Flames of ParisRatmansky's recreation, 7-3-08 premiere
Posted 24 June 2008 - 01:38 PM
The Bolshoi website has announced detailed casting for the initial run, although we still do not know who will dance the big opener on July 3. Hmmmm, let me guess...Osipova/Vasiliev? Special Surprise: Ludmilla Semenyaka as Marie-Antoinette!
The above link also takes one to a synopsis of the 2008 version, which appears to be condensed, all in two acts. The Vainonen original had at least three -- maybe four -- acts. Also, some of the names of the characters are different. Judging by the successes of Corsaire and Bright Stream, I would tend to trust Ratmansky & Company's decisions on tightening the synopsis and eliminating/rethinking a character or two.
Posted 24 June 2008 - 02:08 PM
Posted 24 June 2008 - 03:33 PM
Alexandrova and Osipova are probably a more natural Jeanne.
Posted 25 June 2008 - 01:39 AM
I'm surprised Yan Godovsky isn't cast as Philippe, I saw him dance the F of P pas de deux with Osipova in Nottingham and on the basis of how well he danced then, I would have thought him a dead cert for the role in the new production.
Posted 25 June 2008 - 03:36 AM
Godovsky is now in the slightly-older-than-Vasiliev/Lantratov category!
After posting yesterday's intro, I went home to read my Russian books about the original Flames in 1932. I read the original scenario (FOUR acts) compared to Ratmansky-Burlaka's 2008 version with two acts. LOTS has changed in an effort to tighten the story for 2008 audiences:
(a) I am a bit saddened that the great female-character role of Therese (debuted by the incomparable Nina Anissimova) no longer exists. This is the main 'angry woman' in the famous Danse Basque; it would have been a tour de force for the current Bolshoi 'character prima,' Yuliana Malkhasiants...this was the single moment to which I was looking forward in this revival - to see Malkhasiants doing the Basque Dance. According to the new scenario the 'main characters' Jeanne/Jerome/Phillippe (the youngters) will perform the Basque Dance...which is a huge let-down and change in the historical tone of that dance. At least 'Therese' and the original Basque Dance will live on in the 1950s condensed film of the original ballet!
(b) Ratmansky-Burlaka have, in turn, invented a 2nd 'young pretty girl' role (Adeline) for a soubrette-ballerina (Kaptsova, Goriacheva, etc. in this role), to create a 'partner' for Jeanne's brother, Jerome, who did not have a girlfriend in the original ballet. So the new ballet has, in essence, THREE roles for top-ballerinas: Jeanne (virtuoso ballerinas Osipova, Alexandrova, etc. - dancing the most famous pdd); Mireille the actress (sr ballerinas Gracheva, Stepanenko, etc. dancing the somewhat-famous pdd in white-powdered wigs); and this new girl Adeline (shortish soubrettes Goriacheva, Kaptsova, etc. - perhaps a newly-invented pdd to give 'pdd opportunity' to the character Jerome, danced by Merkuriev, Godovsky, etc.)?
Let's see what transpires.
Posted 26 June 2008 - 04:33 AM
After posting yesterday's intro, I went home to read my Russian books about the original Flames in 1932. I read the original scenario (FOUR acts) compared to Ratmansky-Burlaka's 2008 version with two acts.
I'm not surprised they're doing this. A true, full-length ballet is an expensive thing to do (Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty is pushing the limits of a long, classical ballet), and I'm not surprised the Bolshoi is redoing The Flames of Paris to cut down on production costs. After all, Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet's "authentic" version (the 1900 Marius Petipa version) of La Bayadere with all its acts restored is very expensive to perform and I believe they rarely do it nowadays. Mind you, I'd love to see an "authentic" version of Flames of Paris done in the future, though.
Posted 26 June 2008 - 05:42 AM
Most of the works of art about the French Revolution that survive on the big stages of the world -- Andrea Chernier, Dialogues des Carmelites -- convey a deeply anti-revolutionary message. I wonder how the Stalin regime responded to Flame of Paris' positive presentation of an popular, irresistible and violent (thought good-natured) uprising? How will contemporary Russia -- a country in which billionaires and law-and-order types have great influence -- respond? Will the new version tone down the political events? According to Natalia's report, it certainly seems to be multiplying the love interest.
This 1953 film of "character dances" (mentioned by Natalia) contains a fascinating contrast between a free and joyful Farandole danced in the strees and a constrained and elegant Sarabande danced at court.
Posted 26 June 2008 - 09:00 AM
Posted 26 June 2008 - 05:00 PM
Posted 27 June 2008 - 10:53 AM
I don't think Ratmansky/Burlaka are condensing their Flames of Paris purely for economical reasons. Their main concern is to present a ballet which is dramatically digestible for a 2008 audience and can be covered by the company they have. That's why their Flames of Paris is not an "authentic reconstruction" but a revival of an old ballet including those elements that they think will make sense to a public of today. In this respect last year's Corsaire (which wasn't a reconstruction either, but nonetheless ran in its premiere version over 3 hours 45) has been a lesson: all one could hear was that the ballet was "too long".
Thanks for this, marc. However, it still does not explain why Therese was excised and her very famous Basque Dance ( a foot-stomping character dance) is being re-done for the classical principals!!! Not that Osipova & co. aren't capable of doing it but...if ever Yuliana Malkhasiants was born to dance a specific dance, it's the old Basque Danse!
Posted 27 June 2008 - 02:39 PM
Posted 28 June 2008 - 07:32 AM
In my Glory of the Bolshoi DVD, the clip ofMusa Gottlieb and Vajtang Chaboukiani from Flames is SO fast that i could almost suspect the soviets of speeding it up!
I suspect this, and many other Soviet ballet clips from before 1980s, look very fast because the original material was probably shot at 24 frames per second (which is the film standard) and then, much later (during 1980s or 1990s) transferred to the 25-frame-per-second video (25 frames per second is used, I believe, in PAL and SECAM video standards). If this is indeed the case, one would expect each second of the original material to flash by in only 0.96 seconds in the videos---a speedup of 4%. The pitch of the sound would be correspondingly higher, as well: by slightly less than one half-tone---a small but quite noticeable difference.
Posted 28 June 2008 - 11:49 AM
Osipova's slight presence, especially when dancing between her two male partners, totally changes the spirit of Vainonen's original dance. Osipova tries hard...but it's simply not true Russian character dancing.
Edited to add: I would bet that the taller, 'weightier' presence of Maria Alexandrova -- another Jeanne in the run, not seen in this rehearsal -- may be able to tackle the essence of the Basque Dance better than Osipova.
Posted 28 June 2008 - 12:28 PM
A few years ago I asked the same question here at BT, and the final concensus then was that yes, they were really that fast (or at least faster in some respects than most dancers of today)
A shame about the Basque dance... that was my favorite part of the old film
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