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"Giselle" in Chicago, October 2-5, 2008in the Auditorium Theatre


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#1 Jack Reed

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 02:12 PM

I picked this performance in the light of comments in the Head Up! forum, which made me want to see Vishneva, and I'm glad I did! Kolb, too!

It seemed to me that Vishneva's Giselle is still unhinged in the afterlife; this makes a certain dramatic sense at the moment. In the other versions I've seen -- the Makarova/Baryshnikov video is the most familiar -- she seems restored or purified by death, and that is not absent with Vishneva.

But it's Giselle's madness that kills her, and her love of Albert (as he is called this time, usually it's "Albrecht" I think) that drives her mad and motivates her to save him from the Wilis. So while her mad scene looked a little sketchy, Vishneva amplifies the second act this way, and, for me at least, makes me wonder about the other versions: Now it seems like they missed something.

I also enjoyed the way Kolb's dancing in Act I so often made Giselle and Albert a beautiful ensemble -- beautiful to see as movement, and beautifully expressive of his feelings for her in the absence of a full-blown romantic pas de deux like we get in Act II.

But the classical dance for the villagers in Act I to music that was unfamiliar to me seemed inserted, although superbly danced and enjoyable for that, and this version in general seemed spare, "cleared out", so the light shone through some of the murky implications seen elsewhere. A "modernized" Giselle?

In response to the comments in the Heads Up! forum, I'll just add that Vishneva seemed to be having a fine time of it, dancing without limitations (unless there were cuts to suit her), and even coming down to the edge of the apron to thank the superb Mariinsky Orchestra at the end. Everyone danced very well, really, although of course only Vishneva is Veshneva and Kolb Kolb. -- I should say I've never seen her before, but I look forward to the next time!

#2 Sacto1654

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 08:51 PM

Thanks for the report! :shake: I'm glad that Vishneva has overcome the injury that sidelined her much of this past summer and is performing well.

#3 Jack Reed

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Posted 06 October 2008 - 08:39 AM

What a difference a few rows can make! Not that I think Sunday afternoon's performance was identical to Thursday night's, but moving up from row T to row Q brought me more within Vishneva's range, and her mad scene was "sketchy" like the conversation of someone losing their mind -- losing their train of thought in the middle of a sentence, and jumping unexpectedly onto another subject. From row Q now, it seemed to have continuity not so much of flowing shape but of inner impetus, as though molded by her intelligence, thus having a presence analogous to the physical presence of your friend slipping into dimentia and breaking your heart. This time then, it had more cumulative impact for me.

This production has more extremes of tempo than I really like, though, and that emphasises the episodic quality of the ballet and weakens a little the overall cumulative effect; but that said, oh, my, what episodes! And the "gear-shifting" was accomplished with smooth coordination between dancer and conductor, which may be part cause of Vishneva's evident gratitude toward the musicians at the curtain.

#4 YID

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 11:03 AM

Ok, I treated myself to 3 performances (don’t be envious, I don’t own a house or much assets, just collect my visits to the Russian ballet performances ;-)) In June 2006 I saw 3 Giselles (Golub+Fadeev; Novikova+Sarafanov, Pavlenko+Kolb) at DC.

On purpose, I went to see : a) Novikova +Shklyrov (on Sat. matinee), Tkachenko as Myrtha; b) Nioradze+ Ivanchenko (Sat. night), Kandaurova as Myrtha; c) Vishneva+Kolb (Sunday), Tkachenko as Myrtha. There was an unexpected bonus, on Sat. afternoon they had a Q&A with lead dancers, Danilyan translated (and I am not a huge fan of his) – what a treat!!! And thank you Susan for recommending the row P – great deal.
I loved them all, and had I have to choose, would still go to see all 3 ;_)). They were all a bit different and all wonderful. (A disclaimer – I am not a big fan of Ivanchenko).
Novikova & Shklyarov – wonderful chemistry, Olesja was probably the best technically, and I adored her extensions, which she holdes for a second at the highest elevation, so marvelously graceful (totally not Somova gymnastics). She was the most reserved in expressing her emotions (no overacting I mean), but still very warm, and enough contrast between a live girl and a loving ghost. Shklyarov was my most favorite this time. He replaced 4 chasses with most wonderful jumps (?Entrechat six) 8 times ? when Albreht pleaded Myrtha. Tkachenko was a good Murtha, but I preferred Kandaurova (still my most favorite ever Myrtha remain Tereshkina, whom I saw several years ago at DC).
Surprisingly, neither Novikova nor Vishneva let their hair loose in the mad scene, only some streaks came out (don’t know if it was on purpose or not). I’d say that Olesya grew tremendously compared to that ’06 DC performance.

I also loved Irma Nioradze (it’s my only second time watching her dance live). That was such a treat – 3 red heads in one ballet. Nioradze, Kandaurova & the peasant solo girl Elena Sheshina!!! Nioradze played a bit girli-er Gizelle in Act one and a bit more alive in act 2. Fully loose burning red hair in the mad scene. A couple of short cuts in turns and those jumps on the point. But great arms, great plasticity. And I’d say that both Novikova and Nioradze portrayed a classical Kirov Giselle.

Vishneva looked a bit reserved with left leg extension at the beginning of the ballet, then warmed up perhaps. Lovely first act, but to my taste she over-dramatized some gestures and her mad scene was very different from other two. And her second act play was least ghostly of them all. Great chemistry with Kolb – who was great as usual ;-)) She had a sun-tan costume, which slightly distracted (I am used to the blue one;-))
I loved them all (with only one disclaimer, Vishneva ‘retained’ being in the role even after the performance, still ghostly like, very slow, and she looked kind of green-ish compared to the rest).
I have to comment on the peasant solos. I’ve seen on-line the duet of Sheshina and Philip Stepin (Chicago channel showed them). So, when I saw what was listed as Yulia Kasenkova, she was very rigid (almost not like Kirov). But since I forgot my binoculars, and being semi-blind, I don’t know for sure who she was. Sheshina was very good. Both Philip Stepin and Alexey Timofeev were great, but I still had a memory of Shklarov dancing this role back in Chicago with Osmolkina – that was something. Both Hans’s Pykhachev and Zverev were good and convincing.

And my highest admiration goes to the chore-de-ballet, I saw Selina, Ivanova, Shirinkina, and I cried at every performance – was so moved and touched… Thank you Mariinski

#5 WindFlyer

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 04:32 PM

Ok, I treated myself to 3 performances...

Vishneva looked a bit reserved with left leg extension at the beginning of the ballet, then warmed up perhaps. Lovely first act, but to my taste she over-dramatized some gestures and her mad scene was very different from other two. And her second act play was least ghostly of them all. Great chemistry with Kolb – who was great as usual ;-)

Thank you for your comparative reviews.

I did catch the sunday afternoon show and was generally happy, as I'd not yet seen la Vishneva in Giselle. She may have over-dramatized some gestures in her mad scene, but what I liked most about it was the sadness and heartbreak she conveyed.

In the second act, I think that she had an 'other-worldliness' quality that ebbed and flow. In the first pas with Kolb, it seemed as though they were together in time but not in space; for the grand pas Giselle and Albrecht were in the same universe; and in the finale she was once again slipping away into that other world. I found her dancing in this act artistically whole: impeccable technique, superb characterization, and in unity with her partner and the music.

...and now for my observations beyond la Vishneva: Igor Kolb, as he has been every time i've seen him, whether in Russia or abroad, was outstanding in his dancing, his partnering and his dramatic display. I'd not yet seen la Tkachenka as Myrtha, and was pleased by her dancing if not her characterization—i like my Myrthas in the mold of la Terekhova :blushing:. No one really stood out in the first act to warrant mention; but the corps of wilis was dreamy, elegant and tight.

The orchestra was led by Sinkevich and played for the dancers—as it should be—pacing the music and shaping the phrases to the heartbeat and arcs of the dance. Special mention goes to Olga Maximova (viola) and Sasha Trushkov (oboe) for the outstanding solos in the grand pas (sadly interrupted by over-eager applauders).

All in all, a great afternoon of ballet.


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