Natalia

Mariinsky in DC, Jan 2012 - Diaghilev 3ple bill

56 posts in this topic

[Note, Jan 18, 2012: The post below reflects the originally-announced casting. For the playbill casting, printed on the first night of the run, please go Post #16 of this thread. There are major changes.]

Casting is up for the Kennedy Center performances this January. Lopatkina in Scheherazade, Kondaurova in Firebird and -- drumroll! -- DARIA PAVLENKO in TWO ballets, multiple performances! (...and NO "You-Know-Who"....SHHHHHHH)

Mariinsky Ballet

Valery Gergiev, Artistic Director

Yuri Fateev, Deputy Director of the Ballet Company

with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra

Les Saisons Russes (The Russian Seasons)

Choreography by Mikhail Fokine

Chopiniana (Les Sylphides)

Music by Frédéric Chopin

Scheherazade

Music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

The Firebird

Music by Igor Stravinsky

PRINCIPAL CASTING (subject to change)

Chopiniana

Mazurka, Seventh waltz: Maria Shirinkina (Tue. & Fri. eves., Sun. mat.), Anastasia Kolegova (Wed. eve., Sat. mat.), Oxana Skoryk (Thu. & Sat. eves.)

Eleventh waltz: Yana Selina (Tue. & Thu. eves., Sat. & Sun. mats.), Svetlana Ivanova (Wed., Fri., & Sat. eves.)

Prelude: Xenia Ostreykovskaya (Tue., Fri., & Sat. eves.), Daria Pavlenko (Wed. & Thu. eves., Sat. & Sun. mats.)

Nocturne, Mazurka: Igor Kolb (Tue. eve. & Sun. mat.), Evgeny Ivanchenko (Wed. eve. & Sat. mat.), Maxim Zyuzin (Thu. & Sat. eves.), Anton Korsakov (Fri. eve.)

The Firebird

The Firebird: Ekaterina Kondaurova (Tue. & Sat. eves.), Anastasia Petushkova (Wed. & Fri. eves., Sun. mat.), Alexandra Iosifidi (Thu. eve., Sat. mat.)

Ivan-Tsarevich: Alexander Romanchikov (Tue. & Thu. eves., Sat. & Sun. mats.), Ivan Sitnikov (Wed., Fri., & Sat. eves.)

The Princess of Great Beauty: Ekaterina Mukhailovtseva (all performances)

Kashchei the Immortal: Soslan Kulaev (Tue. & Thu. eves., Sat. & Sun. mats.), Vladimir Ponomarev (Wed., Fri., & Sat. eves.)

Scheherazade

Zobeide: Uliana Lopatkina (Tue. eve., Sat. & Sun. mat.), Daria Pavlenko (Wed., Fri., & Sat. eves.)

Zobeide's Slave: Daniil Korsuntsev (Tue. & Fri. eves., Sun. mat.), Anton Korsakov (Wed. & Sat. eves.), Evgeny Ivanchenko (Thu. eve.), Igor Kolb (Sat. mat.)

Sultan Shahriyar: Vladimir Ponomarev (Tue. & Thu. eves., Sat. & Sun. mats.), Soslan Kulaev (Wed., Fri., & Sat. eves.)

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Thanks for the notice, Natalia.Opening night casting looks great! Anyone have recommendations for a second cast? Is Oxana Skoryk worth seeing?

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I'm disappointed that Vishneva and Tereshkina are not appearing. I'm most looking forward to Kondaurova in Firebird.

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Thanks for the notice, Natalia.Opening night casting looks great! Anyone have recommendations for a second cast? Is Oxana Skoryk worth seeing?

I've had a soft spot for Skoryk since seeing her in the recent Perm Ballet Academy documentary but...her reviews for the past 6 months have been rather negative (London, Miami, etc.), usually along the lines that she 'hyperextends' and is not very musical.

In addition to the opener on Tues, I would go with the one performance that has Pavlenko in two ballets: Wed night. Wed is also great because it has Svetlana Ivanova in Chopiniana & she is extraordinary in this. Wednesday night is the only Chopiniana that will have both Pavlenko & Ivanova. The lead ballerina is the rarely-seen Kolegova and she's pretty good in this. The Poet is Ivanchenko; this is one of his better ballets...BUT Wednesday's Chopiniana should be all about Pavlenko & Ivanova (& the corps), IMO. [Of course, we all know that "casting is subject to change" especially with the Mariinsky.]

Abatt, I share your disappointments with no Vishneva or Tereshkina, although not having Vishneva is not a surprise. I'm very sorry to not have Vladimir Schklyarov and Alexander Sergeev...but the latter is Pavlenko's husband and I guess that one of them stays home taking care of baby. smile.png )

Xander Parish is often cast as the Poet in Chopiniana at home & abroad; surprised that he isn't on this tour.

Osmolkina is often the lead of Chopiniana at home but she isn't on this tour. I hope that she is OK; she was replaced at last minute by Obraztsova in last Friday's Romeo & Juliet back home. Speaking of Obraztsova - she's also missing from this tour but, in her case, it's no surprise, as these aren't 'her' ballets.

Last but not least: The "Matvienkii" -- Denis and Anastasia -- are missing; she often dances Firebird (including the recent London tour) and he (both?) have danced Scheherazade. [Perhaps another move is in the works for this stellar couple, perhaps even with a Directorship...in some large Eastern European company?] They will be missed on this tour.

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I'm ecstatic that Dasha Pavlenko is coming back to DC! Her return to our shores has been long overdue.

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OMIGOD I cannot believe that Pavlenko is coming! I pretty much never miss the Mariinsky when they're anywhere near NY but I'm not crazy about this program so I was debating about whether to go. I'd kind of decided that I'd wait and see if Kondaurova was cast in Firebird and then maybe go for 1 performance.

Now I'm in for the weekend!!!!!

Agree that its a shame Vishneva, Tereshkina, Obraztsova and Sklyarov aren't coming but honestly, I'd gladly trade them all for Pavlenko. Have to go buy my tickets now...

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No Schklyarov...booo

Pavlenko.HURRAH!!!!!!!!!!!!

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One small update (not a switch): The KennCen cast list now shows a Zobeide for Thursday: Kondaurova!

Zobeide: Uliana Lopatkina (Tue. eve., Sat. & Sun. mat.), Daria Pavlenko (Wed., Fri., & Sat. eves.), Ekaterina Kondaurova (Thu. eve.)

As far as I can tell, nothing else has changed (yet...shhhhh).

p.s. - OK, that does it. I now have booked for every single show & can be certified as truly Looney Tunes!

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p.s. - OK, that does it. I now have booked for every single show & can be certified as truly Looney Tunes!

Be proud, Nat.

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Puppy, I love these casts. Not a dudd in sight. (wink) Besides, I'm determined to see Pavlenko by hook or crook, even if she's juggled around from performance to performance on the castings, between now and opening night (hope not, for everyone's sake). ALL BASES COVERED!

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This is a Kennedy Center sneak preview and a rare occurence. Daria Pavlenko and her husband Alexander Sergeev are interviewed with scenes of their "Giselle" from the Mariinsky Theatrebiggrin.png .

http://news.bbc.co.u...ack/9653088.stm

What a treat, thanks for posting this! Brings back memories of her Ken Center Giselle a few years ago. I think it was the last time I saw her...maybe with Kolb?

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The season opens tonight. (Hoorah!)

Let's keep our fingers and toes crossed that the lead casting 'sticks.' There have been no alterations to the casting on the KennCen website since November 9th (when Kondaurova was added to the list of Zobeides). The company checked in over the weekend and apparently all of our favorites have made it here...but I have not checked the registration book at the front desk of the hotel where dancers may be staying, as some have done in the past (ha-ha).

I'll report on any potential changes in the printed Playbill for the rest of the run, as I'll be going tonight. Again, I am hoping for no changes since many folks have made travel plans according to the casting on the KennCen site.

p.s. So far, it's a "Somova No-Fly Zone"... yahoo.gif

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Ahhhh...Kondaurova no longer appears in Scheherazade; she was listed as Thursday's Zobeide. (No fears -- she is still first-cast Firebird!) So we are now back to two Zobeides -- Lopatkina and Pavlenko.

From the newest Kennedy Center listing:

Scheherazade

Zobeide: Uliana Lopatkina (Tue. eve., Sat. & Sun. mats.), Daria Pavlenko (Wed.–Sat. eves.)

Zobeide's Slave: Daniil Korsuntsev (Tue. & Fri. eves., Sun. mat.), Anton Korsakov (Wed. & Sat. eves.), Evgeny Ivanchenko (Thu. eve.), Igor Kolb (Sat. mat.)

Sultan Shahriyar: Vladimir Ponomarev (Tue. & Thu. eves., Sat. & Sun. mats.), Soslan Kulaev (Wed., Fri., & Sat. eves.)

Again, I plan to post here any other changes to the various castings, as may be indicated in tonight's playbill (which should cover the entire week).

Of course, even the playbill is infallible. This is the Mariinsky; anything can happen until the curtain goes up! All we can do is plan to the best of our abilities.

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One more deletion on the KC website: Anton Korsakov is no longer dancing the Friday Chopiniana...but he remains for two Golden Slaves/Scheherazade. Maxim Zyuzin adds the Friday night to his Chopinianas:

Nocturne, Mazurka: Igor Kolb (Tue. & Wed. eves.), Evgeny Ivanchenko (Sat. mat.), Maxim Zyuzin (Thu., Fri. & Sat. eves., Sun. mat.)

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Good morning! I'm waking up early just to type-out the VERY ALTERED casting to the coming days, according to the playbill that I picked up at last night's opener. [i'll write a review later, in a separate post.]

GENERAL BOMBSHELL CASTING CHANGE: According to the playbill, Lopatkina dances Zobeide in Scheherazade in EVERY performance of the run, except for Thursday night (tomorrow), which will go to Kondaurova (despite what went on the KennCen website yesterday morning, indicating no Zobeide for Big Red). Secondly, there is NO PAVLENKO Zobeide -- but she's still on for a couple of CHOPINIANA Preludes -- despite yesterday's KennCen web listing of her dancing several Zobeides. AND HERE IS THE KICKER: Danil' Korsuntsev is the Golden Slave in EVERY performance...even opposite Kondaurova on Thursday! [sorry - after seeing his heave-ho but kabuki-like 'flat' delivery last night, I may seriously consider leaving the theater every night after the 2nd ballet, Firebird. Even Lopatkina cannot save this sorry display..and Lopatkina herself seemed on autopilot. How I long for my memories of Ruzimatov & Kolb! The general performance of this ballet has plummeted since the company premiered it 18 years ago.]

Timing Note: For those depending on public transport or making after-theater-supper plans: Performance that began at 7:30pm ended at 10:36pm exactly. It's a L-O-N-G night...Scheherazade alone took about one hour, as the first 15 minutes are taken by the long orchestral 1st Movement, with curtain down. Lovely but....

SO HERE IS THE NIGHT-BY-NIGHT Casting, according to the playbill of Tuesday night:

Tuesday, Jan 17, 7:30 pm (already occurred)

CHOPINIANA

Female Lead (pdd, mazurka) - Maria Shirinkina

Poet - Igor Kolb

Solo Valse - Yana Selina

Prelude - Ksenia Ostreikovskaya

Two Demi-solo Sylphs (I recognized; not listed in playbill): Elena Firsova (audience-left, tiny blonde) and Yulia Stepanova (stately brunette, audience-right)

FIREBIRD

Firebird - Ekaterina Kondaurova

Ivan-Tsarevich - Alexander Romanchikov

Princess of Great Beauty - Ekat. Mikhailovtseva

Kashchei the Immortal - Soslan Kulaev

SCHEHERAZADE

Zobeide - Uliana Lopatkina

Zobeide's Slave (aka Golden Slave) - Danil' Korsuntsev

Sultan - Vladimir Ponomariev

His Brother - Andrei Yakovlev

Chief Eunuch - Roman Skripkin

Three Pink Odalisques: Anastasia Petushkova, Yulia Stepanova & Elena Bazhenova (confirmed...with Petushkova replacing the originally-listed Lubov Kozharskaya)

Wednesday, January 18, 7:30pm

CHOPINIANA

Female Lead (pdd, mazurka) - Anastasia Kolegova

Poet - Igor Kolb (yes...listed for 2 nights in a row...and his last performance in DC, this run)

Solo Valse - Svetlana Ivanova

Prelude - Daria Pavlenko

Two Demi-solo Sylphs (not listed in playbill): assume the same every night? If so: Elena Firsova and Yulia Stepanova

FIREBIRD

Firebird - Anastasia Petushkova

Ivan-Tsarevich - Ivan Sitnikov

Princess of Great Beauty - Ekat. Mikhailovtseva

Kashchei the Immortal - Vladimir Ponomaryev

SCHEHERAZADE

Zobeide - Uliana Lopatkina

Zobeide's Slave (aka Golden Slave) - Danil' Korsuntsev

Sultan - Soslan Kulaev

His Brother - Andrei Yakovlev

Chief Eunuch - Roman Skripkin

Three Pink Odalisques: Lubov Kozharskaya (but may be replaced by Petushkova, if it's the same 3 girls every night), Yulia Stepanova & Elena Bazhenova

Thurs, Jan 19, 7:30pm

CHOPINIANA

Female Lead (pdd, mazurka) - Oxana Skorik

Poet - Danil' Korsuntsev (yup...doing 'double duty' tonight)

Solo Valse - Yana Selina

Prelude - Daria Pavlenko

Two Demi-solo Sylphs (not listed in playbill): assume the same every night? If so: Elena Firsova and Yulia Stepanova

FIREBIRD

Firebird - Alexandra Iosifidi

Ivan-Tsarevich - Alexander Romanchikov

Princess of Great Beauty - Ekat. Mikhailovtseva

Kashchei the Immortal - Soslan Kulaev

SCHEHERAZADE

Zobeide - Ekaterina Kondaurova (only performance in which Zobeide is not Lopatkina)

Zobeide's Slave (aka Golden Slave) - Danil' Korsuntsev

Sultan - Soslan Kulaev

His Brother - Andrei Yakovlev

Chief Eunuch - Roman Skripkin

Three Pink Odalisques: Lubov Kozharskaya (but may be replaced by Petushkova, if it's the same 3 girls every night), Yulia Stepanova & Elena Bazhenova

Fri, Jan 20, 7:30pm

CHOPINIANA

Female Lead (pdd, mazurka) - Maria Shirinkina

Poet - Maksim Zyuzin

Solo Valse - Svetlana Ivanova

Prelude - Ksenia Ostreikovskaya

Two Demi-solo Sylphs (not listed in playbill): assume the same every night? If so: Elena Firsova and Yulia Stepanova

FIREBIRD

Firebird - Anastasia Petushkova

Ivan-Tsarevich - Ivan Sitnikov

Princess of Great Beauty - Ekat. Mikhailovtseva

Kashchei the Immortal - Vladimir Ponomaryev

SCHEHERAZADE

Zobeide - Uliana Lopatkina

Zobeide's Slave (aka Golden Slave) - Danil' Korsuntsev

Sultan - Soslan Kulaev

His Brother - Andrei Yakovlev

Chief Eunuch - Roman Skripkin

Three Pink Odalisques: Lubov Kozharskaya (but may be replaced by Petushkova, if it's the same 3 girls every night), Yulia Stepanova & Elena Bazhenova

Sat, Jan 21, 1:30pm

CHOPINIANA

Female Lead (pdd, mazurka) - Anastasia Kolegova

Poet - Yevgeni Ivanchenko

Solo Valse - Yana Selina

Prelude - Daria Pavlenko

Two Demi-solo Sylphs (not listed in playbill): assume the same every night? If so: Elena Firsova and Yulia Stepanova

FIREBIRD

Firebird - Alexandra Iosifidi

Ivan-Tsarevich - Alexander Romanchikov

Princess of Great Beauty - Ekat. Mikhailovtseva

Kashchei the Immortal - Soslan Kulaev

SCHEHERAZADE

Zobeide - Uliana Lopatkina

Zobeide's Slave (aka Golden Slave) - Danil' Korsuntsev

Sultan - Soslan Kulaev

His Brother - Andrei Yakovlev

Chief Eunuch - Roman Skripkin

Three Pink Odalisques: Lubov Kozharskaya (but may be replaced by Petushkova, if it's the same 3 girls every night), Yulia Stepanova & Elena Bazhenova

Sat, Jan 21, 7:30pm

CHOPINIANA

Female Lead (pdd, mazurka) - Oksana Skorik

Poet - Maxim Zyuzin

Solo Valse - Svetlana Ivanova

Prelude - Ksenia Ostreikovskaya

Two Demi-solo Sylphs (not listed in playbill): assume the same every night? If so: Elena Firsova and Yulia Stepanova

FIREBIRD

Firebird - Ekaterina Kondaurova (now down to 2 Firebirds...only perf listed after last night's opener)

Ivan-Tsarevich - Ivan Sitnikov

Princess of Great Beauty - Ekat. Mikhailovtseva

Kashchei the Immortal - Vladimir Ponomaryev

SCHEHERAZADE

Zobeide - Uliana Lopatkina

Zobeide's Slave (aka Golden Slave) - Danil' Korsuntsev

Sultan - Soslan Kulaev

His Brother - Andrei Yakovlev

Chief Eunuch - Roman Skripkin

Three Pink Odalisques: Lubov Kozharskaya (but may be replaced by Petushkova, if it's the same 3 girls every night), Yulia Stepanova & Elena Bazhenova

Sunday, Jan 22, 1:30pm

CHOPINIANA

Female Lead (pdd, mazurka) - Maria Shirinkina

Poet - Igor Kolb

Solo Valse - Yana Selina

Prelude - Daria Pavlenko

Two Demi-solo Sylphs (not listed in playbill): assume the same every night? If so: Elena Firsova and Yulia Stepanova

FIREBIRD

Firebird - Anastasia Petushkova

Ivan-Tsarevich - Alexander Romanchikov

Princess of Great Beauty - Ekat. Mikhailovtseva

Kashchei the Immortal - Soslan Kulaev

SCHEHERAZADE

Zobeide - Uliana Lopatkina

Zobeide's Slave (aka Golden Slave) - Danil' Korsuntsev

Sultan - Soslan Kulaev

His Brother - Andrei Yakovlev

Chief Eunuch - Roman Skripkin

Three Pink Odalisques: Lubov Kozharskaya (but may be replaced by Petushkova, if it's the same 3 girls every night), Yulia Stepanova & Elena Bazhenova

So now I'm off to get breakfast before writing a review...all the while pondering how on earth I'm going to make it through seven straight performances -- in six days -- of Korsuntsev's Golden Slave. I need sustenance.

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Mariinsky Ballet @ the Kennedy Center

"Les Saisons Russes" - Evening of Three Fokine Ballets

January 17, 2012 - 7:30 pm

CHOPINIANA

Female Lead (pdd, mazurka) - Maria Shirinkina

Poet - Igor Kolb

Solo Valse - Yana Selina

Prelude - Ksenia Ostreikovskaya

Two Demi-solo Sylphs: Elena Firsova and Yulia Stepanova

FIREBIRD

Firebird - Ekaterina Kondaurova

Ivan-Tsarevich - Alexander Romanchikov

Princess of Great Beauty - Ekaterina Mikhailovtseva

Kashchei the Immortal - Soslan Kulaev

SCHEHERAZADE

Zobeide - Uliana Lopatkina

Zobeide's Slave (aka Golden Slave) - Danil' Korsuntsev

Sultan - Vladimir Ponomariev

His Brother - Andrei Yakovlev

Chief Eunuch - Roman Skripkin

Three Pink Odalisques: Anastasia Petushkova, Yulia Stepanova & Elena Bazhenova

Overview

From exquisite enchantment to kitschy exotica -- last night's opening program of the Mariinsky Ballet's 10th consecutive season at the Kennedy Center, featuring three famous Diaghilev-Era works by Mikhail Fokine, had it all. From talented novice soloist ladies and one truly grand male danseur (Kolb in Chopiniana)...to a Star-Ballerina if ever there was one (Kondaurova as Firebird)...to diva-esque posing (Lopatkina and Korsultsev's mechanical Scheherazade), the level of performances varied. Let's not forget the delightful corps, especially those ephemeral ladies in Chopiniana! Add some splendid Diaghilev era sets and costumes, and there was something to delight everyone in the jam-packed Kennedy Center Opera House last night. What a shame that the very best came first...and the 'dudd' came last, leaving the final impression of the evening (although many in the audience cheered Bakst's gorgeous and colorful designs, which always impress first-time viewers).

A Few Details by Ballet

Chopiniana

The bright blue-and-gold "Les Saisons Russes" front-curtain was revealed as the Kennedy Center Opera House orchestra, under the capable direction of the Mariinsky's Alexei Repnikov, struck the opening chords of the Polonaise Militaire that serves as the opening music to Chopiniana. The curtain goes up on a dreamy moonlit night, an autumnal Corot-like landscape in the background. Ethereal young sylphs in romantic-white tutus are frozen in elegant and coy poses, surrounding a lone male Poet -- Igor Kolb, in reverential ecstacy, totally in step with Fokine's vision for every minute he was onstage! The initial Nocturne is danced as a beautiful long sigh -- a poem in slow motion, wafting through the air. Everybody on stage 'gets it' and is a part to the poetic vision. This is why I love ballet. Plain and simple.

In addition to Kolb -- who never lost his line (those insteps!), crisp beats, and poetic ardour -- I very much admired Ksenia Ostreikovskaya's Prelude solo -- highly sensitive to the music, secure in her balances, posing as a swan with that amazing long neck, never losing the mood. Also admirable was the waif-like Maria Shirinkina in the pdd with the Poet and a solo mazurka with floating jetes....although she missed her entrance to the solo, not appearing until the 3rd pass! [imagine about 16 measures of Chopin's Mazurka with an empty center stage, the corps ladies only doing the wavy arm motions in between what should be the soloist's jetes!]

Shirinkina's fluke error aside, the only real disappointment with Chopiniana last night was unexpected, as I've seen Yana Selina perform in a more ethereal manner than the earthbound perkiness that seemed to envelope her brisk Waltz solo. A toothy-grinned earthling among sylphs, sorry to report.

The final group waltz was perfection, with the corps de ballet outshining itself in the famous "double row" segment of slow-motion leaps, leading to the "cross pattern" of swishes (balancés) back and forth. [This particular section & its slow pacing dates to Vaganova's 1931 arrangement of the ballet, I'm told.] This is one of the Golden Moments in ballet and nobody does this segment better than the Mariinsky's corps. Bravi Tutti!

Firebird

The evening could have ended with Chopiniana & I would have gone home a Happy Camper...but we were in store for one more extraordinary ballet last night: The Firebird. Two words: Ekaterina Kondaurova. WOW! "Big Red" herself, followed by a Big Red Spotlight, wearing a Big Red Tutu and Big Red Feathers adorning her red hair, caught by a tall handsome Tsarevich clad in red. Holy Moley - it's a Red Alert of the highest magnitude!

Seriously, this was a largely satisfying performance of a fascinating ballet on a classic old Russian fairy tale about the young Tsarevich who catches the mythical Firebird and lets her go, for which he is rewarded with a magic feather, which eventually wins his release from the Evil Katschei's clutches, allowing him to marry a Beautiful Princess. With the possible exception of an overly-long game of 'throw-and-catch the apples' by the 12 princesses, this ballet tells its story interestingly. [Now I understand why some filmed versions of the ballet omit the apple-throwing scene.]

There were mostly stunning performances, particularly Kondaurova in the title role. Her technique is admirable, not least of all those powerful, huge grands jetes. Her trembling port de bras commanded like movements in the corps of monsters of Katschei's kingdom. Her pearl-like pas de bourees caressed the stage during the soft Berceuse (Lullaby) after the fall of the monsters. Ekaterina Kondaurova IS every inch a majestic, magical presence...although she let down her guard and smiled sweetly for a couple of seconds while struggling to pull the magic feather from her tutu, to hand over to Ivan! smile.png

One of last night's happiest surprises was my first look at tall, dark-haired, movie-star-handsome Alexander Romanchikov as Ivan. This is mostly an acting and partnering role but he imbued it with tremendous charisma. (I hope that he can also dance & jump!) Ekaterina Mikhailovstseva is as gorgeous and sweet a Beautiful Princess as has ever been seen. Soslan Kulaev was an effective Katschei, although I long to see 'the master' (Ponomaryev) in the role tonight.

The corps of creatures included an amazing group of 'guy monsters in purple rags,' who performed high Russian splits while the dance was at its highest frenzy (before the Firebird caused them all to tumble ot the ground). However, I lament the crispness and sharpness of the various 'monster units' that we used to see. Perhaps the ballet has not been performed in a while and the corps are mostly new to the work? What makes it worse is that the low lighting and dark-against-dark coloring of the Katschei kingdom scene makes it all look like a sloppy soup...very different from the same scene when performed with constrasting designs (light costumes against dark background) in the edition designed by Natalia Goncharova for the latter half of the Diaghilev era (the version most often seen in the west).

The finale with the young warriors at the wall becoming human again, met by a row of princesses who gently lay their heads on the men's shoulders, is touching. The final moments with the Beautiful Princess and Ivan leading the young couples up the hill, as a new Mother Russia rises behind them, never fails to impress...but someone forgot to give Ivan his crown or hat! The Tsarina has her bejeweled kokoshnik headpiece but the Tsar is bare headed; a huge no-no.

Scheherazade

I should have quit while I was ahead, after two perfectly lovely ballets. Instead I remained for Scheherazade. OK, perhaps many of us were itching in our seats because of the 40-minute intermission. Some of us wondered, "Was Valery Gergiev in town, holding one of his VIP receptions backstage?" Whatever the reason, timing was already against the final ballet but, hey, we all awaited the arrival of La Gran Diva herself - La Lopatkina would be dancing Zobeide! Half of the ample Russian community of the Washington, DC, area had come tonight just to see HER - the Mother Icon of Russian Ballerinas!

So the famous Rimsky-Korsakov score began, the 15-minute first movement lovingly played by the KC Opera House Orchestra with only an exotic front-curtain depicting hunters in an Arabian fantasy world to be seen. The second movement of the work begins and the curtain finally rises, to a colorful wonderland of the Khan's harem, the ceiling a magnificent emerald-green silk hanging, with beautiful lanterns. Three mysterious doors in the background & a terraced alcove to the left, in which La Lopatkina lay primping and emoting. (Already a few isolated 'bravas!' could be heard coming from the knowledgeable audience.)

We are greeted by three tall-and-curvy Odalisques in pink -- Petushkova, Stepanova and Bazhenova. The other odalisques and wives coddle the Khan and his brother before they set out to the hunt (while planning to return early to possibly catch the gals in some sexual mischief). As the leading wife, Zobeide, Uliana Lopatkina primps as only a diva can, noticing her husband's fondling of the other wives through her little mirror. (Lopatkina is still supreme in such acting moments.) Once the hunters go, it's 'Party Time' at the harem. The odaliques & wives pry the keys to the three mysterious doors in the back from the bumbling Eunuch.... and out pop the sex-starved slaves and prisoners. The hunkiest of all -- the Golden Slave -- is reserved for La Diva! Lovemaking turns into a Bacchanale with frenzied circular dancing, at the height of which the Khan and his men descend on the wild party and kill everyone in their midst. The Khan almost spares his beloved Zobeide, until his brother shows him the dead Golden Slave. Zobeide is allowed to stab herself to death.

Quite a story. Quite a setting. I cannot blame first-time viewers at the Kennedy Center for having applauded it heartily. It's an impressive piece of art, even though it's all mime, with nary a pointe shoe in sight. But those of us who have seen this ballet -- particularly this Mariinsky edition -- several times must criticize.

Basically, it was the 'flattest' rendering of this work I've ever seen, boring me to tears in the middle of what should be the sexiest pas de deux adagio on earth. It's not that the lovely Lopatkina is not capable. She can still do backbends and strikes gorgeous positions. But she dialed it in -- color by numbers. Very, very pre-programed, like a robot. And who can blame her, with Kabuki Korsuntsev as her inspiration? Sorry but despite a couple of nice moments -- punched-out leaps and acceptable turns a-la-seconde -- there was no emotion or slinkiness about this Golden Slave, as we've come to expect from the Ruzimatovs and Kolbs of this world.

I was also troubled by the change in movements of the corps de ballet, which, in many instances, has changed beyond recognition from that first performance in May 1994 that my husband and I witnessed from the director's box of the Mariinsky Theater. Case in point (one of many): During the final bacchanale, the blue-hatted eunuchs enter the stage one by one, repeating a distinctive port-de-bras with a jerky flick of the wrist with hands near the chin -- arms still and bent at the elbows. Now, instead of a mere flick of the wrist, the elbows move up and down -- as if performing the Funky Chicken!!!

After the pdd, I hardly cared. I couldn't wait to get home. Sad...especially sad that this is my latest memory of a great artist that is Uliana Lopatkina. I hope that the troupe returns to DC some day, with Lopatkina in a ballet that is worthy of her incredible talents, with a partner who can inspire an un-robotic performance.

Still, DO go to this show and enjoy the first two ballets (and the 3rd one...if you can).

Next up: The long-awaited return to the Kennedy Center stage of Daria Pavlenko...tonight!

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Great review, Natalia! I'm discouraged to read your review of Scheherazade because I have fond memories of Diana Vishneva and Igor Kolb tearing up the stage together when the Mariinsky visited City Center in 2008. It was kitschy, but hot! Sounds like last night's performance really needed some of that heat.

I'm also discouraged to hear about Yana Selina as Waltz girl in Chopiniana because, again, I remember her being exquisite at the City Center performances.

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Yup,canbelto. As I wrote above, Selina was an "unexpected" disappointment to me. I remember her as much more floaty and ethereal (less toothy grin and aware of the audience) at City Center and elsewhere. I've never seen Vishneva in Scheherazade but I can imagine what you saw, as Kolb is one of the hottest Golden Slaves ever. He was scheduled to dance it here too but apparently the one-and-only Golden Slave at the Kennedy Center will be Korsuntsev. Phooey!

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Vishneva I remember wore this ridiculous curly wig that reminded me of the silent movies, and I was like "You've got to be kidding me." But then she and Kolb started dancing and the two of them just sizzled.

Natalia, here is a video of Kolb as Golden Slave with Jiyeon Ryu. HOT!

I also would have been curious to see what Vladimir Shklyarov could have done with the role. He might be too short to partner Lopatkina but he does have this kind of boyish, almost Adonis-like persona that would have made a great foil for Lopatkina's glacial reserve. It could have been like a cougar in heat.

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Thanks, canbelto. Kolb is HOT in this film, as is Jijeon Ryu -- a perfect 'flesh and blood' Zobeide, the sort of 'honest engagement' that was lacking at the KennCen last night.

Don't get me started about Schklyarov's absence here! Believe me, it is a huge topic of discussion among the KennCen ballet crowd who've been following this company for 10 straight years. We all ask, "Where the H**** is Schklyarov?" His 'better half' is here, after all (Maria Shirinkina). We also wonder why Daria Pavlenko's husband, the wonderful Mariinsky soloist Alexander Sergeev, is absent from this tour. But let's count our lucky stars -- Kolb, Shirinkina and Pavlenko ARE here, albeit only in Chopiniana. Life is beautiful!

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This seems to be more of a mixed-bill to bring along with a full-length, or another mixed-bill, rather than a week's worth of programming. Are all the performances selling well?

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DC members will know more, but a cousin of mine in the area wrote to say she had some trouble getting a good tkt as most? (at least for Sat. mat.) were sold.

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Thanks, canbelto. Kolb is HOT in this film, as is Jijeon Ryu -- a perfect 'flesh and blood' Zobeide, the sort of 'honest engagement' that was lacking at the KennCen last night. Don't get me started about Schklyarov's absence here! Believe me, it is a huge topic of discussion among the KennCen ballet crowd who've been following this company for 10 straight years. We all ask, "Where the H**** is Schklyarov?" His 'better half' is here, after all (Maria Shirinkina). We also wonder why Daria Pavlenko's husband, the wonderful Mariinsky soloist Alexander Sergeev, is absent from this tour. But let's count our lucky stars -- Kolb, Shirinkina and Pavlenko ARE here, albeit only in Chopiniana. Life is beautiful!

Maybe, they are afraid that KMc is in the audience and might "poach"VS for ABT.

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LOL, Bingham! I hope that I didn't sabotage Romanchikov for future touring, by my positive report of his stellar qualities.

re. Tix - it's selling very well. I just tried to get tickets for neighbors and there's only 1 back-orch seat left for Friday night, for ex; nothing in Box, 1st or 2nd tier. Both Saturday performances (mat & eve) are totally sold out. Like Friday, the Sunday matinee has only 1 seat remaining, in Orch.

So this 10th and final season of the Mariinsky Ballet at the KennCen (as part of the 10-yr agreement) will be a financial success, as well as a (mostly) artistic triumph. After this season, given the world economy and prohibitive cost of touring the big companies, I wonder how many years we'll have to wait to see them again on these shores? Catch them while you can.

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