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Kirov in NY


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#16 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 09 July 2002 - 07:53 PM

I don't feel like I have much depth of experience with Bayadere (I've seen about 3 or 4 full length versions) but the interesting thing for me was that this production really didn't seem all that different to the Vinogradov staging the Universal ballet brought to NYC a bit back. The most interesting dramatic changes to me were to have no business with veils in the confrontation between Gamzatti and Nikiya in Act I and that Nikiya visits Solor in Act III in his chamber, and the Shades scene is not really drug induced.

I'd agree with Dancermom that the children weren't to blame for the results on stage, but I'd also agree with Jeannie that a lot of outside-the-company work, including most of the supernumeraries, who were making a lot of opening night flubs, looked underrehearsed and not that carefully selected. It's good to know both sides of the story, but it's also important to remember the only thing a ticket buyer legitimately knows is what s/he sees put in front of them, and this production had many opening-night kinks to work out.

This might be a topic for another thread, but I'd love to discuss the libretto of La Bayadere further. It's not one I have a real fondness for - I don't really have any sympathy for the protagonists - Gamzatti is arrogant and vengeful, but then again Nikiya attacks her with a knife, and Solor seems weak-willed, although Kolb helped mitigate that simply by the way he comported himself. Deos anyone have a more broad or sympathetic view of the characters or libretto?

#17 rg

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Posted 09 July 2002 - 08:38 PM

re: jane's query about the tulles/clouds karsavina mentions, it's really odd that for all the stage directions and decor details this production attends to, it altogether misses the direction clearly noted in wiley's translation of the original 1877 libretto concerning the kingdom of the shades scene:
the scene that precedes the 'kingdom' scene, the one called 'the appearance of the shade' in 'solor's room in the rajah's palace,' clearly notes, upon ending that 'clouds descend' and then after the shades scene plays out it concludes, following 'A large concluding dance of the shades' once again the same direction: 'clouds descend'
all that's done in the current 1900-ish production at these points is a lowering of a plain greenish-gray scrim, with no cloud indications and certainly no 'tulles' at all.
odd, especially as so many of the libretto's directions are duly followed. i wonder if somehow, like the full-panorama missing from the kirov's new/old 'beauty' on tour, these clouds and/or tulles weren't packed up for touring. tho' it seems unlikely. if the company could pack and ship the temple pillars that come assunder in the 'wrath of the gods' cataclysm it would seem fairly easy to pack up some 'tulles'.
but then again karsavina goes on a good deal about the light of the scene, in her phrase that 'blue transparency of night' and this shades scene is definitely not bathed in a blue-cast light of any kind. also no attempt has been made here to re-do another detail she emphasizes, that is the 'flying up' (the the flies?) of the veil from scarf dance. this version simply repeats the effect we've seen for years, in which solor just whisks the veil away himself during his exit, leaving nikiya to dance her solo manege.

#18 Natalia

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Posted 09 July 2002 - 11:45 PM

No tulles in Russia. The scenery/props/etc were exactly the same as in the May 31 premiere at the Mariinsky.

Not all of the 1900 costumes/wigs/footgear were ready in time for the May 31 premiere so, in fact, those costumes were 'premiered' at the Met, e.g., Manu & 2 little girls; Act I Fire Circle Dance of bayaderes, etc. [Curious note, though: Zakharova obviously chose to wear some Soviet-era costumes for Acts I & II, rather than the 1900 costumes, with more fabric, that were worn by Daria Pavlenko at the premiere. I guess that the famous Zakharova Torso simply cannot be covered up with those prudish 1900 costumes, can it?]

However, there was quite a bit more dancing at the Mariinsky, e.g., Golden Idol (who was mediocre on May 31, so we were spared that in NY); Dance of the Thai/Balinese Slave Girls; Act I Nikiya/Solor adagio twice as long; etc, etc.

p.s. - re the scenario - RG, I too consulted the Wiley book for a libretto & list of stage action, re the 1877 version. It appears that the 1877 version was significantly altered in 1900, e.g., the 1877 Procession in Act II, scii, included a group of "penitents' brandishing hot irons on themselves, self-flagellants, etc. Even Petipa had the common sense to alter his ballets from time to time.

#19 Manhattnik

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Posted 10 July 2002 - 06:19 AM

I dunno. I thought Vishneva was the cat's pajamas last night. She certainly had a much better time of it in those tricky pirouettes "supported" by the scarf in the Shades scene than Zakharova did. I wasn't disappointed last night at all. Quite the opposite.

I will agree that the supers look like they were pulled in off the street at the last minute. I don't have a problem with the kids in the garland dance; I thought they were sweet. And if they looked local instead of Vaganova-ized, well, so what?

Loved the elephant, and thought the tiger was endearingly absurd.

Interesting that Fadeyev didn't deliberately step on, and over, the tiger as Kolb did. Also interesting that Fadeyev did the double assembles that Kolb omitted. So what DID Chabukiani do? In Act IV, there was a loooong, disquieting pause before Kolb's big variation -- I imagine it took them a long time to find the bow he held through most of it. Funny that last night there was a similarly long silence before Fadeyev did the solo (doesn't "Solor's solo" flow trippingly off the tongue?), but apparently the bow couldn't be found this time. Who knows?

I loved the corps, both in Shades and the silly dances in Act II and IV. It's so rare to see a corps de ballet that dances like a single organism, as the Kirov is doing here, that I just want to see it again and again, while I have the opportunity. "Stars" are a dime a dozen, but a real, organic corps de ballet is a very special and rare creature indeed.

#20 katharine kanter

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Posted 10 July 2002 - 06:31 AM

In reply to Alexandra's posting about the Paris Parrots, allow me to say that there is a part of the Props Laboratory at the Opera here that has developed quite a little specialty in Animals, including, most notably, Unicorns and even Lions, if that is any satisfaction to our readers.

The renowned Animal Laboratory can be seen and heard at full throttle in the current, incredibly beautiful, Bruno Besson production of the "Magic Flute". I always find animals, particularly dogs, but I try to be broad-minded, very absorbing, and have thus been recommending this particular Magic Flute to everyone, mainly on account of the Feathered and Furry, as the singing is somewhat under the weather all round.

The final scene, with gracefully undulating, diminutive Lions, is an absolute show-stopper, at least in my rather puerile book.

I forgot to mention, now that we are on the subject of Parrots, that Papageno's costume was the finest, most elegant imitation of a Parrot I've ever seen - it was astounding, without being risible, if I may be so bold as to say so. There were just enough feathers to be credible, but not so many, as to be thoroughly bizarre.

Which brings us back to the Parrots. I wonder whether the ones in La Bayadère belonged to the same species ?

#21 Kristen

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Posted 10 July 2002 - 09:24 AM

I went to the Kirov's Bayadere Monday night. I was expecting a night to remember. Well, it was .... I thought it would never end. I have flown a thousand miles 4 times in the past two months to see the ABT Gala, the Bolshoi in Washington, Jaffe's retirement performance, the final night of ABT and opening night of the Kirov; so, obviously I'm a ballet fan. If I couldn't wait for it to end, you can imagine how all the attendees felt who had been dragged there by a fan. It was interminable. We stayed till the bitter end (11:45).

By the THIRD intermission, at least one quarter of the people on the Grand Tier had bolted. There is too much pantomime and too little dancing in the 1st two acts. Gamzatti didn't strap on her point shoes till Act 4. Remove the point shoes from the ballerinas and you've lost me. No one can possibly sustain interest with that many intermissions - two is pushing it, three is ridiculous.

I bought the tickets a few months ago and hoped to see Vishneva in the flesh, but no such luck due to casting changes. Svetlana Zhakarova (sp??), despite her distractingly high extensions, was a lovely Nikiya. The legendary corps was less than I expected - have seen better corps work from the Bolshoi and Paris Opera Ballet.

There were many Russians in the audience (and none of them left during intermission). Perhaps we Americans do only have the attention span of a gnat. As my husband muttered during the third intermission -what this thing needs now is a car chase and some gunfire. I hated to admit I was as sick of it as he.

#22 Natalia

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Posted 10 July 2002 - 10:28 AM

I personally didn't mind the length...could have go on 'til 1 am with a 5th act "Reincarnation of Nikiya" or something to that effect. Ahhh....perhaps that's why I'm moving to Russia? [No - I'm not masochistic...I really, really LOVE this style!!! :) ]

But Kristen - I hear you and truly understand whence you cometh. And it wasn't only in Grand Tier. About one-third of front-orchestra left after the second intermission...including 'neighbor' Liza Minelli and her hubby and a couple of other celebs sitting with them. Really too bad.

One really must be *into* the old-style mime to enjoy it through the late-night. Or have spent a heck of a long time in Rus or Denmark or other places with a long-standing tradition of this. It's a shame that the Kirov didn't open with one of the more dancey works on the bill.

#23 Calliope

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Posted 10 July 2002 - 10:32 AM

I thought Vishneva was scheduled!
They did start other performances this week at 7 p.m. instead of 8, I guess perhaps b/c Monday was opening night, they decided to leave it at 8.

#24 Kristen

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Posted 10 July 2002 - 10:34 AM

Jeannie - You're moving to Russia?? What's the story?? (Realize this is a bit off topic, but I met you for a nannosecond a few years ago at an ABT gala and I'm nosy.)

#25 Natalia

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Posted 10 July 2002 - 10:45 AM

Kristen - Yes, a combo of work & personal reasons. Actually, I've been dividing time between DC & St Pete since early this year & purchased a flat in the center of the city last May. [No - not to see more all-mime evenings of ballet. :) ] I hope that your next visit to the Met is a more pleasant experience.

By the way, I have 'personal e-mail' link on this board. It's a neat feature.

#26 Alexandra

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Posted 10 July 2002 - 12:04 PM

This is in response to Leigh, way back up at the top of page 2 of this thread, who wrote that the Kirov's production doesn't seem that different from the one the Universal Ballet was touring last year.

I haven't seen the Kirov's, unfortunately, but from what I'm reading, both here, in the press and in the press kit materials, it sounds quite different. The Universal's doesn't have the fourth act, and, like every production I've seen, moves dances from the fourth act into the second. The Universal's first act, however, did emphasize rather than apologize for or delete the mime, and made the whole ballet, to me, seem more serious, a classical tragedy consciously written after Greek models.

#27 Natalia

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Posted 10 July 2002 - 01:04 PM

I'm not quite sure why everyone is in such shock about the heavy use of mime in Acts I & II of the 1900 Kirov 'Bayadere' vis-a-vis the 1941 Soviet version that it replaces. The '41 version's Acts I & II/sc i contained almost as much mime! The only additional 'pointe dancing' in Act I was the Circle-Dance of the Bayaderes (around the fire)...which is now performed in sandals. Ditto Act II/sc i "Jampe Dance" which is now in sandals, instead of the latter-version pointe shoes.

Honestly -- I recall the many similar, negative comments on the 1941 version of the Kirov's 'Bayadere' during the first intermission at the Met, when it was presented on a tour in 1992 or 1993. Same old-same old comments on "Doesn't this ballet contain any dancing?" Did anyone else attend the Met's 'Bayadere' performances on that early-1990s tour?

Compared to the 1941 version, the 1900/2002 version's mime is much more intelligible & clear. The story is more intriguing; the characters are further developed, especially the High Brahmin.

Bottom Line: I'm amazed that so many folks are just now discovering that 'Baya' is a mostly-mime ballet...should be no surprise if you've seen the 1941 Soviet version performed for so many years by the Kirov (& long-available on commercial video-cassette from 1977 telecast, by the way...Terekhova's Gamzatti on that video is to do for!). Watch & compare.

#28 Alexandra

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Posted 10 July 2002 - 01:36 PM

Jeannie, I agree. Perhaps we're so used to seeiing such pared down versions of Petipa that I can understand why the longer, older versions are so shocking. I'm also interested that so many people think the second act isn't dancing because it's off pointe. There are still classical sections, as well as character sections; to me, that's dancing. And it's interesting how Petipa organized his ballets, with each act having a different character -- the same for Swan Lake and Raymonda, at least.

Hearing from a friend about those off-pointe dances in the second act, I wondered where Fokine's complaints came from? It seems that Petipa was using shoes appropriate to the characters' situation and dance form.

I also have a suggestion, for those who are about to encounter this Bayadere for the first time, or for anyone who didn't like it the first time and is going back for a second look -- it helps to look at what IS there instead of what isn't. I can remember my first year or two watching ballet, I'd also "wait for the dancing to start" -- and, in some cases, this would mean that I missed the whole ballet. When I started to watch what WAS there, and try to understand why -- if only virtuoso dancing is important, then why are they doing all this other stuff? It must mean something, there must be a reason. I want to find out what it is -- that I began to understand it, and then my definition of what dancing was began to become more broad.

#29 NO7

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Posted 10 July 2002 - 08:29 PM

Couldn't agree more with Jeannie and Alexandra.
Although I don't have insight knowledge and experience in ballet, I still believe 'much mime&less dance' is fit quite well to any dramatic ballets. Take Fokine's Scheherazade as an example..where are pointe shoes? But I really love it (please..
don't throw eggs on me! :o ). I think this is how the story is told.
When I encountered La Bayadere (by POB) for the first time, the only scene that struck me was the mime in ACT II. While I found Shades scene a bit tedious (just like Kirov's Swan lake Act III).

Now back to the Met Season. It's very discouraging to hear that 1/3 of the audience left the hall. It's too bad if they were only looking for excitement.

Can anyone kindly describe me the reaction of the rest of the audience during the curtain calls? And how about the casting for Wed. matinee and eve.?

#30 Manhattnik

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Posted 10 July 2002 - 08:39 PM

Wow. What a great performance Wednesday night! I don't know much about Gumerova, but she's wonderful. Bigger and taller, it seems , than Zakharova or Vishneva, and dances with that "big-girl" amplitude I love.

Kolb was even better than opening night, and the corps was finally the Kirov corps I'd come hoping to see. No wobbly ecartes tonight! Just heavenly dancing.


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