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New 'Le Corsaire' at Bolshoipremieres June 21, 2007


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#31 Natalia

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 11:06 AM

Thanks for the wonderful photos, marc.

re. Jardin Anime: Mamma Mia, that's a whole lotta foliage on the ground! The Bolshio Theater will need a lawn mower to keep it trim.

#32 drb

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Posted 04 July 2007 - 07:33 PM

Frequent ABT photographer Gene Schiavone has just posted 39 photos of this Bolshoi production on his website:
Awesome!
http://www.geneschiavone.com/gallery/

#33 drb

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Posted 05 July 2007 - 09:41 PM

There are now 57 photos, as Mr. Schiavone has added the Masha Alexandrova (partner Tsiskaridze) performance, at the moment on the second page of his corsaire set:
http://www.geneschia...gallery/album15
On the basis of the photos, that's the cast I'd hope to see when they bring it here (if they do... wake up, Met!). Dear Moscow friends, how do the casts compare in real performance?

#34 ina

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Posted 07 July 2007 - 08:59 AM

Dear Moscow friends, how do the casts compare in real performance?


I would say that all three casts, which were shown in the first run, are remarkable in their own way. Svetlana Zakharova is a shining beauty, this role suits her perfectly. Svetlana Lunkina is both delicate and playful. Maria Alexandrova demonstrates her vitality and character not less than the pirates themselves, along with strong technique in jumps and turns. Conrads can also suit different tastes: Denis Matvienko with his bravura dancing; Nikolai Tsiskaridze being the most picturesque and emotional; Yuri Klevtsov full of noble manliness which we do not see often nowadays. Between Gulnaras – another role with a lot of dancing – I would rather prefer Marianna Ryzhkina to Ekaterina Shipulina, whose technique is brilliant, but her style of dancing a bit too modern for this staging. I watched Anastassia Yatsenko only at the rehearsal so I have no right to comment.

In autumn we are promised to be introduced to a new cast formed with young dancers – Natalia Osipova, Ekaterina Krysanova, et al.

There are a lot of other parts in this ballet – with dancing (as in Pas des esclaves or the newly composed Pas des eventails) or mime. I would rather point out Andrey Merkuriev as Birbanto (brilliant character dancing and acting) and Gennady Yanin as Lankedem (you would hardly recognize this good looking dancer in the old Jewish merchant!). Beautiful Anna Rebetskaya who partnered Merkuriev in two corsaires’ dances also should be mentioned.

Of course this ballet is a vehicle for a ballerina since the female dancing prevails, especially in the harem scenes with the famous Jardin Animee, but this is how it is supposed to be in Marius Petipa times. I would also like to attract special attention of future watchers to the dances of six girls in Pas des eventails – it is pure Ratmansky, but very much in style of the Petipa ballet. To the best of my knowledge only variations of Gulnara and Medora could be attributed as original in this lost and "found" Pas.

There are lots of interesting details to enjoy in the scenery, costumes, etc. I do hope that ballet-lovers will enjoy this staging – a sumptuous feast of classical dancing. I consider Le Corsaire at the Bolshoi to be a great success due to the efforts of the whole staging team under Yuri Burlaka and Alexei Ratmansky.

#35 drb

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Posted 07 July 2007 - 03:12 PM

.. In autumn we are promised to be introduced to a new cast formed with young dancers - Natalia Osipova, Ekaterina Krysanova, et al.

Thanks for your illuminating and nonpartisan report. PLEASE remember to report back after seeing that autumn cast!

I would also like to attract special attention of future watchers to the dances of six girls in Pas des eventails - it is pure Ratmansky, but very much in style of the Petipa ballet. To the best of my knowledge only variations of Gulnara and Medora could be attributed as original in this lost and "found" Pas.


Thanks, too, for this clarification. You must know of Mr. Ratmansky's great choreographic successes here in New York. Just one more reason for us to hope for a Bolshoi visit as soon as possible.

But please don't wait till autumn to tell us more about the glorious Bolshoi!

#36 STorevna

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Posted 07 July 2007 - 04:28 PM

So is this a reconstruction of Petipa's 1899 revival? It certainly looks like it is straight out of a performance for the Tsar! Such Imperial splendor!

#37 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 07 July 2007 - 11:19 PM

So is this a reconstruction of Petipa's 1899 revival? It certainly looks like it is straight out of a performance for the Tsar! Such Imperial splendor!


No, it is not a reconstruction. It's a new ballet. All the available parts of Petipa's choreography were revived with the Stepanov notations (about one hour). Yet some 20 more minutes were choreographed anew by Ratmansky. Most of the costumes are based on sketches from the 1899 production, but the sets are only inspired by 19th-century models and are no reconstructions. Moreover, Ratmansky and Burlaka cut a lot from the surviving mimed parts in order not to make a 5-hour marathon. One could say, the new Corsaire evokes the spirit of a late 19th century production (as far as anybody in 2007 can judge...) within a contemporary theatrical presentation.

#38 atm711

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 06:40 AM

Masha Alexandrova (partner Tsiskaridze)

On the basis of the photos, that's the cast I'd hope to see when they bring it here



Yes, I thought so too. Corsaire has always been my least favorite of the old classics--no matter what production I saw. I hope Ratmansky works his magic with this one.

#39 drb

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 05:18 PM

Wow! Mr. Schiavone has more than doubled his offerings. There are now 128 photographs, arranged by performance (four):
http://www.geneschia...gallery/album15

#40 scherzo

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 01:40 AM

Masha Alexandrova (partner Tsiskaridze)

On the basis of the photos, that's the cast I'd hope to see when they bring it here


I had hoped to see this cast in London but in fact it is the only cast that I am not seeing (no advance casting: :mad: ). Out of interest, what is it about the photos that made this cast stand out to you?

#41 drb

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 04:44 AM

... Out of interest, what is it about the photos that made this cast stand out to you?

Such things as the awareness of partner in 7, physical reality of 9, how 10 says it all, the yearning conveyed by 23, the grand old Bolshoi intensity of 30 and 31, the look of artist fulfilled in 33. Caveat: Schiavone does like to rearrange his photosets, so hope these numbers still apply to the Alexandrova set. In general the rehearsal room mirror is less evident in this performance, they are more immersed in each other. Or so Schiavione has captured it.

#42 chiapuris

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 05:13 AM

I have a small gallery up at For Ballet Lovers Only.


The photo of the pd3/odalisques in the first gallery is a gem for all times!
Thanks, Marc.

#43 Mikhail

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 11:47 PM

Dear Friends, these are my notes on the Bolshoi’s new production of Le Corsaire. I hope they will be of interest to some of “alertniks”.

First of all, Burlaka and Ratmansky do not pretend that this is a reconstruction of “the original Petipa”. That would not be possible for many reasons. They did use everything they could find – Harvard notations, Petipa’s own notes from The Bakhrushin Museum in Moscow, different scores from Paris, Moscow and St.Petersburg, and so on. But notations are incomplete and even if we had full records of the steps, dancers’ bodies have changed, costume materials have changed, dyes are different, etc. Thus, the stagers concede only to giving an interpretation of what was found in the archives. At least this is honest, and I like that. They consider the various interpolations as also being of importance from the point of view of dance art and have decided to preserve these. They staged the missing bits themselves, together. Initially it was decided that Burlaka would concentrate on Petipa’s choreography and Ratmansky would create new dances. And so it is written in the booklet. But in the end, in the opening night program both are listed on equal basis as co-authors of the new production. Burlaka alone is given credit for musical dramaturgy of the production as he is an expert in old ballet music.

I guess the list of dances is the most important part for us because the synopsis is almost the same everywhere and is well known. In what follows I mark by blue color dances and names of composers.

Act 1, scene 1 - The Market Place

There is no shipwreck at the beginning as there is in the ABT production or in the Mariinsky version. A group of pirates appear among the crowd at the bazaar. Conrad and Birbanto are there, too. Medora is on the balcony. She throws a bouquet of flowers to Conrad and then goes downstairs for a while – Medora’s entrée, a very short dance, just a few steps on the music of Adolphe Adam.

She contacts Conrad, but Isaac Lanquedem (a mime role) sends her back to the house. Seid Pasha appears and sees Medora on the balcony. He is impressed and wants her downstairs, but Lanquedem offers him a couple of slaves instead, a male and a female. Then this couple dances the famous Pas des esclaves (music by Prince Peter von Oldenburg, the male variation – Riccardo Drigo). The entrée of this pas des deux is much longer than in other productions.

The Pasha is not impressed and orders Medora to come. Lanquedem has to obey, and Medora dances a pretty and very long (4.5 minutes) variation which is called Finesse d’amour on the music by Cesare Pugni. The dance is very nice and consists of eight sections; the Pasha and Conrad take part in it too. Burlaka says this is original choreography. I have never seen it before, at least not all of it.

Seid Pasha offers a lot of money for Medora. Lanquedem sells her and signs the paper. The Pasha goes to his palace, and finally Danse des corsairs (ballabille d’action) follow (Adam and Pugni), which is also common and well-known. Birbanto and his girlfriend lead it. At the end of the scene Medora and Lanquedem are kidnapped by Conrad.

Act 1, scene 2 - The Cave

The corsairs arrive with goods, and very soon three couples begin Danse des Forbans (Pugni) lead, again, by Birbanto and his girlfriend.

After that comes the famous Pas de deux (Riccardo Drigo, female variation – by Julius Gerber). This is the Pas de deux with the slave which we know, but there is no slave Ali, who appeared later during the Soviet epoch. Conrad and Medora dance it, the text is standard, but the very end is changed a bit – there is no “slave” pose, extremely bent one – Conrad just falls on one knee in a noble, European way.

Then we have the argument over the slave women. The pirates are mutinous, and a small fight ensues, but the conflict is resolved and Medora appears in a male costume to dance Le petit corsaire (Pugni). She is not on her toes, and is dressed in the same costume and shoes as all the other pirates. I heard that in Munich the ballerina danced on pointe and to different music, which was not in the original Petipa version.

A funny story. At the end Medora has to cry “Au bord” – Karsavina described this in her memoirs and several ballet critics of that time have written about it. But both the French words and their Russian translation (“na bort”) are phonetically similar to the gynecological medical procedure – abortion (“abort” in Russian). So our ballerinas confused and hesitated, and Burlaka and Ratmansky were indeed afraid that the audience would laugh. On the other hand, Medora dances Le Petit Corsaire with a megaphone in her hand which doesn’t make any sense if she stays silent. Finally they changed the words to “À l’abordage” (“na abordage” – almost the same in Russian).

By the way, can you tell me please what should they cry in English to be understood in London and in New York?

There is also Danse des enfants (music by Adam) – danced by four girls and two boys from the Ballet Academy, the end of the 2nd year.

Then we get the scene with Conrad and Medora’s frolicking on the couch, and Medora’s variation (also by Adam) follows. After this, the story with the poisoned flower and the second kidnapping of Medora takes place.

The end of the 1st Act – about 65 minutes.


Act 2 - Harem games

Zulma, the favorite wife of Seid Pasha appears surrounded by her ladies-in-waiting. Zulma is an important mime role because the young Gulnara is her rival and enjoys the support of the younger harem girls.

Gulnara’s variation (again Adam, the main composer) with the Pasha’s cane. The variation is very coquettish and vivid. Seid Pasha is pleased and throws her his handkerchief as a sign that he is going to spend this night with her. A game with the handkerchief ensues, and it finally comes to the hands of an old and unattractive female slave (in black-face).

Pas des trois des odalisques (Adam – entrée and third variation, Pugni – 1st and 2nd variations and coda) begins. Then Lanquedem brings Medora and we arrive at the great-great Le jardin animé.

It consists of Valse 1 (Léo Delibes), Adagio 1 (Delibes), Gulnara’s variation (nice harp music by Albert Heinrich Zabel), a variation for two coryphées (Drigo), Valse 2 (interlude by Delibes), Adagio 2, Medora’s variation and coda – all to Delibes’ music.

Burlaka found the scheme for Le jardin animé in the State Central Theatrical Museum (Bakhrushin) archives in Moscow and says he was surprised that this wonderful composition was created on the basis of only 6-7 steps. He says that his reconstruction is simpler in steps but much more complicated as an ensemble than what we are familiar with, and that he considers the composition to be a perfect creation of Petipa on the same level as The Shades in La Bayadere or the Dream scene in Don Quixote. At one point all the women dance between the flower beds and garlands to demonstrate their exact and exquisite technique. The New Bolshoi Stage is too small for this scene (as is the Coliseum’s stage in London) and I dream of seeing it on our main stage when it reopens.

Then we have the episodes with pilgrims who are really the pirates in disguise. A fight begins and Conrad is arrested.

The end of the second act, about 40 minutes.

Act 3 - The Wedding

To save Conrad, Gulnara suggests that she and Medora exchange dresses and that she marry Seid Pasha in Medora’s place. Medora tells the Pasha that she agrees to the wedding. The festivities begin with Pas des eventails (music by Riccardo Drigo, with one exception).

This Pas existed in previous productions and was danced in the pirates’ Cave. Burlaka and Ratmansky transferred it to the third act and re-choreographed it almost completely anew, as the old choreography has not survived. It is danced now by Medora, Gulnara, a cavalier, six coryphées (the leading two of whom are the same girls from Le jardin animé).

The order of the dances:

Entrée, adagio (Medora and her anonymous cavalier), variation of the six coryphées, Gulnara’s variation (it is done to the harp music by Zabel and was composed by Petipa for Sokolova, Karsavina’s teacher), the cavalier variation, Medora’s variation (which also belongs to Petipa) and coda. The stagers’ imagination is responsible for what is not Petipa in this scene. I did not like at all the cavalier’s variation. The adagio was not bad, and I liked the coda, but I was completely surprised by the variation for the six girls – the coryphées. It is so beautiful and so correct in style that it looks as if it was composed by Petipa himself. I believe the Muse visited Burlaka and Ratmansky with this one. But the game with fans is not so impressive as we could wait following the descriptions in literature. There is no effect of a peacock tail, the coryphées just keep blue fans during their entrée.

After the Pas des eventails, Gulnara takes Medora’s place during the wedding. Then Medora is left alone with the Pasha and Scène dansante de caractère (Adam) follows during which the Pasha is disarmed and Conrad and Medora successfully escape. Seid Pasha has to be satisfied with Gulnara, who reveals his ring on her finger and announces that she is his wife. Zulma falls unconscious.

To conclude – the music of this Pas is not original, not by Adam. I asked Burlaka and he told me that it was taken from Drigo’s score for the ballet “The Enchanted Forest” (“La forêt enchantée”). Then I’ve read that this was the first full-length ballet by Drigo and the first ballet staged by Lev Ivanov. It was done for the graduation from the Imperial Ballet School in 1887. Composed for one performance it held the stage for 20 years (R.J.Wiley, The Life and Ballets of Lev Ivanov, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1997, pp. 84-91).

Epilogue– the Shipwreck

A large ship appears on stage - I counted ten people on it with Conrad, Medora, and Birbanto among them. Then we have a short dance (actually, just some ballet poses) for Medora and Conrad, the storm, a new fight between Conrad and Birbanto, and, finally, the shipwreck. This is called Danse au bord de vaisseau (Adam), but there is no space for any real dancing on the ship. The shipwreck is very impressive even in our time of special effects in movies. Everybody dies at sea, but Medora and Conrad are saved on the seashore and stand in the famous final pose to thank the heavens for their rescue.

This is the end of the story and the 3rd act again takes about 40 minutes. The ballet starts at 7 pm in Moscow (actually, 15 minutes later), and there are two intermissions, plus curtain calls, so it ends at 10:45 pm.

Sorry for the equivalently long text.

#44 zerbinetta

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Posted 18 July 2007 - 12:35 AM

Thank you, Mikhail. This post was a labor of love and totally fascinating.

#45 Mel Johnson

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Posted 18 July 2007 - 03:31 AM

Great synopsis, Mikhail!

If I understand the "au bord" correctly in its idiom, it would seem to be "boarders away" in English and American naval usage. "Ware ship for action" could possibly be it, too, but kind of long to say.


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