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Mariinsky's Raymonda To the KC in Feb 2016


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At the open rehearsal. Lots of marking by Smekalov and a little bit by Kondaurova. The children who clack their knees with palms must be local and under rehearsed because they are not as "perfect" in formations as Vaganova students. Not criticizing them. They probably haven't been able to rehearse much.but that means we all get that little dance that is sometimes cut when Vaganova is on break. Just not as perfect.

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At the open rehearsal. Lots of marking by Smekalov and a little bit by Kondaurova. The children who clack their knees with palms must be local and under rehearsed because they are not as "perfect" in formations as Vaganova students. Not criticizing them. They probably haven't been able to rehearse much.but that means we all get that little dance that is sometimes cut when Vaganova is on break. Just not as perfect.

I love that little dance. At Bolshoi, it is done by smaller ballerinas, not children, but I do love to see the children!

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At the end of the rehearsal the entire corps, etc. turned to watch Raymonda and Jean de Brienne ride off on horses (fake horses), but nobody showed up so the whole stage was looking upstage expectantly with arms aimed upstage and nothing. Then, curtain. Later they redid it (started the scene over) and horses came out late and Raymonda was behind Jean de Brienne. I think in Russia she is always in front of him.

Anyway, lots of minor blips and mess ups. And as I said above some marking by various soloists. The commentary on the head set you could get for this rehearsal was aimed at people with no knowledge of this ballet so was better ignoring it. It was funny to see the stage manager (or whoever he was) come on throughout in a black jogging suit correcting the blocking of the action. It was funny to see a modern jogging suit amid all the medieval costumes.

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From several of the Costa Mesa, California performances, Kristina Shapran's very brief Clemence solo was perhaps the highlight. Watch for it tonight. I enjoyed all the secondary solos very much.

Oxana Skorik's dancing was classical elegance at its finest.

Hope that you all have a great time !

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Nice meeting Liotarded, Natalia, and seeing CubanMiamiBoy again!

I might write more tomorrow but a quick note before bed. For me Opening Night had a principal who is simply not ready to command the stage. The worst moment came when Abderakhman took Skorik from the two troubadours and held her aloft in Act 2. I was in the second row and there was absolute fear and nervousness on her face. Every other current Mariinsky Raymonda hides her fear. I mean, if someone as thin as Zverev lifted me like that I guess I would be scared too, but I am not a stage performer!

I enjoyed seeing the company dance this ballet overall. I had fun, but it is sad that there were so many corps dancers and soloists I would have loved to see in this role.

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It was great seeing so many old friends & several new ones tonight, before the show and at 2nd intermission! As for the show....

Enjoyed tonight's opener overall but there were lots of little slips and one gigantic musical "boo boo" by Oxana Skorik as Raymonda, commencing her scarf variation in the middle of the solo-harpist's introduction, before the full orchestra began to play (then restarting her variation...oops!). She was exceedingly nervous tonight. As the possessor of a perfect physical instrument, it's hard to believe that she seems to have so little self confidence. Hopefully she'll get it together as this week progresses.

Konstantin Zverev gave it his all as Abderakhman, contrasting with Timur Askerov, who was practically a non-entity as Jean; when he finally got to dance a solo near the end of the night, it was passable.

Kristina Shapran was lovely if a bit shaky as Clemence. (Maybe she's thinking ahead to her Odette/Odile debut back home next week?) On the other hand, Nadezhda Batoeva was simply fantastic and sharp as Henriette in her A2 solo, prefaced by a long "glare" at the audience during the previous applause for the Pas de Six adagio. Batoeva set herself apart from the other five, stood center stage, paused to stare at the audience as if saying, "Now watch this and see who is Top Bi... here!" Then she calmly walked to her opening position for the solo and nailed it! THIS is a future Prima!!!

The top male gun in the A2 Pas de Six was Vitaly Amelishko as one of the troubadours, with his high entrechats and gorgeous leg line.

As the two Dream Variation ladies, neither Victoria Krasnokutskaya nor Sophia Ivanova-Skoblikova was on the music, although the latter improved when dancing the "Slavic Girl solo" in A3. Even there, though, there were little off-balance moments. Maybe suffering jet lag?

Ernest Latypov was the clear standout in the famous male quartet.

Olga Belik and Boris Zhurilov led a stellar Hungarian Dance. Xenia Dubrovina and Dmitri Pykhachov gave oomph to the Mazurka.

The corps de ballet overcame some iffy playing from the orchestra pit. Bart was right - those kids with the sticks needed a bit more practice...but they certainly seemed to have a great time.

At the end, a very awkward moment when the spotlight shined on the red curtain...but nobody came out after a very long wait. Finally the lights went out. One of those mixed nights.

- Natalia Nabatova

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I forgot about Skorik's early start during the scarf variation, Natalia! She had to start over after she realized she started too early.

You are right. The orchestra had some iffy moments. I missed the Mariinsky orchestra very much which is much more used to playing this score and plays it with more oomph! The Kennedy Center opera house orchestra might have never played it until now in their defense. I know that a few dancers seemed frustrated with the orchestra during the open rehearsal.

Amelishko has lost weight and no longer looks like that Game of Thrones Amazon, so he was better.

I agree Zverev gave his all. Askerov and Skorik did not. He is a true artist. I think Skorik still concentrates and worries about technique constantly. I think Natalia is right that it is a self confidence thing. No idea. Her acting is marred by lots of "Okay, let me do the next step..." faces.

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Exactly, Birdsall. AND...we both forgot to mention one more huge gaffe last night:

The Apotheosis that did not happen, when the pink pony that's supposed to carry Raymonda and Jean across the back of the stage failed to appear. [Edited: see Birdsall's explanation, then my follow up. This friggin' Apotheosis keeps changing from year to year, it seems...no horses, then one horse, now two horses.]

Drew, what you say is right but...geez, opening casts are reviewed and, thus, are entrusted by company management to sparkle and carry the reputation of the troupe. So, on that count, Fateev & crew bombed last night even though, in general terms, it was a pleasant performance. We (BA fans & other long-time admirers of this company) know the difference.

p.s. "Game of Thrones Amazon" ROTFL!

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They had a major issue with the horses at the rehearsal. The entire stage motioned upstage and no horses showed up so they did it over and horses came late. There must be some sort of problem. The Kennedy Center stage looks more shallow (backdrops look too close to each other compared to the Mariinsky Theatre), so maybe that is the problem. Maybe the horses are kept in an awkward angle off stage in the wings and it is difficult to move them to the back? I have only seen Raymonda and Jean de Brienne on horses and Raymonda comes first but at the redone apotheosis at the rehearsal Jean de Brienne came first, same as last night.

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Upon reviewing my notes, I see that, in the Apotheosis procession in the back, Jean, then Raymonda, *did* appear but on separate horses, as Birdsall noted. When I first saw this version live at the Mariinsky over 10 years ago, starring Makhalina & Ivanchenko, the protagonists appeared together on one horse...the only horse that followed two walking standard bearers. We now have two horses. So the Apotheosis changes from time to time, it seems. In the 1980 DVD starring Kolpakova, there are no horses.

Edited to add:

If I could adjust the casting for the remaining performances, I'd find a way to replace one of the remaining Skorik/Askerov shows with Batoeva & Latypov in the leads. One can dream...they've never danced the leads in this ballet, that I'm aware. :)

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Thank you Natalia for your report. I'm not happy to learn about Skorik's mega-sketchy opening night. Now that she's attained her position she needs pull herself together and bring it. I'm also disturbed by your Shapran report. The rest of the cast sounds to me like it was another day at the office, i.e. standard operating procedure - especially Tim Askerov's Jean de Brienne. I also nominate Batoeva & Latypov for Raymonda and Jean. She is reliable. Unfortunately, she hasn't been given the opportunity (yet) to essay Raymonda, Aurora or O/O. Time will tell if she will (ever) be a debutante in these roles. Latypov is exceptional as well.

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I am disappointed. With the cast AND the production itself. This version simply needs to go asap. The medieval tale of love intertwined with religion gets completely lost here. Key elements of the ballet are much chopped off or completely excised-(like the White Lady). This ballet sans the crusades atmosphere, sans the WHite Lady, and of course, sans the original opulent costumes and décor becomes merely a bare backbone of what is supposed to be. I know it is hard to present it in its original bad-Muslim-guy/good-Christian-couple, but the tale simply looses much of its appeal without all of that.

I was sitting a few rows from stage, and geez, Skorik looked like a mask. Her heavily made up face expresses NOTHING whatsoever. She and Koruntsev had NO chemistry onstage at all. There was never a moment when we could tell that this was a loving couple. Skorik looked livid with fear most of the time, and she started the ballet with an early mishap..(she lost her balance). We also had our fare amount of over extended limbs, which at many times feels awkwardly and plainly vulgar. Her tutu goes way higher than her hips...up at waist level, so from orchestra all you see at all times from this type of tall ballerinas who love to open themselves to no limits is only one thing: CROTCH, CROTCH AND MORE CROTCH.

Generally speaking, the whole ballet looked dry and gloomy. Raymonda's friends had an expression most of the times as if they were going to the electric chair at any moment. The ballet came alive a little bit more during the last act. The Grand pas, along with the czarda and mazurka were beautiful to watch. At the end, and after a very tepid couple of curtain calls, they tried to milk the applauses a bit more with a solo curtain, but the applauses dried off. They kept the curtain ready for the dancers to go and bow, but it never happened. People had simply stopped applauding altogether. That was sort of sad though...

On a side note, it was great to see you all guys there.!! :tiphat::flowers:

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I know it is hard to present it in its original bad-Muslim-guy/good-Christian-couple, but the tale simply looses much of its appeal without all of that.

Goodness! In this day and time, Raymonda seems like an excellent allegory to the awfulness of ISIS/Daesh. It doesn't have to present all Muslims in a bad light, but can (in the correct staging) show the seductive bait-and-switch of extremist religious beliefs.

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Goodness! In this day and time, Raymonda seems like an excellent allegory to the awfulness of ISIS/Daesh. It doesn't have to present all Muslims in a bad light, but can (in the correct staging) show the seductive bait-and-switch of extremist religious beliefs.

I didn't see any problems with the Scala recon.

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The BORE-saladze (Virsaladze) costumes and set(s) must go. I know that they were "refreshed" around the 1990s - including the addition of the pink tutus for the A1 Valse girls - but they're still dull. POB, La Scala, and even the Bolshoi (also Virsaladze designs, 30 yrs after the Kirov's) are better.

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Goodness! In this day and time, Raymonda seems like an excellent allegory to the awfulness of ISIS/Daesh. It doesn't have to present all Muslims in a bad light, but can (in the correct staging) show the seductive bait-and-switch of extremist religious beliefs.

Funny thing - The music for the White Lady remains. When we hear the tune in the middle of the sword fight, I kept waiting for the lady to appear from above the castle walls holding the mirror to blind Abderakhman, as in the original scenario, as seen at La Scala. Konstantin Sergeyev got rid of all VISUAL traces of the White Lady but forgot to wipe her out of the musical score...as if future generations would never know the difference.

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The BORE-saladze (Virsaladze) costumes and set(s) must go. I know that they were "refreshed" around the 1990s - including the addition of the pink tutus for the A1 Valse girls - but they're still dull. POB, La Scala, and even the Bolshoi (also Virsaladze designs, 30 yrs after the Kirov's) are better.

I particularly disliked the shredded numbers of the nymphs in the Dream Scene...

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I love the Kirov 1980 film--I feel that the dancers are really dancing the choreography, not going through the steps. I also love the video of the La Scala reconstruction. LOVE. But I think that in a high quality performance of any reasonably good production (Sergeyev's is something more than that) the presence or absence of the 'White Lady' is unlikely to make a big difference to me. Perhaps if I knew the score as well as others it might...But the crusades are still present as a theme even without her--along with the threat by a Saracen of a European aristocrat. For good or ill, the White Lady also makes Jean De Brienne even more of a dramatic nonentity than he is in a standard production -- or, if you prefer, more of a merely symbolic character.

I would just as soon keep ISIL out of this ballet--for me, in the theater, a good Abdurakhman is more like a good Shylock. Villain, but you may feel sympathy for him anyway.

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