ami1436

Mariinsky in DC

74 posts in this topic

Hans, those huge puffy tutus are part of a ca-2002 attempt to revise the 1902 Gosky-after-Petipa production. The ca-1960 short platter-like tutus worn for decades were replaced by the original 1902 Korovin tutus, recontructed. The Korovin/Golobin 1902 sets -- always in use since 1902 -- were refreshed...same designs, only brighter. The word I heard in St. Petersburg in 2002, when these puffy tutus appeared, was that this was going to be Vikharev's next big reconstruction project but it never went beyond those tutus and the refreshing of the sets.

The Act I villager costumes were also changed. If you compare 'Soviet era' videotapes of this production (such as the 1988 Terekhova-Ruzimatov one) with the present, you will notice that all of the corps ladies in Act I now have multi-colored, sleeved Spanish dresses. In the 1988 tape, you see all of the girls in black sleeveless bodices with spaghetti straps and somewhat colorful skirts. Only the two Flower Girls and Kitri now have spaghetti straps. Also, the 'Soviet' men wore flesh-colored tights, which made the darker shorts look silly; the guys now wear black tights. No more silly little shorts.

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I noticed the changes in the men's and women's villager costumes as well--they look very nice, more in keeping with the period. Loved the sets. I appreciate the desire to revive the older costumes, but they are out of scale with the rest of the production. Also, with tutus that wide, are they supposed to be so stiff? I think it would look better if they were allowed to hang down more, thus reducing the 'Victorian flying saucer' effect. Maybe the Mariinsky has caught on to the Steampunk aesthetic. :thumbsup:

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Thanks for the reports! I'm taking the bus down Saturday morning & starting to get a little nervous about traffic delays due to the cold weather & pre-inauguration festivities. Hopefully I will make it to the matinee on time...

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There is one thing I forgot to mention: in the grand pas de deux, Vishneva did the 'easier' interpolated variation--the one that starts with the harp solo--instead of the longer variation performed by Terekhova on the 1988 tape. I'd be interested in hearing whether other Kitris do the same.

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There is one thing I forgot to mention: in the grand pas de deux, Vishneva did the 'easier' interpolated variation--the one that starts with the harp solo--instead of the longer variation performed by Terekhova on the 1988 tape. I'd be interested in hearing whether other Kitris do the same.

Good catch, Hans! Vishneva danced to the one-and-only correct music for the Kitri Act 4 Grand pdd solo. Terekhova interpolated her own wish -- the variation of the 1st Bridesmaid from the Bolshoi version of DON Q...never intended to be Kitri's solo. The Kirov-Mariinsky's DON Q normally omits this bridesmaid solo. Terekhova was known as a jete-specialist par excellence, so she selected a variation that would show her off the best. It will be interesting to see if her charge, Somova, will use the same variation.

Speaking of mixing-and-matching Kitri variations....

When Viktoria Tereshkina performs Kitri, she usually dances a very rare 'Dulcinea solo' in the Dream Scene that was created for Natalia Dudinskaya, to music by Drigo, interpolated to the 1895 version of Humpbacked Horse. I've only seen (on film) Dudinskaya, Komleva, Kullik, and - live - Tereshkina perform this incredibly difficult variation, which includes a final diagonal of very 'nasty' double pirouettes performed alternatingly on different feet.

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That is interesting information--I had been told that the other variation (the one Terekhova does) was the original Kitri variation, so it is nice to know the truth! I cannot really imagine Somova dancing that solo, with its numerous jumps (not her specialty) and final diagonal of double piqué turns, but we must wait and see. I really look forward to reading reports from tonight and the rest of the week.

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nysusan - Welcome to Washington! :) Perhaps we could do a BalletTalk meet-and-greet before or after the Saturday matinee? Folks should not have trouble getting into DC on the weekend. Most of the road closures will go into effect on Monday evening.

Hans, I plan to go to every performance and hope to post a little something every day. I really enjoyed reading your own report. I am hopeful that we will hear from several others on this board, especially as the weekend performances approach.

I may go crazy by Sunday afternoon after so much DON Q but I'll give it the Old College Try. Then I'll be getting at least two more DON Qs at the Mariinsky Festival in St Petersburg this March, including the one with Ashley Bouder as guest Kitri with Sarafanov and another with Marcello Gomes as guest Basil opposite Vishneva. Hey - I wonder if Ashley Bouder and/or Marcello Gomes will be in DC in the coming days to see the Mariinsky production, if their respective schedules allow? They can watch DVDs ad nauseum but there's nothing like seeing it live and meeting the colleagues with whom they will be dancing at the festival....although I suppose that Gomes may have already danced with Vishneva in ABT's DON Q.

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I might try to see if I can get a student ticket to see Obraztsova on Saturday--can't afford full-price, but I really want to see her. Maybe I could even sit a little closer than the very last row of the theater. :) I'm glad you'll be at each performance, Natalia; it is so nice to read your reviews as you know the company so well.

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Lovely people! Thank you so much for your reports -- for a variety of reasons I couldn't come to DC this weekend, and during the week doesn't work at all.... I look forward to hearing more as the visit progresses! Thank you also for the brief history lessons! :)

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DON QUIXOTE - 2 of 7

Mariinsky Theater Ballet

January 14, 2009

Kennedy Center Opera House

The Summary:

Tonight's second performance of the week-long run left me with mixed emotions. On the one hand, we have an ensemble of the highest calibre, replete with new faces among the corps, yet working hard to do the 'Mariinsky Ballet' name proud. We also have exceptional soloists, such as the evening's leading man, the dashing classicist Vladimir Schklyarov. On the other hand, DON Q is a ballet that pivots around one central character, Kitri, the spunky daughter of a Barcelona innkeeper who is determined to marry a handsome but poor barber. A technically and artistically wanting ballerina can mar an otherwise excellent performance of this ballet. That is, sadly, what happened last night. I hope to never again have to experience as appalling a performance as I witnessed from Alina Somova last night.

The Casting, as per 'corrections insert' to the printed Playbill; to my eyes, this is 100% correct:

Kitri - Alina Somova

Basil - Vladimir Shklyarov

Flower Seller Girls - Yana Selina and Xenia Dubrovina

Espada - Islom Baimuradov

Street Dancer - Alexandra Iosifidi

Gypsy Lead female - Julia Smirnova-Slivkin

Gypsy Lead male - Rafael Musin

Dryad Queen - Ekaterina Kondaurova...a.k.a. "Big Red"

Amour - Elena Yushkovskaya-Vasyukovich

Mercedes (the tavern girl in red) - Elena Bazhenova

Act 4 Fandango Leads - Yulia Smirnova-Slivkina & Karen Ioanissian

Act 4 Bridesmaid Variation - Tatyana Tkachenko

Don Q - Vladimir Ponomaryev

Sancho - Stanislav Burov

Lorenzo, Kitri's father - Igor Petrov

Gamache - Soslan Kulaev

The Review:

The Mariinsky Ballet's incomparable ensemble and soloists delivered another spirited performance, rising above the potential 'wrench' thrown by a miscast Alina Somova as Kitri. It is tough to overcome a poor Kitri but this ensemble did so last night, with its usual panache and brio.

It is really hard to pinpoint where Ms. Somova -- now coached by one of the greatest Kirov-Mariinsky Kitris of all time, Tatyana Terekhova -- failed, there were so many misses. Let's first examine the 'Big Picture.' She does not have the temperament and soul for the role, which she seemed to deliver 'by rote,' acting certain pasages with a shrug or a nod, whereas the night before we had brilliantly-timed comic acting from Diana Vishneva. Too, Alina Somova possesses beautifully elongated limbs which, while possibly a plus in the neo-classical repertoire, are so wrong for Petipa classicism, particularly the spunky-soubrette roles such as Kitri. What's more, at the end of those lovely long legs are very long feet that she fails to properly pointe -- not once fully standing up on them, that I could see -- and lacking turn out. One reason why her fouettes are so ugly (there is no other word for them) is that her inwardly-turned big working foot looks like a knob sticking-up at the end of a pole, churning away. Then we get to the question of musicality: Somova could not even strum the little guitar (that Basil gives her in Act I) in time to the music! During her entrance solo, she could not beat her fan to the floor in time to the music. Then the fixed-smile with uncomfortable-looking gnawing of teeth -- throughout the ballet -- did not help matters at all. Rough going all around. Believe me, I tried very hard to find positives -- beside the beauty of her long limbs and torso-to-leg proportions, I managed to find one positive: she performed one fabulous final diagonal of fast pique turns at the very end of the Act 4 pdd coda...so at least she ended on a high. However, she was very, very wrong, overall. Were this the only time that I had seen Alina Somova and I were a judge at one of the many int'l ballet competitions that I've covered during my past 30 years of watching ballet, I would have eliminated her in Round One. That she became a member of the esteemed Mariinsky Theater ensemble -- let alone be quickly elevated to Prima Ballerina -- is an abomination. Sorry for the seemingly-cruel words but somebody who knows and loves this company cannot sugar-coat the truth. [Notice that not once did I use the word "extensions." She did not over-do the leg extensions as in the past...but extensions were never the main issue for me.]

Now for lots of good news...

Vladimir Shklyarov as Basil -- What a potential treasure of a star danseur! He shone is his solo passages and worked very, very hard to partner a difficult ballerina. The sigh of relief at the end of the Act 4 pdd is understandable. Shklyarov soared in his jumps, spun like a top, acted charmingly and convincingly. I cannot wait to see what he can do opposite a true ballerina, Evgenia Obraztsova, on Saturday afternoon! The audience roared its delight for him. Bravo, Valodya!!!

It was great to see Tatyana Tkachenko once again on our stage, this time performing the Act 4 Bridesmaid Variation. Panache, musicality, rock-solid technique, a naturally charming face -- she has it all. The lone problem -- a little off-balance moment in the first double-pirouete a-la-seconde -- was quickly overcome. Now there is a potential Kitri!

Elena Yushkovskaya was a delightful Amour, even stronger technically than Martinyuk at the opening night. Yushkovskaya is yet another great Vaganova Academy graduate of the legendary 'Class of 1995' that included Vishneva...and the first class that I closely followed during my time living in St. Petersburg in the mid 90s. :)

What more can be written about Ekaterina Kondaurova's Dryad Queen that hasn't already been said? Quite simply, her gorgeous classicism and elegant-modest demeanor made the Kitri (who mirrored her movements during the start of the dream scene) look even more gallingly bad. A difference like night and day, next to one another performing the same steps. Sad.

"Da Hit" of the Night among the character soloists was the Human Energizer Bunny, Islom Baimuradov -- the previous night's Gypsy Leader -- as Espada. WOW!!! Now here is pure musicality and snap!!! Islom Baimuratov WAS the Spanish music. OLE!!!

The corps was much more united in this second show than in the opener. The orchestra, too, was more secure. Pavel Bubelnikov once again conducted...in his famous black pajamas!

Next up: Viktoria Tereshkina and Andrian Fadeev, tonight.

Natalia Nabatova

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Thanks for your thoughts on last night's cast Natalia - I always find your opinions to be spot on! I'm sorry to hear that Somova was so disappointing. I started to feel a glimmer of hope in a couple of her City Center performances and I was hoping that Kitri would be a good role for her.

I would love to say hello to you and any other BTers who are at the Kennedy Center this weekend, I usually go out to the Kennedy bust in the lobby during intermissions, so we could meet there. Getting together after the Sat matinee would work for me too.

Hans - hope to see you there!

Susan

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Sounds good, Susan. I've just PM'd you.

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Surely, they will not (should not) contemplate handing her Saturday night's performance. Will they :huh:?

Slightly :): The "debuts" just keep on coming. Next up? Balanchine's "Theme and Variations."

Date: Jan. 31. Location: Maryinsky Theatre. Abort mission.

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.....Balanchine's "Theme and Variations."

Location: Maryinsky Theatre. Abort mission.

Well, I suspect that it may be a "variation" on what Mr. B envisaged. Nonetheless, Ms. Somova is probably better in the neo-classical works than in the classics, although musicality is important there, too. I wish her the best, really. It hurts me to see problems with this company.

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Somova was definitely a miscasting for Kitri. I wouldn't want to see Maria Kowrowski

or Wendy Whelan in the role either...

Tereshkina should be lots of fire and fun!

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.....Balanchine's "Theme and Variations."

Location: Maryinsky Theatre. Abort mission.

Well, I suspect that it may be a "variation" on what Mr. B envisaged. Nonetheless, Ms. Somova is probably better in the neo-classical works than in the classics, although musicality is important there, too. I wish her the best, really. It hurts me to see problems with this company.

"better in the neo classical works"---ouch! that hurts Natalia. Since the Mariinsky created her let her dance their classics...why should we suffer :)

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atm - sorry!!! :) I meant it in the sense that Mr. B. encouraged a certain extremism and 'warping' of the old classical forms to a some degree. Musicality is also important so...yeah, I see your point.

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Well, I suspect that it may be a "variation" on what Mr. B envisaged. Nonetheless, Ms. Somova is probably better in the neo-classical works than in the classics, although musicality is important there, too. I wish her the best, really. It hurts me to see problems with anyone in this company.

Natalia, I agree. This spectacle is painful to watch unfold. It's not funny; it's painful. She made her full-length Kitri debut in July 2007. I think it's reasonable to expect some kind of manifest improvement in the interim. And yet, her offering last night was considered Principal Dancer caliber, acceptable for a paying audience. Her nano-second promotion was their judgement call. Couldn't they see the probable outcome in advance; during rehearsals & coaching sessions? If the company authorities can't see the problem(s), (or rather), choose to ignore the problem(s), it adversely effects not only the individual under discussion, but the entire company. It's unfair for everyone concerned, including the audience. Somova proved herself incapable of leading the performance last night, and "Don Q" isn't the only Petipa work, (or neo-classical work) in her study list that needs to be addressed. My questions are: 1) Will they do this, and 2) Do they dare reconsider this appointment?

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I am hoping for wonderful things from Viktoria Tereshkina tonight, if her DON Q Grand Pas from the April '08 City Center season is any indication. Tonight should also see the DC debut of Alexander Sergeev's Espada, so I am very excited about that...and we all know how wonderful Andrian Fadeev can be, as per his Lankadem and Romeo here in DC, in seasons past.

Onwards and upwards.

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Can anyone explain to me who saw the performance, what Alistair MaCaulay meant in his review when he wrote, " In Act II the Cleopatra-like Ekaterina Kondaurova (Queen of the Dryads) was, as an artist, more nearly stale than I have ever seen her. "

Is it a typo? If not what does he mean?

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Can anyone explain to me who saw the performance, what Alistair MaCaulay meant in his review when he wrote, " In Act II the Cleopatra-like Ekaterina Kondaurova (Queen of the Dryads) was, as an artist, more nearly stale than I have ever seen her. "

Is it a typo? If not what does he mean?

I think he was saying he is bored by this particular ballet and intimating she was as well.

The prior line read: "But the ballet palls. It is not my mind alone that glazes over in such fare."

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Opening night - overall, a sub-par evening at the ballet. For the most part, I blame the production. Don Q is a difficult full-length ballet to pull off. The Russians certainly know how to go over the top with the exotic plot lines for many of the story ballets, and somehow, this production needed more exotica, heat and fun. I definitely prefer the Bolshoi production which is defintely zany and very exciting.

And I just don't get Vishneva. I've seen her live twice now, and I'm not taken with her, as much as I want to be. She did a nice job and added some fun, however, I thought she was "acting" her way through the role, and not really enjoying it. It was a a very studied, star performance, and I don't quite buy it. Her foutte sequence was painful to watch. I don't think I care for her technique for these turns-- very jarring-- and while it is impressive that she was able to hold one hand up with the fan for many turns, it was not a pretty picture. I'd rather go for less and make it look better.

Her partner didn't help matters. There was no real repoire between them. He is miscast in this ballet. He is tall and has nice lines, and his turns in second were very nice, but I see him much more as a prince type. Not fiery enough. The grand pas partnering made me nervous and that's a bad sign. They almost lost it a couple of times, and it wasn't pretty.

Kondourova was fine, but lacked warmth and any connection to her fellow dancers or the audience. Amour was pleasant.

The stand outs were the third soloist (I don't know who it was), and one of the soloists during the dream sequence. I think it is this new girl, Nikitina?? Wow, she has a bright future-- lush movement, nice physique, strong technique, and a pleasing way with the audience.

I guess what I find so disheartening in the recent performances by the Russians, especially the Kirov, is the lack of spontaneity and joy in the dancing. It all looks a bit too perfect, and it doesn't all add up at the end of the day.

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Can anyone explain to me who saw the performance, what Alistair MaCaulay meant in his review when he wrote, " In Act II the Cleopatra-like Ekaterina Kondaurova (Queen of the Dryads) was, as an artist, more nearly stale than I have ever seen her. " Is it a typo? If not what does he mean?

Kondaurova is an exotic beauty, "Cleopatra-like" with red hair and a cat-like, mysterious, sensual face, but sometimes she does not exude the strongest overall presence/personality with her dancing. I found her to be more mysterious and beautiful to look at, than commanding on stage this past season at City Center, except when she became a fun, sassy, bold, sensuously sexy woman in Rubies.

As to why the Mariinsky would put Somova into a part like Kitri... although it is most definitely not her natural role?.... Well, Balanchine often put dancers into parts, and created parts for dancers he wanted to improve by the choreography. Classes and rehearsals aren't often enough, and certainly not as much fun as dancing, and gaining performance strengths, while on stage.

Kitri is one of the most difficult female roles (in the full-length version), technically. It's all powerhouse stuff with a bold personality required on top. Kitri should make Somova stonger in her jumps, and turns, if she dances enough of them. Personality is another story... needing lots of coaching for sure.... I'm reminded of Mimi Paul who was a poor jumper until Balanchine created Valse Fantasie for her.

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That is so frightening, I have to hide. I may not come out for a while.

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