Full Length 'Anastasia'
Posted 10 June 2002 - 05:46 AM
After reading Jeannie's post about the Hermitage Museum Theatre in the Winter Palace, I decided to look through a particular book and find a picture of it.
While flipping the pages and passing by beautiful images of Russia's last Imperial Family, I was reminded that there is a full length ballet about the youngest daughter of the last Tsar of Russia, Anastasia.
I've never seen 'Anastasia' and have read just a little bit about it. I know that it was originally created by Sir Kenneth MacMillan as a one act ballet for Lynn Seymour, and that it was so striking it was expanded into a full length.
Are there Ballet Alert posters who saw 'Anastasia'?
Any memories or stories to share with the rest of us?
Posted 12 June 2002 - 09:20 AM
Posted 12 June 2002 - 10:20 AM
The one-act, a very expressionistic work, was considered very strong, and when MacMillan took over the Royal he added two acts to make a full-length. From what I've read, that was not considered a good decision.
Didn't ABT revive this a few seasons ago? Or am I dreaming that?
Posted 12 June 2002 - 10:41 AM
I'll have to disagree on your recollections of the ballet, as a whole. I attended the May 1996 premiere-week of the Royal's most recent version & it was an enormous hit with public & almost all the critics. Viviana Durante (the opening-night Anastasia) was cheered to the rafters & praised to the hilt in newspapers (Clement Crisp et. al.). Leanne Benjamin & Sarah Wildor were also heavenly, in 2nd & 3rd casts, a few days later. I remember nothing but enthusiastic, cheering audiences. HUGE standing ovation on opening night for Durante. I still have hard copies of all the newspaper reviews & the production was a huge success, AT.
Hence, you can imagine my surprise & shock when, a few years later, I saw a palid performance by ABT...utilizing the 1996-London sets & costumes, which are stunning for Acts I & II, IMO. The energy of the various London/RB casts simply wasn't there. And the ABT dancers seemed to be going through the motions, almost as if in mockery. Sorry - that's the way I saw it.
With appropriate cast & 'degree of respect' among corps -- as in London 1996 -- McMillan's 'Anastasia' can be a joy to behold. It could be spectacular in the hands of the Kirov, I believe. Petersburg audiences would love it, due to music, melodrama, Romanov theme, stunning Act I/II sets/costumes, etc, etc.
Posted 12 June 2002 - 10:52 AM
Posted 12 June 2002 - 10:53 AM
Croce supported the ballet when it was first done, and made it clear that she was arguing from a contrarian point of view -- she was a MacMillan supporter in the early 1970s and wrote that maybe it was a failed experiment, but at least it was an experiment, he was trying to do something different with the three-act form. (This was in the context that "Manon" was a retrenchment, a retreat from the failure of "Anastasia" and a much more conservative "traditional" three-act.
Perhaps some of our London readers -- or Mary, who was in London at the time of the premiere -- can put this in context?
Editing -- sorry, Mary. We were posting at the sames time!
Posted 12 June 2002 - 11:04 AM
Part of the critical success of the May 1996 revised version was the excission of the 'fluff' in Acts I & II by the stager, Lady McMillan (widow of the choreographer).
I did not see Durante in the ABT version. I saw Julie Kent. Totally off. But the corps truly resembled 'jokers' compared to the Royals.
Posted 12 June 2002 - 01:03 PM
I didn't go to the last RB revival, not even to see Sarah Wildor; but one interesting thing is that had MacMillan lived, he was planning to expand Rasputin's role for Mukhamedov - which really might have been worth seeing.
(I wouldn't say it was 'roundly' booed at the premiere, Mary - just booed!)
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