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Finnish National Ballet/Cranko's The Timing of the Shrew

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On February 2nd I plan to go on vacation to Helsinki, Finland. Once over there, of course I will be exploring the balletic environment. Hence I checked the Finnish National Ballet website, and so the search of the period that I will spend there shows performances of John Cranko's "The Taming of the Shrew", based on Shakespeare's work. So question-(s)

Has anybody seen this work before...?

Can somebody give me some input on this company..? (Couldn't find too much information online... :clapping: )

Thanks in advance!

http://www.operafin.fi/produktiot.asp?polk...;2&tyyppi=1

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How long will you be there? Is there any chance you could spend an overnight in Tallinn Estonia, just a 3-4 hours ferry ride away? (Unfortunately, the last ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki is 9pm.) The Estonian National Ballet is performing "Swan Lake" on 4 February, and a mystery to me Ballet Evening -- I don't know the work of Nils Christe or Tiit Härm -- on 6 February at the Opera House. They're also doing a Mai Murdmaa production of "Phaidre" at the KUMU Art Museum's auditorium on 5, 7, 8 February, with score by Britten. Tallinn is more beautiful than Helsinki, and the most expensive ticket at the opera house is 350 EEK (about 35 USD), while tickets at the art museum are 245 EEK for the premiere on the 5th and 195 EEK for other performances.

When in Helsinki, if you like chocolate, go to the Fazer Cafe and kill two birds with one stone: a huge variety of pastries and a chocolate store on the other side.

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Helene, I will be there for two weeks. Originally I thought about going to Russia for a couple of days-(my all time dream being attending a Mariinsky's ballet performance), but I've found that the process is quite complicated. One needs a visa, which is only to be produced if one holds a confirmation from the place one is staying-(hotel, etd)- and for the exact period of time to be spent...and all this WITH the American passport...(I became a citizen last year). So I don't know...I don't have time to do all that before I go, so I will try and go to the Russian embassy in Helsinki to see what can be done, Aside from that I will check your suggestions. I definitely want to visit a neighbor country.

Can't wait to be there. I'VE NEVER EVER SEEN THE SNOW IN MY ENTIRE LIFE! :excl:

When in Helsinki, if you like chocolate, go to the Fazer Cafe...

Oh, Helene.. I ADORE chocolate..!! :clapping: Gotta check the place for sure.

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I'm fairly certain the hotel in Russia would help with the visa application, but if you're leaving in two weeks, you'd very likely need to pay the expedited fee in order to be sure of getting your passport back in time.

Just to warn you, both Tallinn and St. Petersburg are experiencing "Black Days" -- the sun rises late and sets early.

But if you're there for two weeks, then definitely go to Tallinn, no visa needed. It's much less expensive than Helsinki and twice as beautiful. (Not that Helsinki is ugly, but...) Their ballet company is renowned; not so much Helsinki's. Their opera company is fine as well; I heard a wonderful "Don Giovanni" there in 2003. (This link is to the February calendar.) The Old Town is a treasure, the food is fantastic, there's free WiFi everywhere, public transportation is super (a 3-day pass costs 100 EEK or 10 USD), and people everywhere speak English. The city looks beautiful in the snow: just yesterday morning, before I left, there was a light dusting.

If you do go, try the restaurant Troika just off the town square. The pelmeni -- four kinds, including bear meat, which I didn't try -- are amazing. They are meal-sized, especially if you start off with a shot of vodka and end with one of their yummy desserts. The "country style" dumplings, baked with a dough lid are cooked in a mushroom cream sauce and are out of the this world. (Not a drop of the sauce will go to waste, with the bread lid.) The pelmeni with three sauces (dill, horseradish, and maybe garlic?) are also great. The total for pelmeni, vodka, and dessert would be about 200-250 EEK (20-25 USD), which is the cost of a modest meal in Helsinki, given the exchange rate of the Euro.

If you decide to go and need help finding a hotel or want feedback on one you've chosen, PM me, and I'll ask my friend who lives here.

It will be cold in all three places. Helsinki often feels 10 degrees colder, because of the damp winds. Bring layers and gloves (or buy gloves when you get there).

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I wouldn't say that The Taming of the Shrew is one of Cranko's best ballets, but it is very entertaining, following the plot of the Shakespeare play pretty closely. It was made for Marcia Haydee and Richard Cragun and so the role of Petruccio demands some real virtuoso dancing. If they aren't too heavy-handed with the comedy, it can be really funny.

I haven't seen the Finnish company for years, but they were always of a good standard and I think the fact that they are allowed to perform the Cranko gives you some kind of asssurance. The company is now directed by Kenneth Greve who was a principal with the Royal Danish Ballet.

I know nothing about the company in Tallinn except that their director is Tomas Edur, formerly with English National Ballet and like Greve, a very good dancer. Nils Christe was a dancer with Netherlands Dans Theatre in its early days, and he's not a bad choreographer, from the little I've seen.

I've never been to Tallinn, though I've heard it is very beautiful. I love Helsinki, and if you are interested in architecture it's like a textbook of 20th century styles, although there are still some buildings left over from Tsarist days - Senate Square and the Lutheran Cathedral, and the old opera house which used to be a garrison theatre for the Russian officers based there. If you get the chance to take a trip into the country round Helsinki do so. It's very beautiful and you certainly should see plenty of snow.

Do tell us about your trip, please.

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By all means, Christian, don't miss Tallinn---it was the best part of my visit to Helsinki :clapping: If you can get to St. Petersburg, flying is the best way. I went via Helsinki and it was a day long dreary trip by bus through uninteresting terrain.

I have a clip of Haydee and Cragun in 'Shrew' (metropolitan centennial 1984) and it is a delightful work.---and get someone to show you how to make an angel in the snow.

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There are clips of Taming of the Shrew with Haydee and Cragun on Youtube, if you want a taste before you buy your ticket :wub:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLd9iw7plyw

I'm a little biased (I visited Finland and loved it so much that I ended up studying Finnish), but Helsinki is a great city. Architecturally you can still see the competing East (Russian)/West (Sweden) influences. Temppeliaukio Kirkko (modern underground church) is amazing. And Suomenlinna fortress, although I don't know what it'll be like in the winter. Definitely try for Tallinn and St. Petersburg if you can.

PS - It actually doesn't snow in Helsinki as much as a lot of people expect. I mean, it does snow, and the daylight hours will be few at this time of year, but for "real snow" you have to go north ;) Although if you've never seen snow before, a little may be enough!

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fyi, there is no longer the choice to expedite any kind of visa to Russia, even the easiest to obtain (tourist). It is a minimum of 6 days to process once the Russian Embassy receives your passport and your visa application. But if you have the time to complete that process, the hotel that you plan to stay at can issue the essential "invitation" and do the registration of your passport/visa for you once you arrive.

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I'm glad you're getting to go, Cristian, and it should be marvelous.

One thing that interests me from reading the whole thread, so I'm :wub: for FNB, but on-topic for Finland and talks of travels there. The thread reads as though Helsinki is a much more frequentv vacation choice that I would have imagined. Even my European friends have never talked about it, only Sweden and Denmark and sometimes Norway. I'm sure all of those places must be marvelous if you can get there, but is it usually after you've been to Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen that you go to Helsinki and Tallinn? Or is it because they're so close to St. Petersburg, which, of course, I know is a frequent destination? Would be interested to know, if Cristian doesn't mind, how it turns out so many people go to Helsinki, included from Cristian why he chose it as the city for his holiday. I hadn't even heard mention of their ballet, and although I've lived in NYC for 42 years, I never met but one Finn, and didn't know her well (not that that means anything, but I met everything else, short of Lichtensteinians and Luxembourgians). Okay, sorry, I'm just fascinated at how many people have been to Helsinki, and wonder if this is a recent choice as a holiday place. I did know that the language, like Hungarian, is not from the Indo-European family, which interests me.

Anyway, have a great trip, Cristian, I know it will be. also like to know if FNB is newish, or if has been around a long time. I remember watching Swedish National Ballet's 'Swan Lake', and then finding that it had a long history, but it's by no means one of the companies people talk about frequently, as they do RDB, of course.

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The Finnish National Ballet actually dates back to the opening of the old opera house in 1879 when a group of dancers was formed to supply ballets in opera productions. They did do occasional evenings of ballet with soloists from ST.Petersburg. The company proper was established in 1921 under George Ge.

The company now appears in the new opera house which opened in the 1990s.

I, alas, was not there on holiday but on business trips and managed to add a weekend to one of them. I've never been to Finland in the summer, but my husband went to one of the several arts festivals held outside Helsinki and said it was beautiful.

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Stuttgart brought Taming of the Shrew to the Met in NYC in the late 60s. The Joffrey did it later on. Richard Cragun and Marcia Haydee were the Stuttgart leads and became genuine stars in New York. The Joffrey had a big success with it later on. Cranko's Onegin and his Romeo and Juliet are more ambitious and memorable works. But it's fun, with the right dancers.

A lot of companies around the world have danced this, so why not the Finns? :wub: It doesn't demand a mega-cast. It does, however, require charismatic and totally committed dancers in the principal and soloist roles. National Balet of Canada has done it. ABT has also given it a go, I believe.

I know the Cragun-Haydee version was available as a full-length video, because I saw it on Bravo (or A&E) in the days when those two cable networks actually had ballet on their schedules. Possibly it was the same performance that cinnamonswirl has linked to, on YouTube.

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Patrick...the only fact for me to choose Helsinki as my vacation destination was that I have a long time friend there-(from my teen years)-which I haven't seen since 2001, the year that we both left Cuba. He got married and went off to happily live in Finland with his significant other whereas I decided to defect to US from a trip to Mexico-(notice the different wording of the leaving categorization...?). So anyway, he has invited me many times to go to visit him, and now I decided that this is the perfect time to do so. I will be paying only for the ticket-(a plus)-besides getting to see my old pal again and finallly seeing the snow for the first time in my life.

bart, Alymer and cinamonswirl...thanks a lot for the input on the ballet. I will try to see if I can locate any clips of it. Once over there I will be taking pictures and will post them on my flickr page.

Helene...I'm very tempted with the chocolate store suggestion!-(yum!)

atm711...I will DEFINITELY try to visit Tallinn...it seems to be an interesting option.

Thank you all!

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Fazer Cafe

I missed that Kenneth Greve runs Finnish National Ballet. On that basis, I think the company will do the work proud. (But still see "Swan Lake" in Tallinn if you can manage it.)

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I'm glad you're getting to go, Cristian, and it should be marvelous.

One thing that interests me from reading the whole thread, so I'm :wub: for FNB, but on-topic for Finland and talks of travels there. The thread reads as though Helsinki is a much more frequentv vacation choice that I would have imagined. Even my European friends have never talked about it, only Sweden and Denmark and sometimes Norway. I'm sure all of those places must be marvelous if you can get there, but is it usually after you've been to Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen that you go to Helsinki and Tallinn? Or is it because they're so close to St. Petersburg, which, of course, I know is a frequent destination? Would be interested to know, if Cristian doesn't mind, how it turns out so many people go to Helsinki, included from Cristian why he chose it as the city for his holiday. I hadn't even heard mention of their ballet, and although I've lived in NYC for 42 years, I never met but one Finn, and didn't know her well (not that that means anything, but I met everything else, short of Lichtensteinians and Luxembourgians). Okay, sorry, I'm just fascinated at how many people have been to Helsinki, and wonder if this is a recent choice as a holiday place. I did know that the language, like Hungarian, is not from the Indo-European family, which interests me.

Anyway, have a great trip, Cristian, I know it will be. also like to know if FNB is newish, or if has been around a long time. I remember watching Swedish National Ballet's 'Swan Lake', and then finding that it had a long history, but it's by no means one of the companies people talk about frequently, as they do RDB, of course.

When it comes to holiday destinations we northern Europeans, including the Finns themselves, tend to head south to the sun at all times of the year and like most Scandinavians the favourite Finnish destination seems to be Greece. In the UK and Ireland there is a tendency to travel to wherever Easyjet and Ryanair are offering rock bottom fares, but inevitable if it is a choice between chilly Helsinki and sunny Marrakech most Europeans would chose the latter. Apart from my ballet going pals that have all been to Copenhagen, I only know of one other person who has been to a Scandinavian country for reasons other than work (Norway) and that is only because the sun brings her out in a rash.

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I think quite a lot of people see Helsinki these days on Baltic cruises - Copenhagen, Helskinki, St Petersburg and Tallinn seems a common itinerary. Like Mashinka, I don't know anyone without ballet connections or friends in the city who's holidayed in Copenhagen, but I do know people who've visited Norway - the fjords are a big draw. One of the reasons people didn't visit C'hagen in the past was that it was very expensive to get there - when I was younger it was literally true that you could fly to New York from London for less than going to C'hagen.

By the way one of the Finnish Ballet's casts for Taming of the Shrew looks as if it features a guest couple - Alicia Amatriain is a principal in Stuttgart and Iván Gil-Ortega was also there as a principal for some years so both of them will know the ballet well.

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In Helsinki for the 2005 competition, I was able to see the Finnish National Ballet dance Patrice Bart's TCHAIKOVSKY. The full length and company were both very good.

You should enjoy them in Cranko's TAMING.

I was on stage at City Center for the Joffrey TAMING premiere. Dancing with Marcia Haydee and Richard Cragun was an inspiration and then a spiritual experience when they returned for Joffrey's opening night ROMEO AND JULIET.

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So finally I'm back here. Adjusting to the daily routine was harder than what I expected after such wonderful time in Helsinki. Helene, atm711...I did take your advice and went on a cruise to Tallinn. Good God, what a BEAUTIFUL place. I mean, everything was covered in snow, and I was just there for a day, but I managed to go all around town. I particularly loved the Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral, which had the peculiarity of displaying one particular popular icon, given the copious amount of burning candles it had, which is that of the late last Imperial Russian Family. I also took another cruise to Stockholm, which was also a beautiful experience. In Helsinki I managed to go to many concerts and events, some of which I posted. One morning I went to the Temppeliaukio Kirkko-(Underground Rock Church), where a concert held by pianist Sid Hilletook place. It was an hour of piano improvisation, and the morning quiet atmosphere, plus the sacral silence of the temple made for a wonderful time. I finally didn't get to see Cranko's "Timing...", as the days of the performances were already taken by either the cruises or some friends visits. By the time I was leaving town, Le Sylphide was being announced.

Finally, I did get to do the angel in the snow...it was such fun! I took many pictures, and even videos. One of them shows the Baltic Sea frozen...the ship got stuck for an hour until another ship came with some equipment to break the ice around and make way for ours to keep going.

I DEFINITELY want to go back...this time in Summer, so I can see the whole monuments, and not only the upper half out of the snow... :wallbash:

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Welcome back, Cristian, and thanks for those lovely reports of places I've never been and, now, rather wish I could. You're back home just in time the final chill blasts of our own small version of a Finnish winter. But the sun is out. And NO snow on the ground. :excl:

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Welcome home---Tallinn with all that snow must have been gorgeous---although I am a bit weary of the white stuff by now. Tell the truth---wasn't making that snow angel the highpoint of your trip :excl:

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