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'The Golden Age' premiere - June 2006

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The Kirov-Mariinsky was to have premiered a new version of Shostakovich's 'Golden Age' in late June, in preparation for their big late-July engagement in London (Shostakovich Festival at the Coliseum, July 25/20). My sister-in-law now reports -- and I've confirmed on other boards -- that choreographer Igor Markov is out of the production. So who will step in to choreograph this ballet, in such short time (for a three-act work)? Bets are on: Kirill Simonov (of 'Nutcracker' fame), Alexei Mironischenko (Kirov corps dancer who is also choreographer), perhaps even Yuri Grigorovich, tweaking the existing Bolshoi production? Peter Martins, anyone? :grinning-smiley-001:

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according to alexei ratmansky, among the many things he noted in his NYCB diamond proj. interview w/ anna kisselgoff, yuri grigorovich has already re-worked - somewhat - his GOLDEN AGE for the bolshoi's shostakovich programs, so i guess the kirov will have to look elsewhere, as the bolshoi presents its shostakovich trilogy: BOLT & BRIGHT STREAM (both by ratmansky) and GOLDEN AGE by y.grigorovich.

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Let me bolster my 'choice' with some translations from SP reviews of the 'New names' young choreographers program:

Tatyana Kuznetsova in Kommersant 3/23/06

"The Best Russian is a Foreigner"

...."Gogol's Overcoat became Mariinsky's third, and most valuable acquisition. It was staged by American Noah D Gelber on the music of Dmitry Shostakovich made for the films 'Alone and 'Hypotheically Murdered'.

....""the new name" has emerged, after all. And it doesn't matter that the name does not sound Russian-

-the Gogol ballet of Noah D Gelber became the most Russian of all original ballets, created by M ariinsky over the past years. After all, Marius Petipa was not a native Russian either."

Anna Gordeeva in Vremya novostei 3/23/06

"Russians are nostalgic for deconstruction, Americans dream of a dramatic ballet"

..."And then, the Overcoat came like a thunder...Here is a choreographer who works in Forsythe's troop, transfers his ballets to other stages......But in the meantime, he dreams of clearly understandable plots, having variations like everyone else, and having someone to jump around in a circle. So, on the year 2006 AD, Noah D Gelber came up with a real dramatic ballet for Mariinsky, with a 1.5-page libretto and clearly developed roles rather than just dancing parts."

Anna Galayda in Vedomosti 3/23/06

......."Noah D. Gelber, to the contrary, ostentatiously declined to compete against his boss. having created his Gogol's Overcoat on the basis of Shostakovich's high-affect cinemusic, Forsythe's assistant showed an unexpected regard for the Russian ballet traditions. In his play, he synthesizes, as if under a microscope, the Russian acting school with Western choreographic sophistication. And he finds a dozen of people in the troupe who are capable of implementing this synthesis on the stage."........

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The Kirov-Mariinsky was to have premiered a new version of Shostakovich's 'Golden Age' in late June, in preparation for their big late-July engagement in London (Shostakovich Festival at the Coliseum, July 25/20). My sister-in-law now reports -- and I've confirmed on other boards -- that choreographer Igor Markov is out of the production. So who will step in to choreograph this ballet, in such short time (for a three-act work)? Bets are on: Kirill Simonov (of 'Nutcracker' fame), Alexei Mironischenko (Kirov corps dancer who is also choreographer), perhaps even Yuri Grigorovich, tweaking the existing Bolshoi production? Peter Martins, anyone? :grinning-smiley-001:

The premiere is scheduled for the 28th June as part of the XIV International Festival Stars of the White Nights and partof the season Dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of Dmitry Shostakovich. We know that it is expected to be conducted by Tugan Sokhiev who comes from North Ossetia like the Director of the Maryinsky Theatre Valeri Gergiev and the Kirov Ballet's Artistic Director Makar Vaziev. Still no announcement on the Maryinsky website today as to the choreographer. This young conductor(aged 27) is beginning to make an international name for himself having conducted in the UK, France and at the Maryinsky itself.

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At long last, a choreographer is found!

My St. Petersburg sources report that Noah D. Gelber has been selected to choreograph the new full-length ballet 'The Golden Age,' set to premiere in late June and tour London in late July. Let's hope that he can work his magic quickly! Let's see...it took Petipa only four weeks to create 'Pharaoh's Daughter' so Gelber can do a lot in seven or eight weeks' time.

Gelber is the associate of William Forsythe who has been instrumental in teaching & maintaining the Forsythe rep in the company. Too, he recently choreographed the one-act ballet 'The Overcoat,' for the Kirov. Perhaps we'll see Gelber 'backstage' in DC, choreographing bits of the ballet on the company, in between tour performances? (wink) I mean, he needs every minute that he can get.

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I'd bet on Pavlenko/Sergeyev, because Pavlenko is the only principal cast, but then hierarchy does not always mean much at the Mariinsky ! :shake:

Anyway, I only know the women, but Pavlenko, Tereshkina and Golub have all struck me as beautiful, mature dancers. I'm glad they're cast.

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Thanks for the intell, Marc. Quite a feather in the cap of Artyom Yachmennikov! Many of you will recall my singing the praises of this tall & handsome blonde 'god' at the '04 & '05 Mariinsky Festivals. I'm happy to see that he's finally getting the recognition that he deserves....not just being trotted out as occasional leader of Csardas and Mazurkas.

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Hello everyone at Ballet Talk.

An acquaintance of mine alerted me to this particular discussion thread.

I hope I am not overstepping some tacit boundary of acceptable internet-interaction behavior, but I felt compelled to make an addition. I herewith report that rehearsals for Golden Age at the Mariinsky Theater are progressing steadily. I can state this with confidence, because I am the choreographer of whom you recently speak. I hope I’m not intruding by including my thoughts here, but I thought it might be interesting for you to hear some words from this proverbial horse’s mouth.

Thank you all for your devotion to the ballet artform and your support of the dancers, specifically those here at the Kirov Ballet. Thank you Chiapuris, for your faith in my work, and for presenting examples of the Russian reviews for my last ballet “Overcoat”. The response to my first Kirov premier was overwhelming, to say the least. I never fathomed things would turn out so favorably, and I suspect I’m even somewhat still in shock... But subsequent developments have unrolled with such unexpected velocity that I have barely had time to reflect on the significance of it all.

Where to begin? I can only tell you what I know – from an admittedly concentrated viewpoint within the whirlwind of responsibilities with which I am confronted these days. The artists of the Kirov Ballet and I are all aimed pointedly at our goal: to have Golden Age ready for the stage for its premier on June 28th. I am in St. Petersburg now rehearsing 8-9 hours a day, sometimes without a break. The groups of dancers change every 2 hours or so, but I remain in the studio. I personally get no free days during this process. Only thus will Golden Age be ready on time. I commenced actually choreographing it on April 26th. That means I will have had only 2 months to create this completely new mamoth of a 3 act ballet. There are 2 and a half hours of music. It is a major undertaking, bordering on impossible. But when the artistic direction of the Kirov proposed this ballet to me I had no choice but to accept their invitation. I was just about leave St. Petersburg following my premier of Overcoat and rehearsals for the Forsythe program, and they asked me not to go; to stay on. I am doing it out of sheer affection for the dancers of this company, who have touched me so profoundly throughout my recent 3 years of interaction with them. This is my 6th working process with the Kirov, and they have grown to occupy a place in my heart unlike any other group of dancers ever has. My work with them stems from a source deep within my being, which I daresay I had previously been unaware I possessed.

As for practical matters, I am happy to report that as of yesterday - work day 14 - we now have 37 minutes of the ballet finished. That’s quite fast even for my standards. (Overcoat, 50 minutes in length, was created in 24 days.) Although I feel we have lost time since there’s a tendency here for dancers to miss rehearsals. Subsequent rehearsals are slowed considerably by having to reteach already-taught material to those who arrived late, or just did’t come. However, if we maintain our present speed, I am hopeful that the ballet will be ready for viewing in full, with time enough to then go back and clarify, modify and beautify it. It’s imperative to first have the skeleton of the structure in place, in order to see what needs alteration or embellishment.

Right now, I am simultaneously creating 5 different scenes, between which I alternate throughout the day. I am choreographing the ballet completely out of it’s intended chronological order, due to the sporadic availability of many dancers. As soon as one scene is finished, I film it for later reference, and we simply must move on. No time for lengthly deliberation. Presently I also am rehearsing Overcoat again for the upcoming show on May 13th, with some new cast members. (Look out for Anton Pimonov in the role of Akaky Akakievich!!) This is of course, not to mention the plethora of other various meetings for Golden Age which demand my presence: discussions of the new libretto, costumes, sets, lights, casting, musical concerns etc. So the days here within the walls of the Mariinsky Theater are very long and there’s hardly ever a dull moment. All the night security guards know me because I usually leave the theater after midnight. (This is no joke.)

I would like to state here, in response to some things I have read recently, that my aim is not to tear apart the classic aesthetic of the Kirov. I aim to show them at their best, exercising the great respect I have for their special qualities. However, as an artist with the background and experience which my curriculum vitae reveals, it is clearly also my aim to challenge them technically and provide them with new food for growth and development. And please believe me: they WANT this. They tell me this almost every day. I am making this ballet predominantly as a gift for them, for their artistic progress. In that I ultimately love them so much, how could I do other than aim to create a ballet which I hope they will enjoy dancing, and feel proud to present themselves in? That is my intention. All my efforts are to this effect, as was the case with Overcoat.

I sincerely hope that the end results of these weeks of intense work will please you as an adoring public. In the end, I know it is each individual’s personal choice whether they like the ballet or not as a whole. I am perfectly willing to accept genuine opinions, even if they are not always complementary. I understand that one aspect of a ballet which a particular individual might prefer to see otherwise, often is the very same aspect that makes another individual intensely enjoy what they see. And there is a place for all opinions to be voiced, as it should be. But from my point of departure, I state again that I am here doing this because I sincerely love these dancers. They have accepted me as one of “their own”. And this is something for which I am grateful and thankful, every single day. It is an honor to be here. I am a new man, because of their support. I hope you will all join me in the joy of celebrating them, for what I hope will be their success.

As my schedule does not allow for significant time spent on the internet, I cannot promise that I will be back often to see if there is any response to this inclusion of mine. But I hope perhaps I might be able to answer questions, if you have them and if time does permit. Again please understand that I cannot promise anything, but I will aim to do so. Forgive me if I fall silent in this intense work period.

Thanks in advance for your understanding and for your support.

See you at the premier in St. Petersburg or in London?

Best wishes,

Noah D. Gelber

P.S. Yes, I very well may accompany the Kirov on tour to Washington! They invited me to oversee the Forsythe performances, which they have previously invited me to oversee in London and in Paris. Plans are being made for me to be there at kennedy Center. I will only not attend, if Golden Age demands my presence in St. Petersburg at that time.

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I read your post with a literal lump in my throat, Mr. Gelber. It is a great honor for BalletTalk that, as busy as you are, you have taken as much precious time and thought to reply.

Thanks for your update. Clearly you have great respect and affection for the dancers. I am sure your greatest ambition is to show them to best advantage for all parties. I am sorry that your working conditions are as difficult as they are.

Those who are fortunate enough to see the results, if they've read your post here, will surely see the results with greater insight into the special problems you met in choreographing this ballet.

I won't make it to London or St. P'burg for a while, but maybe the Kirov-Maryinsky will grace New York or Washington with your new Golden Age in the not-too- distant future.

Again, thanks for taking time from your hectic schedule, and welcome to BalletTalk!

I hope you'll expand on this, even if we have to wait until after the premiere.

Every success to you, and again, many thanks.

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What a joy to hear from you, Mr. Gelber! Thank you so much for giving us the insights on your job. Gosh - it's really an honor. :) As I suspected, it isn't a walk in the park but if anybody can pull it off it's you & the amazing artists of the Kirov-Mariinsky Ballet.

As we say in Russia "Udachi!" - "Best of luck!" I look forward to seeing the finished product in London, if not the St. Petersburg premiere.

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Noah, I am posting this here because your personal message port at Ballet Talk is not responding and I hope that this will reach you.

This is a brief comment that I posted April 5 at Ballet Talk after seeing the premiere of "Overcoat".

"The apparent inclusion, according to chiapuris, of Noah Gelber's newly premiered " 'Overcoat' After Gogol " in future Kirov performances I believe will give the Kirov a huge presence in the world of significant modern dance. This is an excellent presentation of a piece packed with dramatically powerful and meaningful modern choreography ( New York City meets St. Petersburg, Russia). May this collaboration long continue and hopefully bear marvelous results."

I was at the party at the Astoria after the Gala and I wanted to come over and congratulate you and wish you future success, but you were very busy talking so I let it pass. I (6'0", grey bearded male) was there with chiapuris and his wife.

Thank you so much for taking the time to post with us.

Best wishes, Buddy

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Moderator's Note:

Noah, I am posting this here because your personal message port at Ballet Talk is not responding and I hope that this will reach you.

Buddy, we cannot PM new members until they have ten substantive posts. Given the detail and quality of Samuelovich's post, he should be given special dispensation, but it doesn't work that way. :shake:

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Given the detail and quality of Samuelovich's post, he should be given special dispensation, but it doesn't work that way. :wink:

And we won't for his own sake. Mr. Gelber was kind enough to identify himself and speak to us in the midst of a schedule that would fell most mortals. We need to let him do his work without outside distractions.

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A few details about Noah D. Gelber's (a.k.a. Samuelovich on BalletTalk) new ballet 'The Golden Age' -- set to premiere exactly one week from today -- are beginning to emerge, thanks to the current issue of Time Out - Petersburg weekly newspaper, in an article by Anna Gordeeva, with photo of 'our' Samuelovich:


Following are 'bullets' on the mere gist, not a complete translation:

* The ballet will resemble neither the 1930 original -- about a Soviet soccer team that travels to Western Europe & is tempted by capitalistic manners -- nor the ca-1985 Bolshoi-Grigorovich version, about gymnasts & gangters in a Black Sea town. According to the article the idea of the 'soccer team' is present but in an altogether different tale that will span two eras.

* The leading romantic couple will be seen in two ages -- youth & the western concept of 'Golden Age' of senior citizens. [The article explains that, in Russia, the term 'Golden Age' is applied to youth, most often, as opposed to the western idea.]

* The huge surprise is that great Kirov dancers of the past will portray the older couple. The Time-Out article cites Gabriela Komleva and Sergei Berezhnoi! [Natalia's comments - not from article: Rumors on the street mention - gulp! - Natalia Makarova, who happens to be in St. Petersburg right now, for the int'l ballet competition Vaganova Prix, so she must not be sleeping if she is both judging a competition and learning a new ballet! But the thought of seeing great Kirov ballerinas return to the stage -- be it Makarova or Komleva or whoever -- is simply delicious.]

* Mr. Gelber, according to the article, remains totally hush-hush about the identity of the premiere's cast. "Lots of people are being rehearsed!" is all that he offers.

Hmmm...start making plans for London in late-July, western Kirov-lovers!

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Having just re-read my own words, I apologize for the numerous typographical and grammatical errors I found present at subsequent viewing. I wrote the above text in great haste between various meetings and rehearsals. Forgive me for my less-than-representative penmanship.

Again, I ask for your continued understanding and support of the Mariinsky Ballet.

All of us here thank you in resounding unison.

With best regards,

Noah D. Gelber

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A couple of items regarding tomorrow's big premiere:

1. This article in the current issue of St. Petersburg's Kommersant newspaper gives details on the production and offers a color photo of the front-curtain, with antique photographs. The ballet will indeed have Gabriella Komleva and Sergei Berezhnoi as the 'older' versions of the romantic characters, Alexander (a Soviet soccer player) and Sophie (a gymnast from the Western country that he visits). Unlike the 1980s Bolshoi-Grigorovich version, this new version will use most of the Shostakovich score in the correct sequence of numbers.

Link to the Russian article: http://www.kommersant.ru/application.html?...5&issueid=35994

2. Finally, my 'in law family' in St. Petersburg reports that Irina Golub and Mikhail Lobukhin will dance the 'young couple' in tomorrow's premiere, as per the affiches on the facade of the theater. Golub & Lobukhin dance Sophie and Alexander in the 1930s, while in their early 20s. Komleva & Berezhnoi dance those characters in their 90s....so it appears that part of the ballet will be set in 2006 (or close to it).

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Very quick on-the-phone report from my sister-in-law, who went to the premiere last night. Quick 'bullet-points' format:

* Success! Huge applause and many curtain calls...but it is a success as a 'dramballet-pantomime.' Noah Gelber has definitely not created a traditional ballet, as there is very little (maybe 10% of the score?) danced, this mostly by the young characters Sofie & Alexander (Irina Golub & Mikhail Lobukhin). The older Sofie & Alex were poignantly acted by Kirov 'legends' Gabriella Komleva & Sergei Berezhnoi. Other notable soloists among the cast of 75 specific roles (!!!), plus corps de ballet and supers, included Ekaterina Kondaurova, Islom Baimuratov, Olesya Novikova & Yana Serebriakova.

* The complete Shostakovich score was presented & played magnificently. Gergiev did not direct; someone else & not one of the usual ballet conductors. [Edited to add name of conductor: Tugan Sokhiev]

* Very complex but interesting story. Program notes for Act I alone covered two and one-half pages. Sis said that it was "incredible" that the choreographer & dancers were able to put it all together in 6-8 weeks' time. Everybody in the audience appreciated the effort that went into making this night happen.

* Anybody going to theater expecting a ballet (dancing) will be disappointed. Anyone going with an open mind to see a mimed drama unfold will most likely love it.

* Fantastic, appropriate scenery & costumes.

* A Highlight: a 'football' (soccer) game but played without a ball; totally choreographed movement. Very realistic. [Most appropriate for this World Cup season!]

So these tidbits of information will feed our appetite until the reviews start to roll in from various Russian-language newspapers.

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Ouch! Russian fan boards, such as mariinka.com, liked the ballet a lot less than my sister-in-law. One so-so review among eight totally-negative ones, to date. Comments include: "agonizingly boring," "amateurish play with Hollywood aftertones," "Pompous & arrogant...This explains why the oldtimers in my family roll their eyes at the word 'dramballet'."

Well, it appears as if the non-dancing has turned off the fans - at least those with access to internet. Hopefully the reaction will be different in England, with its great tradition of mime.

As I said, my sister-in-law reported great applause & curtain calls, so lots of people in the hall were happy! *I forgot to mention earlier that she reported it to be a 'three handkerchief' drama, it was so poignant & moving. Quite a difference from the fellow who found it 'boring.' Different strokes for different folks.

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