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Raymonda-1898 - premiere reports


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#16 Mel Johnson

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Posted 28 July 2005 - 03:24 AM

"Scenes de Ballet" was orchestrated by Glazunov from the start. He taught orchestration in Russia well into the Soviet era.

#17 bart

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 11:28 AM

A belated thanks, Doug, for your summary of scenes in the 1898 Raymonda. I printed it out a while ago, waiting for the chance to re-visit the DVD of the Yuri Grigorovich revision (Bolshoi, 1987, Semenyaka, Mukhamedov and Taranda).

I'm glad I did this. It was very illuminating to compare the original with the revision. Here are a few thoughts:

(1) I'm not one of the big fans of extended mime scenes (rather the opposite, in fact), but the elimination by Grigorovich of almost every bit of mime made it very difficult to "place" Raymonda, her friends, the court, etc., and to follow the story.

(2) Raymonda's famous entrance is obliterated in this version. Jean de Brienne has already been leaping around the stage, when suddenly Raymonda appears at the bottom of a very short flight of stairs. No roses that I could see. No sense of who this woman was or anything special about the occasion. No drama -- and nothing of the joyful girlishness of the original. (This may partly be due to camera angles.)

(3) The decision to have Jean de Brienne appear in Act I, scene i, as Raymonda's boyfriend (I think) BEFORE the vision pas de deux in scene ii made little sense, since the scene i dancing didn't allow for much characterization or show them as being especially romantically enaged with one another . The only hint one had that Jean was going off to war was that he put his helmet back on before striding off. (Great costumes !)

4) The interpolated Act I, scene i, adagio pas de deux -- danced to what? -- was beautiful. But it was not really significantly different from the pas de deux at the end of Act II. After all that has happened, you'd expect some development in R and J's relationship during the course of the ballet.

(5) The Countess is reduced to one of those slightly vestigial royals seen walking around or sitting on big chairs during ballroom scenes. All you can think of is how boring it must be to have such a meaningless, stripped-down role.

6) More seriously, there was no statue of the White Lady; her first appearance in the vision scene was as a white blob floating around the rear of the darkened stage. So little was made of her that I couldn't figure out why she was not eliminated entirely. This figure could not possibly have made sense unless one had read the libretto before the performance.

7) The usual reappearance of the White Lady during the second act duel -- complete with brief reprise of her theme -- was omitted. I imagine that the White Lady is supposed somehow to save or encourage Jean. Instead Raymonda ran across the stage. Why did she do that? Frantic? Cheering him on? Silly and undignified, rather.


On the plus side -- the wonderful dancing by principals, and Grigorovich's ability to move the soloists and corps around that huge Bolshoi stage in a manner that makes the patterns as beautiful, energetic and fascinating as the individual steps.

P.S. I wish I could see Balanchine's Raymonda Variations and Cortege Hongrois again to make a comparison. Question: did Balanchine ever do a full-length Raymonda in his early days?

#18 rg

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 12:23 PM

as doug may or may not remark, balanchine staged RAYMONDA as follows:
Raymonda : Three-act version. Chor: George Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova after Marius Petipa; mus: Alexander Glazunov; scen & cos: Alexandre Benois. First perf: New York, City Center, Mar 12, 1946, Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo

doug also published a fine interview, again in BALLET REVIEW w/ danilova about this very staging:

Fullington, Doug.
Title :Alexandra Danilova on Raymonda.
Ballet review. New York. v. 26, no. 4 (winter 1998), p. 72-76. ill.
Conversation with Alexandra Danilova about dancing in the ballet Raymonda and about various versions of the ballet.

#19 doug

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 04:29 PM

Adding to rg, Balanchine's 1946 Raymonda was a 3/4-length version, that didn't last long in the rep before being pared down to Act III only. Frederic Franklin has recently revived some variations from that staging for the Balanchine Foundation. Pas de Dix (1955) is essentially Act II of the version, thought not a carbon copy. Raymonda Variations (1961) is new choreography with just one or two very minor Petipa quotes. Cortege Hongrois (1973) includes more Petipa quotes and includes much of Raymonda Act III, as well as numbers from Acts I & II. I think Cortege is underrated.

#20 Mel Johnson

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 08:26 PM

Fernand Nault staged a pretty faithful version of the last act for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.

#21 Solor

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Posted 21 August 2005 - 02:25 PM

I did a very careful comparison of the 2 recordings of Victor Fedotov with the Kirov Orchestra (of what I thought (from a review of it online) was the 1898 performance score) and the recording of Anisimov with the Moscow Symphony (the complete score of Glazunov).

With the help of Roland John Wiley's book "Century of Russian Ballet (BRAVO MR WILEY! what a wonderful piece of work), and Doug's post of the 1898 Raymonda (very insightful, BRAVO TO YOU TOO!), I found that the Fedotov recording is not of the 1898 premiere at all. The Fedotov recording had many scenes omitted from Act I, for example the opening scenes in Act I with the Countess Sybill were missing. The scene following Raymonda reading the letter from Jean de Brienne with the Glazunov added Entrance of Abderakhman was in place though. The scene following the White Lady's vision of Abderakhamn was ommited, going straight into the final scene. The children's dance from act III, used in modern times as a variation for Jean de Brienne is completly omitted as well. All of the "Scenes de Ballet" interpooations are intact. (I'd rather have a few incedental scenes missing than not have the very rarely recorded Glazunov modifications done to the score at Petipa's request)

I came to the conclusion, though I have never seen it, that the recording of Fedotov is not of the premiere of 1898 but of the Sergeyev version (the date I am not sure of) used by the Kirov Today, just like his recording of Sleeping Beauty - which is of the Sergeyev version. Not sure though.

#22 silvy

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 10:48 AM

Speaking specifically about tempi, I find that the Anisimov version is very bad in one of the most crucial parts of the ballet, which is Raymonda's 3rd act variation: the start is not so bad, though too quick in my view, but it is the final diagonal that I dislike the most, because it so slows down that the effect is totally lost. I have tried dancing to it, and just could not.

Also, as it was said earlier in this thread, Raymonda's variation in the "Tableau de Reve" scene is not the one as danced by the Bolshoi (and the one I was taught, by the way). It seems that everything is wonderful excepting Raymonda's solos!!
I wonder if anyone agrees with me?

#23 Solor

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 06:31 PM

Speaking specifically about tempi, I find that the Anisimov version is very bad in one of the most crucial parts of the ballet, which is Raymonda's 3rd act variation:  the start is not so bad, though too quick in my view, but it is the final diagonal that I dislike the most, because it so slows down that the effect is totally lost.  I have tried dancing to it, and just could not. 

Also, as it was said earlier in this thread, Raymonda's variation in the "Tableau de Reve" scene is not the one as danced by the Bolshoi (and the one I was taught, by the way).  It seems that everything is wonderful excepting Raymonda's solos!!
I wonder if anyone agrees with me?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Indeed I do! I know EXACTLY what you are talking about. I find this problem with just about every recording of ballet music that is out there.

As far as the variations of Raymonda go in the Anisimov recording, indeed they are at totally improper tempos. The variatioin Anisimov recorded for the vision scene is the original solo Glazunov composed for the ballet, but at Petipa's request was ommited in favor of the "Scenes de Ballet" waltz, which was subsequently re-orchestrated for the 1898 produstion by Glazunov for a solo violin and is still performed today in the vision scene by not only the Bolshoi but everyone else.

As far as the solo for Raymonda in the Act II Pas d'action with Abderakhman is conducted entirly to fast, as well as the Grand Pas Hongrois variation to solo piano for Raymonda in the 3rd Act. This is a problem that is found in just about every recording of the great classics.

Silvy - You should get Fedotov's recording of Raymonda, it is of the Soviet version and conducted very well (especially the variations). It is out-of-print, but has been re-released though ( http://www.classical...r/cd-en/043.htm ). Its kind of a pain to get a hold, but worth it. You can also get his recording of the 1895 "Swan Lake" ( http://www.classical...r/cd-en/042.htm ).

#24 silvy

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Posted 18 November 2005 - 02:37 AM

Solor , thanks so much for the valuable information. Fedotov is by far my most preferred conductor for ballet. I have never heard his "Raymonda", though, as I have never seen a Raymonda danced by the Maryinsky - hope some day this is available on DVD or video.

I will see what I can do with the recording (being in Uruguay, everythiong is a little more difficult for us dancers, from pointe shoes, tights to music itself)

Thank you again
Silvy

#25 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 08:26 PM

I don't know if it's cricket to refer to another ballet website, but while I was watching the DVD of the Bolshoi/Grigoriev/Semenyaka production, and running back and forth to the computer to try and compare their scenario with the one/s posted in this thread, my husband came up with a site that has a very through background of the ballet and early productions, including illustrations of programmes, etc.

The site is Balletbase.com, and the thread on Raymonda is called "The Petipa code or Searching for Raymonda." There are several LONG pages in this thread, parts I through V. The first page can be found here.

#26 Natalia

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 06:10 AM

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!

#27 bingham

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 09:17 AM

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.

#28 Natalia

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 10:01 PM

'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!

#29 Drew

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Posted 10 October 2011 - 06:25 PM

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

#30 Natalia

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 10:50 PM

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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