:

...yes, Ilya has rarely disappointed me in a couple dozen outings or so... maybe I'll get to see him as Rothbarth again on Sunday.

#7 Giannina

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Posted 19 October 2006 - 11:06 PM

Thurs., Oct. 19: Romeo and Juliet redux. MUCH BETTER this time. Maybe it's because I knew what to expect and didn't overanticipate. The cast was exactly the same except for Juliet and Juliet's Companion. Obraztsova was Juliet and she was wonderful. She was not as technically solid nor as secure as Vishneva but I found her interpretatiion of the role better. While watching Vishneva Tuesday I kept thinking "She's too old for this role" but dismissed the blasphamous thought, knowing that some of the best Juliet's are older women. But I was right. In Act I Vishneva was not childish enough, and in Act III she was a mature woman going through a difficult time. Obraztsova was very young all the way through. She's a beautiful woman with a more juvenile face than Vishneva, and she maintained this youthfulness throughout the ballet. Fadeev's Romeo was enthralled by her and the chemistry was there. That spooky lift at Juliet's bier was less spooky; he held her horizontally and faced us in anguish. Great stuff. The dancing was lovely, what little of it there is in this production. Even the orchestra was better. I almost didn't go tonight because of Tuesday's presentation but I'm very glad I changed my mind.

Giannina

#8 Paul Parish

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Posted 20 October 2006 - 08:31 AM

Whose choreography is this?

It sounds like it must be Lavrovsky's, which has very little "dancing" in it and is mostly pantomime and lifts and stunning crowd scenes. The Kirov did this version on tour back in hte late 80s, and almost everybody complained about the lack of dancing --

Though I'd have to say, I loved it. In fact, I prefer it to all other Romeo and Juliets. Lavrovsky's version is like a silent movie, and I found it internally consistent to the highest degree and extremely expressive -- the lifts are just visionary -- indeed everything that happens in the overhead space shows you what's "really" going on, like when Capulet lifts his hand overhead during the ballroom scene and makes this crushing fist, it just showed THE image of power and tyranny and everything that Romeo and Juliet represent the opposite of....

Sarafanov would be a fantastic Mercutio -- he's got the speed, the aggressive legs, the sexy feet.

The Juliet I saw was Ayupova, who had the innocence to pull it off -- the first lift, she's up in the air like a close-up in an Eisenstein movie, and it's all about her radiant face -- "Can such joy be mine?" would be the caption, and you've just got to accept how direct and naive it is, this Romeo and Juliet is made that way -- i found myself thinking about Lillian Gish a lot afterwards (and of course, Ulanova, for whom it was created). Osipova could do it, I'm sure -- not sure about Vishneva, she's too sophisticated.

#9 art076

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Posted 20 October 2006 - 08:33 AM

This is the production by Leonid Lavrosky.

#10 Andre Yew

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Posted 20 October 2006 - 03:11 PM

I saw Obraztsova and Fadeev last night too, and surprised myself by really liking the production, probably because I was expecting some kind of typically bad Soviet choreography, eg. Spartacus. I thought there was plenty of dancing, and it was surprisingly classical in content and structure. It was great to see lots of mime, which is one of the Kirov's great strengths. The acting, though perhaps over-the-top by some standards, is kind of that classic Russian over-the-topness, which is always great to see because they're the only ones who can pull it off, and the whole company was doing it instead of an odd person standing out in a non-Russian company. My only complaint was that Act 3 was a bit too long, and spent too much time on unncessary plot points.

Obraztsova is a revelation! She can dance and act, and she's so fresh-faced that she's perfect for this role. Fadeev is a perfect match for her in his abilities and temperament as well. I also enjoyed Yana Selina as Juliet's friend, especially since I'd only seen her dance the White Pussycat in Sleeping Beauty --- she's got an amazing jump. It was also nice to see the unified, more expressive style of this company, something we don't get to see in American companies.

--Andre

#11 WindFlyer

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Posted 20 October 2006 - 09:16 PM

Thurs., Oct. 19: Romeo and Juliet redux. MUCH BETTER this time.

Glad to hear that.

...In Act I Vishneva was not childish enough, and in Act III she was a mature woman going through a difficult time. Obraztsova was very young all the way through. She's a beautiful woman with a more juvenile face than Vishneva, and she maintained this youthfulness throughout the ballet. Fadeev's Romeo was enthralled by her and the chemistry was there. That spooky lift at Juliet's bier was less spooky; he held her horizontally and faced us in anguish. Great stuff.

Good observations about Vishneva... She was childish enough for me in Act I, but certainly a 'mature woman' in Act III. Given what I know of her approach to a character, it would seem as though her 'angle' to Juliet was to play her as a girl that becomes a mature woman quickly... oddly, in my mind she was best in Act III, but her choice was probably to the detriment of the ballet... as art076 said, where's the director?

I would have loved to have seen the Obraztsova/Fadeev chemistry... and the lift :clapping:

#12 WindFlyer

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Posted 20 October 2006 - 09:23 PM

It sounds like it must be Lavrovsky's, which has very little "dancing" in it and is mostly pantomime and lifts and stunning crowd scenes. The Kirov did this version on tour back in hte late 80s, and almost everybody complained about the lack of dancing --

Indeed it is, and indeed it has very little 'dancing'.

Sarafanov would be a fantastic Mercutio -- he's got the speed, the aggressive legs, the sexy feet.

He is, indeed.

#13 Giannina

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Posted 20 October 2006 - 11:01 PM

Fri. night's Swan Lake, the black and white of it.

Lopatkina and Korsuntsev starred. Act I hummed along with the usual crowd dancing. The pas de trois was very good but I'm waiting. Waaaaiting. And finally, the white pas de deux. Lopatkina was beautiful. The word that came to mind was "fluid". Her movements were like flower petals opening, so smooth and graceful. Her supported pirouettes were the same speed, not a quick spurt and then a slowing down at the end of the pirouette. Her arabesques opened in a slow majestic movement. The music was very slow; reminded me of Makarova's tempi.

Act III and I could hardly wait for the black pas de deux. All the princesses danced. All the countries danced. Waaaaiting. And finally it was here. But this was a different Lopatkina and I missed the other one. She entered looking like she was going to kill Sigfried rather than vamp him. I felt she never did settle on the personality she wanted to portray and the power of the duet was lost. The tempo was now faster and tho she was still lovely I wasn't as overwhelmed.

I came home unsettled. I've seen Vishneva, Lopatkina, and I saw Zahkarova while I was in Moscow last month. And they all look the same; they even dance the same. They are reed thin, especially Lopatkina, and it's hard to be sexy in Act III of Swan Lake when you look like you need a meal.

Maybe I've seen too many Russian ballets. I have another Swan Lake tomorrow.

Odette and Odile's tutus were too big and floppy.

Giannina

#14 Buddy

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Posted 21 October 2006 - 10:27 AM

And finally, the white pas de deux. Lopatkina was beautiful. The word that came to mind was "fluid". Her movements were like flower petals opening, so smooth and graceful. Her supported pirouettes were the same speed...
Her arabesques opened in a slow majestic movement. The music was very slow; reminded me of Makarova's tempi.


This is a very lovely description, Giannina, The control of the flow of her moves is one of the many elements that for me makes her dancing so special. This is one of the elements to put on a long list to keep her alive in one's mind. Also it is the total perhaps undefinable poetry of what she does that is extra special.

In regard to her facial expression as Odile, I saw her Swan Lake performance last March and was quite captivated by her Odile. Chiapuris described it as being an "ephemeral" look at the time. I thought that was a very good definition. I wonder if it was the same expression that you saw? What I saw was definitely a look of her own invention. It seemed to reflect a personal space that she was creating with her amazing dancing itself and not necessarily a character in a story. This is an idea that I've mentioned before and for me it can work very well.

#15 Cygnet

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Posted 21 October 2006 - 11:09 AM

I saw Uliana's O/O for the first time last night. Fonteyn said this
about first seeing Ulanova as Juliet when the Bolshoi first came
to London:

"I am so dazzled, so dazed. I cannot describe it. I cannot describe it.
I had no idea, no conception of her. I tell you, I cannot describe it.
What? No. I didn't watch her technique: One does not watch technique
when one watches Ulanova."

Insert 'Lopatkina' at the end of that sentence for me. That is how I
felt watching Uliana for the first time.

IMO: The Maryinsky Theatre has TWO great O/Os: Uliana Lopatkina and Daria Pavlenko. Both equally magnificent, both totally divergent in their approach to the role. IMHO in this company, in this generation, in this role, no one can touch them.

ULIANA'S PORT DE BRAS, HER ARMS, HER HANDS
So her, and so exemplary. She was herself - she was not phony or
mannered, she was real. To quote Sir Anton Dolin (on Chauvire's
Giselle) "What she did onstage (last night) was real: There was
no camouflage and there were no tricks."

ULIANA'S FEET
Quite simply, good old fashioned perfection. The bourrees were crisp,
like pearls and fluttering.

THE "AH" MOMENT
Her first entrance as Odette. As with Pavlenko, I was SPELLBOUND
from that very second. Her Odile - for her numero uno rendition. She's herself. Here she was muted seduction personified, from the Asylmuratova School of Odiles. No bombast here - thank you! NO - not a technical whiz-bang like Pavlenko here, but yes, Uliana does what she knows she can do and that is a wise ballerina. Uliana: Muted seductress and contrast, Daria: Earthy seductress and contrast. I LOVE THEM BOTH!!!

THE LAST ACT: Total belief, total commitment, total satisfaction!
I love it! The major difference between Uliana and Dasha at the very
end: Uliana looks down at Rothbart, like she's trying to digest that
he's really dead. Daria looks at her arms and hands and smiles
with the realization that she's human again.

STANDING OVATION LAST NIGHT 6+ MINUTES. A heavenly evening! :clapping: :dry: :flowers:


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