Waelsung

Kirov in Toronto 2011

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Just a quick note to add that Kondaurova's Swan Lake at the Sat mat was wonderful. She was a much softer, more pliant Odette than I expected her to be. Very sorrowful with a distinct sense of yearning (for freedom, for love?). She may be as tall as Lopatkina but her plastique, phrasing etc was completely different. Her line, of course, was breathtaking. I remember specifically one of the first times she went into that classic arabesque with her head and arms thrown back - the way she opened up her chest, reached back with that supple spine and unfurled her leg was magnificent.

I've seen Shirinkina in the pas de trois at each performance with either Cheprasova or Martynyuk - no Kasenkova so far (one more to go this afternoon - with Tershkina and Schklyarov). They were all wonderful! I don't know any of the male dancers who were cast for the pdt so its impossible to say if there were casting changes. They were all fine with the Tomifeev (sat mat) a little weaker than the rest, fudging his landings just a bit and almost falling out of the pose at the end of his variation - but these were minor slips, they were all more than good. The Sat night casting listed Alexander Perish who was my favourite - could that have been the british dancer Xander Parish?

The national dances in act 4 were all fabulous. There was one dancer in the Polish dance that I really loved but alas I couldn't identify her from the program. She is a small, maybe sightly older brunette and I'm pretty sure that she also impressed me in the Mazurka from the 3rd act of Raymonda in NY a few years ago. She had such a spark you couldn't take your eyes off of her.

The corps was fabulous, absolutely fantastic. This has been a great weekend and there's still one performance to go!

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A Queen in Toronto - Ekaterina Kondaurova's Miraculous Odette/Odile...and Other Wonders

Mariinsky Ballet

Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Sony Centre for the Arts)

Saturday, March 5, 2011 - 2 p.m.

First and foremost, I offer the highest kudos to the corps de ballet, especially the swans in the lakeside scenes, who confirm my view from last week's Ottawa Bayaderes that this is truly an ensemble on the way back up to USSR standards. They lift our souls with their incomparable artistry. Bravi Tutti!

Ekaterina Kondaurova was EXQUISITE - one of the finest Odette/Odiles of our time, certainly the most satisfying for me from the Mariinsky in a long time and very close to Veronika Part's extraordinary interpretation at ABT. Unlike her somewhat-cold but lovely Nikiya in Bayadere (in Ottawa) last week, Kondaurova here displayed an unexpected softness, tenderness and passion in the lake acts and, of course, was the expected Plisetskaya-like Diva as Odile, the black swan. Superb series of 32 fouettes, going "single-single-double" throughout the entire course. Her soft bourrees were delivered as pearls on a necklace. The only noticeable hicup in her technique was a slightly-ragged finish to the pirouette-en-attitude that Odette performs in the final scene, during the start of the storm scene, just before Siegfried enters to look for her. Other than that - delightful. Pure poetry. Brava!

Yevgeny Ivanchenko supplied impressive lifting power, propelling Kondaurova to the most difficult, higher variation of lifts possible, including the very high "upside down" hoists during the 'chugging' diagonal of the White Swan pdd. Alas, he was quite weak and lackadaisical in his solo moments and in dramatic interpretation...weaker than his recent Albrecht in DC or his Solor in Ottawa. [Kondaurova needs an excellent Siegfried. It would be great if David Hallberg could be her guest partner in an upcoming Mariinsky Festival Swan Lake.]

The Pas de Trois was uneven. Maria Shikinkina and, especially, my "little general" Valeria Martynyuk were both fabulous...with Martynyuk delivering one of the highest series of jetes assembles in the coda, with many in the audience gasping 'wow!' This lady has incredible elevation - simply mind boggling. What a shame, then, that the unannounced Male soloist -- the bland Andrei Soloviev; absolutely not Alexei Timofeev cited in the programme -- marred what could have been a special Pas de Trois.

It was not a great matinee for the male classical soloists, with Ilya Petrov out of his element as a low-jumping Jester (disappointing, as I fondly remember his humpbacked horse at the premiere of that work in St Petersburg). Perhaps the best solo male dancing came from the unannounced Konstantin Zverev as Von Rothbart, dancing in place of Soloviev, who, as mentioned above, was the unannounced male soloist of the Act I Pas de Trois. [Changes confirmed to me by Mariinsky personnel back at the One King West Hotel, where the company and husband-and-I were staying.]

The National Dances of Scene iii (ballroom) were all splendidly performed, with soloists deserving praise:

Spanish - As fiery a quartet as can be imagined, bringing back memories of my first look at a live Swan Lake from this company in Wolf Trap, VA, 1986: ultra-glamorous Maria Sheviakova (of 'Beauty in Motion' fame) with Islom Baimuradov on the left; my current 'Queen of Character Dancers' Anastasia Petushkova with Karen Ioannisyan on the right.

Neapolitan - performed with conviction and a touch of humor by Anna Lavrinenko and Alexei Nedviga

Hungarian - danced with refined epaulement and convincingly aristocratic airs by Yulia Stepanova and Boris Zhurilov

Polish Mazurka - a first-class performance by all four couples, especially -- as nysusan pointed out -- feisty brunette veteran Alisa Sokolova with Dmitry Sharapov as the first 'solo couple' in the slow section, and newcomer svelte blonde Svetlana Siplatova with Dmitry Pukachev who danced the 'solo couple' at the end of the fast section, just before Sokolova/Sharapov began the slow. [siplatova was also a standout in one of the four featured couples in the Act I waltz by the corps.]

As mentioned earlier, the female corps of swans was magnificent. Among them were two spot-on Quartets of Swans: "Big Swans" Daria Vasnetsova (who has already essayed the lead role back home and will hopefully do so again soon), Anastasia Petushkova (yes, she "does classical tutus and pointes", too but, to me, is a heeled-shoe specialist), Viktoria Brileva and Alisa Sodolieva; and Little Swans ("Cygnets") Svetlana Ivanova, Valeria Martynyuk, Elizaveta Cheprasova and Maria Shirinkina moving as one in the most delicate (not choppy) manner imaginable...with Ivanova and Cheprasova being the two swans who 'break away' to dance the demi-solo segment of the Valse in Scene ii. In the final act, the two "Valse Bluette" swan-soloists were the excellent Maria Shirinkina and Anastasia Nikitina, the latter looking healthier than at her Washington, DC, Don Q appearances two years ago.

Lastly, how could I *not* mention the Master of Ceremonies at the ball, Vladimir Ponomaryov (uncredited in the playbill), who knows how to milk a pose for all it's worth? It's always a joy to see him on the stage.

The glorious Mariinsky Ballet was rewarded with an instant standing ovation from a highly-appreciative Toronto audience. It may have been soggy outside, but in the cavernous Sony Centre (O'Keefe Theatre of old), there was only sunshine and warmth.

Natalia Nabatova

Washington, DC

...writing on Monday, March 7, after a lovely day in snowy-but-sunny Niagara Falls with my dear husband and 'partner in travel crime,' Vadim. :)

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p.s. As if that weren't enough...I'm delighted to report that Kondaurova is back to her natural hair color in Canada - "Big Red" once again! The darkish-auburn/brown tint seemed to have been only for her Myrthas in Washington, DC, last month. She was back to red for Nikiya and Odette/Odile. (Maybe she didn't want to clash with a red-headed Giselle, Lopatkina?)

p.s.s. After these huge triumphs abroad (Myrtha in DC, Nikiya in Ottawa and, especially, Odette/Odile in Toronto), if Kondaurova is not promoted to Principal "pronto," then the directorship of the Mariinsky Ballet must be lobotomized...slowly, without anesthesia.

- - - - -

Nysusan, I enjoyed reading your impressions and am thrilled that Lopatkina delivered a top-notch performance with warmth. It looks like our 'regal ballerinas' are warming things up, compared to reports of recent-past. How were Terioshkina and newly-appointed principal, Shklyarov, yesterday? I'm curious if the promotion was publicly announced, i.e., if Yuri Fateev, Interim Ballet Director (his title as per programme), came onto the stage after the show to let everyone know the big news (a-la POB 'etoile' announcements)? Other notable solo performers yesterday?

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I thought Kondaurova was scheduled for Friday night but was absolutely delighted to see Lopatkina appear. I then went back for the Saturday matinee to see Kondaurova. I got a front row ticket an hour before the performance. It's astonishing that these performances weren't all sold out. Two performances within 24 hours is not usual for me, but I will remember these for the rest of my life.

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That's fantastic, marcmomus! It's a huge theater (3,500+ seating?) but I too was surprised to get a front-center orch (9th row) section Sat afternoon ticket to Kondaurova. I suspect that perhaps they had been reserving some premium seats for the 'VIP packages' that included prix-fixe dinners then 'released' them to the general public -- to people not interested in the dinner -- when unsold. Other than a couple of rows in my area, I didn't see empty seats when I looked around.

I had booked Fri night 2 weeks ago, thinking it would be 'Special K' then saw the final casting on the Sony Centre website (also posted above, on this thread, the day of the opening). I really wanted to see 'Special K's' Odette/Odile. Luckily I had not booked airline/hotel as I awaited fares to drop on Thursday...so all worked well. Husband came along at last minute and we still could do everything economically. My only loss was the cost of the Friday night ticket but it was 'made up' in other ways.

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Shklyarov's promotion is such great news! I can't tell you if there was any announcement after the last performance because I didn't stick around for the curtain calls. I was a bit concerned about making my flight home so I rushed out the minute the curtain came down. Of course, my flight was delayed 2 yrs and ultimately canceled, so I got to spend the night at an airport hotel. Yuck!!!

So glad to hear that it wasn't Timofeev in the pdt. I just took a look at some online photos and I think it was Timofeev who danced on Sat night and was my favorite. I think it was Stepin on Thurs night and Sun mat, but can't tell for sure if it was him or Parish. Whoever it was, he was fine, it was only the Sat matinee soloist who was below par. Saturday night's Jester (Alexey Nedviga) was also very good, really just about at Popov's level - which is amazing.

I could go on and on about the corps, as Natalia said, especially the swan corps. This was undoubtedly the best run I've seen and it was great to see dancers like Vasnetsova and Nikitina come into their own. The 4 cygnets were perfect each time, and the 4 big swans were gorgeous. I adore Shirinkina, Martynyuk and Cheprasova and can't wait to see how Brileva develops, she's certainly a swan queen in the making.

As wonderful as everyone was, I missed Yana Selina. I think this is the 1st time I've seen the Kirov without her!

All 3 of the O/O Sigfried pairs I saw were great. Ivenchenko was the weakest of the men and while an uninspiring soloist he has an elegant, stretched line and gave Kondaurova all the support she needed. Korsuntsev seemed much more animated and involved than I remember him, but Terioshkina & Shklyarov had the best chemistry - by far. He is such a beautiful dancer, I love his soft, plush landings and he has wonderful form and elevation. Terioshkina was a heartbreaking Odette - so soulful with almost Makarova - like plastique while her Odile absolutely reveled in her seduction of poor Siegfried. Of course she killed the fouettees, starting with a triple then alternating single - single double as did Kondaurova. BTW - I said that Lopatkina did all singles. Not true - she started with a triple then followed with all singles.

This was such a fabulous run of Swan Lakes, I love the the production, the corps was wonderful and every performance was great.

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p.s. As if that weren't enough...I'm delighted to report that Kondaurova is back to her natural hair color in Canada - "Big Red" once again! The darkish-auburn/brown tint seemed to have been only for her Myrthas in Washington, DC, last month. She was back to red for Nikiya and Odette/Odile. (Maybe she didn't want to clash with a red-headed Giselle, Lopatkina?)

p.s.s. After these huge triumphs abroad (Myrtha in DC, Nikiya in Ottawa and, especially, Odette/Odile in Toronto), if Kondaurova is not promoted to Principal "pronto," then the directorship of the Mariinsky Ballet must be lobotomized...slowly, without anesthesia.

- - - - -

Nysusan, I enjoyed reading your impressions and am thrilled that Lopatkina delivered a top-notch performance with warmth. It looks like our 'regal ballerinas' are warming things up, compared to reports of recent-past. How were Terioshkina and newly-appointed principal, Shklyarov, yesterday? I'm curious if the promotion was publicly announced, i.e., if Yuri Fateev, Interim Ballet Director (his title as per programme), came onto the stage after the show to let everyone know the big news (a-la POB 'etoile' announcements)? Other notable solo performers yesterday?

Thank you Natalia and everyone for the beautiful reports! Congratulations to Volodya :clapping:! It was only a matter of time before Sarafanov's vacancy was filled. Shklyarov was quietly added to the Principal list yesterday morning (March 7). There are no announcements in the Theatre news or press release links, at least not yet. Yesterday was travel day for the company; maybe Fateev told him on the plane :huh:.

http://www.mariinsky.ru/en/company/ballet/troupe

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