mussel

New Ratmansky Swan Lake to premier at Zurich

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Thanks, Kaysta & Drew. This is one of the most gastronomically tempting countries that I've visited in a while. I've just discovered a branch of Confiserie Sprungli (chocolate heaven) one block from the opera house & my hotel! My upcoming physical exam may not go so well.

While prepping for this trip, I made a list (& checked it twice) of some interesting "features" of existing reconstructions *or* written descriptions of Petipa/Ivanov's 1895 SWAN LAKE for which I'll be on the look-out. For example:

Act I, sc 1

Will there be a Village Waltz incorporating all of the 1895 props, ie, stools, floral baskets, battons & a maypole with red, blue & yellow ribbons? I'm not expecting the 20 couples/40 dancers of 1895 but maybe the Jr troupe and older academy students will be used? (I saw a recon of this Petipa version, with full regalia, in 1994 at the Maly Th. In St P, but it wasn't filmed, that I know. The Royal's current version, by Bintley, incorporates a few stools but it's nothing at all like what I saw at the Maly.)

Will the Goblet Dance be as described in contemporary accounts...danced in large rectangular blocks, with claps? The most similar to this that I've seen is in the old Royal Ballet version, attributed to De Valois...but De Valois worked closely with N. Sergeyev in the 1930s during Sergeyev's first staging for Vic-Wells Ballet. (Sergeyev apparently had trouble reading his own messy notes so De Valois had to help him bring some dances to fruition, according to some sources.)

Will we see the full mimed exchanges between Siegfried and his mother..."Have you been drinking, son?" "Not one drop, mom."

AI, sc 2

Will we see Siegfried's pals (Benno and other hunters) intermingling with the swans?

How exactly will Ratmansky handle the inclusion of Benno as the 2nd male partner of Odette in the "White pdd adagio"?

Will child swans accompany Odette and be part of the Danses des Cygnes (as in RB version)?

Will the two tall demi swans blow kisses to their fellow swans during the Big Swans dance, as in Kirk Peterson 's Washington Ballet version, also based on N Sergeyev)?

A2 (ballroom)

Will Ivanov's true "Venetian Dance" (aka "Neapolitan") finally be staged??? Or was it as weak as described by contemporary reviewers...hence not worthy of reconstruction? (The reason often cited for its failure was that the piece lacked soloists...just an ensemble for 32 corps dancers with mandolins and tambourines.)

As with the earlier White Swan pdd, how will Ratmamsky deal with the "odd 2nd male" other than Siegfried dancing the solo in the "Black Swan pdd/pd3/pd4"....Odile, Siegfried, Von Roth + classical solo male (that was Gorsky in 1895). And, regardless of which character dances the male solo...what will be the steps performed? As most of you know, today's well-known version of the male solo in the Black pdd is known as "the Chaboukiani Solo"...Chaboukiani wasn't around in 1895! So I'm fascinated to discover what Petipa set in 1895.

A3

Will we see the interesting mime among Odette, the two tall demi swans AND the corps swans...as seen most clearly in Kirk Peterson's 2015 staging for Washington Ballet & somewhat less clearly in the current (Dowell staging) RB version?

Will we see the correct 1895 ending in full...a storm, Odette & Siegfried's double suicide, and Von Rothbart jumping off the rocks after them (in his case, to ultimate end)...and then the Apotheosis of the lovers in Heaven? Even in the Royal and Washington versions, Von R just seems to collapse on the stage, whither & slink away into the wings. (As per Wiley, TB, p. 269...on the Synopsis accompanying the Sergeyev notes...the Genie follows Siegfried off the rock.)

Let's see what Team Ratmansky & Zurich Ballet have uncovered for us. Just three days to go!

- Natalia Nabatova

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Will we see the full mimed exchanges between Siegfried and his mother..."Have you been drinking, son?" "Not one drop, mom."

I'm very fond of that moment in the Pacific Northwest Ballet production, and the next one, where they turn to put all the blame on the tutor. That part used to be danced by Paul Gibson (now a ballet master and choreographer with the company) and he had a very suave interpretation of the "who, me?"

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After a gloomy 48 hours, bright spring is in the air!

Now is not the time to give details or provide any sort of report on the dress rehearsal that I was lucky enough to have witnessed starting mid-morning today. All of that will come after tomorrow's opening night. So I'll allow myself to share only the following:

WOWIE!!! :)

Ratmansky has not only the sr and jr professional troupes at his disposal but also MANY MANY students from two local dance academies, who allow for properly-scaled reconstruction of Petipa/Ivanov masterpieces as we've never seen in our lifetimes...such as the Act 1 "Valse Villageoise" with FORTY dancers. And child swans...and many hunters...and a Venetian Dance a-la-1895. The incredible thing is that what piques my interest the most are the revelations in the Petipa scenes (1 & 3). Most folks care about the swan scenes but I'm really concentrating on Petipa, particularly the mass-corps pieces.

I'm now going to jog along the lake's promenade, I am so excited. Trembling with joy for tomorrow.

Hold on to your hats!

- Natalia Nabatova (reporting from sickeningly-gorgeous Zurich, enjoying early spring along the lake...a lake with swans, no less)

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After a gloomy 48 hours, bright spring is in the air!

Now is not the time to give details or provide any sort of report on the dress rehearsal that I was lucky enough to have witnessed starting mid-morning today. All of that will come after tomorrow's opening night. So I'll allow myself to share only the following:

WOWIE!!! :)

Ratmansky has not only the sr and jr professional troupes at his disposal but also MANY MANY students from two local dance academies, who allow for properly-scaled reconstruction of Petipa/Ivanov masterpieces as we've never seen in our lifetimes...such as the Act 1 "Valse Villageoise" with FORTY dancers. And child swans...and many hunters...and a Venetian Dance a-la-1895. The incredible thing is that what piques my interest the most are the revelations in the Petipa scenes (1 & 3). Most folks care about the swan scenes but I'm really concentrating on Petipa, particularly the mass-corps pieces.

I'm now going to jog along the lake's promenade, I am so excited. Trembling with joy for tomorrow.

Hold on to your hats!

- Natalia Nabatova (reporting from sickeningly-gorgeous Zurich, enjoying early spring along the lake...a lake with swans, no less)

Wow, sounds amazing. Enjoy! Can't wait to hear your reports when you have time.

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Wish you were, too! :)

Just wanted to mention the two local ballet academies taking part in this production, as per the printed playbill of yesterday's dress rehearsal:

Tanz Akademie Zurich ("taZ")

Ballettschule fur das Opernhaus Zurich

In addition to the corps of the main Zurich Ballett and the Junior Ballett companies, the playbill also lists members in the category "Ballettzuzugerin"...aspirants or apprentices?

It takes a village to pull this off in a smallish/mid-size ballet company, in other words.

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In the theater...all systems "go"! FYI: Lovely souvenir programme books full of on-stage photos from dress rehearsal. They'll be available soon via Zurich Opera web shop (9 Swiss francs + post).

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Quick Take...large report to follow tomorrow, as I'm dining with friends.

Beautiful! A hit in most respects...dancing (not bravura but correctly neat and sweet), designs (but El Cheapo crept in with Von R's garbage-bag flaps!), and, especially, the great steps/staging!

Seeing the A1 Village Waltz alone was worth the admission. Little dancing in it, except by the four demi couples...but lots of posing, swaying, etc on those 16 stools with coordinated jumping on and off. And a bright-red maypole for the ages!

A1 Polacca ("Dance of Goblets"...w/o goblets): Exactly the old Royal version; De Valois simply took it off pointe and countrified it.

Hunters all over the place, even during the pdd-a-3...yes, Benno has lots to do.

Odette/Odile lifted gingerly and low...her waist goes up to his eyes...usually in low presage position

Oh those long ringlets (modified pony tails) on Odette and her fellow swans. Little white skullcaps instead of feathered headdresses for the corps. A little pointy crown for Odette (just like Legnani in 1895).

"Black pdd" - no need for an "extra Siegfried" to dance the solo...BIG REVELATION: it is new to us...full of beats/entrechats & danced to a gentle tune rarely heard from Tchaikovsky's 1877 Moscow score: the waltz just before the coda in the 1877 A1 pdd music.

Ballroom Benetian Dance also a revelation BUT Ratmansky pared it down to just four couples instead of the required 32 dancers. This seems to be the only spot where he wasn't able to do "the full Monty".

Only one intermission, after A1 sc2...began at 7pm; last chord of music at 9:30 PM. No union overtime pay!

This gala audience have hearty-but-polite applause. No standing o except a couple of persons in stalls. Swiss appreciative but conservative. Biggest applause was for the conductor & solo violinist. Geez...

Sorry, I'm being summoned. The full report tomorrow. Here is one pic from my Facebook, if you can open:

https://m.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1690364217907338&id=100008013272069&set=a.1533622670248161.1073741828.100008013272069&source=48

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Thanks for the report Natalia! I was wondering about that Siegfried variation music---is it known for sure that Gorsky danced to it in 1895? Most productions I've seen use the first variation from the original Act 1 pdd for Siegfried.

I too think that the production is outstanding, the best I've ever seen. Much more intricacy and texture than anything I've seen before---it's as though an old jewel has been dusted off, polished, and presented in all its glory. There are lots of details and fine little steps, especially in the corps choreography and the character dances, that are absent from all the "standard" productions. The tempi are faster, and the choreography fills the music completely---dancers never just stand there preparing for the next step the way they do in many Sovietized versions of the ballet. The company has been coached extremely well. The character dances are energetic and joyful, and what a pleasant contrast to the bland performance from the Mariinsky last year at BAM.

I fully share your enthusiasm for the magnificent Village Waltz from the first scene.

Not at all sorry that the conductor and the violinist got big applause---they were both great---this is something I greatly treasure, being a regular ABT attendee. From where I was sitting (2nd ring left), it sounded like the applause for the dancers and Ratmansky and Kaplan was as enthusiastic.

I was somewhat surprised to see Alastair Macaulay in the audience, so I guess a New York Times review will appear soon.

Will go for the second viewing on Sunday.

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Yes, Ilya, the music for the Sieg variation is that sweet waltz from 1877 that, then, modulated into the coda (music to end of Black Swan with 32 fouettés). Drigo seems to have written a definitive ending to that music (what we saw last night...male variation). It no longer modulates into the coda because, of course, Odile's variation to l'Espliegle music (sp?) comes next.

Tonight (Sunday) will be my 3rd viewing, as I attended Friday's rehearsal, also with Kapitonova & Jones. I look forward to the new lead couple of Khamsina/Vieira.

Many famous critics are here. It's a major balletic event.

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Ratmansky Reveals Sweeter 1895 Valentine Within Swan Lake

Balletomanes and dance scholars from around the world are in awe of what they saw last night on the stage of the Zurich Opera House: a story ballet full of love and sweetness, less about stretch and port de bras for emaciated ballerinas.

From the moment that Viktorina Kapitonova emerged from the lake and performed a series of four first arabesques with nary a trace of the usual swan port de bras, we knew that we were in for something magically different. Kapitonova was a shy angel, not Queen of the Swans in her demeanor, despite her little pointed coronet. She was the Victorian Era's ideal sweet beauty (with the flip side, "vulgar" Odile, later on). Alexander Jones' Siegfried has finally found his true love by the lake; of course he stops his many hunter buddies before they pierce the swans with arrows!

Mime is omnipresent and welcomed, delivered so clearly and touchingly by all characters. Everything that Soviet stagers like Vaganova and K. Sergeyev excised is here, making for (to me) a totally different work of art. Looking for the 20th C Mariinsky version of the ballet? Only the Pas de Trois, the Cygnets, Spanish and Polish dances truly remain...but, even so, with tiny modifications. A3 (final lake scene) has recognizable steps, especially the Valse Bluette. But most everything else is quite different. I like both; they're just different experiences.

The main actors are terrific - Kapitonova a true dainty beauty as Odette and later a charming femme fatale Odile, neatly delivering 32 single fouettés. Jones is an elegant manly Siegfried, sharing A1 partnering duties with handsome young Andrei Cozlac as Benno...who danced an effective familiar Pas de Trois with Yen Han (company Prima, graciously dancing soloist role here!) and perky Giulia Toneli. Manuel Renard was appropriately menacing as Von Rothbart, sucked into the lake from atop the rock of Gothic ruins. But my prize for Dancer of the Night - the most electrifying presence- goes to Cristian Alex Assis who led the Hungarian Dance. Bekefi, the great Hungarian Imperial Ballet danced who danced this in 1895, would be proud. Bravo!

The Sweet Petipa Valentine motif began in Scene 1 with this production's piece de resistance: a Village Waltz with 40 elegant neighbors, dancing atop and below 16 stools, carrying colorful baskets and finishing with a large maypole, the men featured with the outer red ribbons & the ladies in the inner circle with blue and yellow. ( I loudly bravoed after this, prompting glares of disdain by Swiss bankers in my box. Heck, I came to enjoy self and 'bravo' when warranted!)

The visuals were mostly stunning. Jerome Kaplan outdid himself with the substantial sets, delicately painted in 19th-C academic manner for all but the appropriately heavy ballroom hall in the castle. Most of the costumes harkened to 1895's Imperial Mariinsky production, particularly the long & puffy swan tutus. However, the element of El Cheapo was present in the simple jersey dresses in boring basic tones for the court ladies and six fiances; Kaplan found these in the Travel Smith catalog of easy-to-pack wash-and-wear styles. Perhaps the idea was to contrast the dull courtiers with the bright and exotic villagers or international guests at the ball?

Pavel Baleff conducted the Philharmonia Zurich with brio...and a few surprises, such as the ultra soft ending chords as Odette and Siegfied glide to Heaven aboard a giant white swan. No monumental pounding needed.

- Natalia Nabatova

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Thanks, Natalia: I'm so glad that this turned out so well!

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Thanks Natalia for the wonderful reports. How's the ending? I mean before Odette and Siegfried glide into heaven, did they commit double suicide?

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"Black pdd" - no need for an "extra Siegfried" to dance the solo...BIG REVELATION: it is new to us...full of beats/entrechats & danced to a gentle tune rarely heard from Tchaikovsky's 1877 Moscow score: the waltz just before the coda in the 1877 A1 pdd music.

Edited: double post

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Yes, Mussell, they do...but not before S tries repeatedly to pull O back. Fourth or fifth time, she succeeds in escaping Siegdried's pull and runs to the top of the rock (beneath ruins of gothic arch) and jumps over. Siegfried immediately follows and does the same. Then Von R/Darth Vader runs to the top to look but is sucked over by the wind. Lighting is poor but some of his plastic garbage-bag costume remains at the top of the rock. As mentioned earlier, the music becomes gentle and stays gentle until curtain down.

Forgot to mention earlier an inadvertently funny moment when, at the start of last scene, as the swans await Odette's return, each holds a hand to the forehead, just like the Wrens in Balanchine's Union Jack....Ahoy, Maties!!!! Wind to starboard side!!!!

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Any explanation for Odile's ugly, cheap black swan cocktail tutu, Natalia? Why no feathers here like in the beautiful white costumes?

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Fosca, Odile is not a swan but a temptress. I agree that Kaplan designed an El Cheapo imitation of the 1895 costume...multi-colored glittery rays over black tarlatan...but here the rays are of dark colors, unlike the brilliant 1895 design; I doubt that people up in the higher reaches of the auditorium could see the different colors. At least there was some tulle (white!) beneath the overskirt...not the limp cocktail dresses of ABT's Sleeping Beauty.

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"Black pdd" - no need for an "extra Siegfried" to dance the solo...BIG REVELATION: it is new to us...full of beats/entrechats & danced to a gentle tune rarely heard from Tchaikovsky's 1877 Moscow score: the waltz just before the coda in the 1877 A1 pdd music.

Thanks for the report, Natasha!!

From what you wrote, it looks as if they did a mix in between the 1877 and 1895 scores for this pas. In the 77, Tchaikovsky's original, the Act I "Pas de deux for two Merry Makers"-(for which most of the music was re fashioned by Drigo for the Black Swan PDD)- goes as follows:

1. Tempo di valse ma non troppo vivo, quasi moderato (Standard entrance in current productions)

2. Andante – Allegro (The standard variation for Sigfried, sort of buffed up by Drigo with less violin solo and more orchestration)

3. Tempo di valse ( eliminated [??] in the 95 version, which I assume is the one that you refer to as given to Siegfried. There is quite a mistery surrounding this variation. Some sources cite it as the original male variation of the two Merry Makers, giving Chabukiani the credits for having first used, in the 30's, the Allegro part of No. 2 instead, and one can also find sources that say that this valse was retained as the original male variation of this pas in 1895 while others cite it as deleted . I had always assumed that this was the female variation in 1877, so I keep wondering who danced what if BOTH the Andante-Allegro AND Tempo di Valse were kept. What is a fact for sure is that L'espiegle was re fashioned for Odile in 1895, so I again wonder what was danced by the female dancer in 1877 as a solo.

4. Coda: Allegro molto vivace (standard coda)

Anyhow...it was wonderful to read your reports. Thanks, Natasha!!

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Spot on, Cubanmiamiboy! That's it.

Besides my 52 years of general knowledge since seeing my first SWAN LAKE at the Tapia Theater in San Juan (starring Marjorie Tallchief), I prepped for this trip by watching all or parts of 25 SL DVDs and listening multiple times to two CDs of the music: Bonynge's rendering of the 1877 original and Fedotov's conducting of the 1895 StP definitive version. So all of this was punched in my mind...and I'm carrying a big matrix that compares every number of the 1895 scenario among four versions that come closest to 1895. So you can imagine what this means to me (& many other nuts like me). :)

You could say that this weekend is a culmination of a lifetime of joy at the ballet! I don't regret for one second having come here. And I still have tonight's show. Today is rainy so I'm headed for the Kunsthaus museum...celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Dada right here in Zurich.

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You could say that this weekend is a culmination of a lifetime of joy at the ballet! I don't regret for one second having come here. And I still have tonight's show. Today is rainy so I'm headed for the Kunstmuzeum...celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Dada right here in Zurich.

Happy to read you are having such a wonderful experience --

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Fosca, Odile is not a swan but a temptress. I agree that Kaplan designed an El Cheapo imitation of the 1895 costume...multi-colored glittery rays over black tarlatan...but here the rays are of dark colors, unlike the brilliant 1895 design; I doubt that people up in the higher reaches of the auditorium could see the different colors. At least there was some tulle (white!) beneath the overskirt...not the limp cocktail dresses of ABT's Sleeping Beauty.

Of course you could see the rays. And the tulle beneath was not only white, but mint green. Never mind, I'll never adapt to Kaplan's choice of colours.

The first reaction by a German critic is not positive:

https://twitter.com/ManuelBrug/status/696072069679812608

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Well I haven't seen Ratmansky's reconstruction, but I also haven't seen many modern Swan Lakes that really work... just my opinion.

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Thanks everyone for their reports. Congrats to Ratmansky and Ballet Zurich for what sounds like a great premiere.

Now I can only hope they (or La Scala) bring this on tour at some point (which sounds like it may be hard given the shear volume of extra people involved), or I'm going to have to plan a trip overseas. Can't go till 2017 though (too many vacations planned already), and I don't know how they arrange their repertoire so I hope I get a chance to see it at some point. Or they can make my life easier and release a DVD!

Looking forward to seeing the official reviews come out.

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If by "modern" we mean any version after the Imperial 1895, then the Kirov-Mariinsky's ca-1950 edition by K. Sergeyev, which kept Vaganova's 1930s lakeside sc2, is a masterpiece on its own. Just because Ratmansky has peeled back the layers of veneer to reveal Petipa & Ivanov's masterpiece does not diminish the greatness of the Soviet work with is distilled poetry, stretched port de bras, idealizing extreme physical beauty.

Just like, to me, Ashton's final lakeside scene is a uniquely poetic take utilizing Tchaikovsky's 1877 music, including Dance of the Little Swans, cut in 1895.

I think that it's ok to live with and love all three versions...but realize that the Petipa-Ivanov-Ratmamsky will best succeed, IMO, with a very different type of ballerina than excels in the Kirov-Mariinsky version. In other words, I can't imagine Lopatkina or Zakharova in what premiered last night but I can picture Obraztsova or Shapran in it. Oh, if only Lynn Seymour could have danced this 1895 version! Or Jenifer Ringer...someone who conveys simple human kindness to the highest rafters of an arena...the opposite of icy imperial perfection.

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Spot on, Cubanmiamiboy! That's it.

Besides my 52 years of general knowledge since seeing my first SWAN LAKE at the Tapia Theater in San Juan (starring Marjorie Tallchief), I prepped for this trip by watching all or parts of 25 SL DVDs and listening multiple times to two CDs of the music: Bonynge's rendering of the 1877 original and Fedotov's conducting of the 1895 StP definitive version. So all of this was punched in my mind...and I'm carrying a big matrix that compares every number of the 1895 scenario among four versions that come closest to 1895. So you can imagine what this means to me (& many other nuts like me). :)

Oh, I really CAN imagine what it means to you, just because I'm also a nut case when references to the Imperial productions are made. It is really a shame that such a beautiful ballet has been subjected to all sorts of malignancies and "revisions", so I'm glad that a cleaning process is on its way. Hopefully the ballet masters, little by little, will start going back to the original sources when staging the classics. Well, at least Vaganova's idea to exchange the original Overture with that of The Voyevoda didn't stick too long. Can you imagine..? ;-)

Keep your thoughts coming, Natasha!!!

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