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Bolshoy Ratmansky Romeo&Juliet Live Cinecast Tomorrow

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Sunday 21st January at 6 pm Moscow time = 3 pm GMT. Casting same as originally posted no change at this moment (link below). Since this is a livecast Bolshoy would stream it on its website georestricted to RF but one can tunnel in with a good vpn. I saw the same cast live at the premiere last November and thought Krysanova was amazing as Juliet - suggest members try to see it one way or another so that we can discuss. Ratmansky staging is awful (imho) and has destroyed the "spirituality" of the original Lavrovsky. Casting : https://www.bolshoi.ru/en/performances/4008/roles/#20180121180000

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Watching it right now. The production should be considered for the "worst set design ever" honors (followed by Bolshoi's latest Don Quixote). What is this ridiculous red plastic toy castle in the background?  And so obviously hanging by the cords.

With such an amateurish set design, it is impossible to take the story seriously.

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I have absolutely no inclination to see this version again. My objections don't stem from the designs (they evoke the simultaneously "planar" and "sculptural" paintings of Piero della Francesca, so I have to consider them "authentic"), as from the choreography itself. It's as though Ratmansky couldn't decide whether to create a dance-y, neo-classical Romeo and Juliet, or to tell a story. It's a weird combination of naturalism and batterie. Bournonville made this work, but Ratmansky is not Bournonville. It's busy, busy, busy, and there is indeed a step for every note, but the music could just as easily have been anything else. All the duets for Juliet and Romeo are terrible--unevocative and uninvolving--and in particular I don't understand why an split-leg, overhead lift is performed in the chapel, of all places. The ballroom scene is perhaps the worst I've ever seen, with women being flipped around in bizarre ways, and Mercutio's appalling treatment of Juliet's Nurse; it's one thing to engage in such crude shenanigans in the street, but that sort of thing would have had him tossed out of the party pronto. The ending of the second act is also a prosaic bust. I've rarely heard such tepid applause at the end of an act. Just about the only bits I liked were the opening of the second act--normally the inexplicably happy burghers and clowns are merely tiresome, but this time they weren't so intolerable--and the duel between Mercutio and Tybalt.

I thought Kryanova was fine, but in this version Juliet is a greatly diminished character. Some of the most successful ballet versions were built around the talents of exceptional Juliets, such as Ulanova, Fracci, Haydée or Seymour. Instead of becoming star vehicles, they became great characters that generations of ballerinas could explore and make their own. Ratmansky's Juliet is generic, and it doesn't help that she is forced to share her great running scene to Friar Laurence's cell with so many other characters (although if Romeo must also dance to this music, I would rather have him do it here, rather than repeat it all over again, as happens in the Lavrovsky version, an approach I detest), and especially that her death scene is severely shortened to accommodate the reconciliation between the warring families. The crypt scene has a lot of wild emotion, but a weak narrative line.

I found Lantratov's Romeo completely uninteresting. The choreography seemed alien to him. There was no phrasing of movement or dynamic variation. It was like watching an actor recite lines in a language he didn't understand. As soon as the ballet ended, the curtain came up, as usual, for a bow for Juliet and Romeo. This time it seemed unjustified.

Igor Tsvirko's Mercutio was strong, whatever the inadequacies of Ratmansky's characterization. His choreography was, at least, interesting, and I'm inclined to give a lot of credit to the original Mercutio, Piotr Stanczyk. Vitaly Biktimirov is a fine character dancer, but given that the duel scene between Mercutio and Tybalt is a grand allegro affair, I would have wished for a more brilliant classicist and more distinguished dance-actor as Tybalt.

Overall I think I was happiest with Egor Simachev as Friar Laurence. 

The bows at the end were probably the shortest I've seen at the end of the Bolshoi broadcast. It was as though the audience couldn't get out of there fast enough.

The National Ballet of Canada should go back to the Cranko version it had been dancing since 1964. Given the true awfulness of the Grigorovich version, I suppose the Bolshoi is now stuck with two poor productions of the ballet.

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The costumes might have been reminiscent of Perugino, but the background sets were anything but Renaissance, painters back then used more than one color, and their colors were not so "chemical".

Krysanova really surprised me by setting aside her usual edginess and presenting a tender youthful Juliet, I did not think her capable of pulling of this role, but she did admirably. And Lantratov left a very favorable impression, managing to make sense of the choreography and channeling it into expressions of his character.

But the overall production screams of mediocrity, the Bolshoi deserved something a lot grander. I fully understand and share the plan to scrap the awful Grigorovich version, but the theater should have replaced it with something more fitting. Ideally the Lavrovski version, which is not only more grand and powerful than its subsequent imitators, but is also well-preserved, so should not need a lot of restoration work, and this would be more in line with keeping up the country's ballet heritage than importing what is essentially a Russian ballet from Canada.   

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1 hour ago, volcanohunter said:

I have absolutely no inclination to see this version again

 

39 minutes ago, Fleurdelis said:

But the overall production screams of mediocrity

Dear Volcanohunter and Fleurdelis : could you please spare a couple of minutes and read the report I posted after I saw the premiere of this staging at the Bolshoy last November. I would really like to hear whether I got it somewhat right or wrong - link to report below :

http://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/43146-ratmansky-romeojuliet-premiere-wed-22-nov/

 

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In this interesting (and subtitled) interview with Katya Novikova in the green room,  Ratmansky explains that he prefers his characters to move more like real people than like classical dancers, and chooses dancers for his productions on that basis.  

 

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For me, Lantratov was fine as Romeo. I’ve always seen Romeo as a weak character and he actually looked believable as a 16 year old madly in love,not a man who is pushing 30. Like the play, where Mercutio had the best lines, here he had the most interesting choreography and Tsvirko is , if nothing else, an excellent actor. 

My problem is, I felt the production was bereft of any grandeur and we’re left with something that looked low budget. The costumes were boring, Paris’ wig was absolutely awful, and the ball scene was dull. 

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There were parts where Ratmansky's genius shone through and parts I found tiresome.  I think part of the trouble is that  we all fall in love with our first production.  I went with some ballet fans some of whom had never seen a Romeo and Juliet (it is a big production to mount) , and others who had actually danced in productions of it.  I missed Cranko's market scenes.  

I wished he had done something with Commedia della Arte characters for the buffons, but if he did, I didn't get it.

i kept wanting to see a predecessor to an Entree Grave and a Saltarello, but the knights did not carry for me and there was somehow too much tossing of jumping women for me... but I know nothing reallly of these things... it just did not satisfy my imagination.  There were ideas in it that I liked but it just did not come together.  Almost as if the sound of the swords clashing was not formal enough... though I did like the kissing of the lady's hem finish.

On the other hand, the part where Romeo & Juliet meet was the best I've ever seen.

The balcony scene felt like too much, as if Ratmansky worked on the honeymoon scene first and coming up with too, used leftover material in the Balcony scene... it was too much too soon.

Tybalt was wonderfully rendered, as was Mercutio.   Benvolio... I would like to see more of this dancer, lovely float to his leaps.

i felt Lantratov was better in some sections thsn others... the bits with the three friends sometimes looked more rehearsed than playful, but he was wonderful with  Juliet... distinct steps dissolved into emotions...

Kysanova was beautiful.. I liked her more here than in the Corsaire streaming.  She left several in the audience here in tears.  Never did I become distracted by her technique.  The fractional moment of her run made me wish to see her do the run of other productions.

i wonder what early ABT fans would have made of all the interior landscape acted out.  I thought the Friar was a good actor and I liked the explanation behind the scrim.

I also missed the lowering of Juliet into the crypt.  

Now I,d like to watch all the National Ballet Canada footage to compare.

 

 

Who was that who came by & kissed Lantratov during the intermission interview?  He seemed quite struck by it. :)

 

 

Edited by Amy Reusch

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I liked the psychological vignettes where the thoughts of Juliet and Romeo are acted out.  There were definitely a lot more difficult steps for the leads in this version as compared to the MacMillan and Cranko versions. Some aspects of the play were completely lost.  In the Mercutio death scene, the change of the music is related to the idea of a plague on both your houses.  This is completely lost in the Ratmansky version.  

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Thank you for the Ratmansky interview... I missed that.  I understand what he is saying but I felt several times during the production that Lantratov's stage make-up was underdone and that he would have read better if we could see his eyes...  the rest was ok, make-up wise but we need to see the lover's eyes more... 

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I too didn't like this version as well as the Cranko and MacMillan. I felt for R and J's choreography, there was just too much- too fast, too many showy lifts, and I didn't think a lot of it was musical. I actually liked both Krysanova and Lantratov. He has a boyish face and I was surprised when I looked up his age. I did like to see the closeups of the acting. In the 1970's, I was a super for the Stuttgart Ballet in Philly and NYC, so I definitely favor the Cranko version.

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1 hour ago, Amy Reusch said:

Who was that who cam by & kissed Lantratov during the intermission interview?  He seemed quite struck by it. :)

Maria Alexandrova.  May be why he seemed a bit distracted at times.

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4 hours ago, Quinten said:

Ratmansky explains that he prefers his characters to move more like real people than like classical dancers, and chooses dancers for his productions on that basis.  

You mean like when he gives Paris an entrechat six-soutenu sequence that repeats over and over and over again? Perhaps this is Ratmansky's attempt to convey Paris as a boring character, but unfortunately it's extremely boring for the audience, too. He lacks Shakespeare's genius for giving dull windbags unforgettable material to perform.

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4 hours ago, Deflope said:

I’ve always seen Romeo as a weak character

But he can't be. Is an audience supposed to abandon the play after the deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt? Or suffer as Juliet snuffs out her life for the sake of a weakling?

To be clear, I didn't think Lantratov came across as weak. But I did find his rendition of the choreography unconvincing and uninteresting. Looking back at some of the Romeos Ramtansky originally worked with in Toronto, such as Aleksandar Antonijevic, Naoya Ebe and Guillaume Côté, they danced with a grounded fluency and grasp of suspension and falling, no doubt cultivated by extensive experience with contemporary ballet, that Lantratov lacks.

They also dance with a lot more finesse, although whether that is essential for Romeo is up for debate.

Edited by volcanohunter

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I did feel Ratmansky made characters beyond Romeo/Juliet, Tybalt/Mercutio more vibrant than in other productions.... Lady Capulet is given some serious acting, the friar too... there were recognizable characters among the townspeople... they did not just all blend into each other.

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One thing I did not understand... they said several times that this was the New Stage... which I see from Wikipedia was  built in 2002 to the left of the historic theater...  but weren't all the sudience shots and the talk of the chandelier from the historic stage?  Isn,t the Bolshoi stage actually a rather large stage (or is this a misunderstanding of mine?)  and was it simpler to remount the Canadian production onto a smaller stage?

 

i would like to add that I wasn't crazy about the lighting design.  I did not like the dancers moving forward out of their light and I didn't like the sudden darkness on Juliet after she was introduced to Paris (perhaps this was to mask a scene change?)

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1 hour ago, volcanohunter said:

You mean like when he gives Paris an entrechat six-soutenu sequence that repeats over and over and over again? Perhaps this is Ratmansky's attempt to convey Paris as a boring character, but unfortunately it's extremely boring for the audience, too. He lacks Shakespeare's genius for giving dull windbags unforgettable material to perform.

I'm sorry, I was hurrying to the cinema and neglected to cue the relevant section of the video. I was just summarizing what Ratmansky said.  If you remember, Novikova said during the transmission intermission (in a long mixture of French and a little  English) that while previous versions had more stylized costumes/decor, the costumes in Ratmanksy's production, at least for the townfolk, are fairly simple, what "normal" people would've worn during the period. I think this is what he was trying to get at.

My takeaway is that Ratmansky chose Krysanova over Obratzsova because the latter is too "ballerina-ish" for his taste and the former more down to earth.  

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34 minutes ago, Amy Reusch said:

One thing I did not understand... they said several times that this was the New Stage... which I see from Wikipedia was  built in 2002 to the left of the historic theater...  but weren't all the sudience shots and the talk of the chandelier from the historic stage?  Isn,t the Bolshoi stage actually a rather large stage (or is this a misunderstanding of mine?)  and was it simpler to remount the Canadian production onto a smaller stage?

Bolshoi uses two stages. The New Stage was built for use while the historic stage was being renovated, but continues to be used, mostly for contemporary works. The historic stage is reserved for the Swan Lakes and Raymondas.

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If you see green chairs - it is the New Stage. If you see red chairs - it is the Main or Historic Stage, the "real" Bolshoi.

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