Hans

Le Corsaire at The Kennedy Center

164 posts in this topic

Does anyone know why Osipova and Vasiliev didn't perform?

Share this post


Link to post

I was at the performance this afternoon, and during first intermission asked one of the Kennedy Center staff whom I was told "would know" about Vasiliev and Osipova. He said that Vasiliev had fallen twice on the stage yesterday and was injured, and that Osipova was in the hospital. I believe some of you were there yesterday......Is this correct about his fall(s)?

I asked another staff member (not just an usher) who said they had had no confirmed report but had simply been told that the shift "was in the best interest of the dancers".

I can appreciate what someone said in the thread about the Bolshoi's casting changes: I had purchased tickets originally to see Vasiliev and Osipova Fri. night as well, so I ended up not seeing them at all (as was the case at YAGP in NYC this spring.)

Share this post


Link to post

While I understand that injuries and illnesses happen, it matters a lot how they are handled by the management. Listing a bunch of names over the loudspeaker ten seconds before the beginning of the performance, with no explanations or apologies, is certainly the typical Bolshoi/Mariinsky way. This is how it happened this afternoon. I think the spectators deserve to be treated better, especially considering the fact that many of us came from out of town to see the advertised cast. It was quite astonishing to me that Mr. Burlaka did not have the good manners to come out and say something like "X has suddenly taken ill and is in the hospital. We are in a bind because this is the last performance of the run and part of the company has already departed. Ms. Shipulina and Mr. Skvortsov have graciously agreed to substitute at a very short notice, despite the fact that they danced the previous evening's performance." (If this is in fact what happened.) Perhaps some of the Bolshoi insiders who read this board might explain this lack of basic civility towards the audience?

Share this post


Link to post

I too was at the Sunday afternoon performance - I was bummed about not getting to see Osipova and Vasiliev, even more so because the substituted cast was the exact same as the previous evening's, which I also saw (having traveled down from Connecticut for these and the Royal's mixed rep performances). Shipulina was fine as Medora at both shows, I thought she was glamorous and technically accomplished to Bolshoi standards, though perhaps not as dazzling as some of the company's better known stars. However, I just don't think that this production is interesting enough to watch two of the same casts twice in a row.

There are many wonderful things about it - there were many funny, delightful details added into the story, and also liked Gulnara's characterization as a more vibrant, lively character was fun. Jardin Anime was an eye-popping spectacle at both shows and only really a huge, great company like the Bolshoi could pull it off so resplendently. But I just didn't feel like sitting through the kitsch of the almost entirely mimed Act 3 one more time, so I left after Act 2. It would have been fun to see another cast, particularly the Osipova cast, try it out, but not the same one so immediately again. (Also disappointed to read here that we did not see the Pas D'evantails, which really would have spruced up the third act with more classical dancing... I might have stayed through had it been there). I'm glad I got to see Osipova dance twice this week in New York, and wish I could have seen her here. But things happen and ballet casts are ever changing, I suppose!

Share this post


Link to post

Just back from my weekend trip to read this. WOW - very sad about the Osipova/Vasiliev no-show on Sunday.

Edited to add: I see from one brief report of the Saturday matinee (above, from OKOK) that Osipova/Vasiliev at least were able to dance one performance in the run. I hope that all of my friends who traveled to DC to see the Golden Couple made that one Saturday matinee. Most importantly, I hope that the dancers are OK and on the mend soon.

OKOK -- in retrospect, you hit the jackpot and saw the Golden Couple.

p.s. - Did nobody else among us attend that lone Osipova/Vasiliev performance on Saturday afternoon? Did Vasiliev really fall twice, as reported? Was Osipova OK...or did she, too, fall? Now I am somewhat worried.

Share this post


Link to post
p.s. - Did nobody else among us make that lone Osipova/Vasiliev performance. Did he fall twice, as reported? Was she OK...or did she, too, fall? Now I am somewhat worried.

I was there on Sat afternoon for Osipova-Vasiliev. He fell once, in Act I. It was a bad landing on a jump. He had to put both hands down to remain vertical, but it wasn't enough and he fell onto his side. However, he got right back up and continued with the rest of the performance until the end. His second mistake was in that he missed a turn, and only rotated once in the air instead of twice for his turn. He never fell on that one though. He seemed to be having an off day.

During the animated garden scene either Gulnare or Medora missed her cue. The corp remained frozen in position, and the music played for approximately 2 minutes. The audience sat perplexed as nobody on stage was moving. It was clear that either Gulnare or Medora should have been dancing in the stage foreground during that music. Somebody screwed up - either Osipova or the woman dancing Gulnare, but I can't say for certain who should have been dancing at that moment. I'm guessing that whoever it was must have gotten into trouble after the show. Osipova never fell during the performance to my knowledge, and executed some impressive double turns.

Can't write more now, but hope to later.

Share this post


Link to post
.....

During the animated garden scene either Gulnare or Medora missed her cue. ....

Thanks, abatt. Oh dear.... :tiphat:

If it's Osipova who missed her variation - she must be exhausted. I hope that she is receiving proper care and getting lots of rest. Let's hope that Vasiliev did not sustain an injury. I wish both Osipova and Vasiliev well...and lots of rest.

Share this post


Link to post

First, I fully admit I am not near as experienced as other reviewers here, but I was also at the Saturday matinee to see Osipova and Vasiliev. We had seats center front orchestra, about 8 rows back. Before any other comments, I must say I absolutely loved the performance! I thought the production was beautiful. More than any other, if there was one ballet I would take someone to who believed they didn’t like ballet performances, this was it. I took Kaufman’s remarks in the Post regarding the length as positive and would echo them. At three hours, while it’s acknowledgeably longer than the average performance, I found it thoroughly entertaining the entire time and regretted to hear anything was left out. I agree with a previous comment that the acting was humorous without becoming slapstick, with particular note of Osipova, who was beautiful and charming as Medora. The supporting cast was excellent throughout. The men, as would be expected of the Bolshoi, all danced convincingly as pirates, something I might not say of all companies. The character dancing was all superb. The corps was an unexpected surprise, performing beautifully even while adjusting to the cramped stage.

Having given my most enthusiastic praise, I will have to say that I was a bit puzzled that the dancing by both leads did feel a bit off at times. Vasiliev’s lifts were all sure and steady and while his solo and jumps were excellent by virtually any standard, perhaps my expectations were a bit higher for such a rising Bolshoi soloist. He did miss a turn and I saw the same bobbled landing. I agree that it didn’t appear to be injurious but he was clearly chagrined. Osipova also appeared have some problems with her fouettes and I believe she actually did fall at one point, but quickly recovered (I don’t recall the act, but it was far left downstage). But the more unusual thing I noticed was that both of them seemed to become disconnected with the music a few times. This was all the more noticeable to me because most of the time they were so beautifully spot on. I considered that it might have been that it was a long ballet with the leads on stage a lot, that Osipova was coming off three performances of two other ballets in New York in recent days, and perhaps they may not have performed this ballet together before or recently (?).

In spite of my observations, I was certainly not disappointed. But my puzzlement about what might have been going on is now all the more so since they didn’t dance on Sunday as scheduled. Out of this performance, would I vouch that Osipova and Vasiliev deserve to be the rising stars they are acclaimed to be? The answer is - Without a doubt. Their miscues in the performance, while noticeable, were overshadowed by much beautiful dancing and bursts of clear brilliance. I hope to have the opportunity to see them both often in the future.

Share this post


Link to post

I saw 3 Bolshoi performances of Corsaire. The first was Thurs evening, with Alexandrova and Volchkov. The second was on Fri evening w. Shipulina and Volchkov. The third was Sat matiness w. Osipova and Vasiliev. I could have done without the Friday performance. I had purchased that in anticipation that Osipova was scheduled to dance, but that was ultimately changed. I decided to splurge and buy the Sat matinee in order to see Osipova and Vasiliev.

First, the production is wonderful. The sets and costumes are elaborate. I felt that even though it was 3 hours, the time passed very quickly.

The women in the corp are very beautiful and well trained. I marveled at their beautiful body lines. Some of the corp women have such long necks and gorgeous long arms. Very impressive group of ladies.

My favority Medora was Alexandrova. She had star presence, excellent technique, grogeous line, and good comic acting. I also enjoyed Volchkov. He bobbled a landing on a difficult jump on Thurs, but did it cleanly on Fri evening. He seemed to pair well with Alexandrova. His technique was very impressive. I don't have much to say about Shipulina. She was adequate, but unimpressive.

I don't have my program to recall her name, but we saw the same Gulnare over and over. Fortunately, she was wonderful!

I wasn't that impressed with the Odalisques on any of the three nights. There were evident mistakes in each performance by at least one odalisque on each night.

I saw all of Osipova's performances with ABT. I think Giselle and Sylphide showed off her impressive airy jumps more prominently that Corsaire. Nevertheless, her acting was very good, and she performed numerous double turns which the other casts I saw did not even attempt. She gave an excellent performance, but it was not as thrilling as her Giselle or Sylphide. Vasiliev, however, was disappointing. Was this the same person who a few years ago tossed off incredible jumps and turns effortlessly at the YAGP gala? He seemed out of sorts the entire performance. He attempted very difficult jumps, but had limited success, as I noted above. My husband was sitting very close to the stage (we could not get seats together) and said Vasiliev seemed to be completely out of breath. He was also frequently out of time with the music. After his bobbled jump, he just stood there like a log waiting to get back in sync with his music.

The animated garden scene was incredibly gorgeous. It is much better than ABT's version.

I took my first ride with Bolt Bus. It was a disaster. It was supposed to leave at 11:30 AM. The bus didn't arrive until 12:15, as we stood out in the pouring rain - no bus shelter. ( I found out the hard way that my luggage is not waterproof.) There was a mad rush to the bus door since the 12 noon bus never showed up either. My husband and I got on because we had the 11:30 confirmation. My bus was scheduled to arrive in DC at 3:45. We arrived at 6:15! To make matters worse, we were told sternly at the rest stop that we had only 10 minutes at the rest stop. All of the passengers dutifully arrived back in their seats within 10 minutes and sat in their seats on the sweltering bus. Apparently, the bus driver decided to have the 10 course tasting menu at Popeye's, since he took a 35 minute break as we alll sweated on the stuffy unairconditioned bus. We decided to take Amtrak back. It was fast, efficient and comfortable, though expensive. I don't think I will be using the bus to DC ever again.

Share this post


Link to post

I have a friend who attended every performance and just told me that Nina Kaptsova danced Gulnare at every show, whether or not it was announced before the curtain went up.

At the Tuesday dress rehearsal, the role of Gulnare was shared by Nina Kaptsova (Jardin segment and in costume) and someone-other-than-Krysanova (all other segments, wearing blue leotard, black tights and white practice tutu skirt) who, to me, looked like Anastasia Meskova even though Meskova was not on the playbill's roster. 'Mystery Dancer' has auburn hair and bangs, and big blue eyes.

p.s. Krysanova was definitely around. She was unmistakable as the 2nd Odalisque at opening night.

Share this post


Link to post

I will report more later,

just answer some comments in prior posts. I think i am lucky because with my "gamble" i ended up seeing all 3 leading balerinas. Rehearsal, Tuesday, Sat. & Sund matinee (and I don't have the favorite, they were just all different, same about male leads)

(PS: my favorite Medora is TERESHKINA!!!! by a huge margin).....

PSPS: I LOVED the ballet overall, the whole company felt more relaxed and at ease on Sunday. Every day, the soloist were wonderful, Anastasia Goryacheva, Denis Medvedev, 3 Odalisks, Nina Kaptsova (Gulnara), and Zibrova (favorite wife), are the best, I didn't see Krysanova dancing Gulnara but heard she was heavenly. And all other characters - what a show.... THANK you Burlaka!!!!!!!

It was Osipova who missed that entry in the Garden sciene (when corps were frozen still) (I kept an eye on Sunday). Her fuete travelled, and you're right about Vasiliev, he mislanded in his second jump, and i am not sure of the 3rd (since my seat cut it off), he didn't seem confident with other jumps that followed. He was the Most passionate pirate and acted with most abandon. Their last sciene was not "convenional" - too much hugging and no "praise to the lord" for saving them and they jumped off their knees too early before the curtain fell completely (looked awkward). I don't think either of them injured themselves. Osipova DID look exhosted when she went out to greet fans at back stage door. But neither of them limped or showed any sign of pain when they finally departed together.

A coach when asked about the casting change "politically correctly" responded that Osipova didn't feel well. What really happened i guess is at Burlaka & Osipova & Vasiliev conscience. Praise to Shipulina & Scvortsov for stepping in.... more later.

Share this post


Link to post

In the Osipova-Vasiliev performance, I also recall that he had two blips, one a hand down, but nothing looked like it would have caused an injury although you never can tell. I do not recall any actual misses by Osipova, although I did wonder what was happening with the garden scene. I was hoping to be wowed by the Odalisques but was not. They were good but had some problems with spacing between them and the unison was not as spot on as I was expecting it to be. It is interesting that others report the two leads were having an off night. Maybe that is why I left feeling like the ballet and the two leads, while certainly impressive, were not at that stratispheric level that I was hoping to see and that I semi-expected from the videos I have seen of Osipova, especially in Don Q, though I understand videos and live performances are quite different animals.

I have only been learning about and attending the ballet for the past few years, so there is a lot I do not know and have yet to put in context. In the first half hour of the ballet, during a sequence of three lifts, Medora splits her legs and then makes a diamond shape (toes pointing towards each other) before Conrad places her down. When I saw it, I thought WHY? Despite the elegance of Osipova, it looked vulgar. I am wondering if anyone knows if this is part of the original choreography. After the ballet, I was speaking to someone -- also not a longtime ballet-goer -- who brought up the same thing and said that it was noted in the Washington Post review. Also, how much latitude would a ballerina have to change a portion of the choreography if she felt uncomfortable with it?

Share this post


Link to post

I was at the Sunday matinee performance. Definitely agree with others that this production is entertaining and never boring--I would happily have sat through more dancing in Act III, but I love mime, so I was happy. As others have noted, the highlight of this production is the Pas des Fleurs in the Jardin Animé scene, which is easily the most elaborate ballet blanc I have ever seen. Even if the rest of the ballet were dull, I would sit through it just for that and consider it time well spent! The enormous basket in which Medora stands at the end did leave me with a craving for a Cadbury creme egg, though...

Shipulina is a competent technician, but not Bolshoi lead role quality, IMO. Granted, she was probably tired from dancing Saturday night and not expecting to perform Sunday, so I'm sure that was a factor. Kaptsova as Gulnare was delightful, which makes this the second time Gulnare has outshone Medora--the other being Osmolkina's beautiful, lyrical Gulnare to Tereshkina's harsh and wobbly Medora a few years ago. The first two Odalisques were lovely, the first for her extremely neat, quick technique and the second for beaming beautifully out to the entire audience. Lanquedem performed his assemblés into grand plié in Act I with an added touch--a huge sissonne out of the grand plié. Very impressive.

The corps looked beautiful--only a few moments in which lines were not perfectly straight reminded me that this was not the Mariinsky, but otherwise they were top quality. The company in general looked very good, in many instances--dare I say it--better than the Mariinsky. They did not "pose" through their dances but kept everything lively and engaging, and they have not stretched themselves to the point of being unable to move--beats retained the quality of the legs "bouncing" off each other, pirouette preparation time was minimal, &c. In general, I was very impressed, and I very much look forward to the company's next visit!

Share this post


Link to post
.....

Schipulina Overload.....

I think that I predicted this one right. :devil:

Share this post


Link to post

I also schlepped up to DC for the Sunday matinee -- am pleased that I had the fabulous company of some other BT-ers and used the opportunity to visit family and friends..... but was disappointed with the change in casting.

I've seen Shipulina many times in London -- and found her pleasant enough in The Bright Stream, Symphony in C, etc. I've also seen her as Queen of the Dryads, and while perhaps not quite regal enough -- always technically competent and able to hold the stage.

On this tour, I saw her opening night in Chapel Hill, as Queen of the Dryads. My first thought was that she looked tired. In fact, it seemed she could barely even project to the audience. To be fair, the stage was small and slippery, but I'd never seen her dance in such a reserved manner. Vasiliev was Alexandrova's Basilio, and feet covered in rosin, danced well. I believe that was the only performance Alexandrova and Vasiliev did in in Chapel Hill -- am unsure why Alexandrova didn't get more Medoras in DC?

On the other hand, Shipulina danced in every Chapel Hill performance barring one -- including a Kitri and an Odette/Odile, and if I have it right, she did Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon as Medora in DC........ if anyone is exhausted......!!! I didn't expect Shipulina to provide an Alexandrova/Osipova-esque performance, but I also feel that I've seen her dance much better in the past -- more able to connect, as opposed to going through the motions.

Share this post


Link to post
.....

Schipulina Overload.....

I think that I predicted this one right. :devil:

May be i am growing OUT of admiration for Osipova, but i want to THANK Shipulina. she did FOUR performances, and let me dare to say that Bolshoi's Le Corsaire's Medora is more tenous than La Sulfide or Giselle. So, She managed to pull two performances back-to-back.

But we'd never know for sure what really happened - to delight everyone - Osipova didn't look injured or strained (not like poor Fadeyev)..............

Isn't there a theme, Osipova/Visheva - trying to get as many ABT performances and running out of steam/or time to perform with the home company. But it's not for me to judge ;-))

PS: I liked them all, but i'd agree with Hans, i liked Gulnara better than Medora

Share this post


Link to post

I wouldn't judge Vassiliev solely by Saturday's performance. His Golden Idol a few weeks ago was fantastic and very technically assured.

He might not have looked injured, but there may have been something bothering him on Saturday that showed up in the difficulties he's been described as having.

Share this post


Link to post

I was there on Sunday afternoon and thought that Shipulina was pretty but nothing special. She is what I gather would be the Bolshoi's version of Paloma Herrera -- pretty, professional, but not a real star. I thought Kaptsova was adorable as Gulnare, and stole the show whenever she was onstage. The corps de ballet and scenery were a size too big for the Kennedy Center stage, and I thought at times that the corps de ballet formations would have looked more beautiful on a bigger stage. Nevertheless I loved the reconstruction, from the costumes to the increased mime. I thought Ratmansky did a good job adding charm and flavor to the story, and the Jardin de Anime scene was among the most beautiful things I have ever seen at the ballet.

Share this post


Link to post

Just a few remarks / replies to some questions above.

Le Corsaire was adapted because of American trade unions demands. In that case Bolshoi had nothing to do with it.

Another question is what was excluded. I would have shortened the scene on a couchette in the cave, and also children dance there, but not Pas des eventailles – that leaves a void in the third act. Besides, there are two original variations by Petipa and nice Pas de six by Ratmansky. But Burlaka had another point of view, as I can conclude from your posts.

This season Le Corsaire was performed only twice at the Bolshoi – on September 23 and 24 (Zakharova & Tsiskaridze, Osipova & Vasiliev, respectively). The company only had rehearsals at the end of May, when Osipova was already in New York.

On Saturday Osipova danced the first Le Corsaire in Washington with high fever. Bolshoi officials already knew this before the show, but they found no appropriate way out. Alexandrova already left for Moscow, and they had only Shipulina and Osipova as Medoras. So they took a risk and let Osipova dance.

In a few hours after the performance Osipova suddenly fainted and was taken to a hospital by an ambulance. She was probably really exhausted (as was supposed here by Natalia), but Bolshoi gave no official comments up to now. So, Shipulina and Skvortsov performed a heroic act and danced Le Corsaire again.

It is a shame that all these dramatic events were not explained to the audience on Sunday. Bolshoi officials should do this.

I have no further info on Osipova’s state of health. She and the company are in a flight now on their way back to Moscow. Let’s hope she will be OK.

Share this post


Link to post
.....

Schipulina Overload.....

I think that I predicted this one right. :)

May be i am growing OUT of admiration for Osipova, but i want to THANK Shipulina. she did FOUR performances, and let me dare to say that Bolshoi's Le Corsaire's Medora is more tenous than La Sulfide or Giselle. So, She managed to pull two performances back-to-back.

But we'd never know for sure what really happened - to delight everyone - Osipova didn't look injured or strained (not like poor Fadeyev)..............

Isn't there a theme, Osipova/Visheva - trying to get as many ABT performances and running out of steam/or time to perform with the home company. But it's not for me to judge ;-))

PS: I liked them all, but i'd agree with Hans, i liked Gulnara better than Medora

I cannot agree more, YID.

As the International Sales Manager for Gaynor Minden, I was in touch with Katya Shipulina throughout the tour (she is a Gaynor Minden Artist). She did indeed dance an incredibly large amount compared to her fellow principals/leading soloists. Last week alone she danced 5 Medoras - count them, 5, in a span of 6 days : Tuesday's General Rehearsal, Wednesday's evening performance, Friday's evening performance, Saturday's evening performance and Sunday's matinee. Not many dancers in the world could pull that off at the end of a three week tour with week two including Odette/Odile & Kitri and still be standing at the end of it. I was with her at dinner late Saturday night when she got the call that she was to dance the Sunday matinee ... she merely shrugged and finished her dinner and wished for a decent massage.

If only every dancer in the world could be as dependable, gracious and easy-going as Katya Shipulina, then she would have the benefit of not having to graciously dance so often for others who bow out at the last minute for 'unknown' reasons. That being said, I thought her Saturday night performance with Ruslan Skvorstov far superior to her Friday night outing with a partner that she had barely rehearsed with and who was evidently too short for her (finger turns were all but impossible!). On Saturday her arabesque at the end of her variation from the pas de deux in Scene II of Act I was divine - she lingered there for a few extra seconds, a look of pure joy on her face.

Share this post


Link to post

After having seen Osipova in her three performances at the Met I was among those disappointed on Sunday. Sorry to hear her absence from the performance was due to illness. I was consoled somewhat by the fact that I really disliked the Bolshoi's Corsaire. I must be missing something because most reactions I have heard were quite positive but I found it interminable. I found the cast quite a disappointment but was more troubled by the production. I had seen the ABT's Corsaire for the first time a couple of weeks ago and while it's certainly no great shakes I still enjoyed much of the dancing, especially Simkin as Lankedem and Corella as Ali. Which brings me to one bone of contention I had with the Bolshoi's production. In the ABT production Lankendam, no first name is listed for the part in ABT's program, is a dancing part and acted without any trace of anti-semitism. In the Bolshoi's he's a character part and played like the he's the Merchant of Venice. I know very little about the history of the ballet but I was surprised that this new production chose to have Lankendem, Isaac Lankendem in the program, acted in such a virulently anti-semitic way. That may be historically accurate for a nineteenth century Russian ballet, it's certainly par for the course in the literature, at least Gogol, but is it necessary for a new production? Is this common in most productions of Corsaire?

Share this post


Link to post

Thank you, Mikhail, for that additional information. In that case, I really cannot blame Shipulina for her average-quality performance on Sunday--in fact I would say that given the circumstances, she danced excellently! No one could ask a dancer who both had a fever and fainted to perform, and it sounds as if Shipulina was the only option. I am grateful she was able to dance, and I'm sure we all wish Osipova a speedy recovery. Hopefully Shipulina will have some well-deserved time off after this tour!

Share this post


Link to post
In a few hours after the performance Osipova suddenly fainted and was taken to a hospital by an ambulance. She was probably really exhausted (as was supposed here by Natalia), but Bolshoi gave no official comments up to now. So, Shipulina and Skvortsov performed a heroic act and danced Le Corsaire again.

It is a shame that all these dramatic events were not explained to the audience on Sunday. Bolshoi officials should do this.

Thank you for the explanation, Mikhail. I think if they had provided this three-sentence explanation, they would have won a lot of sympathy and understanding from the audience. On the other hand, I must point out that Kennedy Center's performance manager told me that the Kennedy Center management only found out about the ambulance, the hospital, and the substitution at 12:30 on Sunday afternoon, i.e., one hour before the performance! If this was known the day before, the Bolshoi management should have let the Kennedy Center know immediately, so that the update could have been posted online. This would have saved many of us an out-of-town trip, and would have allowed others who had already seen Shipulina and Skvortsov to donate their tickets. All this is just common sense, good manners, and good business practice of keeping loyal customers happy.

I would also like to point out that, IMHO, having no reserve troops at the end of a long and demanding tour is unwise, as is having a dancer perform with a high fever, especially as difficult a role as Medora. As to the lack of rehearsal time, again, I believe the blame lies squarely with the management, since Osipova's ABT engagement was arranged and announced a very, very long time ago.

Finally, I would like to express thanks and admiration to all the dancers involved, especially Ms Shipulina and Mr Skvortsov for their heroics in stepping in at the last moment despite having danced the night before, and Ms Osipova for her heroics in performing while ill.

Share this post


Link to post
Which brings me to one bone of contention I had with the Bolshoi's production. In the ABT production Lankendam, no first name is listed for the part in ABT's program, is a dancing part and acted without any trace of anti-semitism. In the Bolshoi's he's a character part and played like the he's the Merchant of Venice. I know very little about the history of the ballet but I was surprised that this new production chose to have Lankendem, Isaac Lankendem in the program, acted in such a virulently anti-semitic way. That may be historically accurate for a nineteenth century Russian ballet, it's certainly par for the course in the literature, at least Gogol, but is it necessary for a new production? Is this common in most productions of Corsaire?

Unfortunately, all forms of religious and ethnic intolerance, including antisemitism, have long been and still are part of life in Russia. Byron's poem that the names of the four main characters are taken from does not have any slave traders, Jews, or slave markets. The names "Isaac Lanquedem," "Lankedem," and "Lankendem" are all misspelled versions of the main protagonist from Alexandre Dumas' novel "Isaac Laquedem," based on the legend of the Wondering Jew---however, the actual character in the ballet has nothing in common with Dumas' character, either, as far as I know. I'd be curious to know who it was that introduced this character into the ballet, and when. However, given the virulent antisemitism of the tsarist Russia, it is no surprise to me that the character took root. Clearly, nothing much has changed since then, as the following quote from the Bolshoi's official Corsaire synopsis shows:

"Medora begs Seyd-Pasha to grant her her freedom but, seeing that he is unrelenting, complains of cruel treatment by her guardian; Seyd-Pasha orders the eunuch to send the Jew packing."

(See http://bolshoi.ru/en/season/ballet/reperto...nact26=art#dyn)

Miraculously, this was edited in the Kennedy Center program booklet and replaced with:

"Medora begs Seyd-Pasha to grant her her freedom but, seeing that he is unrelenting, complains of cruel treatment by her guardian. Pasha

Seyd orders Isaac to leave."

(In fact, before he orders Isaac to leave, he has him whipped.)

Was it necessary to give Lanquedem a huge fake nose? Apparently so, because it was clearly intended to drive home the point that he is Jewish. Could the Bolshoi have come up with a more repulsive collection of antisemitic stereotypes? Isaac is greedy to the point of selling his young ward, cowardly, weak, repulsive, and rich.

I wish I could say that I was shocked by all this, but I am not. In Russia, racism is business as usual.

Share this post


Link to post
I think if they had provided this three-sentence explanation, they would have won a lot of sympathy and understanding from the audience.

Had they made this announcement, I think most of the audience would have been rooting for and appreciating Shipulina 110%. With all of the casting changes, I didn't even realize she was about to do her third performance in 2.5 days.

At least she got the call the night before and not at lunch on Sunday...

Share this post


Link to post