volcanohunter

2016-17 Bolshoi cinema season

58 posts in this topic

Thanks -- I've had some luck with that search before, with other films, but I do wish that the link from Pathe worked as well.

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Did anyone watch Golden Age today? I am confused whether it was really a simulcast. I was in the Bolshoi Theater last May and it is mostly very dark red with gold trim, as shown in the trailer. The theater shown today was mostly a light, almost seafoam green with white trim.

 

I suppose those of you that are familiar with the Bolshoi dancers would have said something if the casting looked to be a slate from before the renovation of the theater.

 

Nevertheless, I so enjoyed the show today, it was my first Bolshoi in cinema. Can't wait to see the rest!

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The performance took place in the new theater, which was built to accommodate performances while the main theater was being renovated. It continues to be used today. While the cinemacast was taking place in one theater, a new opera production was premiering simultaneously in the other.

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I enjoyed this--as I thought I would having watched both the 1983 film and 2007 broadcast on youtube earlier this week.  Actually I enjoyed it more than I thought I would because I found the company was rather better in it than I expected--the corps and soloists seemed to have the energy and conviction that seems essential for this sort of thing and, the villains at least (Lobukhin and Krysanova) had full-scale if not exactly old-style Bolshoi charisma.  I thought Kaptsova might be too pallid as the heroine, but she really poured on the energy and speed in the final scenes, so I was won over by her. (Skvortsov for me was a bit of  weak link as he does not seem ideally cast as Boris--I'd prefer someone with more sheer power in this role, even at the cost of finesse. But he is obviously a fine dancer and to the camera's eye a fine actor too. He also came on stronger at the end and I wondered if he had been pacing himself earlier.)

 

I know a million things that could be said in criticism of this ballet--I promise I do--but I still found it super entertaining and seeing Grigorovich revisit, as it were, a lot of his melodramatic, athletic/acrobatic choreography in a lighter vein (Spartacus as --more-or-less-- comedy) worked for me in a big way. Like all Grigorovich it is much of a muchness--same effects repeated over and over--but I was still mightily entertained and would very much like to see it again in the theater. Loved the music and sets too. (Moreover, the hero's Act I political skit turns out to be quite apropos for Putin's Russia.)

 

I saw Golden Age live on tour way back when and mostly I remember thinking the ballet more or less silly/dreary -- though a friend convinced me to appreciate the natural way the story framed and allowed for all the dancing.  And I remember that I adored Semenyaka as Rita. But unfortunately I otherwise remember pretty much nothing about the performance. Was very happy to reacquaint myself with the ballet this week and probably liked it better than I did when younger.

Edited by Drew

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I saw it back in the day, too, and the only dancer I remember was Mukmedhov and the Bolshoi male corps, who were spectacular.  I am so glad I got to see the Bolshoi when men were men, and I never forgot the male corps dancing with brooms, using them like acrobats.  I do have this vision of all the corps swinging on their brooms, legs extended, but my memory may have embellished that over the years!  Mukmedhov was not elegant (very stiff upper body) but my gosh did he throw himself into the role, with such a pure heart.  It's hard to imaging anyone else making what is really a cartoon so heroic.  Mary

 

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I went to see The Golden Age in cinema yesterday. I have watched both 1983 and 2007 versions on YouTube, and liked this ballet very much, especially Shostakovich's music and the four white duets. Every time when I watch a ballet made with Shostakovich's music, I feel amazed how he made music so dance-able, since his big and thick glasses must cause trouble to dance for himself. :o

Krysanova was absolutely brilliant. I just hope she could dance more to show her outstanding technique yesterday. It seems that she also danced as Rita in the Golden Age. Hope I could have a chance to see it. I have seen her dancing in The Flames of Paris, The Bright Stream, Swan Lake, Spartacus, La Sylphide, Giselle, Jewels and Don Quixote in theaters. As long as she is on stage, she is shining and radiant, no other else can cover her sparkling.

To me, Skvortsov fits gentlemen-type of roles rather than heroic as Boris. But, his dramatic performance and excellent partnering, together with super musical and lovely Kaptsova, made the duets in passion and adorable.

Lopatin's entertainer was a sweet man, very different from Tsiskaridze's. I have seen him dancing the peasants pas de deux in Giselle, that was perfect and unforgettable, undeniably the best!   

As long as Lobuhkin is on stage, he performs obsessively in strong technique and dramatic ability. He was a sophisticated actor as Yashka. However, I am, kind of, confused with the role of Yashka. He is cruel and dark, or just a jealousy man, who killed Lyuska with guilty of manslaughter, not murder?

I thought there were some problems in signal transformation for broadcasting of yesterday. A scene in Act II: on the seashore fishermen were dancing, women dancing; then Rita turned up in search of Boris, Rita and Boris dancing in duet. The lighting was supposed to be blue, according to [D.Shostakovich ballet "The Golden Age" 2007] on YouTube. But yesterday it was in light green, and the faces of dancers looked all very pale.

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My familiarity with The Golden Age comes primarily from a film made ca. 1986 by a British company, if I remember correctly. It aired not long after on A&E, back in the days when Stacy Keach hosted its weekly performing arts program, and my homemade VHS tape subsequently got a lot of use. (Well, parts of it, anyway. Mostly the bits with Gediminas Taranda.) By then the ballet’s original Compere, Vladimir Derevianko, had left the USSR, so that part was played by Mikhail Tsivin, but otherwise the film featured the original cast of Natalia Bessmertnova, Irek Mukhamedov, Taranda and Tatiana Golikova. The ballet fell out of the repertoire following Grigorovich’s ouster in 1995, but it was revived in 2006 at the initiative of Alexei Ratmansky, who wanted all of Shostakovich’s ballet scores in the Bolshoi’s repertoire. Ultimately The Bright Stream stuck, The Bolt proved only slightly more enduring than the original, and The Golden Age played for four or five seasons before falling into disuse again.

 

The 2006 version, staged while the main theater was under renovation, compressed the second and third acts together, shortening the fishermen scenes considerably and eliminating a scene for Yashka and his band, while leaving the decadent restaurant scenes largely intact. (Hmm.) As for Ratmansky’s concern for Shostakovich’s ballet music, I reckon Grigorovich’s version uses less than half of the original score, and of course the plot was completely reconceived as a love triangle. I find it amusing that the agitprop mockery of the tsarist order in the first scene is set to a piece Shostakovich titled “Soviet dance,” that the final-act scene for Yashka and his bandits is set to a piece originally titled “Dance for a black man and two Soviet football players,” and that the music for two of the scenes for Rita and Yashka were originally designated for “the diva and the fascist.” Their foxtrot/tango was, of course, interpolated, as were the two “white” adagios for Rita and Boris.

 

I gather from news reports that the current revival eliminates an additional seven minutes from the ballet. Notably, the opening group dance has been reduced to close to nothingness, Rita’s second-act variation has been cut, the opening of the final restaurant scene has been shortened, and some repeats in the score have been ditched. I sort of get the impression that this is a revival on the cheap, because the ballet has not been remounted on the main stage, as though the Bolshoi suspects it may have a limited shelf life and couldn’t be bothered to re-paint the scenery for the larger stage. But it has to be said that the dancers did not approach it this way. They performed it with complete conviction and made the best possible argument for the ballet.

 

With the exception of Mikhail Lobukhin as Yashka, the principals had first danced their roles in 2006. Indeed, in this revival there seemed to be little attempt to cast dancers who don’t typically dance the Grigorovich repertoire already. Grigorovich’s 80th birthday gala in 2007 featured most of the second act of The Golden Age (sort of), and on that occasion Ruslan Skvortsov was Boris, and Ekaterina Krysanova was Lyuska. Grigorovich’s 85th birthday gala in 2012 featured most of the first act (sort of), and then Nina Kaptsova was Rita, and Skvortsov was Boris. Kaptsova also danced the foxtrot at the gala re-opening of the Bolshoi’s main theater. So it’s fair to assume that the dancers who performed in the live cinemacast constitute Grigorovich’s preferred cast.

 

As different as Kaptsova and Skvortsov are from Bessmertnova and Mukhamedov, I was completely sold on their performances. Kaptsova does not have Bessmertnova’s long, snaky arms, but, performing on her 38th birthday, she looked very young and spry, had a beguiling, unforced sweetness and generally danced with much more joy than Bessmertnova, who tended to slip into “it is so sad to be Russian” mode too easily. But underneath that Kaptsova also brought a layer of pensive wistfulness to her role and imbued it with sensitive lyricism. Skvortsov does not dance like a cannon ball, but he also never looks hunched, as Mukhamedov often did, and brings a longer-legged stretch to the choreography instead. Mukhamedov had the benefit of dancing on a larger stage, while Skvortsov, who is significantly taller, was cramped into the narrower new stage, and there were times I was very aware that could not move out as much as he would have liked, although his final manège around the stage used every possible inch of space and was spectacular. The role of Boris is physically punishing, not only in its grand allegro, but even more so in its partnering. Although I was not counting, I’d estimate that Rita and Boris perform some 40 lifts together, many of them very long with changes in position part way through, and many of them of the overhead variety, and in this regard Skvortsov was exceptional. The lifts were all performed with extraordinary ease and speed, without any sign of strain and with no disruption to the flow of the movement (such as it is). The weight-sharing choreography was remarkably stretched and suspended. Kaptsova and Skvortsov do not dance together all that often, because the height discrepancy between them is large, but when they do come together, usually in dramatic ballets, their soulfulness quotient is very high. Seeing them dance the “white” adagios together made the logic of the casting abundantly clear. These plumbed the emotional depths the music superbly. They had an atmosphere of suspended time, a sense of movement continuing endlessly through space and a rapt intensity that resulted in a you-could-hear-a-pin-drop absorption on the part of the audience, both in the opera house and in the cinema where I was watching. I admired them for attempting to turn their characters into real people and something more than a damsel in distress and a Socialist Realist cutout. This is a necessary attempt if the ballet is ever going to be more than a Brezhnevite paean to the Komsomol, but it may not be enough to rescue it.

 

Although Lobukhin is a born and bred Petersburger, he is more Grigorovich Bolshoi than any recent graduate of the Moscow Ballet School, and there were practically no signs that this was his first run as Yashka. He wisely did not attempt to replicate Taranda’s sex-god characterization, which would have been an impossible standard to emulate. While Taranda was a charismatic scoundrel, Lobukhin’s Yashka was a full-blown psychopath. He was intense and scary, although given the volatility of his character, I did begin to wonder how he could maintain the loyalty of his bandits. This approach also put a different spin on the scene where Yashka pitches woo at Rita, because from the point of the view of the audience, his proposal could not be considered a remotely viable alternative. The physical demands on Yashka are immense, and Lobukhin sailed through them with awesome force, although the famous foxtrot was perhaps a bit too desperate and ragged for a floor-show number, whatever its dramatic undercurrents.

 

As Lyuska, Krysanova was characteristically brilliant, dancing and acting up a storm, but unfortunately the character is a cartoon, like a vicious Betty Boop. This is a shame, because Krysanova is a serious artist, and she clearly approached her role seriously, but I would rather not see her wasted on a character of solely baser passions. Vyacheslav Lopatin’s Compere, unfailingly spectacular, was less sinister than other interpreters of the role, and there was a convincingly “American” nonchalance to his dancing that had eluded previous interpreters I’d seen on film. As the unfortunate NEPmen, Alexei Loparevich and Alexander Petukhov created vivid and grotesque characters as actors, although from the point of view of physicality, I suspected slightly younger dancers would have been more effective at playing falling-down drunk. The corps never danced with anything less than total commitment.

 

But the choreography is a huge liability. The steps given to the corps is often simplistic to the point of being silly. As beautifully as the adagios were danced, these duets are practically interchangeable with every other Grigorovich pas de deux, just as Rita's solo choreography looks like every other solo Grigorovich made for his heroines. The scenes for Yashka and his bandits had always been my least favorite, and even with one of them eliminated, they were still much too long. Here the “unmusicality” of Grigorovich is most obvious, in his slavish mimicry of what is not especially “danceable” music. There are swooping brass notes followed by long rests. When the orchestra plays, the dancers move. When the music stops, the dancers freeze. Some visual counterpoint would have been nice. At best the trashy restaurant scenes could be qualified as guilty pleasures.

 

Simon Virsaladze’s designs have seldom been as hideous, which is saying something, with their unrelenting palette of black, white and gray. I’m completely at a loss to explain his fascination with mesh. He plastered it all over the place, succeeding only in making the costumes looked ragged and dirty. They did not fare well under the HD treatment.

 

And yet from a performance point of view, this was the most compelling Bolshoi cinemacast I’d seen in some time. I still think the ballet is absurd, but I had a really good time watching it.

Edited by volcanohunter

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Here is Smirnova discussing the ballet. Nice to hear some fresh thoughts: 

 

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I'm really looking forward to this today.  I'm quite happy with the casting.

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I wish they gave a full cast list.  Can anyone who went to today's cinema cast who is familiar with the Bolshoi tell me who danced Cinderella?  She was absolutely delightful.

Edited by Kaysta

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My first time watching at Kew Gardens cinema, and it was surprisingly packed (although when you realize the neighborhood demographics, it shouldn't be too surprising). I normally watch in Manhattan where seats aren't hard to come by, but here, I ended up sitting in the front. 

 

Smirnova, who I normally love, was fairly blank and lifeless in the role. Chudin also looked like he was phoning it in. 

 

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42 minutes ago, Kaysta said:

I wish they gave a full cast list.  Can anyone who went to today's cinema cast who is familiar with the Bolshoi tell me who danced Cinderella?  She was absolutely delightful.

 

I believe it was Daria Khocklova -- (I'm relaying what I've read elsewhere online). 

Edited by Drew

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36 minutes ago, Deflope said:

My first time watching at Kew Gardens cinema, and it was surprisingly packed (although when you realize the neighborhood demographics, it shouldn't be too surprising). I normally watch in Manhattan where seats aren't hard to come by, but here, I ended up sitting in the front. 

 

Smirnova, who I normally love, was fairly blank and lifeless in the role. Chudin also looked like he was phoning it in. 

 

I'm glad to hear someone say this, because I wasn't as impressed as I expected to be.   Smirnova appeared nervous until after the Rose Adagio, which I thought she was better once she got through it (especially her solos).   The wedding pas with Chudin was a bit bumpy to me.

 

It was my first time seeing Grigorovich's version, and I hate that they cut out half the mime, especially with Carabosse/Lilac Fairy.   Still enjoyed the day though, and happy to see the Bolshoi here in the suburbs of NJ (there were only about 12 of us in the theater, so I hope my theater keeps these going).

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3 minutes ago, Drew said:

 

I believe it was Daria Khocklova -- (I'm relaying what I've read elsewhere online). 

Thanks, Drew!   I'll have to be on the look out for her. 

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f.y.i as posted on a related thread, casting for THE SLEEPING BEAUTY HD transmission acc'd to the promoters:

 

CAST:

King Florestan XIV:    Alexander Fadeyechev
The Queen:     Ekaterina Barykina
Princess Aurora:   Olga Smirnova
Prince Desire:       Semyon Chudin
Catalabutte:   Vitaly Biktimirov
Four Foreign Princes:  Ivan Alexeyev, Artemy Belyakov, Egor Khromushin, Alexander Vodopetov
Duchess:  Vera Borisenkova
Peasant Dance:  Anna Antropova, Alexander Vodopetov
Evil Fairy Carabosse:   Alexei Loparevich
Lilac Fairy:       Yulia Stepanova
Fairies of Kindness:  
Tenderness (Candid): Daria Khokhlova 
Carelessness(Fleur-de-farine): Bruna Cantanhede Gaglianone    
Generosity (Breadcrumb scattering Fairy): Daria Bochkova  
Playfulness(Twittering canary): Olga Kalinina  
Audacity(Violent):  Elvina Ibraimova       
Jewels Fairies:
Margarita Shrainer (Diamonds)
Xenia Zhiganshina (Sapphires)     
Victoria Yakusheva (Gold)          
Yanina Parienko (Silver)
Characters
White Pussycat:Victoria Litvinova
Puss in Boots: Denis Medvedev
Princess Florine: Anastasia Denisova
Blue Bird: Artemy Belyakov
Little Red Riding Hood: Maria Mishina
Grey Wolf: Anton Savichev
Cinderella: Daria Khokhlova
Prince Fortune: Vladislav Kozlov

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I found Chudin's dancing exemplary and that he was a true danseur noble. 

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21 minutes ago, Josette said:

I found Chudin's dancing exemplary and that he was a true danseur noble. 

 

I liked his dancing very much too.  I enjoyed Smirnova also (didn't find her lifeless, though not exactly a typical Aurora) -- but have written about the performance at more length in the thread specifically devoted to her.

Edited by Drew

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I found Smirnova's performance good enough, but certainly not memorable.  There was no joy or radiance in her Rose Adagio.  Moreover, it appears that balance are not her strongest skill.  She lifted her hand only a few inches before almost immediately grabbing the next suitors hand.   She was better i the Vision Scene.  I also thought that the wedding pdd was a bit bumpy.  I came away with very high regard for Chudin.  He has beautiful line and a high jump. 

 

I haven't read all the comments above, so maybe someone has already answered the question.  Why didn't they do the fish dives during the wedding scene? 

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the fish dives in SB III are not considered canonic Petipa in Soviet/Russian ballet circles. they were added for Diaghilev's SLEEPING PRINCESS in '23 by Nijinska, acc'd to reports.

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I thought Smirnova was fascinating and beautiful, but not an Aurora.  She was so refined and technically stunning, but Auroras for me require to be human(!), eg, sweet, frisky, girly, grounded, confident in the first act and then grow into a matured womanly wedding pas.  I've rarely seen this done well.  Smirnova was more of a fairy with very light, brilliant movements.  Stunning lines.  At times I thought she barely touched the ground, her jumps were so airy and gorgeous.  She did seem nervous especially in the first act.  Then again, who wouldn't be dancing the brutal Rose Adagio being filmed for the world and library records?!  That's scary.  One can adapt fouettees for nerves, but one cannot change the strength, stamina and timing skill needed to get through a Rose Adagio.  Bluebird's solos were shortened, simplified.... but the Rose Adagio (I'm grateful) was not. 

 

Chudin was totally in his element as the regal, beautiful Prince from head to toe with complete confidence.  He dances so expansively and is always a real prince, not an unapproachable fantasy.  His dancing with his female companion (financee?) was just as touching as his kissing Aurora.  Smirnova was so fortunate to have his sensitive, strong, expertly done partnering.  I think they connect better in ballets where Smirnova is a dream type, not of this world.  Swan Lake or Diamonds.  Chudin was a real prince, she was on another planet.  Didn't quite work for me though I loved their individual dancing abilities.

 

What a grande production and awesome orchestra!  Seeing the inside quarters of the "leaders" box seats was a thrill. 

 

Gotta love the Bolshoi for the no expense spared with big corps, large sets, beautiful costumes, dancers moving freely with abandon.  I was not a fan of the distracting floor, but wow what a huge stage! 

 

Although there were edits to the choreography I've become used to seeing, it didn't really matter.  Dancers were not restricted in any way....  I'll be curious now to see and compare this production with NYCB's upcoming version. 

 

Was anyone else a little disturbed by the camera angles yesterday, eg, under the tutus?!  The camera work could have been more straight forward, but it also made Chudin's jumps look as though he was about to fly into the sky. 

Edited by sz

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A couple thoughts about the SB:

Olga Smirnova didn't end with a triumphant arabesque in the Rose Adagio. I thought the rest of it was lovely but that moment where Aurora finally snaps her arms out usually draws huge applause. Smirnova seemed to lose focus.

 

I wasn't fond of the overly fussy, curly wig they had her wear. Actually it seems as if in the Bolshoi SB great care is made to make Aurora seem old and mature at her 16th birthday. At least the videos I've seen of the Bolshoi SB's use this approach. But Smirnova seems to have a naturally serious disposition and isn't a natural Aurora. I think she's more suited for Lilac Fairy? Semyon Chudin was an excellent Prince. Very beautiful lines.

 

OTOH I thought Yulia Stepanova was a lovely Lilac Fairy. Her variation was very strong, and she has beautiful arms. Also loved the Bluebird and Florine although I thought Florine's variation was taken a bit too slow.

 

Overall this is the least offensive of the Grigorovich "after Petipa" classic.

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3 hours ago, canbelto said:

 

Overall this is the least offensive of the Grigorovich "after Petipa" classic.

 

Though I draw the line at Grigorovich's Swan Lake, I find that in recent years I've considerably softened on much of his work.

 

I can't decide if it's the mellowness of age or Stockholm Syndrome.

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2 hours ago, Drew said:

 

Though I draw the line at Grigorovich's Swan Lake, I find that in recent years I've considerably softened on much of his work.

 

I can't decide if it's the mellowness of age or Stockholm Syndrome.

 

I'm not over the horror that is his Romeo and Juliet (and the fact that the Bolshoi gave up the beautiful Lavrovsky version for ... that), or the fact that his Nutcracker has exactly ONE exciting moment (the torchlift and candelabra lifts). 

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