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Raymonda at la Scala

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#1 Marcmomus



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Posted 25 October 2012 - 09:14 AM

I was fortunate enough to see Vikharev's revival of Raymonda in Milan recently. Olesia Novikova danced Raymonda, as in the recent DVD. I liked it, as it was quite an occasion, but the audience was the coldest I have ever seen for any opera or ballet. Applause was insufficient to accompany dancers off the stage after variations, and the audience flocked to the doors at the end before curtain calls were completed. I knew that this was a notoriously tough audience but this took me aback.There was nothing overtly wrong with the ballet, apart from too much ensemble dancing for my taste, and Novikova's excessively detached air. I have since replayed DVDs of Kolpakova and Bessmertnova dancing Raymonda, and their emotional intensity was simply at another level. Perhaps the audience had a point after all.

#2 Natalia


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Posted 25 October 2012 - 09:19 AM

That's odd. The performances of this production that I attended last year (two casts) + the telecast's audience were all very warm...huge bravos...not just for the first cast but for the 2nd all-Italian leads.

Maybe the weather and/or economy are worse this year, making for a grumpy audience?

#3 cubanmiamiboy


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Posted 25 October 2012 - 05:24 PM

Perhaps Raymonda both as a character and as a ballet are still works in progress for both the ballerinas and the audiences. I always think of ballets as if they were pieces of clothes. The more one wears them the more attached one gets to them, and probably even the more people around us get used to see us with and the better they start fitting after a couple of washes. Raymonda is still somehow an alien subject for many people, dancers and audiences, and even more out of Russia. One doesn't have enough input to start making comparisons, and in general the ballet has a different allure, less human than, let's say, Giselle, which is a timeless love/betray story, or even Swan Lake, which even being a fairy tale, also speaks with more intensity to the heart. Raymonda's Crusades/anti Islamic historical background could had been very effective back in Petipa's time, but I don't think it is anymore, so even the very story carries on less weight than what it used to. All that, and the fact that Novikova is way farther in character development to its heroin as where Mme. Bessmertnova was at the time she did the recording, sums up the whole thing. For some reason then, I suspect than Grigorovitch version makes the ballet more flexible...closer to the modern spirit. But that could be my own feeling...not necessarily every one's reality.

#4 Birdsall


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Posted 25 October 2012 - 07:30 PM

I think Novikova's recent Mariinsky Raymonda shows that she has grown in the role, in my opinion. So Cristian, you are right. A dancer (and audience) grows into the ballet clothes. In fact, I think she is incredible in the Mariinsky performance. I thought she was great in the La Scala video also, but somehow I didn't think at that time her final variation was triumphant and diva-like the way I personally like it done. But in the recent Mariinsky one she had totally grown into that variation, and it is the crowning glory of her evening (just as it is Raymonda's triumph in happiness). She also adds a lot of nods of the head throughout the evening. I guess that is a Hungarian move or something. I don't know. Lopatkina, Kolegova, and Tereshkina do not do those little head nods when they dance it at the Mariinsky. Does anyone know the story behind these head nods?

Although I love La Scala's sets and the fact that they reconstructed the story, etc., I actually prefer the Mariinsky version's choreography. In the La Scala video you see Novikova with the famous Mariinsky arms and the corps around her have much stiffer arms. At the Mariinsky everyone has the same style.

For me I think Raymonda (the character) should be a really girly girl. Sort of like the beautiful, unreachable cheerleader nobody can date except the Big Man on Campus (Jean de Brienne). This is probably why Lopatkina is so famous in this role. She has the look (with make up and costume) of that type of girl, an almost snobby yet innocent look....a girl born into privilege who finds it absolutely normal to just be who she is. I think Novikova's youthful looks also give her the air of what I think a Raymonda should be like. Very feminine. Raymonda is sort of a young pretty girl oblivious somewhat to politics and the dangers of the world. But by the end of the ballet she has experienced a taste of danger (and maybe sexuality) and I feel the final variation shows how she has grown into being a woman and is on her way to becoming a woman of the world.

I think Raymonda is actually very relevant to today's times. We are living in a time when the East and West are still in conflict. There are extremists alive and well today on both sides of the religious spectrum. So Raymonda for me represents a moment when East meets West and there is a possibility of some sort of understanding, but in the end the West is more comfortable sticking with its own culture and lifestyle. I think Raymonda (the ballet) reflects this on-going issue. Both sides are intrigued by the other side to a point. But at some point the interest stops and we go back to our sides.

I have to say that I used to like the Bolshoi's version of Raymonda, b/c it was somewhat more athletic (especially for the men) and interesting b/c of the differences in story-telling, but after watching it again this past summer live in the movies and analyzing and comparing it with the Mariinsky version, I actually think Grigorovich's version makes some really terrible decisions. Raymonda's beautiful picking-up-the-flowers entrance is gone (and that is a heart-breaking choice) and she falls asleep leaning against a column which has to be the stupidest thing I have ever seen. I had forgotten about that. A princess would not lean against a pillar and fall asleep! I also think the Bolshoi's sets are a big disappointment and the costumes look like they belong on a Michael Jackson video during his Thriller period. It looks so dated and 1980s to me! Bessmertnova is good, but she deserved better sets and costumes! Each time I watch that video I think Michael Jackson is going to walk in during the character dances and do the moon walk!

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