Kirov in Orange CountyREVIEWS
Posted 21 October 2006 - 07:45 PM
Posted 21 October 2006 - 10:44 PM
I must comment briefly on the orchestra for Romeo and Juliet.....it was worth the price of admission to just listen to this ballet music. The musicians moved me (more than the dancing....)
Posted 21 October 2006 - 10:56 PM
I'm up to here in Russian ballet; lots of fun but I need a rest.
Posted 21 October 2006 - 11:05 PM
A 3-for-1 tonight: quick summaries of the last three performances of Swan Lake with Lopatkina, Tereshkina, and Somova. Danila Korsuntsev partnered the first two, while Igor Kolb partnered Somova.
After hearing about her Odette/Odile, I had high hopes for Lopatkina. She didn't disappoint as Odette, with a deep performance and an attack that brought out the animalistic nature of her swan: it was like she could barely contain the energy of herself. With nice long lines, pretty feet, and continuous movement, she really brought this role to life. As Odile, it was a bit different: she stayed at one even level, and seemed generically evil. You knew she was bad news, but you weren't sure why. She had basically one expression: an evil grin. Her partner didn't help much as he was pretty flat and expressionless. He's a beautiful danseur noble, but he doesn't get out of himself much.
Tereshkina I found to be the opposite: an even-keeled, some (me) would say boring, Odette, and a memorable Odile. Dangerous, evil, too smart for everyone's good, and very sexy, she manipulated poor Siegfried to do what she wanted and enjoyed every moment of it. She was a classic villain.
Somova tonight was a mixed bag, unfortunately mostly negative. First the positives: she's young, and she's got really nice feet, good flexibility, and potentially nice legs. Unfortunately, she's a bit weak physically , and this came through in many ways. First of all, what I previously liked as her coltishness was really not appropriate for this role. Flying limbs left and right don't work for either Odette or Odile --- one is a queen not a young princess, and the other is a powerful evil person. Her attacks were inconsistent in quality and generally too manic, and I don't know whether that's due to her still developing physicality or her youth and seeming inexperience. I kept thinking I was watching a little girl doing the choreography.
If I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt for her white swan, I couldn't for her black swan. There was little characterization, and her physical weakness is just not appropriate for this role, which is supposed to be a very strong woman who knows what she wants and how to get it. She is miscast in this role. She appears to be a natural turner (and of the 3, she was the only one who threw in doubles in her 32 fouettes, which is all but necessary for anyone dancing Odile today), but her fouettes were ugly. U-G-L-Y. I couldn't believe my eyes, because she was committing the same mistake that girls at my local ballet school do: she flicked her gesturing leg in too quickly instead of showing the position in 2nd to the side. This led to a pretty manic-looking set of 32 fouettes bouncing up and down. I have to wonder why she's a soloist. In ensemble pieces, the corps around her as well as the other soloists looked stronger than she did, both in technique and physical strength.
Of the two men, I found Korsuntsev to be pretty flat both nights, but he could perhaps be playing the strong, silent danseur noble. Kolb tonight was far more expressive, and impressive in technique. I especially liked his big jumps, and his very expressive arabesques.
Jesters for both nights were really good. We had Andrei Ivanov and Grigory Popov. Both had good technique, and pulled off many tricks. Both also had good comic timing and expressiveness from the stage. Ivanov was a bit over-the-top and played to the crowd. His turns were just that bit better than Popov. Popov however had that bit more ballon in his jumps. Both were good --- these are nitpicks.
The pas de trois in the beginning has been consistently good, but my favorite set was tonight's: Ekaterina Osmolkina, Irina Golub, and Anton Korsakov. Nice sparkling technique, good ballon from all three, and just really joyous dancing, though I wish Korsakov would smile more than once.
The character dances were handled well, too. And finally the corps: wow. I don't know what more to say than that. They danced together and expressively. I can't get over how big the whole company dances, but somehow there's still a unity of movement and style that doesn't make them look like they're going every which way when people are all trying to dance big. And big doesn't mean just jumps, but every gesture is big and reads very well. The heads and shoulders are turned just a little bit more, their hands will make that extra motion, and they cover just that much more ground. I love how the company uses their eyes, too --- their lines just never stop and never stop moving.
I'm very happy so far, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow's performance with Diana Vishneva and Andrian Fadyeev.
Posted 22 October 2006 - 09:15 PM
The Kirov production is my favorite version of the Swan Lake, even with its oddities. First off, the Kirov just knows how to put on a Swan Lake. It’s in their blood, handed down over the generations from the ‘standard’ 1895 production. The current production was created with significant revisions in 1950, under the watchful eye of Soviet censors. But still, what contemporary audiences know of Swan Lake – scads of white tutus, pure classical dancing – is all there in purest form with this production. It’s Swan Lake pretty straightforwardly, and the production’s quirks (the jester, a happy ending) don't get too much in the way of a glorious lakeside act and fabulous dancing. Most important of all, there are no psychological or Freudian overtones for Prince Siegfried.
(I posted large chunks my Odette/Odile descriptions on another board... but please forgive my reusing words!!)
Diana Vishneva's Odette/Odile, was the most satisfying. At today's Sunday matinee, she was spot on, dancing beautifully even through a loudly crying baby during Odette's variation. First of all, she's a beautiful dancer: wonderfully proportioned with legs that aren't too long (that seems to show up a lot in the Kirov company), beautiful feet, and great control of her body. She can create beautiful shapes with her body, and she looks fantastically regal in a tutu.
But what impressed me most was the dramatic spontaneity of her performance. When Siegfried intrudes upon her reverie at the beginning of Act 2, right after she's been turned back into human form, it doesn't look planned or choreographed. She really looked surprised to see him. Then, when Rothbart comes to separate the pair, she actually notices that Rothbart is there and acknowledges his presence by trying to push Siegfried away - the reason this looked so wonderful was because no other Kirov Odette acknowledged this during the weekend. Each of them just kept on dancing the choreography given to them, but Vishneva made a dramatic point out of the moment. Then, with the White Swan Pas de Deux, it wasn't merely a gorgeously executed classical duet, but a dramatic scene. Vishneva’s Odette started by being reluctant to respond to Siegfried, remaining physically distant and pulling away when he reached for her hand. But as the pas de deux progressed and Siegfried showed his sincerity to her, she began to trust him - finally allowing herself to be folded into his arms and cradled towards the end of the dance.
At Friday's performance, Uliana Lopatkina's Odette/Odile was beautiful, lyrical - and anything but spontaneous. Each detail was caretfully planned and there was nothing that could happen onstage that was going to put her off the charted course. This approach had charms of its own; her years of experience as Odette and Odile delivered a performance that took every advantage of the role's possibilities. It was a ballerina's very individual interpretation of the role, complete with her own Odette-brand mannerisms - a flick of the wrist here, a carefully planned bend of the leg into attitude at just the right point in the music there. But all that planning can sometimes leave the drama cold.
Lopatkina's Odile was dazzling – extreme glamour via razor-sharp precision. She seduced Siegfried, and the audience, by being an stunningly perfect Odile. No wobbles, perfect turns, classical flash. A thrilling classicism.
On Saturday afternoon, there was much to admire about Victoria Tereshkina's Odette/Odile. Her Odette was free of all the ballerina mannerisms that Lopatkina had, and was a fairly clean reading of Odette. And her Odile was mesmerizing. It was just as clean as her Odette technically, but her stage persona was on fire. She was smug but still sexy, and responded to Siegfried's confusion about the look-a-like Odette in black by turning on the seduction even more. It was a visceral thrill seeing her sail through the very difficult choreography, and her confident stage persona added to the overall effect.
Still, as beautiful as Loptakina and Tereshkina were, Vishneva's combination of great dancing and drama added another dimension to the ballet. Her Odette was moving, and very exciting.
The Siegfrieds took second seat to the Odette/Odiles this weekend - they were kind of just there. Danila Korsuntsev danced at the Friday and Saturday afternoon performances, and Igor Kolb danced at the Sunday matinee. Korsuntsev seemed to be sleep walking; I laughed when he ripped off Rothbart's arm in the final battle and started half-heartedly brushing Rothbart with it (meanwhile Rothbart was enthusiastically dying on the floor below). Kolb had more stage presence, and added a big (but still very elegant) leap to Siegfried's first entrance to establish his presence over the court. But still, Siegfried is a very thankless role in the Kirov production, very much a cavalier, so there wasn't a lot for him to show.
One cannot forget to mention the magnificent corps de ballet. It still gets me every single time that every one of those dancers is dancing full out, and yet they all instinctively move the same, remain perfectly in line, and move with the same unforced elegance - while still being interesting individuals. The lakeside scenes were a joy to watch - a stageful of perfectly placed arms and legs, wrapped in white.
These Swan Lakes were a lot of fun to watch - much more so than Romeo & Juliet. The Kirov seems born to dance Swan Lake, ingrained in their blood. A joy.
Posted 22 October 2006 - 10:29 PM
I hope everyone is doing well today and had a great impression of Kirov Tour.
It is very exciting to read your experiences concerning Kirov performances.
October 23 is Uliana Lopatkina Birthday.
Would you please advise me with Uliana schedule that day? I mean will she be on stage or not?
Have a great day!
Posted 23 October 2006 - 05:33 AM
Posted 24 October 2006 - 01:21 PM
I saw the Sunday matinee performance of Swan Lake by the Kirov.
This was not the cast that was first reviewed.
But it is the cast that was reviewed BEST.
Lewis Segal in the LA Times kvelled over Diana Vishneva as Odette/Odile.
He gave her one of the best reviews I have ever read (and I've read a million.) He called her "triumphant, redemptive ... emphasized emotional values without sacrificing purity of style and technical refinement ... hearts raced as she suddenly flew across the stage ... we were watching some glorious, elemental improvisation ...."
See what I mean?
She was very, very good ... but not that good. The Odette was magnificent; the Odile less so.
Nonetheless, to paraphrase Mary Mc Carthy, "a fine dancer, a distinguished dancer ... all right then, a great dancer."
Miss her at YOUR loss.
Peter in SoCal
(a comparative desert for ballet -- BRING BACK THE NYCB NOW!!!!!!)
Posted 24 October 2006 - 06:12 PM
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Posted 25 October 2006 - 07:43 AM
Alina Somova on Saturday night was kind of bad. Her coltishness and manic quality really doesn't work for this role, and she looked like she was going through the steps with little of the drama the other 3 ballerinas had. She also had technical difficulties, including 32 fouettes that looked very ugly, with the gesturing leg flicking in and out, and not showing the full second position to the side. It reminded me of local ballet school girls or dance competition people cranking out turns.
Posted 25 October 2006 - 10:14 AM
Posted 25 October 2006 - 10:10 PM
I meant to post this as soon as I returned from SoCal, but a rather sad personal situation got in the way...
Let me start with a rant... This was one of the worst audiences I've had the displeasure of seeing a performance with in a very long time... Crying babies, chirping cell phones, murmur of conversation well into the first few minutes after every intermission, untimely applause—when Vishneva lined for the start of the fouettés, the audience started clapping before a note sounded :rolleyes:... It came very close to ruining a good afternoon of ballet for me.
Fortunately, the 'A' company showed up to perform and save the afternoon... The music started, the curtain went up to reveal the set, and I felt that comfortable feeling of another Mariinsky Swan Lake—not one that is perfect, not one I like unquestionably, but one that is always performed with a fervor approaching that of national pride. My previous outing had featured the pairing of Lopatkina and Zelensky and that had been immensely satisfying. I had loved the lyricisim of her Odette and the fine rapport she had with Zelensky's Sigfried... Her Odile, however had something missing. Anyway, I was excited by the prospect of seeing what Vishneva would bring to the role, and whether she and Fadeev could conjure up some chemistry...
Fadeev was out for some reason and I got to see Kolb who was adequate in every respect—I don't think the Mariinsky's Sigfried gives the dancers too much to work with. Most importantly, he and Vishneva engaged each other very well, giving me a nearly unforgettable White Swan Pas de Deux...
...and here, I think the credit goes to Vishneva. As others mentioned, Visheva's approach to the role is more dramatic in character giving that scene a different complexion, a 'human' dimension, perhaps—very much in the moment and injecting nuances as if on the fly. Her Odile was wicked but not quite seductive enough for my absolute liking...and at this point (and into the final act) I noticed the technical sharpness to drop off somewhat.
Rothbarth was danced well by Chashchegorov, though I missed the extra gusto Kuznetsov usually throws into the role.
OK, so we may have our favourites in the principal roles, but invariably an undisputed star in any Mariinsky Swan Lake is the corps. They were in near-perfect form this afternoon, beautifully framing the lake scenes
I also give uniform good marks to the various other dancers, the orchestra (mostly), and the orchestra soloists, who rendered those breathtaking musical passages with tenderness and rarely heard (in a ballet orchestra) technical excellence.
So, dosvidanya, Mariinsky Ballet until the next time I'm in St. Petersburg.
Posted 25 October 2006 - 10:14 PM
Welcome to BT, Peter
[Newbie posting; I'll confess.]
Thank you for your post.
Posted 26 October 2006 - 06:13 AM
Posted 26 October 2006 - 06:22 AM
That reminds me of Esa-Pekka Salonen's comment about his friend, Valeri Gergiev, (paraphrased) that Gergiev is happiest when he's conducting, because the podium is the only place he doesn't have to answer his cell phone.
About cell phones, Windflyer reminded me of an unusual incident, a chirping cell phone at the Hermitage theater which came from... the jacket of one of the viola player in the orchestra pit! There was nothing she could do as she could not stop playing!
(BTW, veering off-topic for a second, Gergiev and the Kirov Orchestra came through Seattle on their way to Vancouver, BC, with Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, with superb soloist Alexandre Torvadze -- what a privilege to hear him get organ-like tones from a piano -- and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 11. [My only beef is that during the ovation, he asked the woodwinds to stand together, instead of giving a solo bow to the English horn soloist.] And his cell phone didn't ring once.)
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