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Bolshoi in London 2010Royal Opera House July/Aug

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#16 Anna P

Anna P


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Posted 31 March 2010 - 11:42 AM

It's so annoying that you need to be a member to book the tickets...did u get a good seat for Spartacus with Ivan? Do u know whether there are any good seats left (stalls) for the performances, esp Don Q with Natalia and Ivan?

Anna, I checked the seating chart for Osipova/Vasiliev Don Q and there are Stalls seats in all rows (save for row A), both center aisle and sides.

I'm not an ROH member; I got the email from Hochhauser because I had bought tickets on line some years ago when the Bolshoi performed in London, thus I was on his mailing list.

Thanks for that! I just hope there will still be seats left when I book in April! I guess I just have to book as early as I can...

Ahh...I still don't know whether to see Don Q or Spartacus!

#17 Rosa


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Posted 14 July 2010 - 04:13 AM

There are a lot of cast changes on the Royal Opera House website regarding the Bolshoi's tour starting next week. Zakharova is out of the tour due to an injury. Gone, too, is Ekaterina Shipulina. Marianna Ryzhkina has been added to the tour. Osipova now dances the opening nights of both Coppelia and Giselle; she and Vasiliev get two performances of Don Quixote yet not their original one.

#18 Kyeong



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Posted 14 July 2010 - 05:34 AM

I might be able to be in London during Bolshoi London season, though the possibilities are not high.
In this regards, I hope someone kindly let me know which performance to choose considering the casting/the remaining seat.

- The best available seat for Osipova is at the P row, Orchestra stalls, where I cannot see well.
- Then, the choice will be between (i) the seat at the B row for Anna Nikulina/Alexander Volchkov, and (ii) the one in the C row, but side section, for Nina Kaptsova/Ruslan Skvortsov. Which one shall I choose?

Further, I want to know when the returned ticket will be released. Spartacus of July 31, both matinee and evening, are nearly sold out. Given their high popularity, I'd better give up seeing it?

Many thanks in advance.

#19 Mashinka


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Posted 14 July 2010 - 05:58 AM

This will be Nikulina's first leading role in London, so she is an unknown quantity. Kaptsova is a lovely dancer, I'm sure she will be very good as Giselle. Unfortunately the cast changes mean I now get to see Nikulina unless I can get another ticket somehow.

Returns are usually available on the day, though you may have to queue, but I think there should be a good chance of something turning up as most people booked their tickets months ago.

#20 Kyeong



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Posted 14 July 2010 - 06:14 AM

This will be Nikulina's first leading role in London, so she is an unknown quantity. Kaptsova is a lovely dancer, I'm sure she will be very good as Giselle. Unfortunately the cast changes mean I now get to see Nikulina unless I can get another ticket somehow.

Returns are usually available on the day, though you may have to queue, but I think there should be a good chance of something turning up as most people booked their tickets months ago.

Thank you very much for quick reply. I am also very happy to know still some chances are remaining for Spartacus by Ivan Vasiliev/Nina Kaptsova. Thanks.

#21 Helene



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Posted 16 July 2010 - 09:58 AM

When I wanted to see the English National Opera at the Coliseum, I stood on the returns line about 20 minutes before the show started, and was about the 19th person in line. There were nine couples ahead of me. It was a last-minute decision to try to see the opera, and I would have gone a lot earlier if I had planned in advance. I was really lucky to get in, and I wouldn't have had a chance if I wanted more than one. Singles are usually easier to come by.

#22 chiapuris


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Posted 20 July 2010 - 05:08 AM

Spartacus - Bolshoi Ballet
Monday, July 19 2010, 7:30 pm, Royal Opera House, London
 Aram Khachaturian
 Yuri Grigorovich

Ivan Vasiliev
Nina Kaptsova
Maria Allash
Alexander Volchkov

After seeing the opening performance of the Bolshoi London 2010 season,
I'm finding that the Bolshoi is becoming my favorite ballet company.

It believes in its future, respects its past, and nurtures the new.
How many other companies do that?

Spartacus, of course, is a work from its past, from an earlier socio-political environment and context,
but one that is graced with an original, evening-length musical score; a rare commodity.
Moreover, the choreography of Grigorovich, for all its recognized flaws,
has virtues that have not been surpassed in later choreographic work; namely,
placement of male dancing in the forefront of the work, and promotion of a heroic style.
The latter may be considered by some as an aesthetic throwback, something past its historic moment.

When one sees the conviction, vibrancy, and the sheer presence of the Bolshoi dancers in Spartacus,
at least for me, the heroic style lives.

Spartacus relies on a quartet of leading characters to create its potency:
the male hero -Spartacus-and the anti-hero -Crassus,
and the female hearth-keeper -Phrygia and her opposite, the female will-to-power -Aegina.

Tonight's performance had the ideal cast for the quartet.
(Although this being the Bolshoi, there are, very likely, other ideal casts in the waiting).

Ivan Vasiliev, although young, is well known for his virtuosic capabilities.
What made him compelling as Spartacus, is his total absorption
of the heroic style. Every second on stage, whether moving or still,
he remains a man with a mission, a hero whose wife has prophesied his
coming power and final misfortune.

Nina Kaptsova was a convincing and physically gorgeous Phrygia,
a 'weeping spirit', in a lineage that follows Natalia Bessmertnova.

Alexander Volchkov as Crassus, portrayed the anti-hero as alpha male with
prodigious displays of physical control and body language denoting authority
and facial expressions suggesting the arrogance of power.

Maria Allash as Aegina was a total surprise for me.
In previous roles (the one I remember best is as the Lilac Fairy),
she was a model of academic purity and sweetness of disposition; kind of the opposite of the values of Aegina.
Aegina is a woman seeking to gain authority and the riches of the world, as an end that justifies any means.

Allash's Aegina is a tour de force, compelling, driven, and determined.
I thought it was a fantastic performance.

Special mention is due to the trio of shepherds (A Bolotin, D. Medvedev, V. Lopatin) and
the quartet of shepherds (V. Biktimirov, D. Savin, E. Khromushin, A. Vodopetov) and the quintet of shepherdesses
(A. Stashkevich, S. Pavlova, Y. Lunkina, B. Joo Yoon, D. Gurevich) for their brilliant dancing.

Bravos to the ensemble artists who portrayed satyrs and courtesans, slaves and slave traders,
gladiators and roman legions with conviction, verve and total dedication.

The Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra was capably led by Pavel Sorokin.

There was enthusiastic audience applause for two curtain calls.
The quartet also appeared twice in front of the curtain to accept the continuing audience applause.

#23 YID


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Posted 20 July 2010 - 08:05 AM

from official media

#24 chiapuris


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Posted 23 July 2010 - 06:06 AM

Bolshoi Ballet
Ballet in three acts
22 July 7:30 pm Royal Opera House London

Music Leo Delibes
Libretto Charles Nuitter and Arthur Saint-Leon
Choreography Marius Petipa and Enrico Cecchetti
Revival Sergei Vikharev
Set Design Boris Kaminsky
Décor sketches Pyotr Lambin (acts I & III) Heinrich Levot (act II)
Costume Design Tatiana Noginova
Costume sketches Adolph Charlemagne, Pyotr Grigoriev, Evgeny Ponomaryov
Archive Research Pavel Gershenson

Choreography restored using notations from the Harvard Theatre Collection.

Swanhilda Natalia Osipova
Franz Ruslan Skvortsov
Coppelius Gennady Yanin
Eight friends Viktoria Litvinova, Anna Tikhomirova, Anna Okuneva, Svetlana Pavlova, Yanina Parienko, Daria Khokhlova,
Yulia Lunkina, Joo Yoon Bae
Mazurka Anna Antropova, Anna Nakhapetova, Alexander Vodopetov, Igor Tsvirko
Czardas Kristina Karaseva, Vitaly Biktimirov
L'Aurore Ekaterina Krysanova
La Prière Anna Nikulina
Le Travail Anastasia Yatsenko and
Daria Khokhlova, Svetlana Pavlova,
Maria Prorich, Olga Tubalova
La Folie Anna Leonova
Noce Villageoise Anna Nakhapetova, Batyr Annadurdyev

Let me say right away that I found this the best production I have ever seen of Coppélia, lively,
coherent in visual and musical terms, with the story and its incidents clearly told, but foremost, elegant, in all its parts.

The cast was spectacular in the Vikharev revival of the Petipa and Cecchetti choreography,
matching the melodic brilliance of Delibes' score, and the simply beautiful costumes- down to the last one-,
as well as the airy ambience provided by the recreated sets.

If I were rating with stars, I would give the highest number to every aspect of the
production, casting, sets, costumes, orchestra, revival, --and throw in an extra one to Sergei Vikharev for the revival.

The music enchanted me even with the overture, before the curtain came up.

The choreography enchanted with its musical consonance and its simplicity of means;
less always turned out to be more. Just one example :
when Swanhilda's friend danced they did a single pirouette en dehors but that pirouette
finished in a developpé en avant before closing.

Natalia Osipova seems born to play this part.
Even though she has stated she had always wanted "to suffer on stage",
she also has the singular gift of making people smile while she's on stage.
She is a wonderful Swanhilda.

In a manège of hops around the stage, she exhibited the same surreal ballon
she accomplishes with her leaps. Simply spectacular defiance of gravity.

To my mind, this series of hops showed the certain hand of Cecchetti. Or I'd like to think so.

The male contingent of the cast were a match to Osipova's stage work.

Ruslan Skvortsov had wonderful skills in mime and facial expressiveness as well as dancing and partnering excellently.
As a couple, Osipova and Skvortsov, equally showed, through momentary touches of intimacy (including chagrin),
that they had a relationship with each other, with a full range of emotions resulting from it.

Gennady Yanin as Coppélius, builds an eccentric character without the silliness of 'the doddering fool' syndrome,
one that comes across as ageism in other productions of Coppélia.
The character retains his dignity as a human being throughout,
even though he creates comedy and sees the world differently than others.
In the last scene, while the wedding festivities proceed, we see Coppélius
crossing the stage, carrying his inert doll, now disheveled and half-dressed, away from the action.

Part of the enchantments that Coppélia offers are the ensemble dances of the Mazurka and Czardas
in the first act, the Spanish and Scottish dances of Coppélia in the second act, and the wedding dances of the third act,
the grand pas de deux, and the solos of Dawn, Prayer, Work, Folly, and the Country Wedding dance ensemble.

I don't want to get prolix with elaborate descriptions of all these riches.

The grand pas de deux, esp. the quiet and profound adage, was exquisite.
The group dances (Mazurka, Czardas, etc.) were top rate, the solos of the 3rd act a cornucopia of riches.
The Dawn of Ekaterina Krysanova, the Prayer of Anna Nikulina, Work of Anastasia Yatsenko, Folly of Anna Leonova.

Just pick a favorite. You can't go wrong.

The Bolshoi orchestra was conducted by Igor Dronov.

The Royal Opera House audience applauded enthusiastically.
Natalia Osipova brought onto the stage the conductor as well as Sergei Vikharev.

#25 Drew


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Posted 23 July 2010 - 08:13 AM

Thanks to Chiapuris for these reviews. I am at a not very comfortable hotel computer station and won't be writing much unless perhaps after I return to the States. I did want to say at least that I was at both of these performances and agree that they were fabulous--On a few points perhaps I would have some very mild reservations/questions. (And I still prefer Balanchine's and Danilova's Coppelia at least when it comes to Act III.) But these were terrific performances with the company looking in great form.

As Swanilda Osipova is a sheer joy to watch and I particularly appreciated Yannin's Coppelius who indeed, as Chiapuris reported, gave a rather sympathetic and (so to speak) humanely grounded performance. Indeed, all the performances in this meticulously prepared nineteenth-century classic and in the wildly over the top theatrics of Spartacus were, somehow, though in very different styles, characterized by a wonderfully humane quality--that is, one felt powerful and genuine emotion being communicated through all the (almost always excellent and often superlative) dancing whether classical or character....or whatever it is one calls Grigorovich.

#26 sunday



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Posted 23 July 2010 - 08:31 AM

Wrong thread, sorry.

#27 sunday



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Posted 23 July 2010 - 08:37 AM

I'll be in London to see some Bolshoi performances, so if any of you Bolshoi-holics -I'm partial to Osipova- want to meet, please PM me. I PM-ed some people already, but I see that there would be more than a handful of posters attending Bolshoi performances.

Note to Moderators: If the request is inappropriate, or this is the wrong thread, then please delete.

#28 chiapuris


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Posted 30 July 2010 - 01:09 AM

Bolshoi 28 July 2010 Royal Opera House London
Music Adolph Adam
Choreography Marius Petipa after Jean Coralli and Jules Perot
Production Yuri Grigorovich
Designs Simon Virsaladze

Giselle Nina Kaptsova
Albrecht Ruslan Skvortsov
Hilarion Ruslan Pronin
Berthe Elena Bukanova
Bathilde Kristina Karaseva
of Courland Alexei Loparevich
Wilfred Vladislav Lantrantov
pas de deux Anastasia Sashkevich, Viacheslav Lopatin
Myrtha Maria Allash
Two Wilis Viktoria Osipova, Anna Leonova

Tonight's Giselle featured a dancer I have liked very much in other roles (Phrygia -this season-
and Aurora -some seasons back at the Bolshoi-).
My expectations for her performance were positive, without knowing anything of her performance record of Giselle.
What I did know is that Nina Kaptsova is listed as a Leading Soloist (below principal and above first soloist)
and that her coach is Marina Kondratieva.

Whatever expectations I had, she exceeded them.
Ms Kaptsova was simply wonderful as Giselle, particularly successful as a newly-anointed Wili in the second act.

The first act showed her in fine form in all the dance passages, with wide and buoyant jumps,
a finely honed musicality, and with delicate and fine lines;
her pairing with the gifted Ruslan Skvortsov as Albrecht was extremely successful as well.

At one point she stopped in her tracks while dancing to establish for us the
fact that Giselle was suffering from some sort of frailty, one that impinged on her love of dancing.
It was a clear moment of story telling -one that I don't remember ever seeing stated so clearly.
But there it was: a particular bit of mime, if you will, in a production that avoided mime on principle.

The first act Peasant pas de deux had choreography that looked like it came from somewhere else and hardly suggested village dancing.
Anastasia Stashkevich and Viacheslav Lopatin danced it well.
Ruslan Pronin gave a thought-out interpretation of Hilarion as the local suitor of Giselle.

The sketchy style of Virsaladze's sets suited neither the music nor the libretto of Giselle.

The costumes were a mixed lot. The court costumes were lavish.
The costumes of the corps looked too sophisticated for peasant costumes.
They, too, looked like they came in from somewhere else.

Wilfred, Albrecht's 'sword-bearer', had the most elegant outfit and hat for someone 'in service'.

Kaptsova, in the second act, impersonated the 'weeping spirit', of the neophyte Wili trying to save the life of her beloved;
with it she created a profoundly moving portrait. The intensity and focus and musicality of her performance were simply magical.
Kaptsova's Giselle will long remain in my memory as an extraordinary performance.

From the passion of her grand pirouettes en arabesque when she first dances,
to the sustained arabesques at her exits, every step in between added to the integrity of the portrait.
The partnering of Skvortsov was excellent and his overhead lifts breathtaking.
His variation and acting skills as Albrecht were first-rate.

Maria Allash was an imperious leader of the Wilis, implacable, stern.
She danced beautifully.

The audience responded enthusiastically with two curtain calls and
appearances in front of the curtain following.
Pavel Sorokin conducted the Bolshoi orchestra.

Ballet in four parts
Music Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Choreography George Balanchine
Staged by Sandra Jennings

Waltz Ekaterina Krysanova
Russian Anastasia Yatsenko
Elegy Anna Leonova

Serenade preceded Giselle.

The work was well-performed by the ensemble, as would be expected.

Krysanova, probably my favorite dancer at the Bolshoi, gave what looked to me like
an ineloquent performance as the Waltz girl, nothing wrong with it technically,
but not the kind you feel takes wings.
The apotheosis with her was, nevertheless, eloquent.

Anastasia Yatsenko, was the most impressive of the three soloists, buoyant and soaring with abandon.

Anna Leonova had elegant articulated movements and a clarity of phrasing
but kept herself expressionless, as if it were a virtue to erase all facial expression.
She is, notwithstanding, a lovely dancer.

My companion and I both decided, when thinking about the performance,
that a major problem may have been with the lighting design, which was rather clinical.

It lacked the kind of luminosity one associates with Serenade productions.

The lighting failed to help us see a balanchinean world, a world filled with creatures somewhat like ourselves,
but transformed through the prisms of art, into dancers, aspirants of form and meaning.

#29 chiapuris


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Posted 01 August 2010 - 01:22 PM

Paquita/Russian Seasons/Petrushka -- Triple Bill, Bolshoi in London
30-07-10 Royal Opera House 7:30

Ballet-burlesque in four scenes

Music Igor Stravinsky
Ballet production Mikhail Fokine (1911)
Bolshoi premiere 6 February 1921
Revival version Sergei Vikharev (2010)
Libretto Igor Stravinsky and Alexandre Benois
Set design Alexandre Benois (1921)
Reproduced by Boris Kaminsky
Costumes Alexandre Benois (1921)
Reproduced by Elena Zaitseva
Lighting design Damir Ismagilov
Archive research Pavel Gershenzon

Petrushka Ivan Vasiliev
Ballerina Anastasia Stashkevich
Moor Igor Tsvirko
Charlatan Gennady Yanin

I no longer remember whether I've seen any earlier performances of this ballet,
or whether what I have seen, has been on tv and dvds.
This seems to me like a mime show, with the music and sets and costumes
the principal components.

My companion wondered why 'waste' Vasiliev in it,
But it was a very successful part for Nijinsky in his time. Times change.
Still, I think this revival is extremely useful for our times.
It helps us understand where we've already been in ballet explorations.

The early Stravinsky music is gorgeous; I heard sounds in the theatre I'd never heard on recordings.
The reconstruction is vivacious and entertaining. This work still stands,
in its story telling and ambiance, as a distant branch in the lineage of classical dance.

I liked it a lot.

Vasiliev created a poignant portrait of Petrushka, Anastasia Stashkevich was delightfully expressive
as the Ballerina and the Moor, of Igor Tsvirko, was very entertaining in the worship of his coconut.

The costumes looked pristine.

Thanks are due to Sergei Vikharev for this lovely revival.
The orchestra was led by Igor Dronov.

Russian Seasons
Music Leonid Desyatnikov
Choreography Alexei Ratmansky
Costume design Galina Solovyeva
Lighting design Mark Stanley
Adaptation of
lighting design Sergei Shevchenko
Premiere NYCB 8 June 2006
Premiere Bolshoi 15 November 2008

Couple in orange and in white Ekaterina Krysanova, Andrei Merkuriev
Couple in red Anastasia Meskova, Denis Savin
Couple in green Yulia Gebenshikova, Alexaner Vodopetov
Couple in blue Anna Okuneva, Vladislav Lantratov
Couple in purple Anna Yatsenko, Igor Tsvirko
Couple in magenta Anna Nikulina, Viacheslav Lopatin

Violin Irina Blank
Soprano Yanna Ivanilova

This is a work that requires repeated viewings.

The costumes, empire style strap dresses for the women,
and loose shirts and pants with boots for the men, were flattering
and gave good lines for dancing as well as a feeling of (Russian) folk costumes.
Particularly the pillbox hats with chin-straps worn by the women in the
opening and closing scenes.
I was glad they took them off for the greater part of the work,
because they remained too metaphorically 'folksy'.

The music is a twelve-part composition for string orchestra, violin and mezzo-soprano.

Mark Stanley's lighting had the cyclorama lit in strong colors of a wide range,
but not the balanchinean sky-blue.

The dancing throughout this performance was admirable.

The leading couple, Krysanova and Merkuriev were simply stunning
in the clarity of their dancing, alone and together.

I couldn't take my eyes off Anastasia Meskova whenever she appeared.
An angular dancer with the rank of soloist,
she has a strong projection and a phenomenally propulsive sense of movement.

I wish I could recall the many contributions of the excellent dancers
in this performance. But jet lag is winning. (I'm writing this from home).

This is a very strong work. I particularly liked the sections with the songs.
I hope to see it again.

Igor Dronov conducted the fine orchestra of the Bolshoi.

Grand Pas from Paquita
Music Ludwig Minkus
Choreography Marius Petipa
Staging and new version Yuri Burlaka
Set design Alyona Pikalova
Costume design Elena Zaitseva
Lighting design Damir Ismagilov
Original premiere Bolshoi Theatre, St Petersburg, 8 January 1882
New version premiere Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, 15 November 2008
Choregraphic notation and
original score Harvard University Theatre Collection
Score restoration Alexander Troitsky

Paquita Maria Alexandrova
Lucien Nikolai Tsiskaridze
Pas de Trois Anna Tikhomirova, Anastasia Stashkevich, Andrey Bolotin
Six soloists Maria Vinogradova, Anna Okuneva, Olga Stebletsova,
Victoria Osipova, Svetlana Pavlova, Yulia Lunkina
Eight coryphées Yanina Parienko, Victoria Litvinova, Sofia Lubimova,
Ilona Matsiy, Anastasia Shilova, Galina Potdykova,
Olga Barishka, Angelina Vlashinets

Variations: music of Ricardo Drigo save for Trilby: music of Yuli Gerber

1 (from the ballet King Candaules) Maria Allash
2 (from the ballet La Source) Ekaterina Krysanova
3 (from the ballet Camargo) Nina Kaptsova
4 (from the ballet Trilby) Natalia Osipova
5 (from the ballet La Sylphide) Maria Alexandrova
6 (from the ballet La Source) Nikolai Tsiskaridze

The program for this performance lists the timings for the ballets:
Petrushka: 40 mins. , Russian Seasons: 40 mins.,
Grand Pas from Paquita: 45 minutes.

Of all the ballets, Grand Pas was the one I didn't want to end.
When we think of all the original remnants of classical dance, the Grand
Pas is probably the most iconic example of Petipa's classicism.

As the Bolshoi program states: …..
"An extended classical dance ensemble, marvelously structured, which provides
an opportunity for nearly all the leading soloists to display their virtuosity -
and to riotously compete with each other."

And what a competition it was! The first gem to be presented was the pas de trois.
Bolotin (first soloist) was a great match and partner to Tikhomirova and Stashkevich.
All three shone; their synchronous held landings were splendid.

The groups of two or four, with the six soloists and the eight coryphées were a joy:
buoyant jumps, lovely beats, impeccable pirouettes, elegant finishes.

One gets a strong impression that this choreography
"is beloved by dancers and public alike", as the program notes state.

Alexandrova presented herself with consummate assurance, danced impressively,
and completed her series of elegant single fouettés with a serenely authoritative finish.

Tsiskaridze comported himself with his usual idiomatic expressiveness, this time
sporting sideburns and a moustache. His variations were well-danced, both of them
showing an adherence to aristocratic demeanor
(except for one jumped split movement that seemed to come out of nowhere).

Other gems of this work are the variations from defunct ballets
(some of these variations appear in other works), danced by principals
(Allash, Osipova) or leading soloists (Krysanova and Kaptsova).

These are treasures. To see Allash with her correct classical comportment,
followed by Krysanova's expansive movement and joy for dancing,
and then the elegant, understated passion of Kaptsova's mesmerizing style,
and this followed by the literally explosive aerial dancing of Osipova,
followed by……Alexandrova.

It doesn't get better than this.

The Bolshoi orchestra was in the capable hands of Pavel Klinichev.

This is the last London performance I'll see before returning home.

#30 Drew


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Posted 04 August 2010 - 02:22 PM

Now I am back in the United States, I thought I would add a little bit to my earlier comments about the Bolshoi in London. I was partly inspired by my strong agreement with the comment in yesterday's NY Times review that the company appears to be in full flower. Chiapuris's reviews have registered and celebrated the same thing, but I was so dazzled and made so happy by the performances I saw I want to celebrate it a little more!

In the heydey of Grigorovitch's directorship of the company I saw Ivan the Terrible, The Golden Age, and (his) Romeo and Juliet--but somehow never Spartacus. I almost took a pass in London but am glad I decided not to do so. With the company giving a seemingly enthralled and certainly enthralling performance, it was just terrific. I will add that I do not find it deeply memorable--and by the middle of the the third act it is rather too obviously repetitive in its effects--but moment by moment at the Bolshoi's opening night in London, I was kept (metaphorically) on the edge of my seat with excitement.

As I think many readers of this forum know, the ballet sets massed, heroically posed groupings into wildly athletic sequences highlighted by the four principles who at different points lead the various groups charging across the stage with a vitality and sensuality that I doubt any other ballet company in the world can muster. It alternates these scenes with individual 'monologues' for the leads in which they dance with much the same athleticism, though sometimes a little more slowly, in scenes meant to express their motives and character and--if 'expression' be understood as offering the very broadest emotional strokes imaginable ('arrogance,' 'suffering,' etc.)--they do express them.

I said above I had never seen Spartacus--I had in fact twice seen excerpts and the most recent occasion (some years ago, perhaps when V. Vasiliev or Fadayechev was directing?) the company looked drab and uninterested in the ballet, with the predictable result that the potentially entertaining became simply embarassing--a Cecil B De Mill flop. Not so in London. Those who remember the ballet from its heydey may be able to criticize: what I saw was passion and energy let loose so as to bring the hokiest of the ballet's sentiments and all its athleticism to brilliant, joyous, believable life. There was one moment--I'm no longer sure exactly when but I think women were running around the stage in some sort of orgy--when I thought THIS is simply sensational; THIS is what people mean by the Bolshoi.

Of course, without good principals the whole thing would fall flat. I agree with many of the critics who said the Crassus, Volchkov, got better as the night went along--the signature 'fish' jump initially seemed a bit low and unimpressive--but he definitely built up steam effectively. Several London critics were mad for Maria Allash as Aegina--I thought she did a fine job but she was the one dancer on stage all evening whom one could see occasionally 'adjusting' her positions whereas everyone else just flung themselves into the choreography and managed nonetheless fully to convey control as well as power. (The role is so leg-centric--that I confess I would be curious what Zakharova would make of it.) That said, Allash had a wonderful sensuality particularly in her upper body and if it were not for the very high standard of everyone around her on stage I might not even have noticed the little adjustments.

Kaptsova was a delicate and fragile-appearing Phrygia--lovely in every way. Personally, I felt she did not quite have the full emotional weight called for in the final scene of mourning over Spartacus's body, but her dancing in every other portion of the ballet was exquisite. Of course, the "event" of this performance was the young Ivan Vasiliev's Spartacus--he brings the role intensity, brilliance, power, and control. This is not just evident in, say, huge leaps but also in beautifully articulated turns with an arched torso that seemed as if they were a pure embodiment of emotions (longing and desperation). He also has the kind of presence that holds your attention when he is standing still--not that he stands still much in this ballet. I had thought his (relatively) small size would be undermining in this ballet. Not a bit of it to my eyes. Indeed, he was the one person on stage who seemed to me easily to be able to take his place next to the Bolshoi dancers of Grigorovitch's own era in this kind of work.

I will say that as days passed, Spartacus in no way "grew" in my memory--rather it faded. I think this speaks to the fact that (for my taste) the ballet itself is more guilty pleasure than great art, 'sensational' rather than 'spiritual'. I'm not even sure I would want to see it a second time, unless perhaps it were my only chance to see Vasiliev again. But I also would not want to sell short the tremendous impact it has--at least on a first viewing of a strong and committed performance. The ballet definitely "lives" in this company's performances and lives in a way that proves it does deserve to live. (Something that was not so evident when I saw the excerpt so drably performed years ago.)

I will try to write a little later today about Coppelia -- a production of the ballet that HAS grown in my memory -- and Natalia Osipova's brilliant Swanilda and indeed the whole company which, in a ballet that is (to say the least) rather different from Spartacus, indeed appears to be "in full flower."

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