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Mariinsky in DCJanuary '09 at the Kennedy Center


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#31 Hans

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 11:56 AM

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.

#32 Natalia

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 12:35 PM

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.

#33 Hans

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 02:11 PM

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.

#34 ami1436

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 02:28 PM

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! :)

#35 Natalia

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 04:26 AM

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

#36 nysusan

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 05:51 AM

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

#37 Natalia

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 05:59 AM

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

#38 Cygnet

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 09:25 AM

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.

#39 Natalia

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 09:35 AM

.....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.

#40 sz

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 09:52 AM

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!

#41 atm711

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 10:11 AM

.....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 :)

#42 Natalia

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 10:16 AM

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.

#43 Cygnet

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 10:29 AM

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?

#44 Natalia

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 10:41 AM

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.

#45 leonid17

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 02:11 PM

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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