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mnacenani

"Legend of Love" Starring Osipova Friday 16 February

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Had generated much interest as this was going to be Natasha's debut as Mehmene Banu, some thoughts. I had previously seen Legenda twice at Bolshoy, with Allash (repl. Zaharova)-Nikulina-Rodkin and Krysanova-Vinogradova-Tsvirko, and yesterday was my third albeit at Mariinka. This is also Grigarovich but the staging is not 100 % the same as Bolshoy's, the finale I thought was slightly different. Shirin was Osmolkina, Ferkhad Shklyarov and the Vizier Zverev.

This ballet could be Grigarovich's "chef-d'oeuvre" - I don't know whether he has any other original work of equal stature. The choreo of some ensemble scenes I find strikingly similar to "Spartak" but this is not original Grig. - Yakabson got there first. Overall I would say this is a must-see at least once for any "avid ballet-goer" - the innovative choreo (PdB, use of hands), the music alternating between the symphonic and subtle evocative Oriental melodies, the use of 9/8 "belly dance" rhythm in Act 2 all this would be worth seeing and hearing for the first-timer imho.

Possibly due to my ignorance and lack of appreciation for the "subtle" I am at a loss as to the reason why every "Prima Assoluta" be it Zaharova, Krysanova or Osipova goes for Mehmene Banu - an issue of rank ?? Last night I and my friend could not help wondering why Natasha did not do Shirin - she would have made an incredible Shirin and would have used her God-given gifts of expression and characterisation to their fullest. As Banu she was excellent as expected re technique but if I may say so had a dark brooding facial expression for most of the performance - the fact that she is veiled for most of this time does not help either.

Sorry - have to check out and go to the airport, will finish my report once there.

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Mekhmeneh Bahnu is the more dramatic role. She sacrifices her beauty to save her sister from death, she falls in love with Ferkhad but knows he would never love her, she becomes extremely jealous of the love between Ferkhad and her sister, and then she instigates Ferkhad's eventual saving of their people. I feel like Shyrin is simply a young girl in love and doesn't have quite the range of emotions that the tormented Mekhmeneh Bahnu has. Basically, the drama and the dramatic solos probably make prima ballerinas want to try it. Shyrin seems almost like a "soubrette" type role......just happy, innocent, pretty.......plus, Mekhmeneh Bahnu feels like the longer role. To me it is in the same tradition as how there is Nikiya and Gamzatti, Medora and Gulnare, Giselle and Myrtha, Aurora and the Lilac Fairy. One is the prima ballerina role that is coveted while the other is more like a seconda donna role. All of those "seconda donna" roles are great roles, but I suspect almost every ballerina wants to dance the "prima donna" one day.

That is my take on it.

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On board with mobile in hand :  imho this will not prove to be a signature role for Osipova, the way Kitri, Giselle and Silfida or Lise is. I thought her expression was rather one dimensional, and at discussion after it ended when my friend (was covering it for No Fixed Points) expressed the same opinion I told her I thought she hit the nail on the head. It has been some time but I feel Allash and Krysanova had  better characterisation.

Osmolkina and Shklyarov were good in their roles, Zverev one notch up. Again if my memory doesn't fail me the Balshoy CdB was sharper than what I saw last night, but again "I might be witness to what I would like to think" !

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Would love to read what Russian critics have written, think this would be well covered. Will try to get Ismene Brown interested in translating some Russian reviews, as resume at least. Would really like to know if any of them have the same take.

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Music :  between Spartak, Shurale and Legenda imho the last one is the composition of "higher quality" : quite a number of beautiful memorable sequences.

As you may well know Legenda was a collaboration between the renowned Turkish poet and playwright Nazim Hikmet, Azeri composer Arif Melikov and Russian (?) choreographer Yuriy Grigarovich. Hikmet wrote the play, after the (Persian?) folk tale Farkhad wa Shireen, when he was in the clapper at Bursa for being a member of the banned clandestine Turkish Communist Party. One of these three later famously said this was a prime example of "internationalism"

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6 hours ago, mnacenani said:

Music :  between Spartak, Shurale and Legenda imho the last one is the composition of "higher quality" : quite a number of beautiful memorable sequences.

As you may well know Legenda was a collaboration between the renowned Turkish poet and playwright Nazim Hikmet, Azeri composer Arif Melikov and Russian (?) choreographer Yuriy Grigarovich. Hikmet wrote the play, after the (Persian?) folk tale Farkhad wa Shireen, when he was in the clapper at Bursa for being a member of the banned clandestine Turkish Communist Party. One of these three later famously said this was a prime example of "internationalism"

I can’t resist this.

When I googled the forum and looked quickly it seems to say,

“Legend of Love” Starring….Mnacenani

This is a must see !   

Thanks for your very interesting background information. The ‘exoticness’ of Legend has always ‘captivated’ me. Where do the famous hands come from? Ancient Egypt? As in the case of many great works that interact (or seem to borrow from) other realities, this one maybe becomes much more than the sum of its parts.

I’m glad that you enjoyed Natalia Osipova. She’s so highly talented and loveable. For me, she’s going through a transitional phase from ‘celestial athlete’ and bundle of sunshine to serious expressionist. This is somewhat similar to what Diana Vishneva is doing. I think that she’s also trying to maintain her classical roots, to her credit. I hope that she’s able to do both.

Added: Now when I google in, and look quickly, it seems to say "Legend of Love" Starring....Buddy.

We'll have to give the male lead some more oomph, don't you think, Mnacenani, if we want to rival Nureyev.  :)

Added, added:

There are some high quality video clips on the internet. From what I've seen briefly, I'm very impressed. She's much shorter than the corps de ballet surrounding her, yet she takes command immediately. She is intense, facially, but she's believable, poet, and not one dimensional. In other words -- she's good !  I think that she's developing very well as a dramatic dance artist. Also she did a jump that just floated, like the one's that made her famous -- from the days of 'the sweet little girl, that I once knew.' Wishing her much success in combining it all. 

Edited by Buddy

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I think Legend of Love is a wonderful  Grigorovich work and absolutely a must-see!   I agree with Birdsall that Mekhmene Banu is the more "dramatic" role for want of a better word, and better suited to Osipova than the role of Shyrin.  I think temperamentally Osipova is unsuited to Shyrin - Shryin is much more of a "young", playful or lyrical role  Osipova has nowhere near the arms and hands required for Shyrin either.  By nature  she is far too dynamic and boisterous.  I have seen Legend of Love live myself twice at Bolshoi theatre - with Alexandrova and Stepanova (debut) in the role of the Queen, as well as various older video versions.  It is a work of stunning theatricality, with wonderful ensemble work for both male and female dancers.  I do think it is a truly Great Grigorovich ballet and one that deserves to be seen on the Bolshoi stage.  I have also seen it  on Mariinsky stage, in filmed format and greatly admired Lopatkina as the Queen.    Every ballerina brings something different to the role, and while Osipova  does not have the lines or regality that I personally would like to see in the Queen, she certainly has the stage presence and expression.

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3 minutes ago, MadameP said:

I think Legend of Love is a wonderful  Grigorovich work and absolutely a must-see!   I agree with Birdsall that Mekhmene Banu is the more "dramatic" role for want of a better word, and better suited to Osipova than the role of Shyrin.  I think temperamentally Osipova is unsuited to Shyrin - Shryin is much more of a "young", playful or lyrical role  Osipova has nowhere near the arms and hands required for Shyrin either.  By nature  she is far too dynamic and boisterous.  I have seen Legend of Love live myself twice at Bolshoi theatre - with Alexandrova and Stepanova (debut) in the role of the Queen, as well as various older video versions.  It is a work of stunning theatricality, with wonderful ensemble work for both male and female dancers.  I do think it is a truly Great Grigorovich ballet and one that deserves to be seen on the Bolshoi stage.  I have also seen it  on Mariinsky stage, in filmed format and greatly admired Lopatkina as the Queen.    Every ballerina brings something different to the role, and while Osipova  does not have the lines or regality that I personally would like to see in the Queen, she certainly has the stage presence and expression.

Not only "she certainly has the stage presence and expression," MadameP, but I think that she has a definite Fineness the aids her presentation considerably.  I'm now in the middle of watching the interaction of her and Yekaterina Osmolkina. Quite wonderful.  

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1 hour ago, MadameP said:

I do think it is a truly Great Grigorovich ballet and one that deserves to be seen on the Bolshoi stage.

Agree, I have the feeling this should be seen at the Bolshoy, the changes made at Mariinka and "tightness" of the CdB don't resonate.

1 hour ago, MadameP said:

Osipova  does not have the lines or regality that I personally would like to see in the Queen, she certainly has the stage presence and expression.

My friend had exactly the same take, said Osipova did not look "Regal" enough - will look up what she posted on No Fixed Points but am sure it will be in Russian only. Fully agree that Osipova had great stage presence, as always, but "we" were not too sure regarding expression last night.

Edited by mnacenani

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Natalia Bessmertnova danced Şirin, which ranks pretty high on the prima scale. So did Nadezhda Pavlova and Lyudmila Semenyaka. Mind you, Maya Plisetskaya was Mehmene Banu.

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Backstage News :  Yekaterina Osmolkina who danced Shirin past Friday was originally cast with Kimin Kim as Ferkhad for Thursday eve only. Yelena Yevseyeva was cast with Shklyarov for Friday but was "indisposed" a short while before curtain up on Friday so Osmolkina had to step in without any rehearsal with Shklyarov. To my amateur eye no slip-up was visible so "Brava" from me to Osmolkina !

Now hear this :  a gift package sent by someone was delivered to Osipova's dressing room, with a letter attached. The letter purportedly expressed the great admiration of the sender for Natasha and said he would like her to dance only for him at his palace ....... signed "Seyd Pasha" !!  Oh Boy .... laughed till tears ran down my face when my friend texted this last evening. Wouldn't I love to have seen Osipova's face when she read this ..... Dear God !  Just wait till our "Some ballets should be banned" lobby hears this, oh boy  :D:D:clapping:

PS :  discussion on "balletfriends.ru" (major Russian forum) indicates quite a number of members share my take on Natasha's portrayal of Mehmene Banu, saying her characterisation didn't hit the mark and Banu will not be one of her signature roles. Link for our Russian speakers :

http://forum.balletfriends.ru/viewtopic.php?t=8520&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=630

Legenda o Lyubvi Mariinka 16FEB2018

(backstage photo from balletfriends.ru)

Edited by mnacenani
Credit for backstage photo

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Very nice picture, Mnacenani. Hope that you had a fine visit. You're becoming a backstage regular, a good pal.

Again I'll say that I think that Natalia Osipova is becoming a very fine dramatic dance artist in addition to her other very fine talent. After having watched more video clips, I feel that range and subtlety of expression are very important to this work and this she'll develop more in time. In the range that she exhibited, I thought that she did very well.

There are several nice video clips of her interacting with Yekaterina Osmolkina. It shows a beautiful contrast between Bolshoi drama and Mariinsky poetry of motion. Yekaterina Osmolkina was outstanding. She has the Mariinsky loveliness and a more subtle, but accomplished, sense of drama, most noticeable in both these artists' facial expression. It was also really nice to see Yekaterina Osmolkina in the presence of someone of her not tall stature. You can appreciate her very fine lines and sculpture more when she not surrounded with those much taller than she is. She's one of my favorites at the Mariinsky and I hope that she gets as many roles and as much recognition as possible.

Edited by Buddy
typo correction

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6 hours ago, Buddy said:

Very nice picture, Mnacenani. Hope that you had a fine visit. You're becoming a backstage regular, a good pal.

I have not been backstage !  I borrowed this picture from the Russian ballet forum, maybe I should have credited them. Will consult admin on policy regarding this issue.

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