doug

Raymonda-1898 - premiere reports

103 posts in this topic

Re the SLAPS....in 1890, Petipa's "Raymonda" was a princess, not "the people's princess" -- she did NOT do a double pirouette in the Hungarian variation. Pontois is amping it up.

It's pretty clear that Petipa wanted his heroines to "display their coquetterie." it's a phrase he uses over and over. The style of Pontois is much coarser than that -- she is not gracious at all; she's commanding, impressive, sexy, challenging, borderline dominatrix -- very Nureyev. it puts me in mind of Rudi's thigh-high crocodile boots. It's wonderful in its way -- the technique is of course mighty fine. But.............

Perfectly stated, Paul! In fact, the first time that I saw the POB version of the variation, by Guillem in one of the early Guillem documentaties, my first thought was "kinky"...not exactly what would have been seen in a gracious court (Romanov or de Doris).

How gracious a court would have the supposed de Doris "court" have been. There seems to be an extraordinary tone of relating Raymonda the ballet to some idealised real life experience.

The historic validity of Raymonda is lamentable even though based on actual persons.(This has been discussed elsewhere)

The reality would have been that the "court" would have continuously smelt despite floors strewn with rushes and sweet smelling herbs and flowers.

Bones and scraps were thrown on the floors for dogs to eat, men and women would have got up from the table to relieve themselves in a corner and this was still happening when the Sun King was in residence at Versaille and throughout Europe in general.

Ballets are fiction and often very good fiction and even at times great fiction. But I am sorry to say they always remain fiction.

The story telling however can and does, grab the imagination and that is why we enjoy performances especially when the dancing and acting is truly related to the formalities of academic classical ballet.

Is Raymonda truly a great ballet in the stagings we have seen. It can look spectacular, it can be danced marvellously well and the score carries it.

There is a definite rift between complete performances of the past and performances of today, especially in the case of the Kirov/Maryinsky ballet which began losing its way under Vinogradov.

But I do, look forward to seeing the production if not all of the dancers.

PS

Not quite sure that Petipa wanted his dancers to "display their coquetterie" as he was an irascible old man who was quite unapproachable and rarely had a kind word that alone any word to say to most dancers.

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The courts depicted in various Petipa ballets were intended to echo the court of the chief patron who paid for them: the Imperial Romanov Tsar. The auditorium and stage of the Mariinsky were very much an extension of the Tsar's living room "down the street" at the Winter Palace or an hour outside the city at Tsarskoe Selo. Even if all was not perfect in the House of Romanov...woe be to the ballet master who would dare hint at anything less than gentility and nobility.

Nureyev's Tartar infusions -- however entertaining they are to us now in 2011 -- would never had made the cut in Tsar Nikolai II's court. Poor Rudi would have been exiled to Siberia, I'm afraid to guess. We saw what happened to the divine Nijinsky when he dared to discard his shorts in Giselle...showing his 'goods' to the Tsarevna (Queen Mother) Maria Fedorovna and Tsar Nikolai II's daughters! Ooo-lah-lah!

Seriously, in keeping with this topic, I greatly admire Vikharev and Gershenzon for being acutely aware of and sensitive to the historical context of staging the Petipa ballets. The aim was to come as close to the overall look and 'feel' of that opening night in 1898. It takes more than a staging of mere steps to do that. The sets, costumes and general 'perfume' of the ballet are even more important, IMO, than whether or not a ballerina hikes a leg above 100 degrees.

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to stray further off topic here to the subj. of the Nijinsky costume scandal/dismissal, the facts surrounding it all remain somewhat murky, even in light of Sarah Woodcock's informative article from The Dancing Times (noted below):

<<

Woodcock, Sarah C.

The mystery of the missing costume.

The dancing times. London. Nov. 1988, p. 126-128. ill.

>>

the attached scan is a reproduction of the photo mentioned by Woodcock as likely documenting the "offending" costume, tho' as she points out to whom, how and when the offense occurred isn't that clear. some sources say the Dowager Empress, others the grand duchesses, etc.

the scan below shows the costume pointed out by Woodcock in her article. i recently got a copy of it from the Graphic 1911 - a collector i know says the original (Bert?) photo is in John Neumeier's collection; i don't know of any reproduction of the photo since 1911, other than Woodcock's reproduction, for her article, of a magazine publication of the photo, perhaps this same one. (my copy of the article is not handy at the moment.)

post-848-098138600 1318954125_thumb.jpg

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THANK YOU, Mme Hermine.

This is wonderful -- and great-hearted.

Very Soviet, but splendid in that style.

They make it into a dance of joy, and that's right.

The variation, here, is about the earliest one I can find on YouTube, and that's fifty years after the beginning. I wonder if there are earlier ones.

http://www.youtube.com/user/niku60#p/search/1/wnEkZPgFZso

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I just heard from a Milanese ballet-going friend that some sort of "letter of action" or "petition" has been circulated by a group of La Scala dancers to the theater's management to protest the RAYMONDA production, citing 'excessive luxury' and 'waste of resources.' While I was there, I had only heard, in very general terms, that there were the usual 'grumblings' by some dancers because of the extra work, etc. Nothing about a more formal letter or petition. Does any of this ring true with any of our Italian BalletAlerters...magpie74 or anyone else?

This may explain the angry Corriere della Sera 'review.'

According to my playbill, the major sponsor for this production was the banking group Intesa San Paolo. Maybe the unhappy people should write to the bankers? La Scala Theater is run by a private foundation, although some members of the foundation are quasi-governmental entities. My understanding is that it's mostly private money.

I can only vouch for the intense joy and applause at the end of the first two performances. There were no unhappy picketers, no tomatoes thrown...only praise and joy. If there was whistling, I never heard it.

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Milano Oggi ("Milan Today") newspaper's online edition of 12 October published a very positive review...so not all are grumblers.

http://www.milanoogginotizie.it/arte-e-cultura-teatro/2011/10/12/news-41399/trionfo-di-raymonda-alla-scala-sette-minuti-di.html

Rough translation:

Triumph of Raymonda at La Scala: Seven Minutes of Applause in Milan - Yesterday evening saw the premiere of RAYMONDA, a colossal Petersburg ballet, applauded beyond seven minutes at its debut on the theater stage. The ballet in three acts by Marius Petipa, first performed in 1898, is performed in full regalia, from the imposing scenery and magnificent costumes, the final ballet of the 2010/2011 season of Piermarini. Raymonda will be on the stage for another eight viewings until 4 November. The preparation time was enormous -- rehearsals began one year and two months ago. The star of the ballet is the first soloist of the Mariinski Theatre, Olesia Novikova, a beautiful diamond within a grandiose medieval frame. The dancer earned huge applause at the premiere, with multiple 'brava' and cheers of approval after all solos. Greatly appreciated also was the other star of the evening, the Swedish [sic - he's German] dancer Friedemann Vogel. To applaud them, among the public, was seated a VIP spectator, Carla Fracci, whose entrance to the 'platea' (Orch seats) was greeted warmly; many spectators stood and yelled 'brava.'

Note: How could I have forgotten to mention Carla?! Yes, she was there at the opening night, looking radiant, with her husband.

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We saw what happened to the divine Nijinsky when he dared to discard his shorts in Giselle...showing his 'goods' to the Tsarevna (Queen Mother) Maria Fedorovna and Tsar Nikolai II's daughters! Ooo-lah-lah!

In 1826, Cadet Leonidas Polk (USMA 1827) was ejected from the Superintendent's house party for wearing the new-style fly-front trousers instead of the older-fashioned front-fall trousers, which buttoned at the side. It was felt that his appearance was too "suggestive" for polite mixed company, and so he was thrown out of the house. (It didn't hurt his reputation any, though. He went on to become the Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana.)

Jump ahead to about 1970. When the 3rd US Infantry, 4th Battalion, A Company was tricked out in Revolutionary War uniform for their ceremonial duties in Washington, the Commanding General's lady was scandalized by the men's breeches. She thought that they showed their "forms" too clearly. As a result, the breeches were scrapped, and the unit outfitted instead in the looser long "overalls" which they wear to this day.

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The variation, here, is about the earliest one I can find on YouTube, and that's fifty years after the beginning. I wonder if there are earlier ones.

http://www.youtube.com/user/niku60#p/search/1/wnEkZPgFZso

Thanks for that link--I never knew that the Kirov made a ballet *movie* version of Raymonda (I know about the live 1970s recording of course)...

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THANK YOU, Mme Hermine.

This is wonderful -- and great-hearted.

Very Soviet, but splendid in that style.

They make it into a dance of joy, and that's right.

The variation, here, is about the earliest one I can find on YouTube, and that's fifty years after the beginning. I wonder if there are earlier ones.

http://www.youtube.com/user/niku60#p/search/1/wnEkZPgFZso

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It's in his book, Leonid. I read it long ago, but I remember him using that expression frequently in describing variations.

or maybe it's in Wiley, quoting him.

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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." :)

Hello everyone! It is my first post here, though I've been reading and enjoying this forum for quite some time now.

I'm Italian and I live in Italy, I'm not a ballet expert just someone who used to take ballet classes as a you girl and never stopped loving ballet.

I thank you for the informetion you are giving about this production. Here in Italy I noticed there was a bit of controversy about it, so I was really curious to read your opinions. I'm going to attend the performance on the 25th and I'm really excited about it!

As for the live telecast, this will be on Rai 5 (one of Rai DTT channels) and also on the website of Rai 5 on the 27th of October at 9.30pm

http://www.rai5.rai....html?refresh_ce

Once again thank you all for this great forum :clapping:

Thank you, magpie74, for the information and the link about the RAI broadcast and also for the kind words. Welcome to Ballet Alert. I hope you will post your reactions to the October 25th performance.

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The variation, here, is about the earliest one I can find on YouTube....

I finally had a chance to check my La Scala-Raymonda programme for Pavel Gershenzon's mention of film clips of an earlier version utilized to stage parts of the La Scala A2 Pas d'Action (a.k.a. "Pas de Six") that had not been fully notated by Nikolai Sergeyev in the "Harvard Notes."

In fact, a film of substantial segments of the 1945 Bolshoi Theater version by Leonid Lavrovsky-after Gorsky (1908)-after Petipa (1898) was used by Vikharev & Gershenzon to recover the A2 Pas d'Action's 'Bernard & Beranger' duo, although Gerzhenson notes that,eventually, he & Vikharev decided to move that choreography to A3 so that Vogel and other leading dancers essaying Jean de Brienne would have a solo to perform. So....the Lavrovsky-after G-after P steps for B&B were prepared for La Scala...but only performed by one man, Jean. [so Vogel did NOT perform the Konstantin Sergeyev version of Jean's A3 solo to the B&B music. My earlier error, sorry.]

Bernard & Beranger in the 19?? (mid-50s?) film of the 1945 version are Anatoli Kuznetsov and Nikolai Fadeyechev. Now wouldn't we all LOVE to see that 1945 Bolshoi Raymonda on YouTube someday?

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Here's a bit more news from RAI5 about the October 27 telecast of the 1898 RAYMONDA from La Scala:

http://www.rai5.rai.it/dl/Rai5/programma.html?ContentItem-8c197aff-7080-49bf-982c-6042c56f3278

Rough translation of key bits:

This is a 'direct deferred (delayed)' transmission. As many of you may have noticed, the telecast begins to transmit at 21:30, which is 9:30pm local Milan time...obviously well past the actual ballet's starting time of 7pm. There will be a 2.5-hr delay but, not to worry -- the entire ballet will be shown.

Former La Scala prima ballerina, Luciana Savignano, and Kledi Kadiu will emcee the introduction and intervals.

Novikova and Vogel will be the leading dancers. Mikhail Jurowski conducts the orchestra.

Caution: Internet viewers will be prompted to install "Microsoft Silverlight" on their computers. You might want to take care of this ahead of time, if you do not currently have Silverlight.

p.s. This Time-Zones website may be handy:

http://www.timezoneconverter.com/cgi-bin/tzc.tzc

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So 12 hours to go till the TV/Web showing?? I have the afternoon off but will probably miss the first 40 minutes or so...

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So 12 hours to go till the TV/Web showing?? I have the afternoon off but will probably miss the first 40 minutes or so...

As I think I'll miss the beginning of the performance too (I've started taking evening classes of Russian!) I checked Rai 5 website and saw that they usually leave the programmes they have broadcasted to be seen for a week or so after showing it. So for those who cannot see it in streaming you can try with the 'on demand' button which redirects to previous shows. Mind you, I'm not 100% sure they will make THIS specific show available for later viewing, this is just what they usually do.

By the way, I saw it live two days ago, and I'm still amazed!

I'm not an expert so I can't make a technical comment. I can only say that it was so sumptuous, lavish...marvellous! I really appreciated it, and if it is really reminescent of what the real thing used to be,I must say I felt the grandeur of the whole production.

After seeing this performance I must say I don't agree with those who criticized this production (there was a very bad review in the Corriere della Sera) and as Italian ballet lover I'm really gladand proud La Scala put on such an interesting, unique, and 'relevant' production. Also the pantoimime parts which I usually don't like...well this time I fully appreciated them. I can't explain why, but to me they seemed perfectly appropriate, they fitted in perfectly, so they seemed believable and I truly appreciated them in the framework of a story that was being beautifully told.

The only thing is...for a series of coincidences a few days before I had seen the Mariinsky in La Bayadere which was performing in Turin.

I know the two are not comparable in any way, still after seeing Lopatkina a few days before I must say Novikova seemed to me very, very cold...aloof and not as magnetic as Lopatkina was for me. Of course this is just a personal and very subjective opinion.

I'm sorry if this sort of 'review' is very amateur...but that's what I am, just a ballet lover!

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Anyone would be grateful to have Natalia as an office manager. Her skills are unmatched.

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Thanks for the review, magpie! Not 'amateurish' at all. :)

Puppytreats, don't get too excited. Alas, some of us have just discovered that the livestream might be "geoblocked" -- that is, countries outside Europe (or even outside Italy?) -- would not be able to access it. If this is the case with you & others, I've already offered my sincere apologies this another thread:

:flowers:

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- 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!

I'm glad you mentioned this about the apotheosis! I was disappointed also. I think this reconstruction (sets and narrative) is the best so far to make the story make sense, but I like the apotheosis at the Mariinsky where Raymonda and Jean de Brienne ride off on fake horses, although I suspect many find that corny or hammy. Somehow it matches the music for me as a beautiful and grand moment to end the opera. I even like the Paris Opera Ballet's way of just having Raymonda and Jean de Brienne pose in front of a banquet table while the corps do a weaving in and out of each other, if I remember correctly. Somehow having that red curtain fall built up my expectations for something really special, and then it lifted for a painting of a tournament. Seemed strange and sort of an anti-climax, but overall, I do prefer this particular production so far the best.

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As reported on our Feb 5, 2012, "Links" thread (a UK news article), La Scala soloist Maria Francesca Garritano was fired over the weekend for comments that she made about dancers with anorexia. Italian newspapers are painting a more complete story, including Garritano's criticisms of the the expenses and staging of this Petipa-Vikharev
Raymonda
(despite her being cast as Henriette in the premiere/telecast crew and in the title role with another crew).

One of many articles in Italian, just shown as a source:

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La Scala soloist Maria Francesca Garritano was fired over the weekend for comments that she made about dancers with anorexia.

One of many articles in Italian, just shown as a source:

i read about it in Tom Kington's Guardian article "Italian ballerina sacked in anorexia row" (4 Feb 2012)

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This is a wonderful reconstruction...or restoration of Raymonda. After having seen this production and reading the synopsis of Raymonda all the other productions suddenly make sense. This clears up exactly what's going on. Now go back to the Bolshoi one. Now you'll understand who and what the White Lady is. she's not the vigin Mary as one might think in the Bolshoi. Bessmertnova kneels and prays to her so what is one to think? The POB makes it a bit clearer, but the La Scala beats them all.

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This is a wonderful reconstruction...or restoration of Raymonda. After having seen this production and reading the synopsis of Raymonda all the other productions suddenly make sense. This clears up exactly what's going on. Now go back to the Bolshoi one. Now you'll understand who and what the White Lady is. she's not the vigin Mary as one might think in the Bolshoi. Bessmertnova kneels and prays to her so what is one to think? The POB makes it a bit clearer, but the La Scala beats them all.

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Re the SLAPS

In 1890, Petipa's "Raymonda" was a princess, not "the people's princess" -- she did NOT do a double pirouette in the Hungarian variation. Pontois is amping it up.

It's pretty clear that Petipa wanted his heroines to "display their coquetterie." it's a phrase he uses over and over. The style of Pontois is much coarser than that -- she is not gracious at all; she's commanding, impressive, sexy, challenging, borderline dominatrix -- very Nureyev. it puts me in mind of Rudi's thigh-high crocodile boots. It's wonderful in its way -- the technique is of course mighty fine. But.............

I think the Marinsky's Uliana Lopatkina perfectly demonstrate that "coquetterie" quailty that Petipa may have wanted for that variation. Her hands barely touches each other when she claps them together. She's very soft, very serene. Very much the ideal Princess. Very much the way Novikova performed it.

The first time I saw Sylvie Guillem danced Nureyev's version I didn't care for it. I thought the choreography was too harsh, not very stylish and that Guillem was selling it too hard. Then I saw the Bolshoi's Maria Alexandrova perform the choreography and suddenly it was marvelous. She was still commanding, still impressive but suddenly you didn't see the dominatrix...you didn't see the hard sell. Instead we witness an aristocratic queen of imperial nobility, self-assurred and self-confident in her station in life. She didn't have to sell anything. She's just IS. I guess this is a perfect example of dancer's own personal interpretation of a variation. Some leaves one dry while others open up doors you never thought possible.

Like Lopatkina, I also noticed that when Alexandrova claps her hands it's done very silently - except at the very beginning and towards the final end - and when they do they time their claps very carefully. They don't do it merely for the sake of doing it. If you look at Guillem or Pontois they seem to be clapping all the time and with greater strength. They don't seem to time their clapping with the music as the Russian ladies do. But I've always thought - and I could be wrong - that the Russian ballerinas seem to have a better understanding of this great variation then almost any other ballerina in the world.

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I don't disagree with anything you say. LOVE Lopatkina as Raymonda.

But I think I have read on this forum or maybe it was in the Dancer's Dream documentary of the Nureyev Raymonda......apparently, in Russia it is a big no-no to do loud claps on the stage. Nureyev did not agree with that approach and wanted to hear the claps. He wanted it strong and forceful. I tend to think both approaches can work. I think that final variation of Raymonda's is Raymonda acting a role, doing a Hungarian dance. So she is having fun, and she also finally has her man and is happy in life, so she's showing off. But overall, I agree with what you're saying after reading your comments.

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