Jump to content


Bolshoi in London 2010Royal Opera House July/Aug


  • Please log in to reply
59 replies to this topic

#31 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,154 posts

Posted 05 August 2010 - 07:50 PM

I'm not a big "Spartacus" fan, but that performance sounds is one I would have loved to have seen.

I can't wait to read your impressions of "Coppelia".

#32 Drew

Drew

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,238 posts

Posted 06 August 2010 - 12:18 PM

Edited to add: This came out really long--even for me. I wanted to pay tribute to what I saw because I simply loved it, but apologise still for going over the top.

I have been ill--and my computer, as if in hysterical sympathy, is actually in a coma (I am on a borrowed and rather ancient laptop). But I will try to say something about Coppelia which I saw three times in London, twice in a cast led by Osipova and Skvortsov and once led by Stashkevich and Lopatin (I had the name wrong and Bella12 corrected me below). The production as has been noted already is a Vikhaerev reconstruction of the Petipa/Ceccheti one of 1895--with fine traditional backdrops and gorgeous picture-book bright costumes.

The production is altogether joyful and beautifully, even lovingly danced. There is a touch of 'grandeur' that I don't remember from other Coppelia's I have seen (going back to Frederic Franklin's for the National Ballet and including the Royal Danish Ballet's and Balanchine-Danilova's)--a Lord of the Manor turns up in the final act; he sends a minion to pay off the distraught Coppelius whom we never see join in the final celebrations. Coppelius himself looks a bit of a gentleman (however eccentric) and lives in a rather grand home with huge paintings of (I think) mythological subjects on his wall. The Czardas in particular is done by a largish ensemble in costumes that are more Act III Swan Lake national celebration than ballet-villagers and the Act III finale dedicating the town bell is a clearly an elaborate allegory of time--with a large clock in the back, an ancient bearded figure sitting atop it, and small children surrounding it, moving the hours. Yet none of this grandeur is at all pompous or heavy-handed--rather it's light, joyful, vivid.

What is particularly remarkable about this production though is that the whole company, at all three performances I saw, managed to hit exactly the right balance of being true to the nineteenth-century spirit of the production (at least to an amateur's eye) while bringing it alive with the kind of immediacy and brilliance one would expect from a masterwork created yesterday. It looked traditional and yet utterly fresh.

This is a joyful Coppelia not a 'dark' one--it could hardly be otherwise with the wonderful Natalia Osipova as Swanilda. At the first performance I saw I was especially struck with the utter softness and lyricism of her upper body throughout, the lacey delicacy and lightness of her dancing in Act I, the ease and joy of her movements in the finale. One felt the romantic sources of the production even as one enjoyed the sunnily articulated splendor of every step. I have seen Osipova in four ballets now and, writing about her, I think one should emphasize not her powerhouse technique, but her absolute dedication to whatever ballet she is dancing even as she has her own distinctive and charismatic presence. She appears to give herself over completely to the spirit of the choreography. (Who that saw her Juliet at ABT in July can forget how utterly spent and even dazed she looked the first few curtain calls?)

As a matter of fact, this Swanilda is not a powerhouse performance: I have seen more amazing fouettes, balances etc. and she was too respectful of the choreography to push where it called for simplicity--this is a ballerina role in which she dazzles with single pirouettes paused at the end with arms opening to show the audience her position or even simple pas de bourree. That said, Act II was simply extraordinary, brilliantly danced (I have never seen it more brilliantly danced) AND brilliantly characterized (perhaps Fracci or Kirkland characterized it with similar intensity--I'm not sure). Indeed the second time I saw Osipova's Swanilda I was sitting in the front row--a surprisingly good seat at Covent Garden as one only loses a bit of the feet--and even at that distance she was uncannily doll like. And from doll like she lets it rip, while somehow remaining her sunny, confident Swanilda-self, determined to teach this rather goofy Coppelius a lesson (as I said it's not a dark production). Whether in the expansive yet sharp-edged Spanish dance or unbelievably quick footwork and soaring, soaring, soaring changements de pieds of her Scottish dance or the little details between these set pieces when she and Coppelius are, at it were, arguing over what she should do or dance next--or the wonderful verve with which she chases him with a sword siezed from one of the dolls--the whole scene unfolds with unbelievable intensity and speed. It's wonderful and then, alas, it's over. And the whole is MORE than helped along by the wonderful Gennadi Yanin who manages to make Coppelius a sympathetic and believable eccentric -- less crazed artist than lonely provincial gentleman with the pretensions of an amateur inventor stirred by loneliness into daydreams of magus-like powers. The simple childlike dignity with which he assumes his magician's cloak as he begins (as he thinks) to bring Coppelia to life perfectly suggests the humanity and tenderness of this portrayal. When he and the rather smaller, yet still boxer-fierce Osipova stand literally nose to nose staring each other down--it is adorable and funny and unforgettable.

Osipova is ballerina beautiful in Act III. From the front row, I found her facial expressions perhaps a bit too ballerina-ish--but I make allowance due to my peculiar seat...and honestly because this is someone for whom I will make allowance because of all that her commitment as an artist has given me. Chiapuris has mentioned the backward hops on pointe the ballerina does in the coda to the pas de deux. I can remember a lot of ballerinas hopping across the stage in various ballets but never any going backwards -- even with Osipova I have to say it does not look like the easiest trick in the world!

As for the company: during the finale, perhaps dazed by the Delibes (which I love) and the wonderfully energized quality of every single soloist, I thought to myself, "they must be the best ballet company in the world today." In fact, I don't believe in "best ballet companies"--different companies have different repertories, good nights, bad nights, good productions, bad productions. But certainly--I will say, a very successful production of Coppelia.

A few more words about the company as a company. I have become ruthless about throwing out programs, but I believe the Swanilda has eight friends and over the course of three performances I saw two casts: the quality of both casts was excellent. Every one of the women seemed as she could have been a leading soloist--the security, the largesse, the clarity, the (forgive the repetition) joy. Basically all the classical dancing in the Act I divertissement for Swanida and her friends was a highlight at least as exciting in its way as any orgy in Spartacus. The Mazurka and Czardas were, too, simply amazing. Indeed watching the Mazurka I thought 'character dancing can't get any better than this' and then the splendid Czardas came along to prove me wrong. The dancers seem to live inside the energetic rhythms and music: and every change, every alternation--from the slow dignified, to the fast and sharp is so bright, so vibrant--one wishes they would just repeat it all again.

I loved the last act allegory-divertissement...Though I still think Balanchine manages to make a more exciting finale out of it all, the difference is largely made up for by the quality of the Bolshoi dancers. That said, if only to prove that I have not drunk Bolshoi cool-aid I will offer a few minor reservations about some of the soloists (not all). It was luxury casting for London (I'm guessing Krysanova does not dance every performance of Dawn when the company is not on a major tour--indeed the company program had a picture of Chinara Alizade in the role, a corps dancer I remember from several years ago and was hoping to see again.). ALL of the Act III soloists at every performance of the ballet I saw had luxuriant and gorgeous upper bodies--head, arms, shoulders all looked like ballerinas. Krysanova was excellent (particularly at the last two performances) but neither Anna Nikulina nor Victoria Osipova as Prayer were able to get a secure position in arabesque penche (please imagine accent) -- a signature moment in that solo. I will note Nikulina's exquisite, liquid bourrees. Anna Leonova had an attacking, staccato style in her big jumping solo (Folly)--I was not altogether crazy about this in the solo as I often prefer more streamlined dancing, but in the coda-finale when all the soloists join in she was simply brilliant. Indeed in the finale all the performers danced with such expansiveness, authority, and ease they really carried the music and/or were carried by it to new heights. (Yatsenko led the allegory of work--she had a heavier style than the others to my eyes, but also impressed in the coda.)

Stashkevich danced Swanilda at the second performance I saw. (Mashinka has already commented that Stashkevich seemed much improved to her from earlier performances.) I had never seen her before and I thought her dancing was excellent throughout--really top notch--and I enjoyed her portrayal though I found her dancing a bit harder edged than Osipova in Act I and less secure in the lengthy promenade of the Act III adagio. (I think "promenade" is the word I want...) If Stashkevich had been the only Swanilda I saw I would still be raving about this production--and I think she makes a very fine Swanilda.

Readers who have made it this far may notice I have not mentioned the men. They don't do much in this production but even allowing for the little they do I have to say I was a touch underwhelmed. Both Skvortsov and Lopatin (Stashkevich's Franz, as Bella12 reminded me below as I had misremembered the name) seemed to underplay the goofy comedy involved in this role--say, asking Swanilda to marry you one moment and flirting with the strange girl in the window the next. The quite good looking and even rather charming Skvortsov seemed to pick it up a little the second time I saw him--but as I was in the first row I could not help wondering if he simply does not project the comedy as much as he could/should: and one thing I remember about Bolshoi dancers of the 70's -- they PROJECTED. His dancing was pleasant and easy but not otherwise distinguished; Lopatin perhaps a little sharper in the articulation of his feet and little more elevation in his jumps--but even lower-key in his characterization which on the whole made me prefer Skvortsov. (On other threads I have expressed concern about the waning male strenght at ABT but either of the two Romeos I saw in July (Halberg and Gomez) would, I believe, far outshine these men in their variations and characterizations even in this production where the men do so little.)

I don't mean to end on a down note--the Franz's were fine and both had a pleasing lightness to their dancing, but they were not the reason to see this production. The production itself is a wonder: true to the past, yet living in the present; offering both classical and character dancing at their most vibrant, beautiful, and engaging as well as offering a showcase for great individual performances (such as Yannin's and Osipova's--performances that will go down among the best I have been fortunate enough to see) AND offering a showcase for the whole company. Mind you, it's Coppelia--I'm raving, yes, but it's not razzle-dazzle, just great classical ballet. Hope they bring it to the United States.

#33 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,154 posts

Posted 06 August 2010 - 12:33 PM

No need to apologize -- I avidly read every word, and I share your hope that they bring this to the US (or Canada). I'd travel for it in a NY minute.

In the US ballets and operas seem to take life from other productions -- no Macbeth or Elektra or Ballo for a while, and then all of a sudden, the opera is everywhere -- and it would have been great if the Bolshoi would have followed Royal Danish Ballet in Berkeley with it's "Coppelia", especially since San Francisco Ballet will have danced in the joint Pacific Northwest Ballet/San Francisco Ballet Danilova/Balanchine "Coppelia" a few months before.

#34 Bella12

Bella12

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 28 posts

Posted 07 August 2010 - 03:03 PM

"Bolotin (Stashkevich's Franz)"

A lovely review, Drew, and I am reluctant to question anything but I think your memory might be a little faulty. If you still had your cast sheet I think you'd find that Stashkevich's Franz was Lopatin.

Edited to add that I saw the Friday night performance. Although Lopatin was scheduled to do the Saturday afternoon performance with Stashkevich, maybe he was replaced?

#35 Drew

Drew

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,238 posts

Posted 07 August 2010 - 05:23 PM

"Bolotin (Stashkevich's Franz)"

A lovely review, Drew, and I am reluctant to question anything but I think your memory might be a little faulty. If you still had your cast sheet I think you'd find that Stashkevich's Franz was Lopatin.

Edited to add that I saw the Friday night performance. Although Lopatin was scheduled to do the Saturday afternoon performance with Stashkevich, maybe he was replaced?


Bella12--I'm sure you are right as I was writing from middle-aged memory. I am just mortified. Thank you and apologies to Lopatin.

#36 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,126 posts

Posted 07 August 2010 - 09:51 PM

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.


I had the same thought after seeing Vasiliev in photographs - his size didn't look imposing enough for Spartacus. I'm glad to be wrong. :) Your review brings to mind Croce's line about the Bolshoi being the only company able to dance Spartacus and the only company that would wish to. Thanks for your reviews (and the others on this thread). Sounds like a thrilling experience.

#37 Drew

Drew

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,238 posts

Posted 07 August 2010 - 10:55 PM

Your review brings to mind Croce's line about the Bolshoi being the only company able to dance Spartacus and the only company that would wish to. Thanks for your reviews (and the others on this thread). Sounds like a thrilling experience.


I did not know that line from Croce; it sounds exactly right. In the meanwhile, I have been vaguely wondering if the fact that I see so little ballet in recent years--usually just a handful of performances a year--has made me lose my critical edge (or eye)--and I accept that Osipova may not be for everyone however smitten I happen to be. But reading Clement Crisp, Ismene Brown and other London critics--or indeed Chiapuris on this thread--I don't think my reactions were totally unmoored from reality and EVEN Osipova (with Halberg!) could not make me change my opinion of Macmillan's Romeo and Juliet, so perhaps I still have some critical faculties....

#38 dwil

dwil

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 10 posts

Posted 09 August 2010 - 04:28 AM

Went to see Don Q sunday matinee on 8 August at ROH. Following suggestions I wanted to see Osipova but could only get tickets for Zakharova. As it happened Z. was injured so O. took on Kitri.
I was also trebly fortunate that not only did I get front row seats but Vasiliev danced Basil. Outstanding! It was the most appreciative audience I've seen at the ROH and the pair got an 8 minute standing ovation - never seen that before.The soloists were very good also and the corps de ballet were extremely disiplined.Add that the costumes were outstanding and it was one of ,if not the best, ballet performances I've seen. The grand pas was worth the ticket price alone.

#39 Anna P

Anna P

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 14 posts

Posted 09 August 2010 - 12:12 PM

I agree. It was truly a performance to remember. I lost count of the number of curtain calls*- the audience just did not want to let them leave! Spartacus got a standing ovation but this was even better, possibly because it was the last performance of the Bolshoi season at Covent Garden.

Osipova and Vasiliev were absolutely perfect. When they were on stage, I couldn't take my eyes off them; they just commanded your attention with their virtuostic dancing that all the other dancers, as talented as they are, just paled in comparison. So many times did the audience gasped as Vasiliev flew into the air and his jumps just seemed to hang in mid-air. I had seen the grand pas de deux on youtube many times and so for me, it did not seem as special as I already had high expectations. What I found particularly entertaining was the acting and dancing in Act 1- the chemistry between the 2 dancers could not have been better :I know that they are a real-life couple but even so, their cute, flirty grins just captured the heart of everyone in the auditorium. Vasiliev was also impressive in his 'death' scene in Act 2, although it was very similar to Baryshnikov's version (but maybe they are all like that?).

There are those who say that Osipova and Vasiliev are not 'classically' trained enough and only 'show off' their high jumps and turns but for me, they were the true stars in London. I believe they are setting the new standard in ballet- I also saw Maria Alexandrova in Le Corsaire and despite her mature and majestic style of dancing, I would still prefer Osipova. The huge crowd of people standing at the stage door after the performance just shows how much they are loved at Covent Garden. I really hope they return soon.

*I would like to ask for the definition of curtain calls- how exactly do you count them? From Wikipedia, it says that the record is over a hundred by Pavarotti and I remember reading somewhere that in ballet, Fonteyn and Nureyev received over 60? At the end of the performance, the curtain rises and the characters comes out and take their bows- so it that just one curtain call? In larger opera houses like ROH, the curtain then closes and usually only the main character comes out to take a bow in front of the curtain. Do you count how many times they come out? Thanks

#40 Anna P

Anna P

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 14 posts

Posted 09 August 2010 - 12:14 PM

I saw the last performance of Don Q with Osipova and Vasiliev- it was truly a performance to remember. I lost count of the number of curtain calls*- the audience just did not want to let them leave! Spartacus got a standing ovation but this was even better, possibly because it was the last performance of the Bolshoi season at Covent Garden.

Osipova and Vasiliev were absolutely perfect. When they were on stage, I couldn't take my eyes off them; they just commanded your attention with their virtuostic dancing that all the other dancers, as talented as they are, just paled in comparison. So many times did the audience gasped as Vasiliev flew into the air and his jumps just seemed to hang in mid-air. I had seen the grand pas de deux on youtube many times and so for me, it did not seem as special as I already had high expectations. What I found particularly entertaining was the acting and dancing in Act 1- the chemistry between the 2 dancers could not have been better :I know that they are a real-life couple but even so, their cute, flirty grins just captured the heart of everyone in the auditorium. Vasiliev was also impressive in his 'death' scene in Act 2, although it was very similar to Baryshnikov's version (but maybe they are all like that?).

There are those who say that Osipova and Vasiliev are not 'classically' trained enough and only 'show off' their high jumps and turns but for me, they were the true stars in London. I believe they are setting the new standard in ballet- I also saw Maria Alexandrova in Le Corsaire and despite her mature and majestic style of dancing, I would still prefer Osipova. The huge crowd of people standing at the stage door after the performance just shows how much they are loved at Covent Garden. I really hope they return soon.

*I would like to ask for the definition of curtain calls- how exactly do you count them? From Wikipedia, it says that the record is over a hundred by Pavarotti and I remember reading somewhere that in ballet, Fonteyn and Nureyev received over 60? At the end of the performance, the curtain rises and the characters comes out and take their bows- so it that just one curtain call? In larger opera houses like ROH, the curtain then closes and usually only the main character comes out to take a bow in front of the curtain. Do you count how many times they come out? Thanks

#41 sunday

sunday

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 69 posts

Posted 09 August 2010 - 01:15 PM

Me too.

Seat C6 in orchestra stalls. That crazy Spaniard who was teaching by example how to properly pronounce "¡Bravo!" to out strong-"r"-impaired-Northern neighbors. Several times. Went also to the Stage Entrance after the performance, and waited couple hours until O&V set shop in the stage counter to sign things. I got my big program signed. V in a pic of Spartacus, O in a jumpin' Kitri.

Happiness. Bliss.

I went also to the Friday performance, and I think there were more curtain calls then. Also got autographs of O&V in the ticket, and one of Anna Nikulina in the hand program. Did not find Nikulina on Sunday to congratulate her for her Queen of Dryads. A notoriously humble Soloist, that young lady.

BTW, I discovered that a no so uncommon Spanish surname has a certain weight among the staff of the Royal Opera House. Hint: Translate Sunday to Spanish. :wink:

Just arrived home from the airport.

#42 Drew

Drew

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,238 posts

Posted 09 August 2010 - 08:40 PM

The performance sounds very exciting (Dwil also wrote about it briefly on another thread)-- wish I had been there.

#43 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,126 posts

Posted 09 August 2010 - 09:52 PM

Me, too. I had thought about making the trip and decided against it and now I'll be kicking myself indefinitely. It's so great to read and hear about this kind of excitement and these performers. Thank heaven for our correspondents, and the ample news space afforded the British reviewers. :)



#44 Anna P

Anna P

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 14 posts

Posted 10 August 2010 - 06:48 AM

Wow Sunday, I'm so jealous that you got their autographs! Just wondering, how long did you have to wait for them to come out? Did you have to wait outside the stage door or do you go inside? Did they sign everyone's program or did they have to leave quickly in their car? I would love to wait for the dancers next time.

#45 sunday

sunday

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 69 posts

Posted 10 August 2010 - 07:46 AM

Wow Sunday, I'm so jealous that you got their autographs! Just wondering, how long did you have to wait for them to come out? Did you have to wait outside the stage door or do you go inside? Did they sign everyone's program or did they have to leave quickly in their car? I would love to wait for the dancers next time.


You may say it was a long wait. Staff came to said the principals were in a party followed by dinner, as the Sunday one was the last Ballet performance. Staff also said that they could come outside using the stage door, but that they may also not. As I had enough cigarettes to pass the time, was leaning in a kinda comfy car (at least in the outside), and there was any London museum open, I had nothing better to do.

Also I was expecting to see Nikulina, again, to express my congratulations for her Queen of Dryads. Even tried to extract an autograph from Sir Victor Hochhauser himself, but he kept directing the glory to the dancers. A really humble gentleman, I think. Also I think I was not very polite using the "Sir" bit. Well, it was my first occasion of treating a Commander of British Empire, after all.

So, I spent time discussing with a Japanese lady what Alina Somova has got to attract Nipponese, asking a understanding British lady about the names of the dancers she was taking autographs from (after the third mistake of asking people if they were Nikulina...) and generally trying to improve my spoken English.

Past 7 p.m. staff came out to announce Osipova and Vasiliev were waiting inside for us fans to get signatures, but we have to be quick, as they were going to a dinner afterwards. And so my season program got signed, and I got to get escorted part of the way back to my hotel by a nice, blonde couple of mother and daughter that were next to me in the autographs queue.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):