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EricMontreal22

Raymonda--Best version?

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I'm a huge fan of Raymonda--in all its silliness, that glorious score, etc. It's probably my favorite classical ballet after Sleeping Beauty.

Yet, it's a ballet that's always had some problems--people trying to make the story make more sense (something I feel is misguided), etc. I was wondering what people think is the best current production? I've only seen American Ballet Theatre's (which I enjoyed but I have to say I didn't like any of the changes they made--making it more of a real love triangle, etc), and on DVD the Kirov/Sergeyev version in a 1980s recording, and a 1987 recording of the Bolshoi/Grigorovich staging. I know the Bolshoi has since changed their staging further--one thing is they've removed The White lady I've read a change--as a traditionalist--I don't get but I believe the Marrinsky and Bolshoi still perform these productions though (?). I really enjoy both on DVD although the Kirov one is the one I have the most affection for as I first discovered Raymonda thanks to a library video of it when I was a teen.

What I'd really love is a reconstruction of the original 1898 production but I suppose that would prove impossible now...

So what are people's views on Raymonda? good and bad? I admit I don't know much about Nureyev's production although I found the reviews below of the version at Paris Opera fascinating. I often find Nureyev's takes on the classics a bit too heavy handed--all that Freud, Sleeping Beauty with its insanely heavy costumes and colours, etc, but it sounds like there's much to recommend in his Raymonda. I will look out for the forthcoming DVD

As for the DVDs of the Bolshoi production... I only have the Ludmila Semenyaka DVD and was wondering if people though it was worth getting the Natalya Bessmertnova production shot in 1989, only three years later. I have to admit I *adore* Semenyaka in the role, and I tend not to be a big fan of Natalya Bessmertnova who's on the '89 DVD. But I have a few probs with the Semenyaka DVD--the video quality really isn't very good--just poor video tape source that can't be helped but I wondered if the '89 was much better (for instance it's hard to make out some of the figures in the blue dream scene, and the filming of the Spanish dance is kinda a mess with odd angles--the sound also drops in and out a bit for a minute in Act III--all largely things I expect from ballet videos from 20 years ago that haven't been remastered, and feel bad about complaining, but still wish could be improved). I also noticed that the '89 DVD is listed as 125 minutes, whtn the one I have is 145 minutes. Was twenty minutes cut from the production by '89? Does anyone who's as obsessive as me know the changes made? Or maybe they just cut out the endless curtain calls after EVERY ballerina solo which are a staple of Russian ballet but on the Semenyaka DVD surely run an extra 15 minutes (!). Advice about which DVD people prefer and why would be well appreciated.

Anyway I see there's a seperate Ryamonda subforum where some of this should probably be discussed--but I'd love to hear more thoughts on one of my favourite ballets. I think some of the other Petipa ballets (outside the famous Tchaikovsky classics) are better loved--Bayadere, Don Quixote--and I love them too, but for me, after Sleeping beauty and maybe Swan Lake, Raymonda is the most perfect--just the music and that dancing are enough. (it's interesting the music doesn't grasp everyone the same--I have an online ballet friend who complained it lacked the melody of Minkus [!] which is maybe true but I have trouble sitting for three hours of Minkus, as much as I like many of his classic pieces--Glazunov's Raymonda score reminds me of a slightly more modern take of something between Sleeping Beauty and the Medeaval melacholy ness of Swan Lake--but modern in the sense it's based mor eon themes than melodies)

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Probably a bit off topic already, but I do like Balanchine's abbreviated version, available on DVD, "Pas de Dix" with Maria Tallchief and Andre Eglevsky. Eglevsky had studied for a year with Nicholai Legat, so some of the original does get handed down through him. Tallchief has done a Balanchine Foundation Intrepreters Archive account of the ballerinas solos.

Everyone in the video is great, albeit a little wider than in real life as a result of the Kinoscope process. Perhaps rg or someone else knows who the other four ballerinas are (is Jilliana one of them?). They certainly have a style and immediacy that's of the period in the best way.

For a while I was hoping that SF Ballet to do Pas de Dix--this was about the time they recreated a shorter Balanchine Harlequinade--and I thought Gonzalo Garcia would be a natural to do a very witty version of Eglevsky's version. Garcia and Eglevsky do have a similar way of holding out their arms, though Eglevksy's landings are all his own.

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Not off topic at all! thanks for your suggestion--I've been curious to see some of the ballets Balanchine did on this music and didn't know any had been filmed, so I'll keep an eye open. (this IS off topic but would love to see Harlequinade as well).

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Not off topic at all! thanks for your suggestion--I've been curious to see some of the ballets Balanchine did on this music and didn't know any had been filmed, so I'll keep an eye open. (this IS off topic but would love to see Harlequinade as well).

I'm with you on Glazunov and Raymonda. To my eyes and ears, the recently released DVD of the Kirov/Sergeyev production with Irina Kolpakova in glorious form wins hands down - it's a dream from start to finish. I haven't seen either the complete Semenyaka or Bessmertnova versions, but, judging from several excerpts, the visual quality of the later DVD seems considerably better. It would be wonderful to have the various Balanchine works derived from Raymonda on DVD -- the heavenly Raymonda Variations above all, but any of them, please. I also love Harlequinade; it's one of Balanchine's most touching and nostalgic tributes to his bygone Maryinsky past. Anything from this - including the bits once performed on TV by Baryshnikov, McBride and a group of children at the Carter White House - would be a joy to revisit.

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I'm glad you agree! There are a lot of details I find fault with in the Kirov Raymonda and the Bolshoi does have about 10 or so minutes (depending which DVD you watch) of music so I kinda wish the Kirov was a bit longer (I know, most people feel it's too long already--I'm greedy) partly as I think having more mime in the story again would help explain some of the confusions people have for the ballet. Still, it's hard to complain (and the DVD makes a nice companion piece to Kolpokova again with Berezhnoi in the early 80s Kirov Sleeping Beauty which is my fave complete version on DVD ;) )

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One advantage of the Bessmertnova recording is that it's not shot as closely as the Semenyaka one. For example you can see Taranda's Abderahman dance quite clearly and to full effect.

The image quality of my (PAL) Bessmertnova dvd is marginally better than that of the Semenyaka (NTSC) disk, but since you're looking at the stage from further away the overall improvement in clarity is not significant.

This is the only one of Bessmertnova's later recordings that I like - but that might be because for me, as for you, from the 19th century ballets Raymonda is second only to Sleeping Beauty. Between the numerous variations, the character dancing and the glorious third act I find enough fascination to almost never notice the absence of plot. If you like the ballet you'll probably enjoy watching another take at it. What Bessmertova lacks in warmth or upper body lushness she makes up for in footwork and grander manner

.

The suggestion for the Balanchine Pas de dix is a very good one - they all dance with remarkable élan.

Also since you like the ballet you might want to have a look sometime at Plisetskaya's thrilling adagio and variation (they can be found in more than one Plisetskaya compilation)

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Thanks! I've been reading more past threads on Raymonda on DVD on here and it seems that more people prefer the Kirov production but the Bolshoi has a lot of fans with mixed opinions on the two versions. What I can't account for--maybe I'll have to play them side by side ;) --is why the later Bolshoi one with Bessmertnova is 125 minutes and the earlier one is 147 minutes--over twenty minutes longer! Can Helene or one of our other Raymonda experts say what was cut? Or could 20 minutes difference all be down to different tempi in the dancing and music, etc? (The Kirov one falls in between them length wise at about 135 minutes).

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I only own Bessmertnova's, and I haven't felt the need to get another one...She's not at her prime on the DVD, but I realize I tend to enjoy that "ne cest' pas" that experienced ballerinas give to the roles after years onstage. Bessmertnova here shows a mature approach, confidence, a grand/convincing air that makes the visual experience more enjoyable, and her technique is sharper that many ballerinas half her age who have been filmed on DVD...A bit :) , but I got her Raymonda after owning her Giselle, which is another eye candy. About the story, as per this version it doesn't look senseless at all, and I never had any problem following the plot. The sets and costumes are beautiful, ditto with the quality of the shooting. Highly recommended.

I saw Pas de Dix with Miami City Ballet, and loved the dancing, but missed the story...

I must say that I'm very tempted after Natalia's praising of Kolpakova's...mmm...I might get it soon...

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Well reading all these threads got me to order the Bessmertnova one--so I should be able to comment on it this week. I still find it odd that it appears to be 20 minutes shorter. Cuban, there's probably no need for you to get the Semenyaka version--indeed some of the filming is quite bad--but her performance as Raymonda is *glorious*--perfection from start to finish I think.

But before getting that i'd recommend Kolpokova's--which is amazing, and again you get a ballerina in her prime (I believe she was about 48 years old herself when she filmed it--one or two years before her Sleeping Beauty where she's also partnered by Sergei Berezhnoi). Overall the Kirov version seems to be more faithful to the original (though it's hard to know) and it's really fascinating as a fan of classic ballet to compare it and the Bolshoi productions and dancing--they're quite different takes on the material even though much of the choreography is the same and indeed both ballets are designed by Simon Virsaladze. It's a good example of the pros and cons of each company in their prime, I think.

I was asked by a poster when the Bolshoi dropped the White Lady--I have it on good authority she was dropped completely when the Grigorovich/Virsaladze staging was cleaned up in 2003. I think that's a shame--not only is she an important story element from the original, the Kirov, even if their production is elsewhere more authentic to the original, haven't had her for 50 years or so, so I kinda liked that the Bolshoi did.

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Regardless of the somewhat archaic production, this Kirov Raymonda is one of the handful of recordings that should figure in any serious ballet collection (and quite near to the top of it). Not only do we have here one of the greatest exponents of the Vaganova School and Petersburg classicism in full glory, but the cast itself is essentially what the Kirov and its tradition is all about. Practically all the dancers are now teachers in St. Petersburg and elsewhere in the world of the current generations, while the character artists featured here (Strogaya, Ostaltsov) are among the greatest names in the genre.

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ericmonrtreal, If you want to know what Bessmertnova's version is like it's posted in its entirety on youtube -- in about 15 segments, but still there it is.

Like you I adore Semenyaka. the way she rotates her shoulders in the hungarian variation is the most amazing and generous use or hte arms I have EVER seen (i.e during the phrase beginning with hte hand-clap, in which the arms are parallel, she rotates the arms so they turn out and end up in a kind of second position -- unbelievable, simply unbelievable grandeur in hte port de bras here -- not even Plisetskaya approached this magnificence.)

Plisetskaya's performance is also on youtube -- just a few variations but still, they are astounding -- existentiallly, as gratuitous acts, they may beat anything else she EVER did (well, to my knowledge).

Bessmertnova's performance has her at her most mannered -- the hands are like tulips, almost Chinese -- but hte scarf dance is really beautiful, REALLY beautiful, and the whole thing though strange in the extreme is glorious.

I have not seen Kolpakova yet. I can't wait.

But I must say I DO like the Grigorovich/Virsaladze production. I like hte way it looks -- I love hte way the medieval court costumes move -- the courtiers dancers alone are worth hte price of hte show.

Not long ago, the Bolshoi brought this production on tour to Berkeley,and I was surprised how elegant it was. Having been prepared y Spartacus, etc., I expecte any Bolshoi Petipa to be coarsened, but (aside from the Arabian act, which was hella fun in its own way) it was not so, not at all. THe Bolshoi danced every inch of it, the musicality was sensitive, lively, refined, down to the lowest level, and hte soloists were enchanting. From the pas de quatre, in which Raymonda plays the harp while her four friends dance a curt dance, a fantastic set of pas de bourrees with little pas de chevals, I was beside myself with delight 00 and then came the scarf dance, and then the wondrous solos and corps dances of the dream sequence....

I LOVE Raymonda. it's very poetic. It does not need to be explained....

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Paul, I broke down and ordered the DVD of Bessmertnova--while I doubt I'll prefer her to Semenyaka, it'll be nice to see a perhaps better filmed version and I love the ballet so much I'm sure it'll be a worthy purchase for me. Do you remember off the top of your head why the dvd is some 24 minutes shorter in listing? Is it just all the applause breaks, etc? :wub:

I know exactly what you mean about Semenyaka's follow through her her "clap"--wonderful stuff. I'd never seen her dance before, so she was a happy surprise. You're right that even just a series of wonderful dances to evocative music is't s agreat ballet, although I admit I wouldn't mind a bit more mime and I don't like that they've dropped the White Lady (I miss her in the Kirov production). I assume she was already cut by the time you saw them on tour, though I admit it's not a big issue really in such a story. There are aspects I like about each production--pros and cons. But I do think it's a handsome production and maybe underated (I know Grigorovich's stagings of the classics don't often get a lot of love here and I also like the Court look and how the court women and men almsot float around).

I'll be interested to know what you think of the Kirov production when you see it!

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So glad to meet you,I'm also a Raymonda fan,and I even bought "Les Ballet Trockadero 2" which was danced by men just because I want the Raymonda part.The music of Raymonda is definately my favorite ballet music.It's full of national colour and exotic taste,which is not like Don Quixote's(merely happy). I have read an artical said that Glazunov is at the same level as Tchaikovsky.He is a spectacular composer.But Minkus is just a ballet music composer,he is not so praised in classical music circles.In classical music circles,Glazunov is much more praised than Minkus.

Actually,I'm more interested in Raymonda music than it's dance.So I can not say too much about the dance.

The music is too good,so I'm even enjoyed when watching men danced it.

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Well the Trocadero are a prettyamazing company IMHO--for what they do. I was blown away when I first saw them on tour, expecting something more like a lip synched drag queen act than real dancing.

What do you think of Glazunov's other two ballet pieces? If the Mariinsky were still doing reconsturctions I would love for them to do one of Petipa's The Seasons (which I think is notated). Of course in many ways it's similar to Awakening of Flora which they've already done, but maybe it could work as a double bill ;)

E

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Well the Trocadero are a prettyamazing company IMHO--for what they do. I was blown away when I first saw them on tour, expecting something more like a lip synched drag queen act than real dancing.

What do you think of Glazunov's other two ballet pieces? If the Mariinsky were still doing reconsturctions I would love for them to do one of Petipa's The Seasons (which I think is notated). Of course in many ways it's similar to Awakening of Flora which they've already done, but maybe it could work as a double bill ;)

E

Please tell me where can I watch his other two ballets!

(by the way,Semenyaka is Goddess...)

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at one time most/all? of vikharev's FLORA was on youtube.

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Raymonda is one of my favorite ballets. I own the DVD with Bessmertnova, and saw the Kirov one with Kolpakova this week.

The Kirov production is really beautiful. The story makes more sense IMO with Jean already being off at the Crusades and Abderahman appearing in Act I, setting up Raymonda's weariness and fear of him in Act II. I thought the Dream Scene the best part of the production with all those ladies and knights, wonderful costumes and set; there was a real dream quality to it. Kolpakova's Raymonda was lovely and warm. Gennady Selyutsky as Abderahman was imposing; as his advances were continually rejected his demeanor remained mostly calm while inside rage built up. Sergei Berezhnoi's Jean was the weakest of the cast, appearing only slightly interested in the action he took part in, and not having much chemistry with Kolpakova.

I prefer the Bolshoi version. The whole cast is strong. Bessmertnova, while not warm like Kolpakova, is a grand-mannered Raymonda with lovely footwork. Vasyuchenko as Jean is noble and an ardent partner. And Gediminas Taranda's Abderahman steals the show in Act II with his Spanish Dance. WOW! Also the corps are wonderful. I like the Bolshoi's style, and the look and "bigness" of the whole production. And I enjoy Grigorovich's choreography. While it is a bit strange having Jean go off and reappear minutes later in Raymonda's dream, the farewell pas de deux Grigorovich provided for him and Raymonda is beautiful and tender -- I never tire watching it.

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Probably a bit off topic already, but I do like Balanchine's abbreviated version, available on DVD, "Pas de Dix" with Maria Tallchief and Andre Eglevsky. Eglevsky had studied for a year with Nicholai Legat, so some of the original does get handed down through him. Tallchief has done a Balanchine Foundation Intrepreters Archive account of the ballerinas solos.

Everyone in the video is great, albeit a little wider than in real life as a result of the Kinoscope process. Perhaps rg or someone else knows who the other four ballerinas are (is Jilliana one of them?). They certainly have a style and immediacy that's of the period in the best way.

For a while I was hoping that SF Ballet to do Pas de Dix--this was about the time they recreated a shorter Balanchine Harlequinade--and I thought Gonzalo Garcia would be a natural to do a very witty version of Eglevsky's version. Garcia and Eglevsky do have a similar way of holding out their arms, though Eglevksy's landings are all his own.

Balanchine used music from "Raymonda" for his "Raymonda Variations," and for "Cortege Hongrois," the latter being his farewell gift for Melissa Hayden's retirement in 1973. I believe that Balanchine includes fragments or segments of other pieces by Glazunov in "Cortege," as well. He uses the "clap" and other gestures from the 3rd act variation whole cloth. It's a delight, and there's one more performance of it this season, on February 9th.

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:thumbsup: Hopefully we will soon be able to see the new Paris Opera issue with Marie Agnes Gillot (not my favourite dancer for a major classic) this is of course Nureyev's take on Raymonda. And from what I have seen on clips and the POB documentary Dancers Dream Raymonda, the story and characters have been altered. The later DVD is one of a series and I think still available to purchase.

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