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Kirov at Opera Royal in Versailles


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#1 Guest_amalinovski_*

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Posted 16 July 2001 - 04:31 AM

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 - [url="http://"http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_01/jul01/interview_ilya_kuznetsov.htm)"]http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_01/ju...kuznetsov.htm)[/url].

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. ]

#2 NO7

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Posted 16 July 2001 - 05:01 AM

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?

#3 Guest_amalinovski_*

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Posted 16 July 2001 - 05:53 AM

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.

#4 Kevin Ng

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Posted 16 July 2001 - 06:13 AM

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 ]

#5 Juliet

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Posted 16 July 2001 - 08:47 AM

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.

#6 Natalia

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Posted 16 July 2001 - 03:13 PM

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!

#7 Guest_amalinovski_*

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Posted 17 July 2001 - 08:31 AM

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. ]

#8 Kevin Ng

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Posted 17 July 2001 - 10:31 PM

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.

#9 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 18 July 2001 - 07:47 AM

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.

#10 NO7

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Posted 18 July 2001 - 08:48 AM

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 ]

#11 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 18 July 2001 - 09:25 AM

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).

#12 Sonja

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Posted 18 July 2001 - 09:39 AM

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!

#13 Kevin Ng

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Posted 18 July 2001 - 11:19 AM

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 ]

#14 NO7

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Posted 18 July 2001 - 12:25 PM

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.

#15 Kevin Ng

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Posted 18 July 2001 - 09:19 PM

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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