Mikhailovsky Theatre Corsaire 15 March 2009

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15 March 2009, Mikhailovsky Theatre, St. Petersburg

Le Corsaire (premiere 13 March 2009)

Ballet in two acts, four scenes with prologue and epilogue

Music Adolphe Adam, Cesare Pugni, Leo Delibes, Ricardo Drigo and Peter Oldenburgsky

Libretto Henri Saint-Georges and Joseph Mazilier,

edited by Yuri Slonimsky

Choreography Jules Perrot, Marius Petipa, Pyotr Gusev

revised by Farukh Ruzimatov

Choreography of Palestinian and Algerian dances and the fight scene

of the corsairs George Kovtun

Set & Costumes Valery Levental

Lighting Mikhail Mekler

Conductor Andrey Danilov

Conrad Mikhail Sivakov

Ali Aydos Zakan

Birbanto Andrei Kasianenko

Medora Irina Kosheleva

Gulnara Yulia Tikka

Seid Pasha Andrei Bregvadze

Isaac Lankedem Alexander Omar

Eunuchs Pavel Novosyolov, Igor Filimonov

Odalisques Elena Kotsyubira, Valeria Zhuravlyova, Viktoria Kutepova

Corsairs' friends Olga Semyonova, Kristina Makhviladze, Nina Osmanova

Birbanto's friends Roman Petukhov, Nikolay Arzyayev

Algerian dance Alexander Abdukarimov

Little moors Students of the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet

My first visit to the Mikhailovsky theatre (at present the theatre has returned to its original name, after having been known successively as the Maly, and then the Moussorgsky) was an altogether pleasant evening viewing the third showing of the Mikhailovsky's revised Corsaire.

The revision is the work of its new artistic director, Farukh Ruzimatov, retired Mariinsky 'star'. A St.P newspaper article states that in the new version: "changes have been made in several solo performances and in the famous Pas de trois of Conrad, Ali and Medora". Another reason for the revision is to trim the work to two acts from the conventional three. In Ruzimatov's words: "…in the modern world time is very dynamic, and I want the public to enjoy a spectacular performance; I want to avoid a situation in which the audience would be bored."

While I didn't time the length of the performance (it started a little after 7, ended

sometime after nine and before ten; forgot to check the time), boredom never came near the theatre.

My impressions in order of relevance:

The aural component. The theatre's orchestra is an exceptional ensemble of some fifty members. The musical pastiche -of Adams original score and all the accretions over time supplementing it- has never sounded better to me than as played by the Mikhailovsky orchestra, conducted this evening by Andrey Danilov.

The pace was brisk, a reflection of the pace of the modern world?

The visual component. The sets (and costumes) of Valery Levental are lavish and arresting compositions.

They tend to travel a path from naïve realism to abstraction.

I particularly enjoyed the Act II palace scene for its

'orientalist' color but with non-objective qualities.

The tutus of the Jardin Anime scene reach a peak of refinement in coloration and decoration which contrasts with the earthy sun- soaked colors of the shore and market scenes and the status- revealing garments of the merchants and the rulers.

The story line. For anyone who reads synopses of the libretto, the Mikahilovsky's

is as confused as any other I've read. Forget the story. It never made sense.

Choreography. It is spectacular and it is not boring.

Dancing. The ensembles were energetic, concise and handsome.

The heart of the evening is in the Jardin Anime scene, which exhibits through classical dancing the female ethereality of being.

The principals were at their best in this scene,

Irina Kosheleva as Medora and Yulia Tikka as Gulnara.

Among my first impressions, I liked the work of Andrei Kasianenko as Birbanto,

especially his character dancing, which makes me want to see him in other roles.

In my view, Alexander Omar gave a strong performance as Lankendem, both in his classical dancing and his characterization of an unwholesome personality.

The other dancer I noted was the 19-year old Aydos Zakan, whom Mr. Ruzimatov selected for the role of Ali.

A dancer gifted with exceptional ballon, he is one to watch as he grows.

I look forward to seeing more performances of this gifted and bright company.

The theater itself is in spic-and-span condition and has a wonderful,

intimate feel.

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