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


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#31 Mashinka

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 02:10 AM

We Londoners had to book blind when booking opened for the Bolshoi; casting was announced a little later.  This will be the first London season under Filin's directorship and it remains to be seen whether there will be any deterioration in the quality of performance from last time around.  Lunkina confirms what rumour has suggested for some time: that morale within the company is at a very low ebb.

 

Most London fans regard Alexandrova as the Bolshoi's prima and in any season it is expected she will feature prominently.  Tsiskaridze was not listed in the first casting round at all, which I attributed to Filin's spite, but I imagine now that his dismissal was being planned all along.



#32 Helene

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 08:53 AM

I think Alexandrova not apearing on tour is like Fonteyn not appearing on tour, and that there are plenty of reasons for morale to be low. Aside from the turnover in artistic directors over a decade, since Filin's attack there has been turmoil, instability, and abrupt change, and while some thrive on this, for the majority, it's threatening and demoralizing.

I don't think there's any question that Bolshoi management's strategy was to let Tsiskaridze's contracts expire. If it is true that by tapping into his pension early he gave up the right of perpetual employment and converted to short-term contracts, it's a trade-off he was willing to make based on his judgement about what actions management would be willing to take.

#33 Drew

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 01:21 PM

How could morale be anything but low at the Bolshoi--I actually think it would be a little creepy if morale weren't low even months after such a hideous criminal attack on the director (however popular or unpopular he may be). But low morale or, if it appears in August (as I would not anticipate), deterioration in the quality of dancing, at this point can't easily be laid at any one person's door. It's not like Filin has been coaching since February or going gangbusters leading the company. He is in Germany getting treatment for his eyes because he is 95% blind--having been viciously attacked. Constantly harping on him seems to me beside the point even if one thinks, as Lunkina and others may, that he's a villain. The Bolshoi's problems obviously run deeper...(For myself, I find the current vilification of Filin rather shocking and have yet to hear anything on that score that changes my mind. That the whole system at the Bolshoi could use some reform I find quite easy to believe.)



#34 abatt

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 02:05 PM

I think Alexandrova not apearing on tour is like Fonteyn not appearing on tour,

 

I'm confused.  Looking on the ROH website, Alexandrova is listed for 3 Swan Lakes and one Bayadere.  Is there some other source that indicates that she is not performing as scheduled in these roles during the tour?



#35 volcanohunter

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 08:53 AM

The last-minute casting changes begin. Nina Kaptsova is not going on the tour (for as yet unconfirmed reasons that have nothing to do with injury).

 

Her performances in the Swan Lake pas de trois will go to Kristina Kretova (June 29, Aug 14, 15) and Daria Khokhlova (Aug 10e).

 

Opening night of Sleeping Beauty will now be danced by Obraztsova (Aug 5), Obraztsova's previous performance goes to Krysanova (Aug 7), and Alexandrova is reinstated as Aurora for what was to have been Krysanova's performance (Aug 8).

 

Anastasia Stashkevich will dance 'Emeralds' on August 13.

 

In Flames of Paris Anna Rebetskaya will dance Adeline at both performances on August 17. As Mireille de Poitiers Kretova will dance both evening performances (Aug 16, 17), and Anna Tikhomirova will dance on the matinee of August 17.

 

http://www.bolshoi.r...cles/2013/2633/

 

There is still no casting for the Marquis. Originally Gudanov had been announced for the evening performances and Skvortsov for the matinee. But the festival in Peralada, Spain, claims that Gudanov will be appearing at a gala there on August 16. Who knows?

 

http://www.festivalp...lovsky/?lang=en



#36 volcanohunter

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 05:24 AM

Another change. Now it's Krysanova dancing Princess Aurora on August 5. Obraztsova dances on August 7, as before, and Alexandrova on August 8.

 

http://www.bolshoi.r...cles/2013/2633/



#37 yudi

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 06:54 PM

The last-minute casting changes begin. Nina Kaptsova is not going on the tour (for as yet unconfirmed reasons that have nothing to do with injury).

 

It's too bad that I could not see her dancing this time. I have the DVD of Bolshoi's The Flames of Paris. Her performance as Adeline, just as her Tatiana in Onegin, is so heartbreaking. 

 

 ermm.gif 



#38 Drew

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 01:04 AM

An interview with Filin by Tom Parfitt in The Telegraph:

 

http://www.telegraph...n-defiance.html

 

“People look from afar and they see a storm overhead but they don’t notice that the people down on the ground are getting on with their lives. The troupe has never stopped, it is a united collective with its creative power preserved. We stand shoulder to shoulder. There is no acid between the artists. Our answer to all that has happened at the Bolshoi is the dance which the artists bring on to the stage.”



#39 volcanohunter

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 04:42 PM

Oh, wow! What a beautiful performance from Maria Alexandrova and Ruslan Skvortsov in Swan Lake. I will try to write more, but I'm inclined to write quite a bit, and at this hour it would only come out as gibberish.



#40 Helene

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 04:45 PM

I'm so glad you got to see it, volcanohunter! Get some rest, and please let us know about it when you have time.

#41 volcanohunter

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 03:30 AM

Swan Lake, July 30

 

Odette/Odile: Maria Alexandrova

Prince Siegfried: Ruslan Skvortsov

Evil Genius: Yuri Baranov

Jester: Alexei Matrakhov

pas de trois: Chinara Alizade, Daria Khokhlova

Dowager: Kristina Karasyova

Tutor: Alexei Loparevich

Master of Ceremonies: Vitaly Biktimirov

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

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

Big Swans: Angelina Vlashinets, Yulia Grebenshchikova, Ana Turazashvili

Hungarian Bride: Olga Marchenkova

Russian Bride: Anna Rebetskaya

Spanish Bride: Anna Tikhomirova

Neapolitan Bride: Anastasia Stashkevich

Polish Bride: Yanina Parienko

 

conductor: Pavel Klinichev

 

Gorgeous performance. I won’t stop to enumerate the faults of Yuri Grigorovich’s production, because there are many, and no doubt they have been discussed on the board before. Fortunately I’m steeled to them by now. Safe to say that Alexandrova and Skvortsov transcended them.

 

For reference, I sat in the fifth row on the house-right aisle. That meant a big dose of brass and percussion from the orchestra pit, and its biggest upside was that I could hardly hear the swans’ clomping. My view of some of the footwork on stage left was restricted because of the people sitting ahead of me, but I had fantastic views of faces and upper bodies, and being about level with the stage itself, I was in a great position to admire the height of jumps.

 

Maria Alexandrova seldom dances Odette/Odile in Moscow. She last did it there almost three years ago when the ballet was filmed. http://www.bolshoi.ru/en/performances/36/roles/#20100926190000 (Incidentally, a new DVD of La Bayadère was fast-tracked for sale during the tour, but that Swan Lake has yet to be released; perhaps it’s doomed to stay in the vault owing to Nikolai Tsiskaridze’s Rothbart.) But Alexandrova continues to dance the part on tour, recently in Japan, in Toronto and now in London. Obviously, she is not a delicate dancer. Perhaps she isn’t even particularly lyrical, but she has intelligence, individuality, wit, great speed and enormous technical accomplishment. Her Odette is no shrinking violet, and by Russian ballerina standards her tempos are positively brisk. I appreciated this directness, her refusal to milk anything, and greatly admired the flexibility of her arms and shoulders. In her variation the clarity of her footwork was remarkable, and her balances were rock solid. Not a budge or wobble. For once the sequence of entrechats and passés in the coda did not look frenzied or out of control.

 

As Odile I got the feeling that she was not trying to impersonate Odette so much as seduce Siegfried in her own right. Grigorovich’s turning variation--taken very quickly--held no terrors for her, and her combination of fast fouettés and turns in attitude en avant elicited roars of approval from the audience.

 

It was noted in almost every review of the opening-night performance that Svetlana Zakharova and Alexander Volchkov had no chemistry between them. In truth, following my eight-and-a-half hour flight, I could not muster the strength or enthusiasm to attend that performance and returned my ticket. Demand for this run being what it is, it resold almost immediately. (Thank you, buyer.) On the other hand it was obvious that Maria Alexandrova and Ruslan Skvortsov have lots of chemistry and a great deal of mutual trust. He partnered her splendidly, always setting her down from lifts quietly and gently. Both of them have enormously high jumps.

 

Skvortsov was a Prince Siegfried of great beauty and poetry, very romantic, very sincere, unfailingly attentive to the music and characterized by plush dancing. His alignment is always exemplary; he does not engage in the single most common cheat seen today: opening the hip in arabesque. Speaking of upper bodies, he is one of the few dancers who invariably draws my attention to his. It wasn’t until The Pharaoh’s Daughter that I realized how dazzling his legs and feet were. Most of the time I find myself mesmerized by the stillness of his upper body in grand allegro. The usual arm flapping and heaving from the chest have been virtually eliminated, and the windup-free double tours are particularly remarkable.

 

In the first act his was not a melancholy prince but an entirely gracious one. And since in this version there is no ultimatum from his mother regarding marriage, why should he be burdened by any anxieties? It’s not until Grigorovich has Siegfried wander into the third act, as if unaware that a ball in his honor is being held that evening, that he realizes anything is up. So essentially Siegfried has only the fiancées waltz to sketch out his inner conflict (and I have to say that on film Olga Suvorova’s Dowager gave Skvortsov more to work with than did Kristina Karasyova). In his interaction with Odile you could see him vacillating between fascination and a suspicion that she may be toying with him before letting himself give in to her charms. I don’t know whether his projects to the top of the amphitheater, but up close it’s all written on his face. Likewise, with Alexandrova there’s a lot to be gleaned up close from her darting eyes.

 

As the Evil Genius Yuri Baranov was muy macho in the Grigorovich manner, not always comfortable with the tempos given to him, but always working around them successfully.

 

Khokhlova and Alizade were fine pas de trois partners. I can’t really comment on Alexei Matrakhov because my conditioned response to Swan Lake jesters is to ignore them.

 

The swans’ first entrance was very fast. The quartet of cygnets was excellent, heads bobbing almost perfectly in sync. Among the big swans I particularly admired big and bold Yulia Grebenshchikova and am looking forward to her “Rubies” Tall Girl.

 

As the Hungarian Bride Olga Marchenkova displayed big jumps but sadly no épaulement. (What is a csárdás without épaulement?) Anna Rebetskaya’s Russian Bride got very far on the charm of her meltingly lovely smile, but the choreography inevitably reminds me of Balanchine’s Scherzo à la Russe, and I have a hard time taking it seriously. Anna Tikhomirova’s Spanish Bride flew high, but then Anastasia Stashkevich’s Neapolitan Bride appeared and jumped even higher.

 

In the first-act Waltz Denis Rodkin tried very, very hard to outdazzle his colleagues. Pavel Dmitrichenko’s buddy Batyr Annadurdyev appeared in the waltz and mazurka and danced admirably.

 

One of the things I genuinely admired about Grigorovich’s Swan Lake was that in the last scene he kept the action moving straight from the finale without any interpolations. A reconciliation duet may be deemed dramatically necessary, but it breaks up the musical flow of the score something fierce. Once the mandatory happy ending was no longer required, he returned to his original conception, and while the score still keeps chugging through the finale, at the very end, where the primary theme is supposed to change to the major key, Grigorovich reverts to the ballet’s introduction. The “it was all a dream” ending is more dramatic and successful in Nureyev’s version, so I think it can be made to work, but here it’s merely anti-climactic. Nevertheless, given the strength of this performance, on this occasion I even cried a little.



#42 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 07:24 AM

I was there last night, and I'm saddened to report that I felt disappointed by this production.  First of all...how on earth does anybody dares to mess up Tchaikovsky's score..?!?! Where's the grand finale...the perfect musical design that allows for the viewer to feel, through the changes of the laid motif from minor to major key, the grand victory of good over evil via the double suicide..? Once the viewer-(along with Prince Siegfried)-knows that there's nothing else that can be done to break the spell of the sorcerer, then comes Odette with the unthinkable, followed by her lover.  Now, here's the tricky part...the double suicide can make for a "tragic" vision -(death)- to those who don't believe there's nothing beyond the earthy matters-(as in the case of the destructors of the original finale during Soviet times)-vs. the "happy"-(religious)- vision-(reunion of the souls up in heaven)- that somehow diminishes the very idea of the destruction of the mortal bodies.  The very fact that the key changes to a victorious major toward the very end clearly tells the viewer what was in the head of the librettist , the choreographer and the composer, all of them probably men of deep religious faith.

Wow...no  pristine harp arpegies....no bombastic final notes...but instead some obscure scene that went along with a silly reinstatement of the ballet's overture-(I couldn't help but wondering what could had been the reaction of the audience to Vaganova's vision after deleting altogether the music of the overture and placing instead that of "The Voyevoda"). By the end of the ballet I wasn't sure what had happened with Odette and Von Rothbart, as they just disappeared behind a stage transparent prop.  Awful.  I mean, having watched this I, once more, have learned to value more and more the wonderful Swan Lakes I've seen toward my balletic viewing life.

 

Alexandrova's fouettes were the strangest I've ever seen, her working leg totally bent down...her pointe shoe almost to the level of the supporting leg's ankle.



#43 Cygnet

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 09:07 AM

Thanks so much volcanohunter and cubanmiamiboy for your reports biggrin.png!   Your thoughts re Grigorovich's version and his butchery of the score are bang-on.  I'm so happy to learn that Alexandrova and Skvortsov danced beautifully.  It takes very strong and charismatic dancers to transcend and flesh out Grigorovich's production. 



#44 volcanohunter

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 02:14 PM

Swan Lake, July 31

 

Odette/Odile: Ekaterina Shipulina

Prince Siegfried: Semyon Chudin

Evil Genius: Vladislav Lantratov

Jester: Denis Medvedev

pas de trois: Anastasia Stashkevich, Daria Khokhlova

Dowager: Kristina Karasyova

Tutor: Alexei Loparevich

Master of Ceremonies: Vitaly Biktimirov

Waltz demi-soloists: Anna Okuneva, Yanina Parienko, Anna Rebetskaya, Anna Leonova, Karim Abdullin, Denis Rodkin, Mikhail Kryuchkov, Yuri Baranov

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

Big Swans: Angelina Vlashinets, Olga Marchenkova, Ana Turazashvili

Hungarian Bride: Yulia Grebenshchikova

Russian Bride: Yulia Lunkina

Spanish Bride: Chinara Alizade

Neapolitan Bride: Maria Vinogradova

Polish Bride: Anna Okuneva

 

conductor: Pavel Klinichev

 

This time I sat in the second row of the amphitheater, an excellent place from which to observe the corps de ballet, which was superb from the waltz right to the end.

 

Ekaterina Shipulina's Odette was perhaps more stylized and dramatically less urgent than Maria Alexandrova the night before, with an expansive range of motion in her arms and back. I wish there were a little more variety in the different sections of her adagio; she seemed most comfortable in the final section and tried to apply that dynamic throughout. There is a certain hard-edged glamour to Shipulina which would give her a natural affinity for Odile, though in her solo passages conductor Pavel Klinichev seemed to give her Alexandrova speeds, and Shipulina had a little trouble keeping up. (For those keeping score, she did single fouettés, but behind the music, so I don't know how many it worked out to in the end.) Where she really came into her own was in the final scene, where she was tragic and very expressive.

 

Semyon Chudin appears to have a somewhat limited dramatic range and seems excessively preoccupied with pointing his feet and splitting his legs. (Personally, I dislike it when dancers worry more about splitting or lifting their legs than their elevation while jumping. I prefer dancers to jump vertically, not horizontally.) At this point his upper body seems to be a bit of an afterthought, which sometimes gives his jumps a certain awkwardness. My friendly advice would be to concentrate more on his port de bras while jumping, particularly continuing them after his landings, so the moment of impact wouldn't be as obvious. I wish he would also think more about connecting individual jumps into a dance phrase, so they wouldn't appear to take place in isolation. The legs will still be there. His turns, after a slightly nervous start, were beautifully controlled.

 

Vladislav Lantratov certainly concentrates on elevation, and his high-flying Rothbart was exciting and dynamic. And there is always a sense of a larger dance phrase in his movement. Unfortunately both he and Chudin seem to arch their backs severely during overhead lifts, which makes me worry a bit about their long-term spine health.

 

Denis Medvedev tried to make the Jester as un-annoying as possible, and Anastasia Stashkevich brought a lot of dynamism to the pas de trois.

 

The cygnets were even better tonight, and among the big swans I liked Ana Turazashvili. For whatever reasons she seemed ever so slightly out of sync with her colleagues yesterday, but today there were no timing issues, and she really stood out.

 

At the beginning of Act III Kristina Karasyova was apparently unaware that her rather un-queenly bopping in time with the music was visible through the curtain behind which she was standing upstage center.

 

Yulia Lunkina was a gracious Russian bride, Maria Vinogradova made the Neapolitan dance look very easy, and Anna Okuneva had lovely port de bras in the mazurka.

 

I couldn't tell you exactly how loud the applause was. Yesterday when I was sitting close to the orchestra and could hear the entire hall behind me, it seemed deafening at times. From up high I couldn't really hear what the audience below was doing. Certainly it was less prolonged tonight, but still very appreciative.



#45 Drew

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 03:38 PM

Thanks to everyone for these reports and perspectives on the Bolshoi's performances in London.  I look forward to more if/as people have the chance. (And Volcanohunter, i appreciate hearing about where you were sitting: as you may know, I am always asking about seats and sight lines...call me "seathunter.") 




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