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Guest amalinovski

Kirov at Opera Royal in Versailles

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Since 1994, the Kirov ballet had not visited the country of those people who,

during the 19-th century, had laid the french school foundation of what has now

became a one of the world greatest classical ballets. Neither had Kirov soloists

put their wonderful feet on the stage of Opera Royal in Versailles which had seen

some Kings of France dancing on it.

Last Saturday (I wonder whether they had especially chosen the French National

Holiday Day?..), the Kirov dancers finally joined the Kings.

The venue reminded me a lot about the Mariinsky Theatre in St.Petersbourg; gold

and blue velvet everywhere, with huge paintings on the ceiling. Abundance of wood

panels and decorations gives a fantastic sound, even for a reduced-size orchestra,

conducted by Boris Gruzin.

The venue, however, is more royal by its splendour than by stage size,

and some dancers did complain about being unable to move themselves as they get

used to. Imagine 20 people on the stage half the size of Covent Garden's one,

and you'll understand them.

There was, however, the only piece that required so many dancers, and it was

"Chopiniana" ("Les Sylphides"), presented as the 1st part of the show. The big

and tall Danila Korsuntsev made every effort in order to not to step over corps-

de-ballet (one moment, he avoided very narrowly landing on a girl's foot after

a particularly powerful jump). As for dancing, Korsuntsev managed to partner

attentively (even a bit too pathetically) a delicate Janna Ayupova and joyful

Elvira Tarasova. They left a very light and relaxing impression.

During the pause, I noticed that the auditoruim was almost full (maybe a dozen

of empty seats). They were selling tickets until right before the show, from 200

to 450 FF (15-40 pounds - a bargain by London standards), and the cheapest seats

are just some yards away from the most expensive ones, so it does not really matter

a lot. Remind that it was a French National Holiday night, and people have an

alternative of a huge firework's show in Paris...

The 2nd part was composed of short pieces and some scenes from full-length ballets.

It started with "The Doll Fairy", danced by Irina Jelonkina. She was very nice,

but her two Pierrots (Dmitri Pykhachev and Vasili Scherbakov) almost stealed the

show, with their delightful mimics and high jumps.

Next came "The Carnaval in Venice" (from "Satanilla"), with young Natalia Sologub

and Anton Korsakov. In my opinion, this piece was the less impressive of the performance.

In pas-de-deux, their partnering was far from perfect. They feel easier in solos.

Maybe, this was nervous; they are just too young and need more experience.

Pas-de-deux from "Manon". Well, I was expecting it. And I got a chance my London

friends had not - Ayupova as Manon. Ilya Kuznetsov (again!) was her entranced Des

Grieux. I liked every moment of their acting, but felt a bit disturbed about some

ice-skating-like elements. I never saw a McMillan ballet before, so I assume it's

his style. Another thing I didn't like was the real kissing on stage. I think a

ballet is a formal art, so everything should be expressed by dance and music.

Overall, the piece gave a mixed feeling of ballet and a drama theatre. As I love

both, though, I won't complain! And I now understand Kuznetsov better, when he says

"Manon" is his favourite ballet (see his interview by Kevin Ng on ballet.co - http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_01/ju...kuznetsov.htm).

Next piece was the one some of my London friends would die for: "Tchaikovsky Pas-

de-deux", with Svetlana Zakharova and Igor Kolb. The strikingly beautiful Zakharova

still abuses her 6-o'clock extensions here and there, but it's difficult not to

admire her frictionless moves. Igor Kolb matured into very confident dancer and

reliable partner, moving with force and power.

The "Dying Swan" left me with mixed feelings. I saw Uliana Lopatkina (who else?)

twice in it before and liked those better. I don't know whether the spectator should

have pity for the dying swan, but this time I didn't feel it at all. Lopatkina

managed to get her technique to such extremes, that it's only possible to admire it

and there is no place for other feelings. Her foot still injured, she used mostly her

arms, moving them at an unbelievable pace and putting them in positions one thinks

impossible for a human being. But I hadn't pity for that swan - it just died too

beautifully.

Good choice for final piece - "Don Quichotte". Irina Golub and Andrei Batalov

created a joyful Spanish atmosphere - especially dark-haired and not too tall

Batalov, who looked really as Latino and moved around with power, like a matador.

Golub was a very nice Kitri, quick and light. The best casting!

The company got three curtain calls at the end.

Some cast remarks: Igor Zelensky didn't come at all, and Vishneva and Ruzimatov

(still announced) are uncertain.

Still under impressions of recent Kirov's ROH season, I only can regret they

hadn't brought any full-length ballet to France.

[ 07-17-2001: Message edited by: A.M. ]

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Many thanks for your review, A.M.

I'm so green with envy!

Your description about the venue's decor intriques me as much. I believe its majesty matches that of the Kirov quite well.

BTW, do you have any information who will dance in the second programme?

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I do not know exactly about 2nd program cast, but anyway it should not vary a lot, since Kirov didn't bring all its dancers there. In fact, they have a brochure listing all participating dancers, and then a small separate paper for the cast for a given show. In general, the French are not so entranced with this or that dancer, so I don't think the cast means a lot for them. I'll try to get to 2nd program, and will post about if I can.

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A.M., thanks for your wonderful report. I am so happy reading your detailed comments; it has partly made up for my regret that I cannot be present myself.

Igor Zelensky was guesting in Greece last weekend, which explains his absence from France. It's good to hear that Andrei Batalov, who was absent from the London season, is dancing again with the Kirov. (I heard that he danced Le Corsaire pas de deux in Granada with Elvira Tarasova during the Kirov's tour there a fortnight ago.)

It's interesting that they did Tchaikovsky pdd in Versailles. What a pity that they didn't do it at Covent Garden as part of the all-Balanchine programme. They did include it in Japan last winter.

[ 07-16-2001: Message edited by: Kevin Ng ]

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Batalov is part of Royal Danish Ballet now, so perhaps it's not unexpected that he missed London. He wasn't used enough at Kirov, in any event. Lucky for those who got to see him in France, while he is still dancing so beautifully.

I also enjoyed visualizing the performances in that setting--thank you so much for the review.

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Delightful review, AM!

I am so happy to see young Irina Golub receive more and more solo roles & attentions. She was, for me, the 'star' of the February 1998 performances of the Vaganova Academy at Brooklyn Academy of Music...and, indeed, the most promising of the Class of 1998 Vaganova graduates. In Brooklyn, she sizzled as Carmen in an excerpt from Igor Belsky's version. I can well imagine her Kitri!

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Here's the list of dancers Kirov brought on Versailles' tour:

Janna Ayupova

Farukh Ruzimatov

Uliana Lopatkina

Diana Vishneva

Victor Baranov

Irma Nioradze

Svetlana Zakharova

Danila Korsuntsev

Maya Dumchenko

Veronika Part

Igor Kolb

Sofia Gumerova

Andrei Batalov

Anton Korsakov

Irina Jelonkina

Andrian Fadeev

Ilya Kuznetsov,

and corps-de-ballet...

(notice that Irina Golub still not listed as soloist. I hope she will soon! Neither is Natalia Sologub...)

[ 07-17-2001: Message edited by: A.M. ]

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A.M., thanks for the list. Look forward to your report on the second programme this week.

As an aside, the second Maryinsky International Ballet Festival will be held in St. Petersburg from 9-18 March 2002.

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Originally posted by A.M.:

Here's the list of dancers Kirov brought on Versailles' tour:

Janna Ayupova

Farukh Ruzimatov

Uliana Lopatkina

Diana Vishneva

Victor Baranov

Irma Nioradze

Svetlana Zakharova

Danila Korsuntsev

Maya Dumchenko

Veronika Part

Igor Kolb

Sofia Gumerova

Andrei Batalov

Anton Korsakov

Irina Jelonkina

Andrian Fadeev

Ilya Kuznetsov,

and corps-de-ballet...

[ 07-17-2001: Message edited by: A.M. ]

That's what the program book says. Vishneva, Dumchenko, Nioradze, Ruzimatov, Fadeev, are not in Versailles and Kolb got himself injured the day before yesterday.

Yesterday's program was quite interesting because of two rarely seen pieces: the concert version of "Middle Duet" by Ratmansky, excellently danced by Sologub and Baimuradov; and the Pas de Quatre danced by Part, Gumerova, Tarassova and Zhelonkina.

We also had "Corsaire" pas de deux again with Dmitry Semionov who danced it even better than the night before and Gumerova who was even worse than the night before. The evening almost fell completely apart with a poor man's "Don Quixote" pas de deux, danced by Batalov who is definitely off form, and Golub whose presence among these soloists is still a mystery.

The opening "Chopiniana" led by Ayupova and Baranov was, however, a thrill.

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Thanks for the update, Marc.

What a pity that I missed a chance to see Dmitry Semionov's Corsaire pas de deux. It must have been the fireworks! And sorry to hear Kolb is injured. Hope it's not that serious.

[ 07-18-2001: Message edited by: NO7 ]

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Igor Kolb landed badly after a jump in his variation in "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux" and had to be replaced on the spot by Anton Korsakov still in costume for "Carnival in Venice". In any case Kolb won't be dancing anymore in Versailles and there will be no more "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux" as apparently he was the only one around who danced it.

Tonight is the final performance starting with "Serenade", followed by a divertissement consisting of Manon, Harlequinade, Black Swan Pas de Deux, Middle Duet, Don Quixote and Corsaire Pas de Deux.

Semionov is certainly a promising dancer, especially on his own, but he is in my opinion still too young (19) and inexperienced to be highlighted as a soloist in a killer number like "Le Corsaire" Pas de deux (his partnering has a long a way to go). (NO7, in London he danced Lankedem not Ali).

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Marc, seems your critical eye picked out every weakness and you put your finger on the wounds of this company... Hope you will enjoy tonight's performance despite of.... so much!

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Sonja, it won't be long before you have the pleasure of seeing the Kirov in your city Munich in September. Are the several performances of "Jewels" nearly sold out?

I suppose I'll try to see the Kirov again somewhere in the world before the end of this year.

[ 07-18-2001: Message edited by: Kevin Ng ]

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I partly disagree about Semionov. Based on seeing his Blue Bird, Lankedem, Swan Lake pas de trois, he is only a few steps behind a young soloist like Anton Korsakov. And Semionov's partnering skill, although not yet first-rate, is definitely on the way.

BTW, I saw three performances of Le Corsaire in London last month and remember quite well who danced Lankedem or who danced Ali. ;)

I meant it's a pity I missed Semionov's Corsaire pdd, to be exact.

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I agree with you, NO7. Dmitri Simeonov is most promising as a soloist. Though he didn't do a leading role in Covent Garden this season (as he did Solor last year), I was impressed by him in the Swan Lake pas de trois and his Blue Bird. He also danced elegantly in Emeralds. I unfortunately missed his Lankedem. Actually his partnering skills are not bad, he strongly partnered Yulia Makhalina in La Bayadere last year.

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The weather in France being worth more of October than of July, one staying in the City of Light has to rather look for indoor entertainment. Fortunately, the Kirov ballet provided an excellent one just some miles away. Unfortunately, it's over now.

I got my ticket for their last show (July 18th) three hours before, and this wasn't easy. The salesperson said that Kirov was pretty much sold out (except on Sunday), and few empty places I have seen could only be

explained by people not showing up. I got the cheapest ticket, and found myself very close to stage, but behind a huge column screening 3/4th of it from me. So I moved some yards right and sat on the floor. The staff didn't object (as they did to me at Covent Garden).

The 1st part was Balanchine's "Serenade". A rather slow piece, it nevertheless kept the rythm, helped with precious corps-de-ballet moves, which followed each other as if assembling a never-ending chain. I was slightly distracted by light-blue bodies of male dancers, which made them look like Star Trek pilots wandering on a strange planet populated with beautiful girls in long tutus. Danila Korsuntsev, towering over everyone on stage, again partnered strongly Janna Ayupova. Closer to the end, "Serenade"

got me a bit bored. Victor Baranov, Sofia Gumerova and Elvira Tarassova were just building up static groups here and there, like trying to represent an animated picture. But I guess it's the fault of choregraphy, not the dancer's.

The 2nd part started with "Manon". I'd like very much to see its full version. As I remember the novel, Manon is rather a cold and calculating adventurer, using and switching men as she pleases, and abusing

of Des Grieux's love. Ayupova's character was everything but this. Maybe just in this pas-de-deux Manon turns out to be a Juliet in her soul... Ilya Kuznetsov, though, played (rather than danced) a young man bewitched by Manon, and ready to do everything to stay with her.

In the following "Arlequinade", I was nicely surprised by discovering Anton Korsakov completely transformed. Even if his role was close to that in "Carnaval in Venise" (that I didn't like on July 14th), this time he was much better, with those high jumps, and charm and smile of young Di Caprio. Maybe he felt more confident because of an experienced and mature Irina Jelonkina as his partner.

"Middle Duet" is quite rarely performed by Kirov nowadays, and that's a pity. Not that I am particularly fond of modern choreography, but it's difficult to resist those series of repeated sensual and violent gestures with which the partners seem dueling each other. Natalia Sologub and Islom Baimuradov perfectly followed the flexible and obstinated style until getting completely exhausted. Excellent casting; especially

for Baimuradov whose long black hair and vigorous moving recalled Farukh Ruzimatov in his youth.

If Korsakov was up from July 14th, Batalov in "Don Quichotte" was, unfortunately, down. He looked heavy, tired and physically not fit. His Kitri, Irina Golub, was nice; but I'd wish she wouldn't dance everything with the same smile which seemed glued to her face.

Everyone expected Lopatkina's Dying Swan, and one can feel an enormous tension of the whole auditoruim, mesmerized by that dancer who performed as if she came from another planet. Giving a moment of "pure dance", without any human emotion, Lopatkina was the only one who got three curtain calls immediately.

My London friends praised Sofia Gumerova in "Le Corsaire", and I got lucky to see her in final pas-de-deux that concluded that night's program. And indeed, she was very good. I cannot even exactly say what I liked, but the overall impression was extremely nice. Unfortunately, Gumerova was partnered by Dmitrii Semionov, who I liked very much as evil Lankedem, but who was completely out of cast as Ali. He lacked the vigor and power needed for that role, as Ruzimatov made us accustomed to. Semionov also felt not too reliable in partnering, even if he obviously tried to. Nevertheless, "Le Corsaire" was a good closing piece.

After the show, dancers got four curtain calls. I regret that no teachers appeared on stage to get thanked for their hard work(I remarked Kurgapkina in the hall during the pause).

This tour may not be a huge success of ROH scale, but it does confirm Kirov's ambitions to keep its place in first rangs of ballet world.

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Hi Kevin (and the rest),

"Jewels" seem not to sell too well in advance in Munich - but probably for several reasons:

a) big confusion about start of ticket sales (published was 20 August, then 12 July, then 14 July)

B) about 60-70% of seats in a 1000 seats theatre are at top price level (180 DM) - which is a lot for a lesser known ballet in Germany

Personally, I believe that at the end, performances will sell out since Kirov is such a big name - but good chances if anyone wants to come over! I'll be at 3 of 4 performances (at least! but on the cheaper seats...) - so if anyone is there, how about meeting???

Ticket information also on www.bayerisches-staatsballett.de - just in case... :)

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A.M., thanks for another moving review on the Kirov. I would have liked to have seen Anton Korsakov and Irina Zhelonkina in Harlequinade, as well as Alexei Ratmansky's "Middle Duo". I find it strange that the coaches and teachers again didn't appear on the stage after the final performance, just like at Covent Garden a fortnight ago.

Sonja, if I miss the Kirov so much later on in the year that I decide to travel to Munich to see them, I'll definitely like to meet up with you.

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A.M. thanks for the impressions of the last night. However, you weren't lucky to see Gumerova in the final Corsaire pas de deux, as you actually saw Svetlana Zakharova :). I wouldn't call her performance "nice", but that's only personal. At least it was danced with much more authority than Gumerova in the previous performances, and if you warm for Zakharova's crooked shapes and mannerisms, than you might have had some pleasure watching her.

I agree about Semionov, he is a fine soloist, but his partnering is shaking all over and there is absolutely no trace of any personality on stage. (But then again, I guess, what more can you expect from somebody of his age?) And you're right, basically he is miscast in this role.

Zhelonkina was magnificent in Harlequinade and Korsakov did some good jumps. Also a great moment thanks to Lopatkina whose Black Swan became a Dying Swan :).

The Kirov Ballet will be guesting for three weeks at the Chatelet in Paris next year.

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Oups...I indeed didn't recognized Zakharova in Le Corsaire. I had doubts about during the performance, but I find it hard to recognize dancers by face, so I relayed on the printed program.

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Marc, do you know when the Kirov will dance at the Theatre du Chatelet next season (there's nothing about it on their web page), and what programs they will dance?

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Estelle, I just found out that it's not next season 2001/2, but the following season 2002/3. The provisional date is Nov. 2002. I don't know however what programmes they will bring to the Chatelet.

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Meanwhile, for those who can't wait that long may consider traveling to Brazil (don't count me in!). The Kirov will go to Sao Paulo (and Rio?)to perform:

14-16 August 2001 Manon

19&26 August Gala Performances

23-25 August Le Corsaire

30-1 September Swan Lake

Casts announced included Zelensky, Kuznetsov, Vishneva, Dumchenko, and Baranov

The rest are still uncertain.

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NO7, thanks for your news ahout the Brazil tour. Actually next week the Kirov will give three performances of Swan Lake in Greece as well. (Gumerova and Korsuntsev will be one of the casts.) A Kirov tour to China in Sept. 2002 is also on the cards, though not yet finalised. It certainly requires a lot of energy to follow the Kirov round the world!

But I am glad to see that the dancers' workload in Brazil is not as heavy as in London, as the number of performances in Brazil seems to be relatively less.

[ 07-21-2001: Message edited by: Kevin Ng ]

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