Helene

Bolshoi: London 2013 (29 July-17 Aug) @ Royal Opera House

148 posts in this topic

Thanks to everyone on site in London for your detailed reports; they are much appreciated.

I beg.gif that Masha Alexandrova fully recovers!

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In face of Alexandrova's unfortunate injury, the following cast changes have been made to the Bolshoi/London Schedule:

Sleeping Beauty: Krysanova August 8th

Swan Lake: Krysanova August 10th; Shipulina August 14th

Flames of Paris: Osipova and Vasiliev - now dance August 17th (evening) as well as 16th

Lantratov will now dance with Shipulina for the 17.8 matinee in place of Volchkov.

All has been gratefully updated on the Bolshoi website, but not - as usual - on the ROH's. (Perhaps it is because ALL the tickets have been sold and this is, of course, a rental .... though they are never very quick on the draw for the Royal Ballet even when they still have seats a-begging and the productions are in-house!!)

Wrinkle: Before the curtain went up tonight it was announced that owing to injury the Bluebird would be danced by Denis Rodkin rather than Lantratov. Developing, I guess.

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Krysanova it was paired with Ovcharenko. I liked her in the role, although compared to my last Aurora-(Herrera)-she falls behind the Argentinean. I missed the technical reassurance of the princess' arms "en couronne" during the RA. Krysanova seemed nervous to go from hand to hand, and she switched them VERY quickly. On the good side, she showed great restraint on her extensions. It is nice to get a Russian break from the contortionists of the world. Ovcharenko was beautiful to watch. His tours en l'air during his act III variation were wonderful, and his landings very plush and lovely. Shipulina's Lilac was nice too, although Grigorovich ideas for this role was all about what he does best...fill, fill, fill everything, every single musical note with chainee turns and arabesques. Lilac's choreo was particularly unfortunate during the Vision scene, where she engages in some sort of silly mirror dancing with Aurora while she dances with Desiree.

This production suffers particularly during this scene. On my way out of the theater I got a glimpse of a picture hanging in a corridor showing a moment during this scene with Fonteyn as Aurora, Beryl Grey as Lilac and Helpmann as Desiree, and wow...what a difference. The Bolshoi production has no forest, but instead we keep seeing this annoying patterned floor and the classical columns still on the sides. It is VERY hard to guess that this is all happening outside a palace, and all this busy baroque surrounding, including the floor, diminishes a great deal the usually mysterious and lovely feeling of this part of the ballet.

One of the high points of the production is the showing of the characters divertissements in act III, with the nice bonus of Cinderella and her Prince-(a very rare dancing moment from every other SB production I've ever seen). Rodkin did really good as the Bluebird, and here I should say that his brise voles were more satisfactory than those of Vasiliev-(my last BB before Rodkin).

Why does the company keep milking applauses? After the last curtain call for the whole troupe onstage was over, the whole house gradually stopped applauding altogether, and still they opened the curtain for individual bowing. I think this should only happen if the house is being insistent, and tonight it was not the case, so the moment looked sort of awkward. But then, when they started bowing individually, the wonderful British audience responded with gusto. Lovely manners, I'd say-(which I should extend to the WHOLE of the people over here, so allow me to say this in capitals...

I'M LEAVING THIS TOWN FULL OF AN IMMENSE SENSE OF WARMTH AND HIGH VALUE OF ITS PEOPLE. LONDONERS ARE LOOOOOOOOOOVELY!!!!

Thank you SO MUCH for having me felt so good and welcomed over here.

Hugs. thanks.GIFflowers.gifwub.pngclapping.giftiphat.gif

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Krysanova it was paired with Ovcharenko. I liked her in the role, although compared to my last Aurora-(Herrera)-she falls behind the Argentinean. I missed the technical reassurance of the princess' arms "en couronne" during the RA. Krysanova seemed nervous to go from hand to hand, and she switched them VERY quickly. On the good side, she showed great restraint on her extensions. It is nice to get a Russian break from the contortionists of the world. Ovcharenko was beautiful to watch. His tours en l'air during his act III variation were wonderful, and his landings very plush and lovely. Shipulina's Lilac was nice too, although Grigorovich ideas for this role was all about what he does best...fill, fill, fill everything, every single musical note with chainee turns and arabesques. Lilac's choreo was particularly unfortunate during the Vision scene, where she engages in some sort of silly mirror dancing with Aurora while she dances with Desiree.

This production suffers particularly during this scene. On my way out of the theater I got a glimpse of a picture hanging in a corridor showing a moment during this scene with Fonteyn as Aurora, Beryl Grey as Lilac and Helpmann as Desiree, and wow...what a difference. The Bolshoi production has no forest, but instead we keep seeing this annoying patterned floor and the classical columns still on the sides. It is VERY hard to guess that this is all happening outside a palace, and all this busy baroque surrounding, including the floor, diminishes a great deal the usually mysterious and lovely feeling of this part of the ballet.

One of the high points of the production is the showing of the characters divertissements in act III, with the nice bonus of Cinderella and her Prince-(a very rare dancing moment from every other SB production I've ever seen). Rodkin did really good as the Bluebird, and here I should say that his brise voles were more satisfactory than those of Vasiliev-(my last BB before Rodkin).

Why does the company keep milking applauses? After the last curtain call for the whole troupe onstage was over, the whole house gradually stopped applauding altogether, and still they opened the curtain for individual bowing. I think this should only happen if the house is being insistent, and tonight it was not the case, so the moment looked sort of awkward. But then, when they started bowing individually, the wonderful British audience responded with gusto. Lovely manners, I'd say-(which I should extend to the WHOLE of the people over here, so allow me to say this in capitals...

I'M LEAVING THIS TOWN FULL OF AN IMMENSE SENSE OF WARMTH AND HIGH VALUE OF ITS PEOPLE. LONDONERS ARE LOOOOOOOOOOVELY!!!!

Thank you SO MUCH for having me felt so good and welcomed over here.

Hugs. thanks.GIFflowers.gifwub.pngclapping.giftiphat.gif

When I saw the live film broadcast of this production I found the floor very distracting. Even on youtube I find it distracting.

Glad you had a lovely time in London.

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Sleeping Beauty, August 5

Princess Aurora - Ekaterina Krysanova

Prince Désiré - Artem Ovcharenko

Lilac Fairy - Ekaterina Shipulina

Carabosse - Alexei Loparevich

King - Alexander Fadeyechev

Queen - Kristina Karasyova

Catalabutte - Vitaly Biktimirov

Candide - Daria Khokhlova

Fleur-de-Farine - Chinara Alizade

Breadcrumb - Daria Bochkova

Canary - Anastasia Stashkevich

Violente - Anna Tikhomirova

Fairies’ Cavaliers - Mikhail Kryuchkov, Mikhail Kochan, Dmitri Efremov, Artem Belyakov, Maxim Oppengeym, Batyr Annadurdyev

Suitors - Karim Abdullin, Yuri Baranov, Ivan Alexeyev, Denis Rodkin

Aurora’s Friends - Angelina Vlashinets, Anna Okuneva, Ana Turazashvili, Yulia Grebenshchikova, Svetlana Pavlova, Elizaveta Kruteleva, Margarita Shrainer, Anna Voronkova

Duchess - Maria Zharkova

Gallifron - Vasily Zhidkov

Peasant Dance - Anna Antropova, Alexander Vodopetov

Diamond - Anna Leonova

Sapphire - Viktoria Litvinova

Gold - Maria Vinogradova

Silver - Yanina Parienko

Princess Florine and Bluebird - Kristina Kretova, Denis Rodkin

Red Riding Hood and Wolf - Anna Voronkova, Denis Savin

White Cat and Puss in Boots - Yulia Lunkina, Denis Medvedev

Cinderella and Prince Fortuné - Anna Tikhomirova, Artem Belyakov

conductor - Pavel Sorokin

The last time I visited London I came to see the Royal Ballet’s justly famous production of The Sleeping Beauty. To be honest, this time I considered not going to see the Bolshoi’s version at all because so much of the music is brutally hacked away. The cuts are most obvious in the rump version of the fairies’ adagio in the prologue, but they’re pervasive, from beginning to the very end; for example, my favorite passage in the entire ballet ends up dumped from the vision scene.

It would probably take truly great performances to overcome this fundamental flaw, and what I saw last night was fine, but not quite that. Ekaterina Krysanova’s Aurora makes an extremely fast entrance, but she can keep up. It’s true that in the Rose Adagio she doesn’t hoist her legs as high as many ballerinas are wont to do, but unfortunately she distorts her torso as much. In her first-act solo she got through all of her pirouettes without a hitch. There is an unfortunate tendency among Auroras today to aim for all triples, only to falter by the second or third pirouette; Krysanova delivers a single, double, triple and quadruple pirouette in sequence and without excuses. She’s got a light, airy jump. You get no sense that pointe shoes are slowing her down. I thought she was at her best in her lovely vision scene variation.

Artem Ovcharenko’s Prince made his entrance emphatically with high-flying jumps, but finished the solo somewhat less strongly with chaîné turns on the flaccid side, and then stumbled a bit through the solo adagio that followed. His jumps have a beguiling lightness, but his port de bras have a throwaway quality; they appear under-supported and without a sense of energy extending all the way to his hands.

(I know hands are tough, and I wasn’t really satisfied with Krysanova’s or Ovcharenko’s, but that’s a long discussion that should probably be conducted separately.)

I thought Ekaterina Shipulina was a lovely Lilac Fairy, her dancing big and regal and gracious. In her variation I missed only a smidge of the luxuriant plushness that the Royal Ballet’s Lilac Fairies bring to the solo. Alexei Loparevich’s Carabosse was likewise about as good as transvestite versions get.

Here I have to lodge a complaint against Vinicio Cheli’s lighting. Carabosse appears to have a reddish spotlight, which is no doubt intended to appear menacing, but mostly looks dark. The Lilac Fairy does not appear to have special lighting at all. Perhaps it’s a lilac spot, but the net effect is to make her nearly invisible on stage. The only time she catches a break is when she veers into Aurora’s or Désiré’s spotlight. Unfortunately, so much of the time what is supposed to be her benevolent presence at crucial moments gets lost somewhere in the dim upstage.

Vitaly Biktimirov was a thoroughly excellent Catalabutte, younger and more energetic than you often see. Daria Khokhlova was admirable in the développé-tombé sequence of her solo, and Anastasia Stashkevich had amazing speed and elevation. Anna Tikhomirova was perhaps a little too “violente” as the Finger Fairy. Maria Vinogradova’s Gold Fairy stood out.

Kristina Kretova and Denis Rodkin were excellent in the Bluebird pas de deux despite the funereal tempo at which they were forced to dance. Denis Savin. Finally! Even with half his face covered with a wolf mask he brought a small character vividly to life. Yulia Lunkina and Denis Medvedev were a sexy, witty pair of cats.

I agree wholeheartedly about the quasi-marble floor. It’s hideous, and I imagine that it is extremely distracting for people watching from overhead. Besides, it’s been in use for less than two years, but already looks horribly marked up.

By no means a terrible performance, but a flawed production, so I don’t think it justifies the high ticket prices.

I watched this performance from the balcony.

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Why does the company keep milking applauses? After the last curtain call for the whole troupe onstage was over, the whole house gradually stopped applauding altogether, and still they opened the curtain for individual bowing. I think this should only happen if the house is being insistent, and tonight it was not the case, so the moment looked sort of awkward. But then, when they started bowing individually, the wonderful British audience responded with gusto. Lovely manners, I'd say-(which I should extend to the WHOLE of the people over here, so allow me to say this in capitals...

Thank you, cubanmiamiboy and volcanohunter for the detailed reviews. It's exciting to feel like we're all a part of the action. I'm glad you both liked Shipulina, who is one of my favorite dancers in the company. I've never seen their Sleeping Beauty live, so I have no opinions on the marble floor, but they have a number of similar floor coverings for different productions and I agree that they can become distracting.

As for the bows, I imagine that they're just used to a Russian audience, who wouldn't dream of ending the applause before at least two to three sets of individual bows, after which a small group of devotees usually makes them come back out even more times (I've never stayed until the end because it goes on so long). I can see how it would seem self-aggrandizing to a different audience, but I don't think it was meant that way. It's good to hear that London (my favorite ballet city in the world) responded politely.

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Why does the company keep milking applauses? After the last curtain call for the whole troupe onstage was over, the whole house gradually stopped applauding altogether, and still they opened the curtain for individual bowing. I think this should only happen if the house is being insistent, and tonight it was not the case, so the moment looked sort of awkward. But then, when they started bowing individually, the wonderful British audience responded with gusto. Lovely manners, I'd say-(which I should extend to the WHOLE of the people over here, so allow me to say this in capitals...

Thank you, cubanmiamiboy and volcanohunter for the detailed reviews. It's exciting to feel like we're all a part of the action. ...

As for the bows, I imagine that they're just used to a Russian audience, who wouldn't dream of ending the applause before at least two to three sets of individual bows, after which a small group of devotees usually makes them come back out even more times (I've never stayed until the end because it goes on so long). I can see how it would seem self-aggrandizing to a different audience, but I don't think it was meant that way. It's good to hear that London (my favorite ballet city in the world) responded politely.

I join in the thanks. It has been great reading about the Bolshoi in London.

About the bows: you could be right, but . . . I don't know. On tour, dancers from the Bolshoi and Mariinsky (in my experience) almost always milk the applause and take a bow if so much as one person is still applauding..softly. But although I've never seen the Bolshoi at home, I did finally get to see the Mariinsky at home and for several of the performances I attended the audience was plenty tepid generating no individual bows at the end--certainly no 'extras.' (In any case, these are companies that tour a lot.) But different customs are just that...different.

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It doesn't have to be career-ending, but it's generally severe and has a long recovery time.

Keiichi Hirano of the National Ballet of Canada tore his achilles in the middle of the Erik Bruhn competition a few years ago and made a full recovery, but it took about six months as I recall.

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According to Ria Novosti, Alexandrova has an Achilles injury which may take up to 6 months or 1 year to heal.

http://ria.ru/culture/20130803/954062604.html

As for torn Achilles, Evan McKie of Stuttgart Ballet also tore his Achilles while performing the prince in Sleeping Beauty 4 years ago, and it also took him 7 months to recover.

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I, too, want to thank everyone who has posted in such great detail :flowers:

I hope Alexandrova has a full recovery on the fast side.

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Looking forward to comments about the Zakharova/Hallberg SB. Anyone attend? Comparisons to the one they did that was shown in theatres and released on Dvd?

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I wrote the following comments on the production on the balletcoforum ... for what they are worth ...

From Monday Night ...

Very briefly - out of a scale of 10: Stage floor: -1 (most distracting as seen from above - read Amphi ... especially when any satin pointe shoe merges - read disappears - into the light reflecting gilt of it); Denis Savin as the Grey Wolf: 11 (so refreshing to have a total characterisation - even half covered in a mask - THROUGH dance, one followed through and delighted in by the audience ... watch out for them there fangs smile.png ... but then he was brilliant too in the dance with the drum pairing on Saturday afternoon in Bayadere.)

I'm sure others will have much more to say vis a vis last night ... but just now I must proverbially dash.

Thanks for the photos, Dave. They are a truly luxuriant treat and wonderfully framed. That is Denis Rodkin partnering in the first photo in posting 3. He danced the Bluebird last night and did, I thought, a good job of it. (Believe it or not this lad is now one of the two dancers - the other being V. Lantratov who he replaced due to injury last night - doing the major roles in the Bolshoi's current productions of SPARTACUS and IVAN. So pleased I had the privilege of seeing the 'other Ivan' ... a certain Mr. V .... while he was still about in Moscow smile.png Perhaps while Vasiliev is still at ABT they should consider borrowing one or two of those Russian productions for him. - (Methinks they are inter-changable only IVAN has the better score.)!! Love to see him opposite either, say, Gomes or Cornejo - or a guesting La Riche. THE LATTER WAS A BRILLIANT IVAN IN PARIS - but ALL listed are special artists!!) Who knows that might even be able to fill the Coli if ABT were to bring it here and help to off-set the traditional lesser audiences for more recent works like Ratmansky's hailed Shostakovich Trilogy .... or his upcoming Tempest .... What say we trade Wheeldon's new WINTER'S TALE ... Yeah, but I know the NBoC already have the NA rights for that!!). Rodkin's Florine, Kristina Kretova, also pleased and she has the most enchantingly natural smile.

From last night ... (Tuesday) ...

Saw it for a second time tonight. Highlights lodged within a gleaming but nonetheless sorry (or is that rather dull) lot:

(1) David Hallberg deserves a medal (or is that a peerage - lots being given away for less at the moment) for (i) life-saving partnering given a partner (no names mentioned ... cough .. Zakharova ... cough) whose legs seem to live on a planet of their own imagining and (ii) for etching a character (one might almost say forcing one) out of exactly nothing (which last night's occupant did not even attempt I now realise) and doing it all with such enormous and open grace and joy. Smirnova danced the Lilac Fairy and - after Saturday night's Bayadere - I was mightily disappointed. True she has a ravishing instrument and was also gifted by Hallberg's esteemed presence ... but I lost count of the number of pirouettes she fell out of during her initial variation. After that the smile of my heart in her regard became rather fixed I fear. Of course, Mr. Crisp, It will live in the hope that it might be warmed again. Fingers crossed.

(2) the graceful Florine of the ever-dependable and charming Anastasia Stashkevich. She danced tonight with last night's Desire, Artem Ovcharenko. He looks good in blue, - a long, cool drink of water - but Denis Rodkin, while more compactly so was, I fear, better equipped and certainly more responsive in terms of his partnering. SO VITAL.

(3) True highlight, however, was the ever wonderful Igor Tsvirko who appeared as Carabosse. If you MUST have a Carabosse en travesti .... (and I, myself, prefer when they are not ... Oh, for Merrill Ashley in the original NYCB production) ... then THIS is your (wo)man!! A class act Igor - No qualms there. Loved how he played the curtain call as if he was in a panto ... to (variously) much amusement and confusion amongst his Bolshoi peers. 'Only in England, huh!' one heard them murmur ... in Russian of course smile.png !! .... Somehow it sounds so much better that way smile.png

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Sleeping Beauty, August 7

Princess Aurora - Evgenia Obraztsova

Prince Désiré - Dmitry Gudanov

Lilac Fairy - Ekaterina Shipulina

Carabosse - Denis Savin

King - Alexander Fadeyechev

Queen - Kristina Karasyova

Catalabutte - Alexei Loparevich

Candide - Daria Khokhlova

Fleur-de-Farine - Chinara Alizade

Breadcrumb - Daria Bochkova

Canary - Svetlana Pavlova

Violente - Anna Okuneva

Fairies’ Cavaliers - Mikhail Kryuchkov, Mikhail Kochan, Dmitri Efremov, Artem Belyakov, Maxim Oppengeym, Batyr Annadurdyev

Suitors - Karim Abdullin, Yuri Baranov, Ivan Alexeyev, Denis Rodkin

Aurora’s Friends - Angelina Vlashinets, Ana Turazashvili, Olga Marchenkova, Yulia Grebenshchikova, Anastasia Gubanova, Elizaveta Kruteleva, Margarita Shrainer, Anna Voronkova

Duchess - Maria Zharkova

Gallifron - Vasily Zhidkov

Peasant Dance - Anna Antropova, Alexander Vodopetov

Diamond - Anastasia Stashkevich

Sapphire - Viktoria Litvinova

Gold - Maria Vinogradova

Silver - Yanina Parienko

Princess Florine and Bluebird - Kristina Kretova, Denis Rodkin

Red Riding Hood and Wolf - Anna Voronkova, Anton Savichev

White Cat and Puss in Boots - Yulia Lunkina, Denis Medvedev

Cinderella and Prince Fortuné - Anna Tikhomirova, Karim Abdullin

conductor - Pavel Sorokin

Along the way the Bolshoi made so many principal casting changes to The Sleeping Beauty that ultimately this was the only combination of dancers I was really anticipating, and for the most part I was not disappointed.

Evgenia Obraztsova is, of course, a natural Aurora, but not in the Bolshoi manner. It’s fascinating to compare the way her ports de bras differ fundamentally from the arms traditionally used by Bolshoi Auroras. The Bolshoi style uses more deliberately bent elbows, as if to emphasize the Baroque origins of the positions. Obraztsova’s arms are not so stylized.

In the Rose Adagio I wish she could somehow make her à la secondes and penchées appear a little less emphatic; it’s awfully hard to make a six-o’clock position look demure. She also slowed down the final series of promenades to such an extent that it sapped the music of its propulsive drive. There were a few technical glitches. She fell out of her pirouette à la seconde in the Rose Adagio, and some of her footwork in the vision scene was less than entirely immaculate. There were also times when she appeared to be on different wavelengths with the conductor. During the first-act solo the music was too slow during her hops on pointe, and she could not maintain a consistent rhythm through the sequence. On the other hand, during the second act she appeared to want a slower tempo than the conductor was offering.

I suppose I was hoping for perfection, but it was not forthcoming this time.

After Aurora falls seemingly lifeless in Act 1, her parents seem oddly unperturbed. While this could be taken as a sign of their great confidence in the Lilac Fairy, it does not jive with the King’s determination to execute the (thoroughly charming) illicit seamstresses earlier in the act.

Dmitry Gudanov was a beautiful, elegant Prince, and what he may lack in power owing to his slight stature and build (by Bolshoi standards), he more than makes up for in refinement and technical purity. While his solo dancing was uniformly wonderful, he struggled a bit with the lifts in the vision scene, so he and Obraztsova fell behind the music on the supported back-and-forth développés toward the end of the adagio.

But by the final act all the difficulties had been ironed out, and the grand pas de deux was splendid on all counts: radiant, gracious and musical.

As the Lilac Fairy Ekaterina Shipulina seemed to have heard the secret wish of my heart and gave her dancing an extra dose of opulence that made her thoroughly splendid. I would like a fairy godmother like that! But her lighting is still a problem. From where I was sitting I could see that she indeed had a lilac-colored spotlight. Even her tights and shoes took on a lilac hue, and on top of her lilac costume and her lilac wig, it conspired to make her fade into the background.

I don’t like Carabosse’s red spotlight either, but at least it contrasts with the black costume. Denis Savin was wildly memorable in the role: petulant and tetchy rather than horribly nasty, and dancing with a great deal of vigor. It wasn’t just a matter of good acting; his dancing was expansive and had an enormous degree of physical control.

The prologue fairies were uniformly excellent. I would single out Anna Okuneva, who danced with a lot more dynamic variety than you typically see from the Finger Fairy. A tip of the hat also to the fairies’ cavaliers, who managed to stay synchronized in the coda even as the music sped up.

flowers.gifA big virtual bouquet to Kristina Kretova, who was breathtakingly flawless as Princess Florine. She’s got a phenomenal degree of control. Denis Rodkin was a strong foil for her.

flowers.gif And another virtual bouquet to the cats of Yulia Lunkina and Denis Medvedev. The languid way she would unfurl her legs really was feline, and you could understand exactly how she held his charming rogue in her thrall.

A prize to Karim Abdullin for getting Cinderella into her lost pointe shoe in record time.

A special mention also to the Royal Ballet School pupils who danced the children’s roles in Act 3.

My ears may have been playing tricks on me, but during the final bows it seemed that first Savin and then Shipulina initially got louder cheers than Obraztsova and Gudanov. But after an enormous basket of roses was brought out for Obraztsova, it was clear that the evening belonged to the princess and her prince.

Perhaps conscious that the audience’s demand for curtain calls was not as great as all that, Florine and the Bluebird did not get a bow before the curtain tonight, and that’s too bad, because I would have given them a cheer.

I watched from about a third of the way up the amphitheater, and, yes, the floor looks even worse from up there. I sat directly in front of a row of talkative North Americans. No wonder we have a lousy reputation abroad.

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She also slowed down the final series of promenades to such an extent that it sapped the music of its propulsive drive.

This is an absolute pet peeve of mine in the Rose Adagio; the part where they get to that final tonic chord played in inversions just seems interminable in countless performances I've seen.

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In face of Alexandrova's unfortunate injury, the following cast changes have been made to the Bolshoi/London Schedule:

Sleeping Beauty: Krysanova August 8th

Swan Lake: Krysanova August 10th; Shipulina August 14th

Flames of Paris: Osipova and Vasiliev - now dance August 17th (evening) as well as 16th

Lantratov will now dance with Shipulina for the 17.8 matinee in place of Volchkov.

All has been gratefully updated on the Bolshoi website, but not - as usual - on the ROH's. (Perhaps it is because ALL the tickets have been sold and this is, of course, a rental .... though they are never very quick on the draw for the Royal Ballet even when they still have seats a-begging and the productions are in-house!!)

Conflicting information again, but it's possible that Krysanova will dance Flames on the evening of August 17 with Vasiliev. That's what the updated information on the ROH site indicates. At the moment the Bolshoi site has both Osipova and Krysanova dancing that performance, but clearly that's a mistake one way or the other.

Lantratov will not dance the Evil Genius in Swan Lake on August 15 as originally scheduled and will be replaced by Artem Belyakov. This is now also reflected on the ROH site, which, for the moment, is giving Belyakov a debut as Siegfried. That would be quite a coup for Belyakov, but it doesn't quite reflect reality. smile.png Lantratov is still scheduled to dance the Evil Genius on the evening of August 10, Emeralds on August 12 and Philippe in Flames on the matinee of August 17.

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Aurra's "death" scene is very strange. The way they carried her was awkward, only by her legs and upper body. There was no support on the middle, so even if she was trying to keep still and straight, her body tended to bend. Then...what happened to grieving parents in front of such tragedy...? The royal couple seemed very calm during the whole affair. Not good.

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My review of the August 8th Sleeping Beauty:

Having not seen the Bolshoi perform live since I was little, I was greatly anticipating this performance of the Sleeping Beauty, particularly after viewing the DVD of the production with Zakharova/Hallberg. The Yuri Grigorovich production itself is impeccably dressed—the massive, adorning columns make for a decadent, imposing set, and the costumes are every bit as ornate. Unfortunately, the visual splendor of the production cannot in any make up for its weaknesses: mashed up music arrangements, the absence of any real mime, and the frequently abbreviated or eliminated parts of the ballet. Even the dividing up of the acts with one intermission is awkward: the audience is supposed to adjust to Aurora maturing 16 years of age in the blink of an eye. I’m not asking for a four-hour long Mariinsky reconstruction here, just a nice, coherent, complete production, but Grigorovich’s new Sleeping Beauty is far from that.

Unfortunately, the choppiness of the production starts almost right away with the pas de six for faeries, where two parts of the score are cut. The mime at the beginning of Act I is likewise shaved to its bare minimum, and the mime of the King telling off Catalabutte look rather like a game of cat-and-mouse. In the second act, the Lilac Fairy seems almost in a world apart from Prince and Aurora, executing arabesque promenades on one side of the stage by herself while Aurora and the Prince dance on stage right. The third act is perhaps the most complete act, but even here the Bluebird solo is shortened, the opening absolutely truncated, and the apotheosis gone. Cutting some parts of the score could be forgivable, but all of these instances make for a muddled, fill-in-the-blanks production which resembles more the “Best of Sleeping Beauty” than “The Sleeping Beauty” itself.

The production needs an excellent cast of dancers to make up for its wishy washy nature, and here we had an admirable, if not entirely riveting, cast. Ekaterina Krysanova is a finely assured Aurora, lacking bit of the innate delicacy seen in the great present-day Auroras (Cojocaru, Obraztsova, among others), but nonetheless presents herself as a technically strong and sensitive dancer. This was a performance without flash: no rhythmic gymnast extensions, sky-high jumps, or attempted balances in the Rose Adage (akin to most of the Russian Auroras), but the relative modesty of the performance won me over. Here was an Aurora who seemed very much a young princess—bubbly, effervescent, and enchanted by the prospect of finding a suitor. While Krysanova danced well in Act I, it was her Act II variation where she seemed best suited with finely sustained balances, a beautiful triple step-over pirouette to finish, and an elusive, almost untouchable aura. If anything, her 3rd act, although danced well, is perhaps where she is least interesting: one didn't sense that she had matured from Act I and that she delineated any kind of relationship with her Prince, which seemed more the fault of Semyon Chudin than Krysanova. Although not the most riveting or delicate performer in the role, Krysanova presents the audience with clean, classical dancing with a touch of bravura thrown in. Interested I am to see her Odette/Odile on Saturday, although I sense she is better suited to Aurora.

Krysanova’s prince, Semyon Chudin, is perhaps in terms of technique one of the finest male dancers in ballet today. Here is a dancer with few physical deficiencies to speak of: his feet are divinely shaped, his legs stretched so as to be capable of handling any balance. There are beautiful pirouettes, a gorgeous manege without even a hint of the back leg drooping (as so many dancers do), and not a moment of insecurity in any step. Indeed, his technique seems practically infallible. He simply cannot put a foot wrong, which was much to the delight of a tepid audience that seemed to liven only when Chudin was onstage. However, at the expense of this flawless dancing is a very blank, remote presence: the Prince in Sleeping Beauty is hardly a two-dimensional character, but Chudin doesn’t breathe the necessary life into the role. Even sitting in row F of orchestra stalls, I sensed no sensitivity, no emotion at all. Marcelo Gomes can make a role even as short as this a memorable one; David Hallberg, while certainly not the greatest actor, has innate regality which brings more color to the role than Chudin can muster. This is not to deny that visually Chudin is exceptional, but his performance was often detached from everyone and everything around him.

As the Lilac Fairy, Olga Smirnova reveals much potential. Here is a dancer who at only 21 years of age has a regal authority which belies her years. While some have criticized Smirnova for being too “cool” of a performer, this was not the case in this performance, where she radiated perhaps more warmth than seen in other ballets. A commanding, elegant presence, Smirnova has qualities of greatness, but as is with a dancer of her relative lack of experience, there is fine-tuning to be done. She tends to lean back on her supporting leg during her pirouettes—I noticed this particularly during her pirouettes from fifth-- and at times she oscillates in and out of character. Some shakiness in the pirouettes might be forgiven since the conductor gave her a funeral tempo. Still, there was much to admire about Smirnova: beautiful ports de bras, great epaulement, and luminous in her demeanor. With a few more years of seasoning, Smirnova should deserve a chance at Aurora.

The Bolshoi, obviously a company with tremendous depth, showcases some other standout performers in smaller roles. Anna Tikomirova as the Fairy of Audacity was fabulous: here was a ballerina with complete confidence, technical assurance, and fire. Already said to be an excellent Gamzatti, she could also essay Kitri with great success. Anastasia Stashkevich as Princess Florine is on the opposite spectrum of Tikhomirova—delicate, sunny, a definite Aurora in the making. Artem Ovcharenko as the Bluebird is blessed with an excepetionally lean physique, finely tapered limbs, and an extremely juicy plié. Anna Leonova as the Diamond Fairy is elegant, although she struggled with the ending of step-over turns during her variation, falling out of her double. Maria Vinogradova also deserves praise for her dynamic Carelessness Fairy, featuring strong ballon and a vivacious quality. Sadly, as Carraboose, Alexei Loparevich is unmemorable: his minions actually appear scarier!

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Sleeping Beauty, August 8

Princess Aurora - Ekaterina Krysanova

Prince Désiré - Semyon Chudin

Lilac Fairy - Olga Smirnova

Carabosse - Alexei Loparevich

King - Alexander Fadeyechev

Queen - Kristina Karasyova

Catalabutte - Vitaly Biktimirov

Candide - Daria Khokhlova

Fleur-de-Farine - Maria Vinogradova

Breadcrumb - Nina Golskaya

Canary - Svetlana Pavlova

Violente - Anna Tikhomirova

Fairies’ Cavaliers - Mikhail Kryuchkov, Mikhail Kochan, Dmitri Efremov, Artem Belyakov, Maxim Oppengeym, Batyr Annadurdyev

Suitors - Karim Abdullin, Yuri Baranov, Ivan Alexeyev, Denis Rodkin

Aurora’s Friends - Angelina Vlashinets, Anna Okuneva, Olga Marchenkova, Yulia Grebenshchikova, Yulia Lunkina, Elizaveta Kruteleva, Margarita Shrainer, Anna Voronkova

Duchess - Maria Zharkova

Gallifron - Sergei Minakov

Peasant Dance - Anna Antropova, Alexander Vodopetov

Diamond - Anna Leonova

Sapphire - Chinara Alizade

Gold - Anna Okuneva

Silver - Yanina Parienko

Princess Florine and Bluebird - Anastasia Stashkevich, Artem Ovcharenko

Red Riding Hood and Wolf - Anna Voronkova, Anton Savichev

White Cat and Puss in Boots - Viktoria Litvinova, Igor Tsvirko

Cinderella and Prince Fortuné - Svetlana Gnedova, Artem Belyakov

conductor - Pavel Klinichev

Ekaterina Krysanova was a lovely, assured Aurora, not quite perfect technically, but very, very strong. Again, I thought she fared best in her second-act variation, where she showed beautiful port de bras and excellent control. Krysanova is an admirable artist. She respects the choreography and the music, and does not indulge in willful rubatos, showboating balances or any other kind of excess.

I thought she deserved a better partner than the somewhat blank and asexual Semyon Chudin. Helene’s posts always include a helpful exhortation to distinguish between taste and merit, and my problem with writing about Chudin is that he is simply “not my kind of dancer.” I find him mannered, not exactly effete, but perhaps a little prissy. What I see is great force--such as the enormous circle of jumps her performed at his entrance--but not ease. Whenever I find myself excessively distracted, for good or ill, by a dancer’s physique--and Chudin makes a big deal of his feet--rather than being captivated by his movement, I am put off by it. He has technical accomplishment, but I don’t see it translated into what I’d call real dancing. The steps are beautifully executed but separate entities. In this he is nothing like Krysanova, who really and truly dances. His attitude toward music is, shall we say, flexible. But he partnered Krysanova well. By the end of this tour I will have seen Chudin dance quite a bit, but in the future I do not see myself seeking out his performances. Still, he obviously had many admirers in the audience, and I hope that he will continue to bring them many years of enjoyment.

Fortunately, Olga Smirnova’s Lilac Fairy was not falling out of pirouettes as she apparently did on Tuesday. There were a couple of fudged finishes, but it was the sort of thing you often see in the Lilac Fairy’s variation. On the other hand, during the coda I was afraid that she would careen out of control during her turns in arabesque, though ultimately she salvaged the sequence with a pirouette on demi-pointe. Her most obvious stumble came after a renversé as she cast her spell over the kingdom at the end of Act 1. Smirnova lacks Ekaterina Shipulina’s munificent manner, but this is obviously a role to which she is suited. How well her style fits into the Bolshoi is more of an open question. Dancing together with five other fairies, all born-and-bred Muscovites, she did look very different.

Alexei Loparevich was a fine Carabosse. He uses his large hands so expressively that I was sorry this production doesn’t retain more of the original mime. I would like to have seen Loparevich perform it. Instead he was often reduced to twirling around with his big cape.

My favorite performance of the night came from Vitaly Biktimirov as Catalabutte. Perhaps he shouldn’t be so conspicuous, but I got a kick out of his florid, energetic and very funny characterization.

This performance was conducted by Pavel Klinichev, and initially I was very optimistic. Despite the odd quack from the winds or brass, I thought the music sounded much better than it had under Pavel Sorokin. But my hopes were short lived. Most of the prologue fairies seemed to have difficulty staying in sync with the orchestra, and initially so did the jewel fairies. In the case of Carabosse’s minions it was a lost cause. When Aurora began her final manège of piqué turns in her Act 1 variation, the orchestra required a couple of bars to get coordinated. On the other hand, when Krysanova and Chudin were at risk of falling behind the music in the vision scene, as Obraztsova and Gudanov had the night before, Klinichev waited for them. Therein probably lies the difference. Sorokin is more of a metronome, while Klinichev follows the dancers, perhaps too much; he tries so hard to be flexible that his tempi become difficult to predict. The biggest beneficiary of his conducting seems to have been Anna Leonova’s Diamond Fairy. On opening night she appeared to have been thrown by a not-quite-on-the-ball triangle player, whereas at this performance she followed the main orchestra and fared much better.

I liked Yanina Parienko’s easy and graceful Silver Fairy. Anastasia Stashkevich and Artem Ovcharenko were admirable as Florine and the Bluebird, though he clearly wanted a much faster tempo and his variation was nearly over by the time he got it. Anton Savichev was a buoyant Wolf. Viktoria Litvinova was an aggressively vampish White Cat to Igor Tsvirko’s Puss in Boots, which is a valid interpretation, though I found it less charming than that of their alternates.

Aurora’s father did not reappear in the second half. The 100-year stasis the Lilac Fairy applied to the kingdom seems to have failed in the case of King Florestan.

When during the final bows Smirnova received a bigger bouquet than Krysanova, she immediately and discreetly put it down behind her. There was a single and rather brief curtain call for Aurora and Désiré.

I was sitting in the front section of the amphitheater next to some Sleeping Beauty neophytes, who quite reasonably wondered why the Bolshoi program lists the prologue fairies about two-thirds of the way down the cast list, underneath all the characters who appear in Acts 1 and 2.

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my problem with writing about Chudin is that he is simply “not my kind of dancer.”

I also have some problems to appreciate Chudin's "princeliness". But I have to SEE his dancing on stage, then to make sure.

tiphat.gif @airport

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It's such a pleasure reading these detailed reports.

I look forward to seeing Kretova live some day.

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Osipova and Vasiliev are in town. Spotted outside the opera house this evening.

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Swan Lake, August 10, evening

Odette/Odile: Ekaterina Krysanova

Prince Siegfried: Ruslan Skvortsov

Evil Genius: Vladislav Lantratov

Jester: Denis Medvedev

pas de trois: Daria Khokhlova, Anastasia Stashkevich

Dowager: Kristina Karasyova

Tutor: Alexei Loparevich

Master of Ceremonies: Vitaly Biktimirov

Waltz demi-soloists: Anna Okuneva, Yanina Parienko, Maria Vinogradova, Ana Turazashvili, Karim Abdullin, Denis Rodkin, Mikhail Kryuchkov, Artem Belyakov

Cygnets: Svetlana Pavlova, Margarita Shrainer, Anna Voronkova, Yulia Lunkina

Big Swans: Olga Marchenkova, Angelina Vlashinets, Ana Turazashvili

Hungarian Bride: Yulia Grebenshchikova

Russian Bride: Anna Rebetskaya

Spanish Bride: Anna Tikhomirova

Neapolitan Bride: Maria Vinogradova

Polish Bride: Anna Leonova

conductor: Pavel Sorokin

When it’s danced like this, I can live with all the peculiarities and shortcomings of Yuri Grigorovich’s production. An excellent cast top to bottom, with the leads, dancers suited to each other in their sincerity, seriousness and absence of self-indulgence, producing a lovely, poignant performance.

Ruslan Skvortsov came soaring out of the wings as Prince Siegfried, and even watching overhead from the balcony I was mightily impressed with his elevation. He maintained the big, easy jumps, the port de bras that move in expansive arcs and smooth pirouettes for the duration of the performance.

Likewise Ekaterina Krysanova made an immediate impression as Odette, combining excellent balance with soft and flexible port de bras. But her arms are not excessively birdlike; Krysanova remembers that Siegfried falls in the love with Odette in her human state. Being a good deal smaller than Zakharova, Alexandrova and Shipulina, Krysanova naturally makes a more fragile and vulnerable Odette, and Skvortsov’s Siegfried was accordingly solicitous and protective toward her.

The adagio was taken at a fairly slow, but not lugubrious pace. Helped by the fine playing of the violin soloist (Inna Li?), Krysanova and Skvortsov were pure, sensitive and heartfelt, a picture made that much more eloquent by the knowledge that it this love affair would soon be destroyed. He lifted her as though she weighed little more than tissue paper, and in supported pirouettes she turned so quickly that it was as though she were spinning on a lathe. Unfortunately, right toward the end of the adagio for some reason she slipped off pointe during a finger turn, which broke the spell of what had been a rapt and very moving performance.

In Odette’s variation, Krysanova does not cheat and chooses to do a lot of things the “hard way,” such as performing arabesques where many opt for attitudes, and her final sequence of turns is remarkably smooth and controlled. Of the Bolshoi Odettes I’ve seen so far, Krysanova is the most convincing in showing her transformation back into a swan at the end of Act 2. It’s here that her port de bras become that much larger and more wing-like.

Having comprehensively established her credentials as Odette, Krysanova then reappeared equally convincingly as a fiery and voluptuous Odile, conquering every jump, turn and balance. There is also an interesting detail in the way Skvortsov approaches the “Black Swan” adagio, because it’s when Odile imitates Odette most obviously that he seems most uncertain of her intentions. I also have to mention that the press lift he did while Odile was standing on pointe in arabesque was done with breathtaking speed.

Incidentally, Krysanova reserves high extensions en avant for Odile only. As Odette she deliberately keeps most of these extensions under the 90-degree mark, which is a fitting sort of modesty more Swan Queens should probably adopt.

At the risk of fetishizing a single step, I have to send another valentine to Skvortsov’s tours en l’air. They take off and land from a tight fifth position--or finish in a solid arabesque--they are high, his legs are held very close together with feet pointing straight into the ground, and there is no discernible swing, jerk or twist of the arm in preparation.

Krysanova turned ferociously during her variation, and in the coda she alternated double fouettés and turns with her right leg extended directly in front of her, before switching to single fouettés in the second half of the sequence.

As the Evil Genius Vladislav Lantratov showed no sign of injury.

Daria Khokhlova and Anastasia Stashkevich were both very fine in the pas de trois, as were the demi-soloists in the waltz, especially Yanina Parienko.

Although I object to Siegfried’s would-be fiancées doing the national dances in principle, each was lovelier than the one before. Yulia Grebenshchikova and Anna Rebetskaya demonstrated contrasting schools of charm, while Anna Tikhomirova and Maria Vinogradova took part in a formidable jump-off. Perhaps as a fitting close Anna Leonova showed the best of both worlds, combining big jumps with lovely port de bras.

The corps de ballet was especially fine in the first act and the final scene. Indeed, Grigorovich does some very nice things with floor patterns in the swans’ group dance as the final scene begins.

Of note was that Skvortsov finished the ballet differently on this occasion. If with Alexandrova he was emotionally broken but still standing, here he fell to his knees and stretched his arms forward as the curtain fell.

Krysanova and Skvortsov took their first curtain call by running out in front of the falling curtain--and nearly overshot their mark. After some hesitation, during which the dancers were probably debating whether there was sufficient applause to justify another appearance, there was a second curtain call for Krysanova, Skvortsov and Lantratov.

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Thank you Volcanohunter for this wonderful review. Although I did not see this performance, you very much made me feel as if I had. Thanks so. I'm so pleased you made the journey to London for the Bolshoi run. I hope you are enjoying your stay here. Please know that your insightful input is hugely appreciated.

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Thank you. You are very kind to say so. I have indeed been enjoying my stay in London very much. If Londoners resent having their city overrun by tourists, they don't let on. I have found them to be invariably friendly and polite.

I have also been enjoying watching ballet in a sensibly sized opera house, North American venues often being excessively wide and deep. I worry a little now about my endurance, because I've seen seven ballets, six plays and two concerts, and I've still got three plays and up to six ballets to go. Of course this is nothing compared with what the Bolshoi's corps de ballet has to manage over a three-week season.

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