Cinderella at Kennedy Centerreports of Feb 21, 22 & 23 '07
Posted 23 February 2007 - 09:10 PM
The sets and props I’m going to remember for a long time. They were creative and I liked them all very much.
The costumes were nearly all great. The Season Fairies’ were lovely, the 1920s/30s costumes at the ball were gorgeous, and the ravens, sunflowers, grasshoppers, and dragonflies were neat. The only ones I didn’t care for were the broom and tea set.
The choreography was quite good; I was most impressed with the choreography for the corps de ballet in the second act, the dances of the prince’s friends in the second and third acts, and both pas de deux between the prince and Cinderella. The broom and tea set had the weakest choreography in my opinion.
The Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, conducted by Igor Dronov, was heavenly. Maybe it had something to do with it being the first time I heard Prokofiev’s score performed live or the balance of the instruments. The musicians played the music so clearly, sharply; it was very pleasant to the ear. The orchestra was particularly magnificent during the pas de deux and finale in act two. Never had I heard the clock strike twelve with such a heavy sense of doom. Every note they drew out between each tong seemed to be endless. Oh, I don’t know if I will ever fully enjoy listening to my CD of the score again, not after the magic I heard Wednesday night! Wow!
The dancers were all wonderful. The stepsisters were silly duplicates of each other. The stepmother seemed portrayed as middle aged, able to be attractive if she wanted, but still very mean. The dancing master was a hoot. The Summer and Winter fairies stood out among the four. The friends to the prince were terrific.
Svetlana Zakharova's dancing was beautiful to watch. She has long long legs and amazing flexibility. Her Cinderella seemed more spunky then vulnerable, notably in the first act. Very handsome Sergey Filin, was a fine dancer and a sensitive partner. And I was pleasantly surprised by his acting, considering the prince is unusually an afterthought in this story. He was a very noble, ardent prince. Together they were a couple beautiful in the pas de deux.
I liked the concept of this production. The Storyteller appeared throughout the ballet (at times accompanied by the ravens) having a hand in events – delivering the invitations to the ball, calling forth the fairies, attending the ball, escorting the Blue Angel and Diva – moving his story along to its ending, when he was alone and his creation had went off into the world. This version left me with a bittersweet feeling at the end.
Act two was reconstructed, having Cinderella arrive at the ball before the prince. This naturally resulted in music being switched around, which I’m usually against. But this change worked so well, clearly showing Cinderella’s feelings change from uncertainty to confidence and being in love, that I didn’t mind in the least. She was at first wide-eyed and uncertain, dancing with her familiar friend, the Storyteller; at one point she almost decided not to stay. When her relatives arrived she tried to blend in with the guests, fearful of being recognized. She self-consciously looked herself over and smoothed her dress when the prince made his entrance – sliding down the staircase banister. When she met the prince, she was so flustered that she rushed back to the Storyteller, and needed a gentle nudge to accept the prince's arm.
Cinderella fleeing the ball was also different from the traditional version. Here the company, except herself, froze and she rushed out of the ballroom before the clock began to strike; she returned to the stage during the final moments of the act. I thought it was a very effective, dramatic ending, though different. And seeing Cinderella’s transformation there on the stage was amazing and thrilling. I’m not sure how they pulled off that bit of stage magic, no doubles involved there.
I really liked how Sergey Filin portrayed the prince in the third act. In other versions of the ballet I’ve seen on tape, I just knew that the prince was very upset over Cinderella's disappearance, but I never saw him act that way. But last night Filin showed me a prince I hadn’t seen before. The act opened and he was literally carried on stage by his friends. This prince was absolutely shattered by his dream girl taking off. He looked exhausted. I got the impression he had started his search for Cinderella five minutes after she had disappeared. When he saw the Blue Angel and Diva, he was completely unmoved by their charms while his friends were drawn in. His friends rushed in with more girls to try the slipper but he waved them all away without giving them a glance. (The last one brought in was the fashionable dancing master which got a huge laugh from the audience.) When he arrived at Cinderella’s house, he was so distraught, and he knew that the stepmother and stepsisters weren’t who he was looking for, that he refused to try the slipper on them. He knew he was wasting his time and actually tossed the slipper away before heading for the door.
I’d never seen acting like before and was blown away. I actually began caring more about what would become of the prince than about Cinderella. I can only say “Bravo!” to Filin.
I also liked how Cinderella was discovered. In this version she was fed up with her family and on the point of leaving when the royal party arrived when she opened the door. When the prince started to leave she stood in front of the door, with her back to him. As the music quieted, and even though the audience only saw the prince’s back, we knew he was realizing she was the same girl he had rushed by outside the palace, and that she was who he’d been looking for. He didn’t need for her to produce the other slipper or try them on to know (and prove) it was she; the issue wasn’t the slipper. As the music swelled dramatically, the prince moved to the center of the stage and Cinderella, standing behind him, put her hands over his eyes which he slowly removed, echoing what he had done during their dance at the ball.
This version of the two being reunited was very powerful and moving and fitted the music very well. Their following pas de deux was quite tender and oh so romantic.
There were a lot other moments I liked. The Storyteller riding the bicycle over the stage; it reminded me of E.T. The prince’s entrance at the ball, sliding down the banister. A wayward orange was on the stage near the end of the second act and went into the wings by either an accidental or well-aimed kick; that got a chuckle out of the audience. Cinderella's slide down the banister into the prince's arms. Boy meets girl can’t get any cuter than that in ballet!
Overall, it was a beautiful performance and I am so glad I was able to see it.
Posted 24 February 2007 - 04:36 AM
Posted 24 February 2007 - 05:20 AM
Natalia – Yes, it was indeed Vinogradov! Wow, I will have to keep an eye out for the two of them at today’s matinee.
My opinion does seem to be the minority one, since friends who went Thursday said they enjoyed the performance. But I did spend most of Thursday telling friends who were considering the ballet to save their money and go to New York City Ballet next week instead (especially since “Don Quixote” is sold out).
Posted 24 February 2007 - 05:53 AM
This version of Cinderella is growing on me. I like it FAR more than the El-Cheapo Kirov version. But, oh, that trite choreography by Posokhov -- esp. Act I - remains a problem.
I am so looking forward to attending 3 out of the 4 Don Qs this weekend (matinee today & both shows tomorrow). I suspect many magical moments are in store for us.
Posted 24 February 2007 - 07:38 AM
I agree that the music was played beautifully, it had much more nuance and flow then I’m used to. I still think it’s much too dark for the traditional Cinderella story, but his version leavened the usual sugar with enough spice to at least make it palatable for me.
I always find the whole drunken, pushy stepmother & stepsisters business tedious but I thought some of other the scenery and stage business was very effective – loved the mirrored ballet studio and the way Cinders and her Prince just closed the doors and rolled her annoying step family out of their lives at the end. I also loved the use of the banister in the ballroom scene – the different entrances encapsulated the character’s personalities perfectly & immediately. The minute that Prince slid down the banister you knew he was no stuffed shirt.
The ballet master (Yanin) was wonderful but I found the first act to be pretty slow up until the seasons scene which was a breath of fresh air (especially Osipova & Kobakhidze). Things improved greatly with the second act – I loved both the 2nd and 3rd act pdd’s.
But the main reason I went last night was to see Krysanova, and she was lovely. She certainly has the sky high extensions that now seem to be typical of the Russian companies but they’re not as jarring as Zakarova’s or Somova’s – and as Natalia noted she is a very warm dancer. She is also very lyrical and musical and it was a pleasure to see her in this role. It was also great to “rediscover” Sergei Filin. I saw him once several years ago – in Raymonda with Gracheva. I guess I was so mesmerized by Gracheva that I forgot how much I also liked him – but I remembered the moment he took the stage last night – what a perfect dancer noble.
All in all it was a good night, now on to DonQ!
Posted 24 February 2007 - 08:52 AM
I can’t thank Natalia enough for suggesting standing room....
Well, you're most welcome, nysusan. I'm glad that it all worked out for you. Now running out the door, on my way to DonQ. Whee!!!
Posted 26 February 2007 - 10:52 AM
Posted 27 February 2007 - 08:54 AM
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