Kirov-Mariinksy Romeo & JulietKennedy Center Performances
Posted 17 January 2007 - 04:46 AM
Posted 17 January 2007 - 06:35 AM
There is so much to admire & absorb in this production. The Lavrovsky version is "total theater" replete with interesting little roles, from street urchins to tavern girls to, yes, five jesters. The Kirov ensemble brought these characters to life. My hat's off to each artist for taking us so convincingly to Renaissance Verona for three hours.
Negatives? It's a shame that (a) the orchestra had so many mishaps and (b) two significant sections of the ballet were excised, so that the curtain could ring down before 11 pm (thus avoiding overtime union pay, perhaps?). Missing were (1) a chunk of the 'crowd scene' in Act II, just after the entrance of the jesters (their little dance begins the moment that they appear on the scene) and (2) the delectable 'Dance of Juliet's Six Friends' in Act III, just before the discovery of Juliet's death (instead, we go straight to the little pdd for Juliet's Best Friend and the Troubador - the lovely Xenia Ostreikovskaya & gallant Mikhail Lobukhin last night). Those excised scenes were shown in London in '05, at the Met in '91 and whenever the ballet is performed at the Mariinsky, of course. Too bad that DC was denied a full Romeo & Juliet but...hey, what we saw was fantastic!
Now on to more mundane news: According to the playbill, there is even more shuffling in the principals casting for the rest of the run. Obraztsova now dances on Saturday afternoon (with Fadeev), in addition to the recently-added Sunday matinee, so she dances a total of three performances here in DC. Novikova now dances only twice (including tonight's debut) and Dumchenko twice. The Romeos have also been "shuffled" a bit. In sum:
Today (Wed, 17th) - Novikova (debut)/Kolb
Thur, 18th - Novikova/Schklyarov (debut)
Fri, 19th - Dumchenko/Lobukhin
Sat, 20th mat - Obraztsova/Fadeev
Sat, 20th eve - Dumchenko/Korsakov
Sun, 21st mat - Obraztsova/Kolb
Edited to add: A word about Yevgenia Obraztsova - She gets my vote for Kirov Ballerina of the New Generation -- the next Vishneva or Lopatkina, if you will. Not because she looks like those two great dancers at all; she is more petite and a bit 'perky.' Simply because Obraztsova has Star Power to the max -- the beauty of her plastique, coupled with a million-dollar smile that brings sunshine to the highest row of the Balcony, when warranted... or a countenance that causes tears when the action is sad. We the audience adore her & embrace her. The word "loveable" definitely comes to mind...just as it did decades ago when Mother Russia 'adopted' a ballerina named Galina Ulanova. Yevgenia Obraztsova -- the antidote to the unmusical leg-stretchers sans acting ability who appear on the Kirov stage more and more often. None of that here.
How lucky that we in DC are seeing the two new female sensations of Russian ballet within the span of one month -- the Kirov's Obraztsova now, followed by Natalia Osipova of the Bolshoi in February. Delicious comparisons should ensue.
Posted 17 January 2007 - 01:13 PM
THEY were so LOVABLE and great.
I can compare it (my personal opinion only) with the ABT's version with Diana Vishneva. and I prefer the KIROV's version. More teatrical, more gesture, more difficult (to my view) dancing...
in my mind, it will also be an Arabesk ballet... I am astounded by how many and how well Yevgenia performed them all (so naturally, so easily... trying to do amateur ballet classes, I know - how difficult they are!!!).
The only nuance (comparing to ABT Romeo & Juliet) it was a bit easier to distinguish who's Capulet and who's Montague in ABT (they just used two collors in the costumes)... but it's the only nuance (not a criticism).
PS: I tried to reach Kennedy to figure out the discrepancy between their web-site and the brochure, and they confirmed that the latter is most accurate - well, I will miss Novikova but will see Ostrovskaya again ;-))
Posted 18 January 2007 - 08:11 AM
This was my first viewing of the Lavrovsky version of “Romeo and Juliet” and although I must say that I still prefer the MacMillan (but perhaps that is simply thanks to force of habit), I think it (Lavrovsky’s) provides for an overall more complete theatrical experience. The sets and scenery are lavish and grand (I love that gold-and-maroon theme), the costumes are beautiful and quite detailed, and the action never stops (the set changes are accompanied by small vignettes downstage, in front of the drawn curtains).
The choreography was quite good as well, although the ballet drags in some of the ensemble scenes/dances (I’m surprised to learn from Natalia’s post that this production even has some significant cuts – perhaps I just have a short attention span, but three and a half hours already seems like quite a long running time for a ballet). The plot and character development is also muddled in some places; I suppose every one is familiar with the story, but it would have been helpful to introduce Paris and his importance (he simply appears at the Capulets’ ball – after he is shown to be one of the guests on his way – and starts to dance with Juliet for no apparent reason other than that she is pretty and a girl of some significance). It also took me some time to figure out who the troubadour and Juliet’s companion were and why they were included in the ballet at all, other than to give more dancers a chance to be featured.
Nonetheless, I think I agree with Natalia that Fadeyev and Obraztsova were the best Romeo and Juliet that I have ever seen (although my experience is mainly limited to ABT’s performances of the MacMillan choreography). Maybe it’s unfair to base this partly on the fact that they look incredibly believable as fourteen-year-olds in love (they are young and pretty and light-haired), but I must say that it helps! However, it is more important to note that both are very musical actor-dancers, with a deep understanding of their characters. Both are technically very accomplished, of course, but the emphasis of their dancing was always on maintaining and projecting the way in which their characters feel, not on cranking out virtuosos performances. I loved Fadeyev in the balcony pas de deux; his leaps were beautiful, light, and airy, but I never got the sense that he was showing off through them – they were simply the manifestation of the euphoria he felt at being with Juliet. Obraztsova was tender and passionate; the way in which she caressed Fadeyev’s hair as he knelt before her at the end of the first act revealed everything the audience needed to know about her feelings. Such a simple, simple act – yet so beautifully done!
I though the music was fine, but then again, I have some unpleasant memories from a year ago of the orchestra almost completely botching the same score when ABT performed the ballet here.
I have yet to buy tickets to any other performance, but as silly as this seems, I really don’t want to ruin my memories of the perfection that was Fadeyev and Obraztsova by seeing other dancers! And their next performance (Sat. matinee, I believe) is sold out…
Posted 18 January 2007 - 09:32 AM
Posted 18 January 2007 - 09:47 AM
You can find a map --> hereand try to figure it out for yourself.
Posted 18 January 2007 - 10:16 AM
Friends who’ve worked at the KC tell me it is illegal for people to buy or sell tickets on the premises because it is a federal building (there may be more to it, but I don’t remember the details). In any case, it doesn’t happen!
Posted 18 January 2007 - 10:40 AM
Posted 18 January 2007 - 11:29 AM
Mireille, those roles are danced by the same dancer at each performance:
Paris - Sergei Popov - tall & lanky elegant dancer; played the narcissistic twit subtly; partnered well
Tybalt - Dmitri Pukhachev - subtle approach compared to the Kirov's reigning master in this role, Ilya Kuznetsov....but still melodramatic enough. Fine dancer.
Mercutio - Alexander Sergeev - for me, the 'weakest link' among principal roles but not bad. Cast against type - tall & lanky dancer, not at all in the petite, demi-caractere mold of the Kirov's best (Leonid Sarafanov, who brings houses down in this role) or other great Mercutios of the past. Lacking the zip, dash & wit of a Mercutio. After a promising start to his career a couple of years ago -- fine Espada in Don Q at the '05 Mariinsky Festival, for ex -- I've seen Sergeev become weaker, technically. But not bad, overall. I hope that he goes back to form of his graduation & first year in corps.
I hope that someone can write about the Novikova performances (yesterday & today), as I won't attend any of these. My 2nd and final ticket is to Friday's performance (Dumchenko/Lobukhin, unless they change).
The KennCen website has now changed the casting to reflect what's in the playbills (what I wrote above, yesterday). No changes since I saw the playbill on opening night! Also, I see that all three weekend performances are now sold out.
Posted 19 January 2007 - 04:10 AM
Standing Room tickets for presentations in the Opera House, Eisenhower Theater and Terrace Theater will be sold at the Kennedy Center Box Office and by phone (202) 467-4600 or (800) 444-1324 when a performance sells out, but only if it is sold out. There is a limit of two tickets per order.
Posted 19 January 2007 - 03:52 PM
Posted 20 January 2007 - 08:39 AM
I went to last night's (Friday) performance with Maya Dumchenko as Juliet and Mikhail Lobukhin as Romeo. While the overall level of performance was several notches below that of the incredible Tuesday opener with Obraztsova/Fadeev, it still afforded many special moments.
Let me preface that it has long been my wish to see the much-heralded (in Russia) Juliet of Ms Dumchenko, who is the very last Juliet to have been personally coached by Galina Ulanova, who created role in 1940! Portions of the ca-1996 session in which Ulanova coached Dumchenko & (I think) Andrian Fadeev in their Act I 'meeting scene' appeared on the Russia Kultura network at the time & remains vividly in my mind. At that time, Maya Dumchenko was considered practically the 'equal' of a fellow graduate of the Vaganova Class of 1995, Diana Vishneva. It was Dumchenko -- with Fadeev, another '95 grad -- who had taken top honors at the 1995 Vaganova Prix competition. She was considered the epitome of classicism with her perfect proportions (short torso to long legs), eloquent ribbon-like arms and tappering fingers, tiny round head atop swanlike neck, and an angelic 'light' face & sparkling clear eyes that somewhat resembled those of Bolshoi ballerina Lyudmilla Semenyaka. A jury-panel that included (if memory serves...I was there) Irina Kolpakova, Natalia Makarova, Marina Semyonova, Galina Ulanova & Natalia Dudinskaya -- the who's who of Kirov ballerinas of the 20th Century, all sitting right beneath my box as I drooled in admiration! -- they all agreed that top prize at the competition would go to Maya Dumchenko. We the audience stood up & cheered. The world was her oyster.
Since then, Maya Dumchenko's career has been uneven. She became an honored soloist...not quite principal. She has danced most great roles in the ballerina repertoire....yet is rarely taken on tours. Odd. One memorable exception was the 1999 tour to NYC when Dumchenko got to shine as Giselle. Dumchenko was announced for the 2003 Tchaikovsky Festival in DC (Chemyakin Nutcracker) but performances were shuffled & I missed what was to have been her lone performance. [Does anyone know if she actually danced in DC that season?] The 'rara avis' was allowed to fly once again in the April 2005 Kirov tour of 'Romeo & Juliet' to Cardiff, Wales...only to be kept home during the far more prestigious tour to London a couple of months later, when other ballerinas essayed the role of Juliet.
So you can imagine my expectation at seeing Dumchenko last night -- and in her most celebrated role! So what of it? I was not disappointed, even though her interpretation is so different than the dramatic realism & technical perfection of Obraztsova. Dumchenko's is, rather, a beautiful 'painterly' approach. She is low on realistic dramatic wattage -- her bedroom monologue before taking the poison displayed soft hand movements rather than the bold sweeps of arms of Obraztsova -- but Dumchenko gets her point across with glances and subtle moves. Her ribbonlike arms and tapering fingers enchant us.
Dumchenko improved, technically, from act to act, until her Act III became one of the finest interpretations I've seen. Her back is not particularly strong so she does not hold 90-degree arabesques as does Obraztsova...but it hardly matters in a painterly performance. I am only sorry that I will not attend her 2nd performance of the role tonight. She is scheduled to have a stronger, more experienced Romeo (Anton Korsakov), so it should be a better performance overall. I hope that others can report on it.
In a few respects, last night's performance was better than Tuesday's:
Troubador Couple - Yana Selina is technical perfection as Juliet's Best Friend, making one wish to see her essay the leading role some day! Likewise, young Maxim Zyuzin, with his baby-like face and elegant long lines, was a charmer of a Troubador.
Alexander Sergeev's Mercutio was much improved, compared to the opening night. Last night, Sergeev displayed a far more appropriate jovial-yet-menacing character of Mercutio...and he danced his big Act I Ballroom scene solo cleanly.
The corps, as always, is a delight. Special kudos to Galina Rakhmanova as the central Tavern Girl, who always demands our attention with classically-perfect character dancing. She is one of the Kirov's golden treasures.
Posted 20 January 2007 - 09:25 AM
She danced the role first with Andris Liepa (not Fadeyev) and it's those pieces of film you saw, when Galina Ulanova was around to assist them. To say that she was Dumchenko's coach for the role would be pushing it a bit, since she rehearsed it with her regular teacher Olga Chenchikova. But of course the mere presence of Ulanova was a very special moment for the budding dancer.
Posted 20 January 2007 - 09:33 AM
I consider myself so fortunate to have seen Dumchenko's performance last night. I hope that we don't have to wait forever to see her again on these shores!
Posted 22 January 2007 - 08:23 AM
The production as a whole was very different from the MacMillan version I grew up with. For starters the music sounded very different - gentler, more episodic than the way I’m used to hearing it. I thought the staging followed suit - a gentler view of the story, perhaps seen through a wider lens. Though MacMillan's focuses more on the gritty side of Verona it’s focus is clearly on Romeo & Juliet and once they meet we’re all swept up in a vortex that leads inexorably to the inevitable tragedy - there can be no other path. Lavrovsky’s is more pastoral, it meanders more, brings out the country life of Verona where the story of R&J could have been just one of many tales until it takes it’s tragic turn. It’s also much more of a dance -drama than I’m used to, and the story is told within a somewhat formal ritualistic structure rather than the naturalistic structure I’m used to. For example, the motif of Old Capulet shaking his fist in the air encapsulates the image of power in a symbolic gesture, and shows us his state of mind without actually making us feel it. The use of this type of pantomime throughout undercut the drama a little for me, and I found the performance dragging a bit here and there. Also - what’s a balcony scene without a balcony? As beautiful as the scene was, there was something missing (literally).
Dumchenko was lovely, a really beautiful dancer. She looked to be perfectly proportioned, every movement performed with delicacy and her character built with great subtlety, very much within the representative structure of this production. I hope to see more of her in the future. Korsakov is a dancer I’ve liked very much in soloist roles, and I liked him again here. He has a baby face, and was a very ardent, love struck Romeo who was in way over his head. His solo dancing was superb but I think he was not quite tall enough to partner Dumchenko in this. Although I didn’t see any obvious mishaps some of the overhead lifts looked strained, and they certainly didn’t have the ease and flow that I saw in the second performance. And I have to admit that while I loved watching Dumchenko, Korsakov and the whole company in this, the performance didn’t really move me.
Obraztsova & Kolb were a completely different story. While I regret missing the Obraztsova/Fadeev cast, and take the word of the posters here that they were phenomenal, I really can’t imagine anyone being more perfect together than Obraztsova & Kolb were on Sunday afternoon. Kolb is a dancer I didn’t warm to immediately. Always a beautiful and elegant dancer I have found his acting a bit lacking in the past. Not here. He WAS Romeo. His line was beautiful & evocative, his leaps high and clean and his acting utterly convincing. He was a very passionate Romeo, and his devastation when he heard of Juliet’s death was shattering. He leapt into the graveyard with the most startlingly beautiful jetes I’ve ever seen, and could barely bring himself to look at her “corpse”.
And Obraztsova - what can I say? She was perfect. Sara Kaufman’s review in the Washington Post says it all “Leaps and turns flew out of her, yet she didn’t fudge a step”. It really did look like the music, the emotion just poured out of her. What phrasing & musicality, a perfect blend of dancing & acting that all looked completely spontaneous and was totally convincing. The arabesque was Juliet’s signature move, and hers were breathtaking. I know that there is no comparison between the two but somehow, in my mind knowing that there is this great new Juliet out there will make it just a little easier for me to say goodbye to Ferri’s Juliet later this year.
The whole company looked wonderful, and while I’m sorry to have missed Sarafanov & Kuznetsov I thought the dancers we saw as Mercutio & Tybalt were very good. Loved Selina/Lobukhin and also Ostreikovskaya/Zyuzin. The Kirov is so deep in female dancers and for me, Elena Bazhenova is one of their unsung heroines. I think I’ve seen her in every production I’ve seen from them in the past few years - as the queen mother in Swan Lake, the queen in Sleeping Beauty, Bathilde in Giselle and now as Lady Capulet. She is incomparable in this type of role.
I'm glad I got the chance to see this production, and hope to see these wonderful dancers again soon!
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