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Reviews of Mariinsky Festival VII 4-12 to 4-22-07

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12 April 2007

First night of Mariinsky Ballet Festival VII

The opening night began with Balanchine's Apollo (short version);

the center work was a premiere of a pas de deux of Mariinsky's own dancer/choreographer Alexei Miroshichenko to two Russian songs of Leonid Desyatnikov and third Desyatnikov piece for violin and piano (titled Wie der Alte Leiermann..') and closed with a revival of Petipa's Le Reveil de Flore of 1894 with a Drigo score, reconstructed by Sergei Vikharev.

The publicity calls it The Russian Project.

To me it seemed like a summary statement of academic dance (or classicism):

where it's been, where it is, and maybe where it's going.


'Reveil..' is classicism in its Petipa period, 'Apollo' is classicism today, and Miroshichenko's

'Wie der Alte Leiermann…' is a use of the academic canon in this postmodern period.

In Wie der Alte Leiermann, Daria Pavlenko, the female half of the duet, appears in point shoes, and when not walking her legs assume a closed fourth position, while the one arm in front is, most always, in a beautiful curved first position. The same uses of classical vocabulary are reflected in arm and leg positions in the dance of Anton Pimonov. After her first solo mostly of walks and shifts of direction, she leaves the stage and Pimonov has a long energetic solo but altogether inward looking.

When Pavlenko returns she is barefoot and although they connect by touching, there is no dancing per se, at least nothing to suggest classicism, and the two end in fetal positions on the center of the stage floor.

Apollo received a beautiful and strong interpretation in this performance, the debut of Igor Kolb. Kolb, who starts as a rascal bad-boy, grows into the deity of measure, by his tender and loving care of the three muses before the ascent to Olympus. His performance had energy, range, a deep connection with his muses, and a sensitive musicality that I found impressive. The muses were the incandescent Victoria Tereshkina as Terpsichore, the expressively radiant Tatiana Tkachenko as Polyhimnia and the delicate Sofia Gumerova as Calliope. A perfomance to remember.

I wish the Mariinsky would obtain the complete Apollo for their repertory.

The revival of 'Le Reveil de Flore' is clearly a labor of love and the details of completing

each stage picture with the period's elaborate costumes and decors and childrens' dances

shows the enormous effort expended to bring it all together.

I wish I could say the effort was worth it in order to revive the choreography of Petipa

(and according to the program that of Lev Ivanov also).

The problem may be the Riccardo Drigo score, which is for me the likely reason the ballet received early retirement.

Petipa didn't seem (to me) inspired or challenged by the music, relying heavily on pose sauté arabesque and endless series of ballones to fill both soloist and corps dances.

For me it's music made by the yard for court spectacles.

I'm seeing it again tomorrow night, and maybe I'll fall in love with it.

Evgenia Obraztosva and Vladimir Shkliarov were both delightful in their roles as Flore and Zephyr. I look forward to seeing them again tomorrow.

Apollo appears in 'Le Reveil..' in baroque full court costume and elaborate wig for

a central part carried out by mime.

Between 1894 and 1928…….

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13-4-07 Mariinsky Festival: Apollo, The Ring, Le Reveil de Flore

Andrian Fadeyev had double duty this evening, as Apollo and as Zephyr in “The Awakening..”.

With the same cast of Muses as the first night, Fadeyev was an Apollo in the mold of Martins and others of the type: godly by virtue of proportions and looks.

What shone for me was the strength of his movements and the careful shaping of his phrases.

The muses were, as on the first night, distinct in their projection, and wonderfully coherent in the linear designs of the ballet.

Victoria Tereshkina's grand jete en avant is breathtaking in its purity of line and effortless lift.

Tatiana Tkachenko has a natural ease of movement that gives flow to whatever technical challenge comes her way.

Sofia Gumerova has a delicacy and refinement in her stage demeanor and seems more an adage dancer.

Together the cast were outstanding in this great work.

Mikhail Agrest conducted.

The buzz of the evening was the premiere of The Ring, a work featuring the music of

'2H Company', a rap group, presumably popular in St. Petersburg (or all of Russia?), guessing by the applause accorded to them at the curtain calls.

The music was, well, rap in Russian. It was composed especially for this ballet,

whose choreographer is Alexei Miroshnichenko, dancer of the Mariinsky.

The cast was spectacular: Daria Pavlenko, Victoria Tereshkina, Mikhail Lobukhin, Alexander Sergeyev with Anton Pimonov as the Referee.

Referee of what, you ask. I don't know.

Also eight other dancers joined, making the ring, at the end, very full.

The set looked like a boxing ring, only it was rectangular. The dancers were inside the ring.

The choreographer himself referred to his choreography as neoclassical.

Was it a contest (in the classical greek sense of agon?). I can't answer that.

The ladies were on point. The work started slowly and became more and more energetic.

At one point I saw the principal ladies doing two retires passes, entre-chat six, forward and back.

The work and the dancers were loudly acclaimed.

The second viewing of Petipa's The Awakening of Flora has led me to reassess.

I think it is a work of art, perfectly expressing its purpose: that of reflecting Romanoff imperial concerns through roman mythology on the occasion of a family marriage.

It is contained in scope, measured in its ambition (it is subtitled an Anacreontic ballet),

and perfect in scale.

What is grand about it, is its visual canvas, rich in colors, decorative in design, and with costumes that reflect its society's hierarchy. The deity-protagonists are in tutus, the rest in body-covering tunics.

Its choregraphic concerns seem to be the unfolding of order. Its pace is unhurried, never a step too many. The variations reveal Petipa's gifts in making the simplest elements of the classic vocabulary revelatory.

The opening variation of Diana (well-performed by Maria Shirikina) had as its center a series of three promenades en arabesque, en fondu, with a change of arm positions after each complete revolution.

In Flora's first appearance (the luminous Ekaterina Osmolkina), she dances with a white scarf, the climax of the variation a grande pirouette en arabesque.

Another choreographic highlight is the double variation of Flora and Aurora (Yana Selina) in the Grand Valse Brilliante, danced side by side, first a series of three ballones en avant (a thematic step) then stretching the front leg and landing on it, repeated on the other side, and followed by a sequence ending en pointe with one leg retire front, and, on its repeat, bringing the retire leg to the back of the supporting leg.

Petipa refinement.

The pace of the variations overall was leisurely, and by today's standards, luxuriously slow. Lovely sustained landings and impressive holds of extensions en fondu.

In the pas de deux of Flora and Zephyr (Andrian Fadeyev), lifts were limited to the 'shoulder' lift and to supported vertical lifting to allow the woman to execute an entre-chat six.

Zephyr's variation included double front cabrioles and single back.

Altogether a spectacular evening.

Pavel Bubelnikov, who is part of the Revival team, conducted both evenings.

My revised view after the second viewing is that the reconstuction project is a most worthy effort to bring back a lost work of Petipa.

Congratulations to all the participants.

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Mariinsky Festival 14-4-07 Romeo and Juliette

Romeo and Juliette remains a star-driven production the world over. The Mariinsky Festival's production certainly had internationally recognized stars in Alina Cojocaru and Johann Kobborg, both of the Royal Ballet, London. The 14-4-07 performance had a third star up its sleeve: Leonid Sarafanov as Mercutio.

Leonid Lavrovsky's1940 production is rich in detail: an opening scene with a stageful of swordfighting, a Capulet ball scene with dances of pomp and ceremony (servants picking up pillows dropped for the knees of the dancing noblemen), in the Act II, scene 8, Verona square a brass band and a troop of acrobats, the dramatic ceremonial mourning of the Juliet's mother (the indispensable Elena Bazhenova) over the body of Tybalt, and, lastly, the funeral procession at the Verona cemetery bringing Juliet's body to the vault.

Cojocaru and Kobborg have all the attributes to make them ideal interpreters of the roles.

She is a dancer modest in demeanor but moves with a full-scale, three dimensional projection that etches lines of action clearly as after-images. Her jump is buoyant, its peak defined and clearly shaped.

Physically the two are well matched. The lifts are secure and have an effortless look.

Kobborg's technical prowess is amazing. He accomplishes aerial revolutions with seemingly no preparations. He tosses off technical feats as easily as breathing.

It seems to me, that the two eased into the Lavrovsky choreography smoothly.

One nit-picky detail: Cojocaru's point shoes looked dirty to the point that they marred the complete look in costume. Perhaps she likes well-broken in shoes-fine, she could at least do what dancers in small companies resort to---using pancake makeup to give old shoes a clean look.

The ace in the sleeve of this production was Sarafanov as Mercutio. What verve! What youth! What superb characterization and what dancing!

Boris Gruzin conducted.

Curtain calls were endless.

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Mariinsky Festival 15-4-07 Giselle

It was a pleasure to see the Mariinsky production of Giselle in its own theatre and with a truly first-rate cast. The production is a model of direct, efficient storytelling with stylistic integrity. The cast featured Olesia Novikova as the protagonist, Victoria Tershkina as the Queen of the Wilis, and guest artist from the Paris Opera, Mathieu Ganio, as Albert.

This was a performance to remember.

Novikova and Ganio are well-matched as a pair. In last year's Festival they performed together in Don Quixote.

Ganio is an ideal Albert. His portrayal includes elegance, poise, and a bit of caddishness

--easily forgiven as youthful folly, all at the same time. His mime is very good. Novikova, a long necked beauty, was very good in the first act: delicate in expression and musical in her physical responses. Her 'mad' scene was convincing, inward in focus and profound in its spareness of gesture and expression.

The 'classical duet' in the first act, as it is called in the program, had interesting choreography and was given superb execution by Ekaterina Osmolkina and Vladimir Shkliarov. Shkliarov, in his variation, performed double tours /double tours en l'air, twice, with good finishes and spectacular effect.

The second act was a marvel of jumps-by all the leads.

Tereshkina as Myrtha was a force of contained fury in her maneges and diagonals.

Giselle, in contrast, seemed a misfit in this group of vengeful spirits, as she sought reprieve and redemption for her love's life.

In Novikova's first appearance by the gravesite, she assumes the long-necked pose memorialized in the O. Spessitseva photograph. When Myrtha commands her to dance,her grande pirouette en arabesque looks like a whirlwind. I don't recall having ever seen it executed faster or cleaner.

Novikova's command of the style and the technical demands of the second act are

astonishing. Ganio, for his part, seems to match her in his part. His double tours en l'air with arms en couronne, his series of entrechat-six with arms starting en bas and slowly

rising to open 5th remain strong in memory as do Novikova's entrechat-quatre series and what looked like the cleanest, fastest double ronds de jambe en l'air sauté I've ever seen.

The corps of Wilis were exemplary in synchrony, precision, and classic deportment.

The Mariinsky's Giselle maintains its historic integrity as an artwork, yet breathes freely in the 21st century.

Boris Gruzin conducted.

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Thank you so much Chiapuris for your beautiful reports! :dry::flowers:

I agree with your "nit-picky detail" regarding Cojocaru's accessories. Whenever I've seen her perform, I've also noticed the appalling condition of Cojocaru's shoes. The shanks and the boxes are in very poor condition, to the point where there's almost no support. There's a reason for this. At 17 she sustained a stress fracture when she was in the Kiev Ballet, and at that time, she either didn't seek, or wasn't given medical attention for it. London Times reporter, Laura Deeley interviewed her recently (February 10, 2007), and asked about suffering for art.

In Cojocaru's own words:

Q: You often had to suffer for your art; how do you manage it?

A: Most of us dance through the pain of injuries because we love dancing so much. The passion for the work and the adrenalin you feel when you are on stage eclipse the pain.

Q: When did the problems begin?

A: At 17 I started to do jumping roles, such as Amor in Don Quixote. No matter how strong a dancer you are at that age you are still growing, and all that jumping is not good for your bones. I ended up with a stress fracture in one of the bones of my foot. I didn’t know I had it, so I kept on dancing.

Q: Did you ever receive treatment?

A: I was dancing in Ukraine at the time and was not given an X-ray. With this kind of injury you don’t feel it so much when you're warming up and dancing; it’s when you stop and the body cools down that you realise just how bad it is. I rested and, with time, the pain went away."

Source: http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_an...icle1360241.ece

Ballet is a contact sport. If a stress fracture isn't diagnosed and treated promptly, damage to the foot or the injured area may become permanent. Perhaps, (hopefully), it has mended, and she isn't in pain - I mean, beyond the standard discomfort. However, this doesn't excuse the unprofessional and un-kept condition of her shoes for performances. This is her fourth Maryinsky Festival. She represents the Royal Ballet. If she is in pain, I would think that it would be excruciating for her to break in new pairs. So for this reason, and this reason alone, I give her grace, but they do look very bad in a performance.

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17-4-07 Mariinsky Festival Bolshoi company mixed program

Tuesday night's Festival program featured and hosted an entire company as guest, The Bolshoi Ballet of Moscow. The program was a mixed bill of Stravinsky/Ratmansky: Jeu de Cartes, Part/Wheeldon: Misericordes, and Glass/Tharp: In the Upper Room.

What a program! And what dancers! It was like seeing a company re-inventing itself for a new century.

Jeu de Cartes, a neoclassical work by the company's director, Alexei Ratmansky, with a cast of seven women and eight men, is fresh and handsomely mounted by Igor Chapurin. The work is plotless, tracing with care the spirit and wit of Stravinsky's score.

The outstanding cast consisted of Alexandrova, Krysanova, Kurkova, Leonova, Lunkina, Osipova, Yatsenko; Godovsky, Golovin, Ivata, Lopatin, Medvedev, Savin, Savichev and Khromushin, My personal favorite remains the upcoming Krysanova, bubbling over with joy for dancing.

Wheeldon's new work for the Bolshoi, Misericordes, is a stately essay to Arvo Part's Third Symphony. It consists of variations for a melancholy-Dane-kind of-figure, Dimitri Gudanov, and four couples performing in various permutations. The set design by Adrienne Lobel and the costumes by Paul Gregory Tazewell suggest an historic, medieval court environment.

Gudanov and the couples, Alexandrova with Klevtsov, Lunkina with Skvortsov, Yatsenko with Lopatin, and Rebetskaya with Godovsky were exemplary.

The work bears repeated viewings.

The final work is the endorphin-raising In the Upper Room. A good choice for the Bolshoi, in that it permits us to appreciate unknown facets of its dancers' talents.

The sneaker-wearing Natalia Osipova and Ekaterina Shipulina and the trio of Anton Savichev, Denis Savin, and Alexander Smol'yaninov were outstanding.

Osipova looked like she was born in sneakers and was loving it.

What a bright light she is on stage!

The red-point-shoe women were Elena Andrienko and Ekaterina Krysanova, partnered by

Andrei Merkuriev and Denis Medvedev. The ebullient Krysanova tore over the stage and took off in the air with an irresistible zest and verve.

Other participants included Anna Nikulina, Nuriya Nagimova, Morikhiro Ivata and Marianna Ryzhkina.

(Hope i didn't leave anyone out).

The work ended an evening of new and refreshing dance.

Enormous applause and many curtain calls for the company.

It was a brilliant stroke on the part of the Mariinsky direction to invite the Bolshoi Company to the Festival.

I, for one, am grateful.

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THANK you THANK you THANK you for these wondeful reports.

When the Bolshoi was here (last year? year before?), their Raymonda gave me the feelings you are describing -- a wonderful upsurge of talent, and of deep love of dancing itself. Krysanova was incandescent then - the only time I've ever seen her, but I can't forget it.

Oh yes, "here" is Berkeley California.

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Mariinsky Festival 18-4-07 La Bayadere

La Bayadere appears to be one of the most cherished productions of the Mariinsky.

(There are ten coaches for it listed in the program). This evening it was presented with one of its most esteemed principals, Uliana Lopatkina, as Nikia. The other two principal roles were filled by guests from the Bolshoi Ballet: Maria Alexandrova as Gamzatti, and Nikolai Tsiskaridze as Solor. The proceedings were appropriately spectacular.

Lopatkina was at her sculptural best in the 2nd act dance for the wedding ceremonies, every gesture carefully incorporated. Spontaneity has little place in her art. Her movement is measured and pure.

Alexandrova was a Gamzatti of no half measure. She was a princess who took no prisoners. The Grand pas Classique was full-scale dancing with razor-sharp lines and buoyant jumps.

Tsiskaridze remains charismatic and unpredictable. His 2nd act variation seemed off the music. He seemed to find his high performance level in the Shades scene variation, where he performed a circle of double tours en l'air with arms overhead to great acclaim.

As a partner to both ballerinas, he was, as always, gallant and attentive. The double work

was faultless.

Of the various wedding celebration dances, I want to single out the quartet of red-sashed- tutued demi-soloists, Elena Chmil, Yana Selina, Svetlana Ivanova, and Valeria Martynuk,

and the impressive Golden Idol of Vladimir Shkliarov.

The heart of La Bayadere is the scene of the Kingdom of the Shades, particularly the descent of the Shades from the heights of the Himalayas. The stardom of the thirty-two corps de ballet women shone with brilliance in this performance.

The three Shades variations were performed (in order) by Olesya Novikova, Tatiana Tkachenko, and Xenia Ostreikovskaya. All were excellent; my personal favorite was Tkachenko, for her sensitive musicality.

After having seen the Vikharev reconstruction of Bayadere, I miss the 4th act.

The Sergeev production of this evening ends with the Kingdom of the Shades scene.

Alexander Polyanichko conducted.

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Mariinsky Festival 19-4-07 Forsythe

Tonight's program was all Forsythe: Steptext, Approximate Sonata, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, and in the middle, somewhat elevated. All were acquired by the Mariinsky in 2004. The first three were new to me.

Steptext seems to be about the deconstruction of movement and discontinuities in stage/audience, light/darkness, music/silence.

The musical text is the Partita No. 2 Chaconne of J. S. Bach,

played, paused, restarted, silenced, restarted and so on.

The cast consisted of the wondrous Daria Pavlenko and Alexander Sergeyev, Mikhail Lobukhin and Maxim Khrebtov.

Approximate Sonata, along with The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, is subsumed under the surtitle: 'Two Ballets in the Manner of the 20th Century'. I wish I could use the information to shed light on what kind of work Approximate Sonata is.

The music is by Tom Willens and Tricky 'Pumpkin' (Unless the latter is the music's title). The cast was athletic and diligent: in order of appearance, Andrei Ivanov with a long slow walk from upstage to downstage, joined by Elena Sheshina, Anna Lavrienko and Maxim Chashchegorov, Ekaterina Petina and Alexei Nevdiga, and Victoria Tereshkina and a substitute for Maxim Zyuzin who is listed in the program and did not appear in this work [No cast change announcement was made].

The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude is danced to the finale of F. Schubert's 9th Symphony. With costumes by Stephen Galloway that suggest the 'essence' of a tutu, the cast of three women and two men were given various elements of the classic academic vocabulary for a reading of the symphonic finale.

The playful and virtuoso cast included Evgenia Obraztsova, Olesia Novikova, Tatiana Tkachenko and Vladimir Shkliarov and Maxim Zyuzin.

The last work, in the middle, somewhat elevated, created for the Paris Opera in 1987,

received a wonderful reading by a cast that included Daria Pavlenko, Ekaterina Kondaurova, Sofia Gumerova, Elena Sheshina, Yana Selina, Ti Yon Riu, Mikhail Lobukhin, Alexander Sergeyev, and Anton Pimonov.

Outstanding contributions (besides Pavlenko's) were given by Kondaurova, Gumerova, Sheshina and by the bright, fine-lined dancing of Alexander Sergeyev.

All the works were well-received by the audience.

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20-04-07 Don Quixote

Tonight was the first time during the VIIth festival to see extra chairs added to the center aisle of the main floor for the performance of Don Quixote, starring the Bolshoi's Natalia Osipova and the Mariinsky's own Leonid Sarafanov.

Others in the cast included the indispensable Vladimir Ponomarev as Don Quixote, Islom Baimuradov as Espada, Ekaterina Kondaurova as the Street Dancer, Yana Selina and Tatiana Nekipelova as the Flower Sellers, Alina Somova as the Queen of the Dryads, Maria Shirinkina as Amour, Galina Rakhmanova as Mercedes, Polina Rassadina and Rafael Musin as the Gypsy Dancers, Ti Yon Rieu in the Oriental Dance, Elena Bazhenova and Andrei Yakovlev in the Fandango, and Alina Somova also dancing the Wedding variation.

It can be said without dispute that the evening belonged to Natalia Osipova.

Her natural ballon made her appear in all her aerial work like a force of nature.

She was indeed spectacular.

All her finishes were secure, precise and elegant. In one variation, her bourees couru with parallel feet were fleet and traveled an impressive distance. She made all space, vertical and horizontal, her domain.

The blond insouciance of Sarafanov was a good match for Osipova's raven-haired Kitri.

Sarafanov has vastly improved in the execution of overhead lifts, from earlier performances. He caught her well (if not nonchalantly) in both the running 'dives'.

Osipova was charming as Dulcinea in the dream sequence, maintaining her soubrette charm and naturalness.

(The tendency of some young soloists to change choreography into a gymnastic display of contortedly high limbs at the expense of the musical pulse and the three-dimensionality of the classical vocabulary seems to continue at the Mariinsky).

Both principals maintained a very high level of performance in the wedding pas de deux. Osipova's beautifully etched double pirouettes a la seconde were caught well by Sarafanov. His variation was also on a high level.

A Festival first: After Osipova's coda variation of double and triple fouettes, concluding with a fast series of singles and a perfect finish in fourth, cries of 'Bis' were heard from several parts of the audience. Osipova, taking curtain calls, asked the conductor if she could repeat the section. The conductor assented.

And repeat it she did.

It was almost as good as the first time. She certainly can't be charged with running out of energy!

A very enjoyable evening. The audience's appreciation was long and loud.

Pavel Bubelnikov conducted.

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Chiapuris, thanks so much for the reports. Reading them has been wonderful, almost as good as being there! I saw Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev in DQ with the Bolshoi recently and they were both superb, glad to hear that she was just as good with Sarafanov.

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Mariinsky Festival 21-04-07: Serenade, The Prodigal Son, Diamonds

The all-Balanchine program of the 21st was titled in the program The Americans.

I suppose this was a tribute to the guest principal performers, Maria Kowroski, Damien Woetzel, and Philip Neal.

There is also the 'americanness' of Serenade, a work that some consider the signature piece of the NYCB, in that it was the first Balanchine piece made in the thirties in America but using the timeless vocabulary of academic ballet technique.

Moreover, one could argue that Diamonds in Jewels is a tribute to the Mariinsky imperial

ballet, as Balanchine experienced it in his youth, a tribute he distilled through his americanness and a tribute he offered in the terms of 20th c. academic ballet technique.

Musically, the evening dedicated to the work of Balanchine, couldn't be more Russian:

two Tchaikovsky scores sandwiched between a 1929 Prokofiev score.

Serenade was beautifully led by Victoria Tereshkina, with the other soloists being, Ekaterina Osmolkina and Sofia Gumerova. Philip Neal of NYC Ballet was the principal male.

A storyless ballet, the dancers are on stage as dancers, whose movements, individually and as groups, give meaning and emotional content to the patterns, formations, and social settings that are vivified by the ebb and flow of the music.

The Sonatina, the Waltz and the final Elegy following the 4th movement's 'russian' dance, are really the 'story' that Serenade tells. “It's all in the music”, said Balanchine.

(Musically, Serenade in C for strings is played with the third and fourth movements reversed.)

A lovely performance.

The Prodigal Son, a 1929 work commissioned by S. Diaghilev, presents Balanchine

following Boris Kochno's book based on the biblical parable, and the expressionist score

of Sergei Prokofiev. The sets and costumes are by Georges Rouault.

The matching expressionist choreography of Balanchine is lively and with clear mime. It generally tells the story with classic measure. The orgy scene and the Siren's part need to produce effects of degradation: acrobatics and theatrical devices are used for efficiently advancing the story.

Damien Woetzel was appropriately athletic and impetuous as the prodigal youth.

Maria Kowroski was a marvelous Siren, cold, implacable, and certain of her allure.

The drinking companions were appropriately insect-like and repulsive.

The final scene of the prodigals' return to the patriarch's fold (the Father impressively played by Vladimir Ponomarev) was moving and climactic.

Boris Gruzin conducted for all three ballets.

The score for Diamonds (from Jewels) is the 3rd Symphony of P.Tchaikovsky, with the first movement omitted.

The choreography follows two scherzi, a grand adagio, and the finale, a grand polonaise.

The scherzi had two pairs of demi-soloists, Xenia Ostreikovskaya and Daria Vasnetsova,

and Tatiana Nekipelova and Yana Selina partnered by Alexander Sergeyev, Maxim Zyuzin, Andrei Ermakov, and Denis Firsov. (I can't match partners because I didn't take notes.). All soloists were excellent.

The grand adagio, the heart of the ballet, was led by NYC Ballet's Maria Kowroski partnered nobly by Philip Neal. With the trademark NYCB company style, the double work was fully expressed but keeping to a musical pulse that maintained its flow even in the most virtuosic and difficult passages. The breath was never stopped for posing or effect. There was always the next revelation coming up. Superb performances.

The finale, a breathtaking polonaise, brings the Mariinsky corps de ballet and the eight demi-soloists back with the principals for an applause-machine ending, both choreographically and musically.

Lots of flowers and curtain calls.

It's an evening I'll long remember.

It was also the last performance of the Festival for me.

I'm writing this back home, after a very early flight out of St Petersburg on the morning of the 22nd.

I hope someone else reports on the Gala of the 22nd .

Word had it they were repeating the Awakening of Flora and performing a lot of pas de deux (Diana and Actaeon being one), plus a scene from Scheherezade.

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Having attended most of the Mariinsky Festival performances as well as observing the dancers at the gala party (I once again bought a ticket to get in) I would like to emphasize 'My Strong Feeling' that the wonderful performances that I saw were as much 'A Matter Of The Heart' as an 'Exceptional Ability To Perform Technical Wonders'.

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The problem may be the Riccardo Drigo score, which is for me the likely reason the ballet received early retirement.

Petipa didn't seem (to me) inspired or challenged by the music, relying heavily on pose sauté arabesque and endless series of ballones to fill both soloist and corps dances.

For me it's music made by the yard for court spectacles.

The Drigo score was lovely, I thought - perfect for ballet, and is anything but "yard music" - Drigo simply did not compose in this way. People tend to forget that he was not a specialist, and that he composed in the manner that was in vogue. From what Ive studied on Petipa, it is that he preferred music of that sort over symphonic complexity. Drigo's music is, however, not nearly as simple as Minkus' music was.

The style of the period, as far as choreography goes, was far different from today - I dont think the music was to blame for the choregraphy, at all.

Early retirement? They are not performing "Le Reveil de Flore" anymore?

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