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Don Quixote


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A wonderful performance this afternoon (Sunday November 23). Not sure why ABT uses an awful arrangement of Minkus’s music—the original is much better, especially when sensitively performed as today. Osipova and Vasiliev achieved a perfect combination of virtuosity and good taste: everything was brilliant, light, and natural, without ever looking circusy. They seemed to be enjoying themselves and had great chemistry with each other and with the rest of the company. This entire production somehow managed to combine larger-than-life exuberance with good taste throughout. Sergey Strelkov was hugely impressive in the Gypsy Dance—he was also a standout in the extraordinary Basque Dance in last Friday’s Flames of Paris. Ekaterina Borchenko was a glorious Queen of the Dryads, reveling in her Italian fuettes.

The production is very similar to the Bolshoi production seen here last summer, but is superior in at least three respects: there are fewer character dances but they are more exciting; the show moves along at just the right pace; and the character of Gamache is thankfully free of awful homophobic mannerisms that abound in every staging of this ballet I can recall seeing, including Bolshoi’s.

All in all, a great company that will hopefully visit often in the future. I also very much hope that ABT will find ways to help us see more of Sarafanov and Vasiliev. Congratulations to the performers, the staff, and---most of all---to Mikhail Messerer.

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I just wondered how full the Koch houses - including for the 'Class Concert' triple bill - were during this very recent Mikhailovsky run? I thought I read on this board there had been considerable discounting. The Mikhailovsky have come to London at the Coliseum a number of times - on a fairly frequent basis - both before and after the Osiliev effect blossomed. Sadly many of their performances did not sell .... or certainly 'sell out'. The last time they were here for a two week Coliseum season the Osiliev DQ's sold out as did their one Giselle but other performances - including an enchanting look at Laurencia with Osiliev (which had been shared with London once before O/V) was sadly depleted in terms of audience numbers. (London has a very conservative dance audience - especially away from the ROH it must be said - and prices I fear have been high in a period of a troubled European fiscal outlook.) Of course, the Koch run had certain advantages given that: (i) the Company was new to the goodly number of New York balletomanes; (ii) had the Osiliev effect in a greater number of performances; (iii) had the added advantage of the renewed awareness of such dancers as Sarafanov, Borchenko, Perrin and Lebedev and (iv) had the advantage of, say, a production of Flames of Paris. (London has not yet seen the Messerer hit - only the fine Ratmansky take by the Bolshoi - albeit it with Osiliev guesting in the roles they had originated in that production at the London opening of its three sold out performances at the ROH). The last time the Mikhailovsky were here it seemed they couldn't give tickets to the Duato triple bill away - (with certain justification I felt) - in spite of the presence of Sarafanov and Polina Semionova (who is seen much less in London than in NYC/Germany). The balcony had to be closed for certain Laurencia and triple bill performances in their last visit to the Coliseum and the audience sitting there moved to other parts of the house. Of course, since Osipova is now a principal with the Royal Ballet I do think she alone could potentially sell performances to a wider UK audience in any future Mikhailovsky London sojourn ... although, let's be honest, the houses were far from full for the recent Osiliev Solo for Two ... much as they had been for 'Kings of Dance' with Sarafanov, Gomes, Bolle, Mativanko and Vasiliev included. (Have the performances of KIngs of Dance at City Center been full in the Big Apple? .... I can't conceive that Solo for Two will sell out ... especially when the praised Ratmansky Nutcracker for ABT is not selling at BAM for its last Brooklyn Xmas ... but perhaps I am wrong.)

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I was at the Saturday night performance with Bondareva (who replaced Vorontsova) and Vasiliev. Unfortunately, I didn't really care for either, especially Vasiliev who seemed unable to do anything except for a couple of same old tricks he always days, regardless of what ballet he's dancing and whether the role calls for them or not. But he does walk around the stage a lot, looking extremely self-absorbed and important. Unless he's out of breath after one of his acrobatic stunts, of course, and that's about most of the time.

The brightest spots were Borchenko and Soboleva. Wish we could see more of them.

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I just wondered how full the Koch houses - including for the 'Class Concert' triple bill - were during this very recent Mikhailovsky run? I thought I read on this board there had been considerable discounting.

I attended the performances the first week and it appeared the fourth tier was completely closed off, except for a few people sitting in the front row or two. Everything else seemed to be nearly sold out - very few empty seats.

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I just wondered how full the Koch houses - including for the 'Class Concert' triple bill - were during this very recent Mikhailovsky run? I thought I read on this board there had been considerable discounting.

I attended the performances the first week and it appeared the fourth tier was completely closed off, except for a few people sitting in the front row or two. Everything else seemed to be nearly sold out - very few empty seats.

Thanks so for this. I'm just curious .... did they sell standing room? NYCB used to sell standing room even if the Fourth Ring was far from full. I hope that they still carry on that practice ... for the benefit of the (relatively) impoverished ... a group which seems to be an ever growing many.

Much thanks as ever for your kind advice.

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Regarding London's not selling well and New York's doing better:

1) Were it not for the turnout of Russians coming to root for the home team, seems to me that Koch Theater would have been much less full as well.

2)As for discounting, what were they, who were they offered to, and how does one find out about them?

I attended three performances in $29 seats, courtesy of Craigslist, and wondered how many more seats would have been sold had anything else been available for less than $89. The Fourth Ring was either closed entirely or fairly empty, with seats almost as expensive as the rest of the house.

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The Wednesday matinee of "Giselle" did not sell well and by report was a superb performance by Soboleva and Lebedev. The Osiliev shows did well and the "Don Quixote" performances were particularly popular. I did notice that as the run progressed the attendance improved. I hope the company returns - in particular I would love to see their "Laurencia" and their "Swan Lake" sounds as if it has been well-received. The mixed bill in particular showed the strength of the company outside of the acquired stars - Osiliev and Sarafanov et al. The home team dancers are very appealing in and of themselves, though of course the stars sell tickets.

As for the "Don Quixote" production - I like it, it moved well with the right mix of classical and character dancing. I went to two performances - Friday night and Saturday afternoon (I have seen the Osiliev show a few times before). Lebedev is not one of nature's Basilio's - more of a prince type. He lacked a certain bravura edge being too delicate and soft in places. His lines and technique are beautiful and I wished I had been available to see his Albrecht. Vorontsova is a lovely dancer who has a broad, airy style of dancing underpinned with solid technical strength. I think the heavier workload at the Mikhailovsky, in comparison with her relative inactivity at the Bolshoi, has helped her dancing. However there is a lack of refinement - little petite allegro and footwork details are skimmed over or omitted. That suggests she would benefit from a female coach and one perhaps with a Mariinsky/Kirov pedigree. For example the kicks to the back of the head were weak and her fouettes had a fairly low working leg - she managed to push them through to completion. There is more potential there.

I thought that Sarafanov danced like a god at the Saturday matinee. Bondareva started rather weakly with a shaky entrance, weak leaps and passing technical slips in Act I. In Act II she came into her own as the dream Dulcinea and shone in Act III despite the wardrobe malfunction. I also really liked the bearded Andrey Kasyanenko as Espada who danced with impudent macho flair.

As for the discounting - there were discounted tickets available on Goldstar and on TDF (for those who are members). The fourth ring seats for the Osiliev "Don Q" shows were $129 and $89. Not cheap.

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For example the kicks to the back of the head were weak and her fouettes had a fairly low working leg - she managed to push them through to completion. There is more potential there.

All of the Bolshoi ballerinas I saw this summer with the exception of the Vaganova trained Smirnova (that is, Kretova, Alexandrova, and, with caveats, Krysanova) had fairly low or even very low working legs. The caveat with Krysanova is that she would begin with a higher leg (though still low-ish) and shifted to much lower in final stages when she went into warp speed. Cubanmiamiboy reported a very low leg in fouettes when he saw Alexandrova in London before she got injured...I think it may be a "choice" probably in order to solve other problems or conceivably work up the additional speed...I'm not crazy about it at all.

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I realize this is old news - not so good at timely postings. The Osipova Giselle was well filled on Nov. 13th. I'm a huge Osipova fan, but, like many, found her the total lack of connection with Sarafonov dulled the whole experience, not to mention those annoying trees going up and down. The Flames of Paris (Vasiliev) on the 14th had lots of empty seats in the back of the 1st Tier. I'm not a fan of this ballet, but enjoyed it much more than the Bolshoi version. Vasiliev, still a charismatic stage animal, needs to stop smoking. When I fixed my opera glasses on him, he was literally gasping for air. Bondareva was excellent, but Irina Perren was amazing - would love to see more of her. And, the little girl in Act II - adorable - you could practically hear the entire theater go AWWWWW !!!!

I realize this a Don Q discussion, but wanted to post on capacity of the Koch.

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