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#61 FauxPas

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 09:08 AM

By the way, a note to those who are trying to see the Kirov-Mariinsky on the cheap. I tried to get standing room for tonight's performance. The box office was only selling Family Circle by the time I got there. I suppose Orchestra standing room was being sold as well. However, the dress circle and grand tier standing room (which I prefer) were being held for company members. I am very disappointed. Family Circle standing room was $22.50 for those that are interested.

I have no idea if the Atrium was selling discounted tickets for the Mariinsky run. The Monday night tickets are sold on Sunday since the Atrium ticket booth is closed on Mondays. I will check later in the week.

#62 abatt

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 07:11 PM

I was extremely disappointed by Anna Karenina. I had a hard time convincing myself that this thin, dull choreography was actually done by Ratmansky. It made Lady of the Camelias look like a masterpiece. Even Vishneva - the master of tragedy, consumption, death - couldn't make this ballet interesting. The most positive thing I can say is that the use of projections as scenic backdrops was well done, and the costumes were very attractive.

#63 Batsuchan

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 07:49 PM

I was extremely disappointed by Anna Karenina. I had a hard time convincing myself that this thin, dull choreography was actually done by Ratmansky. It made Lady of the Camelias look like a masterpiece. Even Vishneva - the master of tragedy, consumption, death - couldn't make this ballet interesting. The most positive thing I can say is that the use of projections as scenic backdrops was well done, and the costumes were very attractive.


I agree with you, abatt! The high points were definitely the interesting staging--with the backdrops being projected onto a huge 3-sided screen and various parts of the set being lifted on and off the stage--and the beautiful costumes.

One ballet-newbie friend who so loved "Lady of the Camellias" was severely disappointed, and unfortunately she had dragged her poor husband (not a ballet fan), who was ready to sell his ticket at intermission.

Poor Diana couldn't save this ballet, but boy, did she try! Unfortunately, in the first act, she did not have much to do dancing-wise or even acting-wise. None of the steps looked terribly interesting or technically-thrilling, though like other Ratmansky choreography, it involved some intricate footwork and probably was difficult to do. At least she looked ravishing in the costumes. As others have said, she may not be classically beautiful off-stage, but on-stage, with the stage makeup, she was stunning! It was nice to see her play a mature, sophisticated, elegant woman--that seems to fit her so much more naturally than playing these innocent, naive girls.

Unfortunately, she did not have much chemistry with her Vronsky, Yuri Smekalov (subbing for Konstantin Zverev), though I feel like that has less to do with the casting substitution and more with the fact that little is done to develop the romance. There are no big, romantic pas de deux like in "Romeo & Juliet," or "Lady of the Camellias," or heck, even "The Bright Stream"!

And that may be because the music doesn't really allow for it. I really disliked the music. It was uniformly dreary, dark and dissonant, and although it does become intense and passionate, it's more screechy/scary sounding than lyrical and lovely. No beautiful melodies here! In fact, one of the themes in the first act reminded me a lot of the start of the cadenza in Shostakovich's first violin concerto (but we didn't get the rollicking burlesque afterwards). Brutal, not pretty. I'd take Chopin and "Lady of the Camellias" ANY DAY over this!

The ballet did pick up in the second act, and that was because Vishneva (Anna) was finally given something to work with. I finally felt a few tugs at my heart when she is briefly reunited with her son (Roman Surkov, who was absolutely adorable!!) before he is wrenched out of her arms. Seriously, I think Anna and her son may have had more chemistry (and thus made me feel more moved) than Anna and Vronsky.

The scene at the opera where Anna is snubbed by society was also effective, I thought. For one, the costuming was brilliant, with Anna in a gorgeous red dress against a sea of pastels (a scarlet letter if ever there was one!), and we got a break in the dreary music with some lyrical opera singing. And I thought Vishneva played it brilliantly, showing both Anna's humiliation as well as her determination not to let it show.

Finally near the end she got a solo which required some real power and energy, and Vishneva threw everything she had into it. Not only did I feel like Vishneva was trying to express all of Anna's anguish, but also that she was trying to singlehandedly rescue this sinking production. She really was a force to be reckoned with. But it was too little too late.

Overall, this reminded me a lot of Ratmansky's "On the Dnieper," which I also didn't care for. Yes, there were some innovative sets, but the music was so bleak and monotonous and lacked melody, and there was very little to impress me in the steps, and the romance between the lead characters left me cold.

THAT BEING SAID, I am very curious to see how Lopatkina and Kondaurova handle the roles. Who knows? Maybe it will improve upon watching...? And it's always a pleasure to see Yevgenia Obraztsova, even if she was only onstage for 5 minutes.

The house was absolutely completely packed. I saw Maria Bartiromo (from CNBC) there. When I was standing in line for the restroom downstairs, I heard the house staff discussing shutting down an elevator since people were apparently trying to get into the house via the elevator, and they also dispatched someone to go to the stage door since some groupies were apparently trying to get in. Craziness!

#64 Helene

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 08:19 PM

I have mixed feelings about "Anna Karenina", and I wish I could be around long enough to see it again, especially with Kondaurova, to get a better sense of it.

What I liked were things I found characteristic of Ratmansky's choreography: the changes of direction -- ex: front to back, clockwise to counterclockwise -- at unexpected moments, the way he had the chorus of women burst from an undifferentiated blob upstage center into lines, having multiple things go on and off stage during a central pas de deux. I particularly liked the scenes that were acted with posture, gesture, and movement -- it's not really mime, but is mime-like -- in lieu of dancing, in particular the Prologue until Vronsky burst into a solo dance -- I thought the scene lost it there -- and the one where servant after servant came in to Karenin's study to wait on him. I like how he used the universal gesture for "I own you", when a more offers his arm to a woman, and she has little choice but to take it, or vice versa, like most of the time in "Giselle".

Until the very end, which was sturmy and drangy, I was impressed by how restrained Vishneva's Anna Karenina was; I think this is built into the role. There was very little hair and head flinging. Rather, Vishneva showed her emotional state from her core. Also to the end she was always attached to someone: her son, Vronsky, Karenin. She got her solo only when contemplating and committing suicide. This, I think, was true to the novel, as well as the scene, about which I'm still on the fence, where she is shunned by society, another dramatic scene without formal dancing. (I really disliked the singing, which sounded miked.) They put her in a bright scarlet dress for that scene, against the light-colored dresses for the women; I'm surprised there wasn't a big "A" tatooed to her forehead.

My main problem with "Anna Karenina" is that apart from the scenes where she's shunned and the too-short scene where she attempts a stealth visit her son but is stopped by Karenin, most of what I think are the really interesting parts of the novel were dropped, such as the chapters where she tends to Vronsky's family and the relationship between Levin and Kitty. (We only see Kitty's initial rejection of Levin and her heartbreak on losing Vronsky to Anna Karenina.) In the book, at the end of one chapter she's about to embark on the affair, and at the beginning of the next chapter, the affair is established. Of course, none of this would make a good ballet; the "juicy" details are what Tolstoy leaves out. I just don't find all of that romantic angst particularly interesting, and I think Vronsky is a self-involved bore and that Kitty was lucky.

There are a lot of named characters, but, frankly, apart from Kitty and Levin, most of the secondary characters were simply a list of names in the program. Alexei Timofeyev was quite fine in the thankless role of Levin. Yevgenia Obraztsova portrayed and danced Kitty beautifully. I could see a bit of Juliet in her portrayal. Yuri Smekalov substituted for Konstantin Zverev as Vronsky. He looked great from the Family Circle, and he looked like a very strong partner, dance- and drama-wise for Vishneva. I was most impressed by Islom Baimuradov who danced and portrayed Karenin with power and authority.

The music is relentless. I really like the score, apart from the vocal section, ugh, but not for this work: the resulting ballet is grim. The book might have been tragic, but it wasn't grim like this: I might have had a pit in the middle of my stomach reading it, but I rarely felt kicked in the head. While I liked a lot of the composition on stage, I don't remember much inspired choreography, and there were several scenes that were unclear, like the one in which Anna is ill and Karenin forgives her, but somehow Vronsky is around for the pas de trois. The scene where Anna sneaks in to see her son on the sly is preceded by stage business and characters I didn't understand. There's also an entire scene in which, according to the synopsis, "Karenin is puzzled at his wife's behavior. He tells her not to take any unconsidered steps and reminds her of the laws of morality, which, when broken, must be followed by punishment. Anna pretends that she does not understand her husband's warnings, but secretly resolves to stay away from the young man." What I got from that scene was "Karenin is upset about something". It all felt a little thin, particularly the first act.

#65 abatt

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 05:00 AM

Unfortunately, she did not have much chemistry with her Vronsky,


She had no chemistry whatsoever w. Vronsky. Vishneva's scenes with the little boy had more dramatic weight than any of her scenes w. either Vronsky or her husband.

#66 bingham

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 06:11 AM

I was extremely disappointed by Anna Karenina. I had a hard time convincing myself that this thin, dull choreography was actually done by Ratmansky. It made Lady of the Camelias look like a masterpiece. Even Vishneva - the master of tragedy, consumption, death - couldn't make this ballet interesting. The most positive thing I can say is that the use of projections as scenic backdrops was well done, and the costumes were very attractive.

This was originally choreographed when A Ratmansky was with the Royal Danish Ballet before he became Bolshoi Ballet Director.If i recall correctly, it was not very well received either.
Anna K. seems an ideal story for a full-lenght ballet. It cries for a different Russian score ... Glazounov/Tchaikovsky ?

#67 FauxPas

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 06:31 AM

Bingham, I was told by a friend that she preferred Boris Eifman's "Anna Karenina" and that, I as I discovered when I checked wikipedia, has a Tchaikovsky score. I always found it unfortunate that Tchaikovsky never did an "Anna Karenina" opera in the manner of his "Pikovaya Dama".

Balanchine I think said "There are no mothers-in-law in ballet". There were mothers-in-law and sisters-in-law etc. in this ballet to its detriment. Subtle social customs and class distinctions are easy to put across in a novel, hard in a dumb show ballet. I only paid $22.50 for standing room and I loved, loved, loved Vishneva, so I got my money's worth. Also, Evgenia Obraztsova was love at first sight for this ballet lover, sorry she disappeared after the ball scene and we didn't get her wooing and marriage to Levin. However, more of this ballet is not a good thing and I was glad that the whole thing was just under two hours. Not sure I can take another dose of this ballet. (BTW: the box office decided to sell Dress Circle standing room at 5 p.m. and I went there at lunch time :FIREdevil: :wallbash: )

However, I wonder if it might make its way to ABT. The role of Anna would suit Julie Kent physically and dramatically at this point, the choreography is within her current scope. I don't think ABT should do this ballet mainly because the score is a drawback for me. Monotonously dark and foreboding and like a film soundtrack in that it seems mood setting background for something more important in the foreground. Ballet music should embody and inspire the dancing that is in the foreground and work with it. However, Valery Gergiev seems to love this score and the Mariinsky Orchestra played it superbly. No Maya Plisetskaya or Schedrin in sight as far as I could see.

#68 Helene

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 07:18 AM

I don't think New York ABT audiences looking for story ballets would go back for repeat performances of "Anna Karenina" because of the score, based on what they are able to sell.

Yuri Beshmet's chamber orchestra can play Shchedrin, and so can the Mariinsky Orchestra, but I wouldn't listen to that score played by the ABT orchestra based on how I heard it play "Sleeping Beauty" the other night.

Conversation with friend, who's seen over 20 performances this year:

Me: Are they always this bad?
Her: Yes.

#69 abatt

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 08:14 AM

I saw Maria Bartiromo (from CNBC) there. When I was standing in line for the restroom downstairs, I heard the house staff discussing shutting down an elevator since people were apparently trying to get into the house via the elevator, and they also dispatched someone to go to the stage door since some groupies were apparently trying to get in. Craziness!



I saw Maria B. too (in the lower level basement). My husband joked with her that we thought she was a devotee of NYCB (she's on the Board). She replied that she likes various types of ballet. I was wondering why one elevator on the right side was out of service. Now I understand what happened. Unbelievable.

#70 abatt

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 01:28 PM

I recieved an email from the Atrium (discount ticket booth for Linocln Center events) stating that tickets for tomorrow's MATINEE of Humpbacked Horse will be available for 50% off. The email also stated that discounts may not be available for all price levels.

#71 Batsuchan

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 02:59 PM

She had no chemistry whatsoever w. Vronsky. Vishneva's scenes with the little boy had more dramatic weight than any of her scenes w. either Vronsky or her husband.


Totally agree! It seemed like Vishneva felt that way as well—she certainly showered him with affection during the bows, and she brought him out for the curtain call. I thought they were quite cute. :)

As for the craziness at the house last night--be warned if you are going on Friday night--I imagine it will be packed to a similar degree!

#72 Batsuchan

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 03:04 PM

While I liked a lot of the composition on stage, I don't remember much inspired choreography, and there were several scenes that were unclear, like the one in which Anna is ill and Karenin forgives her, but somehow Vronsky is around for the pas de trois. The scene where Anna sneaks in to see her son on the sly is preceded by stage business and characters I didn't understand.


In the first scene you mention, I think Anna was supposed to be hallucinating at this point? I thought it was a depiction of a dream of hers—to have both her lover and her family?

As for the second part--I believe she was intercepted by a bunch of servants in the house, and they appeared to be torn between their affection for their former mistress and desire to see her reunited with her son, and their orders to keep her away. They seemed to try to keep her away at first before relenting. At least that's how I interpreted it!

Oh, and I agree with you about the ABT orchestra. Ugh. If I ever win the lottery, I'd happily donate money to sponsor a better orchestra!

#73 Batsuchan

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 03:10 PM

Bingham, I was told by a friend that she preferred Boris Eifman's "Anna Karenina" and that, I as I discovered when I checked wikipedia, has a Tchaikovsky score. I always found it unfortunate that Tchaikovsky never did an "Anna Karenina" opera in the manner of his "Pikovaya Dama".

Balanchine I think said "There are no mothers-in-law in ballet". There were mothers-in-law and sisters-in-law etc. in this ballet to its detriment. Subtle social customs and class distinctions are easy to put across in a novel, hard in a dumb show ballet. I only paid $22.50 for standing room and I loved, loved, loved Vishneva, so I got my money's worth. Also, Evgenia Obraztsova was love at first sight for this ballet lover, sorry she disappeared after the ball scene and we didn't get her wooing and marriage to Levin. However, more of this ballet is not a good thing and I was glad that the whole thing was just under two hours. Not sure I can take another dose of this ballet. (BTW: the box office decided to sell Dress Circle standing room at 5 p.m. and I went there at lunch time :FIREdevil: :wallbash: )

However, I wonder if it might make its way to ABT. The role of Anna would suit Julie Kent physically and dramatically at this point, the choreography is within her current scope. I don't think ABT should do this ballet mainly because the score is a drawback for me. Monotonously dark and foreboding and like a film soundtrack in that it seems mood setting background for something more important in the foreground. Ballet music should embody and inspire the dancing that is in the foreground and work with it. However, Valery Gergiev seems to love this score and the Mariinsky Orchestra played it superbly. No Maya Plisetskaya or Schedrin in sight as far as I could see.


FauxPas, I agree with you completely!

How different it would be to see the ballet with Tchaikovsky music!

I too thought Vishneva was excellent in a not-so-excellent production. While watching the second act especially, I felt like she was carrying the whole weight of the ballet on her skinny little shoulders. Bravo for your extraordinary efforts!

I, however, hope that ABT does not mount “Anna Karenina.” True, the choreography appears to be within Julie Kent’s abilities (which, conversely, frustrated me with Vishneva in the lead—couldn’t Ratmansky have given her something more technically astounding to do?)—but judging from what I’ve read, I think I’d much prefer “Onegin” as a showcase for Kent rather than “Anna Karenina.” Like you, I am not a fan of the score—too much moody atmosphere and not enough melody!

Yes, the Mariinsky Orchestra sounded great under Gergiev’s baton. But there were some points in the ballet where the dancers were off from the music—notably in the scene where Vishneva had to strike a dramatic pose or make a movement on each horn blast or drum crash (against a backdrop of sustained notes), and since they occurred at uneven intervals, it didn’t quite match up at times, thus robbing the scene of some of its dramatic impact.

As for your comment about Shchedrin--I found this article which seems to say (acc. to Google Translate) that Shchedrin was unwell, so they skipped the tour.

Here are a few other links I found:
http://www.bloomberg...a-karenina.html

Tiny thumbnail pics of the gala here:
http://www.patrickmc...id=38081&home=1

And on a somewhat-related note, Vishneva is apparently celebrating her birthday tomorrow at Mari Vanna restaurant:
http://www.facebook....252593148088484

#74 Batsuchan

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 07:31 PM

What a difference a day makes! I really enjoyed "The Little Humpbacked Horse"! It's not quite "The Bright Stream," but after last night's desolate "Anna Karenina," it was quite a relief. Really, I would not have guessed it was the same composer at all.

I absolutely, loved, loved Vladimir Shkylarov as Ivan! So winsome and charming. All the lightning-fast beats of the legs he did and center split leaps at the end of Act II were phenomenal! I cannot wait to see him again tomorrow!! (Can we borrow him for ABT???)

Yuri Smekalov, last night's Vronksy, was completely unrecognizable as the vaguely menacing and hugely comic "Gentleman of the Bedchamber." He was fantastic--I think this role suited him much better than Vronsky!

It was such a pleasure to finally see Viktoria Tereshkina live. She played the Tsar Maiden as a bit of a tomboy, kind of an independent woman. I'm very curious to see how Obraztsova plays her tomorrow.

I totally didn't realize that Yekaterina Kondaurova was in Act I (as the Young Mare)--it was such a brief part--but I loved her as the "Princess of the Sea." That pas de trois was one of my favorites--slow and sinuous, with a lot of lifts that reminded me of pair skating/gymnastics moves. She looked stunning as well--totally queenly and untouchable. It made me very excited to see how she does "Anna Karenina."

Overall, the choreography looked very typically Ratmansky to me. The first act was a bit slow--some of the group dances felt a bit interminable, though I really liked the dance of the Wet-Nurses. It definitely picked up a lot in the Act II once Tereshkina appeared on the scene though. For me, LHH was not quite worthy of the resounding recommendation I gave to "The Bright Stream," but it was really enjoyable and I'll happily see it twice more.

Unlike "Anna Karenina," LHH did affirm my belief that the Mariinsky is one of best companies in the world! Bravo!

#75 abatt

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 08:45 PM

LHH is a winner. Tereshkina was marvelous - such a fluid, elegant dancer. Shkylarov is a virtuoso. Kondaurova was lithe, sexy and winning. I don't understand why they presented Anna K. on opening night instead of LHH. The choreography of LHH is vastly superior.


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