doug

Raymonda-1898 - premiere reports

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While there is a thread on the announcement and pre-premiere news, I'm opening this one for any reports on the actual ballet and associated events (lectures and such) by folks attending. So my reports will be on this thread, not the earlier one. Headed off to Milan sooooon!

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While there is a thread on the announcement and pre-premiere news, I'm beginning this thread to post any reports on the actual ballet and associated events (lecture, etc.) that other travelers and I will attend. So my reports will be on this thread, not the earlier one. Headed off to Milan sooooon!

Can't wait for your reports.

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'Buon giorno!' from beautiful, elegant Milano! Sorry for the lack of news since my arrival last Thursday but (a) this is my first visit to this part of Italy, (b) I've also been attending a figure skating event (Jr grand prix), and (c ) I did not bring a computer and am dependent on a small laptop from my hotel...so...the report will be brief, as my touring schedule is non stop. (Train to Lake Maggiore and Isola Bella leaves in about one hour this Monday morn.)

So here is my brief report on last Thursday evening's 'Primo delle Primi' conference-talk about RAYMONDA by Signor Alfio Agostini, the editor of Italy's dance magazine BALLETOGGIO. In short, he imparted absolutely nothing new on the upcoming Vikharev recon of RAYMONDA except to say "I hope that Mr Vikharev stays true to Petipa's philosophy that the dance supercedes the melodrama." Instead of enlightening us to the new production, he spent 60 minutes running video clips of mostly the Kirov DVD with Kolpakova or the Bolshoi film with Bessmertnova. One had the feeling that Mr Agostini has never seen a live RAYMONDA but, that said, he did a good job of demonstrating the main segments of the ballet to the mostly pension-age, non-ballet-specialist audience.

This entire production has been shrouded in utmost secrecy, even to the press. The one wonderful bit of insight that I was able to gain was in a visit to the La Scala ballet academy studios over the weekend, where a dear friend-of-a-friend got me in to see rehearsals of the childrens' segments...and this is important as over 75 children take past in this production, appearing in large'scale dances in all four scenes (in three acts). For example, I specifically saw the rehearsal of the Act I, sc ii Ronde des Follets et Farfadets, in which children portray spirits who protect Raymonda from Abderakhman's malicious intents. The kids were very impressive, whetting my appetite to see this scene on the stage. The big night is tomorrow!!! Most likely, I'll post my report on Friday, once I'm back home...but I'll try to write some quick lines after tomorrow's premiere.

Ciao!

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Thanks--I'm definitely looking forward to reading more about this production.

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I am in 7th Heaven! The premiere of Vikharev's reconstruction of Petipa's 1898 RAYMONDA last night at Teatro alla Scala was a grand success in almost every term - from the nearly 90 (yes, 90) children appearing in all scenes, to La Scala's meticulously-drilled corps, to numerous extras, to an on-stage live brass band, to the elegant soloists, to the brilliant star of the night, Olesya Novikova of the Mariinsky...it was an historic and extraordinary performance that I shall never forget. Vikharev received the largest volley of bravos of the night when he took to the stage for a final company bow last night. I get goosebumps just remembering it! WOW!!!! TRIPLE WOW!!!!

I will write a full report after I get back to DC on Friday...promise! For now sufffice it to relate a few tidbits, gleaned not only from my own 5 pages of 'viewing notes' but also from reading parts of the gorgeous 160-page souvenir programme, replete with historical details by Vikarev, his assistant Pavel Gerzhenson and others, on all aspects of this recon (definitely worth every bit of 10 Euros!). So, here are my early tidbits :

- The steps for most of the well-known solos and ensembles will be very familiar to those who know the Soviet K. Sergeyev version. For example, Raymonda's 6 solos and other solo moments contain about 90% of what we know...the main change being the A1 Pizzicatto variation which was more difficult (yes!) in 1898 for Pierina Legnani, who definitely had steel toes to sustain the prolonged passages on pointe in this version.

- Interestingly, the slow solo of developes for Raymonda's friend, Henriette (the marvellous Mariafrancesco Garritano) in the A2 Pas d'Action was notated in 2 versions by N. Sergeyev. The 'usual'version similar to the current Mariinsky was not danced last night, instead, Garritano danced the more luxurious and sustained 'Pavlova Version' which has closer pacing to the current Bolshoi Grigorovich one...and which I adore, so I was happy to see the more languid Henriette last night. :)

- The ensembles are 1,000-times more exciting & richer than any current version (although I remain a fan of Nureyev's A1 Valse Fantastique & the various Balanchine group dances in Cortege Hongrois). Last night's Valse Fantastique was part of what is surely Petipa's masterpiece of ensemble work, the entire A1 Dream Scene - even more luxuriant than his Jardin Animee in Corsaire, as this involved layers upon layers of mini groupings (knights, valkyries with golden feathers, even a group of 12 little cupids with pink wings). Jean enters the dream in full armor, draws his long sword and hands it to his beloved Raymonda, who then pierces it to the ground, stage front audience-left, where it remains throughout the 'Christian part' of the dream as a cross. The cross vanishes when the Abderakhman ensemble takes over.

- Music: Almost all of Glazunov's gorgeous score is heard. ONLY the 2nd female soloist variation of A3 is curiously omitted...as if 2 minutes would make a difference in a 3.5 hour evening at the ballet! Vikharev had to cave-in to the male lead danseur's need to have a solo so the A2 Bernard-Beranger duet music was used as Jean's one solo in the A3 grand-pas classique (K. Sergeyev's choreography from the Kirov-Mariinsky). Friedemann Vogel danced it with brio...but his 2011 haircut with bangs, sans wig, seemed out of place in Medieval France!

- Abderakhman does not appear until the A1/scii Dream. Vikharev and La Scala chose not to stage the Saracen retinue's brief Scene i appearance, for which Petipa had Glazunov write a few bars of music. The result is excellent, keeping the courtly and gracious atmosphere in the Court of the House of Doris...and Abder's appearance in the Dream all the more shocking.

- The White Lady is now a major character...finally the entire story makes sense! I don't want to give away the surprises but she makes several amazing appearances in the most unexpected places!!! You MUST see this!!!!

- Designs: EXTRAORDINARY!!!! As with Vikharev's new-old BEAUTY, at first the generous use of primary colors jars...then we grow used to them. Some of the more interesting costume colors included Red and Yellow (the Spanish flag colors) for the lead Panaderos couple...and purple and yellow for the A3 Palotas (Czardas) dancers. The A3 Gnd Pas Classique Hongrois is danced in the colors of the Hungarian flag...green, red and white tutu skirts for the ladies. The feathers for all except the leads are bright green, Raymonda and Jean wear brown pheasant feathers on their red velvet caps. This is one spot where I may prefer Virsaladze's toned-down designs for the Kirov-Mariinsky! :)

- We now clearly know that Henriette and Beranger belong to the House of Doris (Raymonda's family) because they wear the blue and yellow...and Clemence and Bernard represent Jean de Brienne's clan because they wear the maroon and beige. These two sets of colors are shown throughout the the designs, commencing with the elaborate medieval front curtain showing knights from the two houses preceded by standard bearers with the colors of each family.

- The settings are in the realistic, richly-accentuated academic style.....which leads me to my one little disappointment of the night: the Apotheosis.

We all remember the amazing tableau-vivant Apotheosis of Sleeping Beauty-1890, right? The Tsar must have run out of money just before Petipa created the Raymonda Apotheosis. After the Gnd Pas Classique Hongrois, a red velvet back curtain comes down behind the ensemble dancing the Galop. Then comes the Apotheosis music....little red velvet curtain up....to display 12 pot-bellied guys in lilac holding brass instruments, standing in front of a huge flat painting depicting a jousting tourament. The pot-bellied band plays the final chords from the stage as Raymonda and Jean strike a pose in front of them and the ensemble lifts arms. OK...I will live with it but...was this really Petipa's grand finale or just a quick fixer-upper???

DESPITE the Apothesis, I must shout "BRAVI!" to La Scala, to Novikova and, especially, to Sergei Vikarev and Pavel Gerzhenson for their incredible work in bringing this artistic gem - this glorious ballet of 1898 - back to life as it deserves to be seen!

More -- much more -- on Friday, upon my return to DC. I saw RAI cameras in the house. I hear that a telecast is in the offing, perhaps followed by a DVD release. Hoorah!

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Thank you, Natalia, for posting such a full description. I look forward to reading more.

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Thank you for such a detailed report. I will be looking forward for the rest of report.Someone should send you to all major revivals :lightbulb: Is La Source in your list? :clapping::thumbsup::clapping::flowers:

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That is a fantastic review, and has made me all the more excited, and hopeful, to have a chance to see this! You basically answered every question I've had (I suspect I know at least one of the "surprise" spots the White Lady appears in--you can clearly hear it in the music, yet the Grigorovich and Makarova productions don't use it, and of course the K Sergeyev doesn't even have her). Looking at the photos on their website, while reading your review, *almost* can bring it to life. The amazing colours of Vsevelozhky's costumes, which remind me of his for Sleeping Beauty, are thrilling and prove how much is lost in those original black and white photos.

I admit, as a purist, I always question when any changes are made, when the purpose is to do a faithful reconstruction, but the ones you describe *do* make sense. I think, even with an audience knowing they're seeing a reconstruction, it's very hard to stage a long ballet and not give the premier danseur a solo--I can completely understand why the change was made. And I always thought the quick introduction of Aberakham's retinue in the first scene that Petipa had added to the score seemed unecesary, and to ruin some of the surprise (though perhaps he felt he had to telegraph the moment to his audience).

As for the apotheosis, that sounds exactly what it was in the original production--the Joust depicted as a painting, not a tableux vivant, which seems strange to me, considering Sleeping Beauty's apotheosis. (Then again isn't Nutcracker's original, somewhat bizarre, apotheosis of a harmonious beehive a painted backdrop as well?)

One question--the souvenir program sounds amazing. Is it only offered in Italian--and would anyone know if it's possible to buy online or by mail order? I know it's a long shot, but I know you can buy souvenir programs online from Broadway shows and Met Opera performances. There's so little about Raymonda in ballet books, and being one of my top 2 ballets, I'd love to be able to buy it.

Thanks again for your detailed write up and can't wait to read more thoughts!

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Thanks Natalia for your wonderful report! Brava Novikova & La Scala! :clapping::flowers:

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A clip of Olesya Novikova in the new/old Raymonda has appeared on youtube: :yahoo:

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THank yu, Lidewi!

That's pretty thrilling.

Does Raymonda "usually" do entrechat-quatres to pointe? These are STUNNING, and i don't think I've ever seen them before. I THINK they're usually just changements to pointe.

Maybe Cecchetti had all his advanced students doing these. Karsavina says he taught her to do entrechat huit -- he told her to just do another entrechat quatre before she came down, and she did. But probably not to pointe.

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Does Raymonda "usually" do entrechat-quatres to pointe? These are STUNNING, and i don't think I've ever seen them before. I THINK they're usually just changements to pointe.

They are stunning and, at least on Youtube, Novikova made them seem perfectly light and easy.

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Does Raymonda "usually" do entrechat-quatres to pointe? These are STUNNING, and i don't think I've ever seen them before. I THINK they're usually just changements to pointe.

They are stunning and, at least on Youtube, Novikova made them seem perfectly light and easy.

Watch the 43 year old Irina Kolpakhova execute the same steps.

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Let me be plain with you...I loved the reconstruction of Vikharev and colleagues. Raymonda the ballet, makes sense as a narrative, makes sense as a dance, makes sense as a multi-scene production. Petipa lives.

The Petipa production of 1896 glowed through the transmutation of Vikharev’s reconstruction.

Olesya Novikova is the personification of elegance as Raymonda. No one so far as I know, since Pierina Legnani, has done changements sautes sur les pointes but ,never......entre-chat quatres sautes sur les pointes as Novikova does in the pizzicatto on Tuesday 11 October at the premier at La Scala. Frankly it was an overwhelming experience. I shall never forget it. (did the Harvard notes indicate entre-chat quatres?)

The earlier full- length productions of Raymonda so far, have tried to eclectically pick and choose musical, choreographic, and dramatic moments and combine them.

They miss.(Except for the Balanchine reminiscence of the Hungarian

wedding cortege).

The story gets botched, the main ideas, say, dream verses reality gets botched,and dances follow the musical score willy nilly get botched. Nothing but shambles.

Vikharev’s reconstruction is elegant, the scenes follow the narrative, the costumes

revivify the milieu and the atmosphere, and the universe is teeming with humanity:

the Vitruvian human, the aged, and, by far, the young.

One is impressed with the dozens and dozens of the La Scala academy boys and girls who inhabit the dreams and realities of the narrative of the scenes within the acts of Raymonda.

Bravi to them and to their teachers!

One is also impressed with the achievement of the ballet artists of all rank of La Scala.

The soloists of Henriette, Clemence, Bernard and Beranger, the White Lady and

Abderrakhman are noteworthy. Bravi.

Particularly intense was the performance of the saracen, with strong lines and passion.

Of the guest artists, Friedemann Vogel, is a flawless partner and earned a variation with

cabrioles en avant in the wedding scene.

Kudos for Olesya Novikova for all the variations (I’ll count them on the 14th) but more for the transcendent grand pas classique which I liked unreservedly.

For myself, the tutus for the principals grew to my liking more and more--- I liked the luscious star-strewn red tutu and the Hungarian pink tutu with green vest and three-feathered red hat.

The conductor led the orchestra on a gorgeous musical journey.

I was struck that no-one offered any flowers to anyone, especially to Novikova, at the curtain call, She deserved them.


Is that la Scala tradition?

Until my next performance, Friday 14 October.

jc

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It took an Italian ballerina to go to Russia to create the role. Now it took a Russian one to go back to Italy to revive it. Bella Novikova!! :clapping:

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Olesya Novikova is the personification of elegance as Raymonda. No one so far as I know, since Pierina Legnani, has done changements sautes sur les pointes but ,never......entre-chat quatres sautes sur les pointes as Novikova does in the pizzicatto on Tuesday 11 October at the premier at La Scala. Frankly it was an overwhelming experience. I shall never forget it. (did the Harvard notes indicate entre-chat quatres?)

Regarding your statement, "Olesya Novikova is the personification of elegance as Raymonda. No one so far as I know, since Pierina Legnani, has done changements sautes sur les pointes but ,never......entre-chat quatres sautes sur les pointes as Novikova does in the pizzicatto on Tuesday 11 October at the premier at La Scala. Frankly it was an overwhelming experience. I shall never forget it. (did the Harvard notes indicate entre-chat quatres?)”

The entrechat quatre sur les pointes were probably standard for tecnichians like Natalya Dudinskaya and other Vaganova pupils as it was for Irina Kolpakhova which was the point I was making by posting the above youtube clips.

Dopo il periodo di Legnani, one should not think there were no virtuosi able to perform in her manner at the Maryinsky or Kirov Theatres.

PS

As mentioned earlier Kolpakhova was age 43 at the time of the filming.

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For statisticians, here's the entrechat count: Novikova 30, Kolpakova 20. There are noticeable musical differences at this point, and Novikova starts her 30 more slowly than Kolpatkova does her 20. Both accelerate as the sequence goes on.

Question: as someone who has not seen entrechats to point done in such numbers, is the movement forward in a straight line an expected part of the routine, as with travelling fouettes? Novikova is amazing the way she sticks to the fat white line on the floor. A trick, perhaps, but a good trick.

One detail from the Novikova clip that is probably not an accurate reconstruction: her very high developpes a la seconde. Kolpakova's are more restrained at just a bit north of 90 degrees.

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A clip of Olesya Novikova in the new/old Raymonda has appeared on youtube: :yahoo:

Thanks Lidewij! I searched for something last night and I gave up about an hour too soon :D!

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Chiapuris, thanks for another wonderful review! I am so glad that it looks like this has been filmed and will air in some fashion. In regards to one of your comments--it is striking from the photos how the original costumes made it so clear who was from what area of the world, etc--this all gets kinda abstracted and vague in nearly every modern production (of course the Bolshoi's is from that long Grigorovich era where he and designer Versadze prefered those semi abstract swashes of colour and glitter faintly hinting at buildings, that I think don't work at all for these classical ballets, and certainly look very dated to the 50s-70s now, much more dated than the original designs).

One detail from the Novikova clip that is probably not an accurate reconstruction: her very high developpes a la seconde. Kolpakova's are more restrained at just a bit north of 90 degrees.

This is always one of the "problems" with these reconstructed ballets (and one reason detractors often call them pointless--which I disagree with, obviously). Personally, it doesn't bother me so much. I think it's important to teach the dancers twhat is known about the style of the time, particularly when it comes to mime, and to try to keep some of that--but it's an obvious compromise and unavoidable (and modern audiences would probably be disappointed, as would the dancers, if they had to mentally force themselves to under extend everything they're used to, etc).

It's like The Globe Theatre in London which tries to fairly accurately recreate the original Shakespeare performances (although only for certain special performances are they completely authentic and have the female roles played by young men). And while they try to teach the actors how to perform in a historically correct style--as best we can tell--you're still going to get actors with modern training and technique, and audiences expect that. Similarly, for these ballet reconstructions, it could be argued that they use modern lighting techniques, modern toe shoes, etc etc. I think that's more or less irelevent, if the piece still manages to capture the feeling and intention of the original production, which I feel these Vikharev productions have done as best as possible. (I admit, this is also why it doesn't bother me that they did give the premier danseur one extra solo, though I'm sure some purists hate that).

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Thank you, Leonid. Kolpakova is fabulous in this. You are quite right, she was brilliant.

My only complaint is that her right foot does not point very well, and when she throws it out in a quick extension, the leg looks shortened by the almost flexed foot. It points by the time she gets there, but it started offwrong. In a dancer of her many perfections, it's kind of a drag....

Does Raymonda "usually" do entrechat-quatres to pointe? These are STUNNING, and i don't think I've ever seen them before. I THINK they're usually just changements to pointe.

They are stunning and, at least on Youtube, Novikova made them seem perfectly light and easy.

Watch the 43 year old Irina Kolpakhova execute the same steps.

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Just back to DC after an unexpected overnight stop at JFK due to weather and cancelation of last leg of my journey...but this was all worth it.

I need a little rest and time to unpack (ha-ha) but, with regard to the 2nd performance, it was a triumph for La Scala's own prima, Marta Romagna, who was quite technically capable and charming, if a bit tentative in the A1 Scarf solo and A2 'Trumpet variation.' Her line is leaner and, in some ways, more 'poetic' than Novikova's, although the latter is the undisputed queen. Eris Nezha provided elegant support as her Jean de Brienne. As at the opener, the corps de ballet and children were extraordinarily fine.

Edited to add: Special kudos to Claudio Coviello as the troubador in blue/yellow, Beranger (Nikolai Legat's role in 1898), who dances an impressive "mini solo" of high cabrioles and entrechats within the coda of the A2 Pas de Six. Kudos, too, to the uncredited (!) four gents who dance the A3 male pas de quatre...which, incidentally, in this original 1898 version is LONGER than what we know, as the 'extra' bars of Glazunov's music are included, adding about 10 seconds of prolonged entrechats-six. The impression is that we are seeing four 'bluebirds' from Sleeping Beauty, dancing simultaneously!

Yes, the 'trumpet guys' were still there for the Apotheosis but were placed in a more artistic-looking arrangement...rather than as 'ducks in a row.'

The La Scala web now has posted gorgeous photos of the premiere performance:

http://www.teatroallascala.org/en/season/opera-ballet/2010-2011/raymonda_cnt_19487.html

Now for the BEST news: La Scala has announced the LIVE TELECAST on October 27, which happens to be the 4th and final performance of the first-cast duo of Novikova/Vogel. "Plan accordingly." :)

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The La Scala web now has posted gorgeous photos of the premiere performance:

http://www.teatroallascala.org/en/season/opera-ballet/2010-2011/raymonda_cnt_19487.html

My envy to your experience has already turned from its originally green to black, Natasha. One question regarding the Act III Grand Pas. Did Vikharev retain the choreography of the Adagio, specifically the traveling shoulder lifts for Raymonda and her ladies-in-waiting in couronne to the oboe musc...? (I've always found this particular moment of the choreography fascinating...very mysterious and dramatc...)

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YES he did, cubanmiamiboy...and the La Scala troupe pulled it off beautifully at both performances. But these aren't the only shoulder lifts in the 1898 version! The A2 Pas d'Action (i.e., the Pas de Six Adagio of Ray, Abder, Henriette, Clemence, and B&B) also includes shoulder lifts...but only when Raymonda is being partnered by the two troubadors, B&B! She refuses to be lifted by the saracen. This adagio also includes a moment in which Henriette & Clemence are lifted high in swan-lifts while, again, Raymonda is not lifted by Abder. Also, the climactic moment of this adagio -- the moment in which, in the Kirov version, Raymonda is lifted high in a swan-lift by B&B and 'dropped' into the waiting arms of Abderakhman -- does not happen...at least not as 'high' and dramatically as in 20th-C versions. Just think about it...WHY would Raymonda's friends want to drop her into the arms of a stranger to whom she is obviously not attracted?

As I said in the longer report, above, EVERYTHING MAKES SENSE with Petipa. This is no longer a nonsensical plot. Oh...and having read the ENTIRE 160-page souvenir programme on the plane ride back to the USA -- Italian but I get about 90% of it, due to my native Spanish & French -- I now know that the "Valkyries" in the A1, sc2 Dream Scene are really "Celestial Maidens" who protect the 12 knights...each Celestial Maiden crowns a knight with laurel wreath and presents him with a golden palm. Similarly, Raymonda crowns Jean and presents him with a golden palm during the A1,sc2 Dream Adagio.

The Dream Adagio, by the way, is a pas de trois of sorts: Jean, Raymonda...and the Corps...with the Corps being almost the most prominent. To think that the Dream Adagio has, during the 20th-C, been severely pared down into an intimate duo for Jean & Raymonda! To me, in retrospect, the grandest "Petipa Moment" of this production is not the Grand Pas Classique Hongroise of A3 but the corps' movements and symbolism in this A1 Dream Adagio, immediately followed by the Valse Fantastique. This suite now ranks right up with the 'Jardin Anime' suite from Corsaire, to these eyes. Bravo, Petipa!

Gosh, I could go on and on. My brain is going 100mph, swimming with ideas and memories of those two magical performances. I wish that I could "chat" with everyone who is interested and we could discuss this. I promise to get to my private emails and PMs later this weekend, after I get past the jet lag. :)

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....I always thought the quick introduction of Aberakham's retinue in the first scene that Petipa had added to the score seemed unecesary, and to ruin some of the surprise (though perhaps he felt he had to telegraph the moment to his audience).

As for the apotheosis, that sounds exactly what it was in the original production--the Joust depicted as a painting, not a tableux vivant, which seems strange to me, considering Sleeping Beauty's apotheosis. ....

Thanks for explaining the Apotheosis situation, Eric. The 160-page programme includes Pavel Gerzhenson's detailed comparison, scene by scene, of the 1898 Imperial Mariinsky and 1948 Soviet Kirov versions. The ONLY spot that he did not explain/compare is the Apotheosis.

re. Vikharev/Gerzhenson's decision -- and it was their decision -- to cut Abder's short appearance in A1/sci, even though Petipa included it in 1898, Gerzhenson says that it adds nothing to the story and that it was created at the last minute by Petipa/Glazunov "...so that the audience could see 'the Tsar's First Soloist' early during the night..." So it was just to give Pavel Gerdt a few early minutes of 'play time'! [Gerzhenson also laments, more than once, the 'masculinization' of the ballet Raymonda in the 20th C and aims some punches at the POB-Nureyev version, e.g., "...to think that one well-known version gives Abderakhman music that was written by Glazunov for Raymonda!" He said that anyone who masculinizes a Petipa ballet does not know Petipa, for whom 'ballet was woman' in the way that Balanchine stated it many years later.]

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