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Casting Roulette?

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6 replies to this topic

#1 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 18 June 2002 - 10:40 PM

I know we've been warned about this time and again, but can any of the people more familiar with the Kirov give a reason for the Kirov's tendency to announce a cast, only to change it? I know that injuries and the like are inevitable, but here, they are just switching days. Is there actually a reason behind this, and why announce a cast at all, if only to irritate people by changing it? Why not just announce casting later?

A question posed from the man who is now seeing Svetlana Zakharova three times instead of one and Daria Pavlenko not at all.

#2 Alexandra


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Posted 19 June 2002 - 05:37 AM

It is odd, isn't it? There's also the little problem with the Kirov that often the names in the program don't match the dancers on stage.

As for your three Z tickets, maybe you could switch one at the box office? It's early days.

(I don't know the reason.)

#3 Natalia


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Posted 19 June 2002 - 07:27 AM

Good question, Leigh. The answer - "It's a cultural, traditional thing." Let me explain.

In Russia, casting is posted (announced on the posters that go up on the facade of the Mariinsky Theater) maybe one week before the actual performance. That's when one can reasonably tell who-is-REALLY-dancing-what. Its been done like that since the times of the tsars...

Recent modern-age pressures, such as the Mariinsky internet website, have 'forced' management to make educated guesses on principal casting, say, one month in advance. Said casting almost always will change when the hard-copy poster hits the wall of the Mariinsky Theater.

Now imagine the pressure on Vasiyev et. al. to conform to an even greater time-span & 'Western Cultural Thing": provide casting of principal -- gasp! -- FOUR/FIVE MONTHS in advance, for purposes of a tour! So Vasiyev et al make an educated guess as to who may be dancing & they try their best to stick to the leading principals...they really do. [e.g., I believe that each & every previously-listed Aurora in the 1999 MET tour's 'Beauty' danced as announced, didn't they? Zakharova, followed by Vishneva, Assylmuratov in matinee & Nioradze). However, in the real world, a number of factors come into play which force a change in casting, most notably injuries. In the case of the 'new-old Bayadere,' we're talking about a production that premiered on May 31; repetiteurs had not even had the chance to see possible casts of principals way back in March, when the MET asked for cast lists.

But I hear you...I too have suddenly found out that one of my Vishneva-announced shows has now gone to Zakharova...;) Hey - but she's dancing with Igor Kolb, who was so brilliant at the May 31 premiere of this production, in St Pete. And wait 'til you see Elvira Tarassova as Gamzatti, in the restored Pas de Sept of Act IV.

- Jeannie

#4 Roma


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Posted 20 June 2002 - 06:22 AM

Jeannie, when cast changes happen due to injuries they are always regrettable, but is something we accept as inevitable. Swapping dancers between dates or daytimes, in order to take away “the privilege of the first night” from one and give it to the other, and so on, after casting has been announced and tickets bought accordingly, is simply rude. The reason it happens so often with Russian companies is that at home, the percentage of their income that comes from ticket sales is so meager that they don’t really care about their audience. ABT knows principle casting five months in advance, but in the Kirov company politics take precedence over such trivialities as the audience’s desire to know who they are paying their money to see. I remember one particular time in St. Petersburg-- Makhalina was scheduled to dance Swan Lake. It was posted all over town about a week in advance. As I sat down and opened my program, I learned to my infinite dismay that a Tatiana Serova was to grace the stage that night as Odette/Odile. It’s not that Makhalina was injured; it’s just that her name filled the house for Serova who is a second soloist and couldn’t turn to save her life, pretty as she was. Kind of ingenious now that I think about it.
As far as I am concerned there is no excuse for treating the audience in such a cavalier manner.

#5 Patricia



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Posted 20 June 2002 - 07:12 AM


If you think the Mariinsky treats their audience badly, you should see how they treat donors. Arrogant is too kind a descriptive word. This has no place on a discussion board, but I could write volumes.

#6 Natalia


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Posted 20 June 2002 - 07:42 AM

Patricia - Sorry to hear about the problem with donors. I've been attending Kirov performances in St Petes since 1994, off-and-on, and I've been treated with nothing but kindness, from two very different administration teams, to boot! But, as you say, this is best left for off-site discussions. :)

Regarding the '1900-Bayadere' I saw several casts of principal being rehearsed during my most recent visit &, in fact, a lot of 'switching' between male-and-female pairs was being tested-out to find a right comfort level among teams...e.g., Kolb & Pavlenko did not work out on opening night, so now Kolb is set to partner a different ballerina on opening night at the Met. What's more, a male principal or two have been fully left out of the Met 'Bayadere' schedule even though I saw those guys rehearsing the role of Solor...saw 'em with my own two eyes. Management & repetiteurs have a big say-so until the last possible moment on who-is-in/who-is-out. That's just the way it works there and, of course, it is jarring for most dance-followers in the West.

#7 Manhattnik


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Posted 20 June 2002 - 07:46 AM

Sigh. I'd better go get my tickets from the boxoffice.

I'm afraid to think of what I'll be seeing now. I guess I won't know for sure until the curtain goes up.

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