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POB in California

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Paris Opera Ballet's "La Bayadere" starring

Fanny Guida (instead of the promised Guerin)

Manual Legris

Aurelie Dupont

Jeremie Belingard as The Golden Idol

Choreography by Nureyev after Petipa

Decor by Ezio Frigerio

Costumes by Franca Squarciapino

Lighting by Vinicio Cheli

First I had to get over the disappointment of learning that Guerin would not be dancing as scheduled...not at all; since she's retiring this is probably my last chance to see her again. The production is wonderous. The sets are beautiful (I kept thinking of traveling expenses) and yet simply done. The costumes were a constant vision for the eyes. My only complaint about them would be that some of them competed with the dancing; swirling skirts that seemed to impede motion. These skirts, just below the knee, were of a challis-looking fabric with tulle underneath; that's a lot of material. Most interesting were tutus covered with a beautiful print calico-looking fabric; I loved them.

I have waited years to see POB and I wanted nothing more than to watch the etoiles. LaB has a huge cast and many ensemble dances (a couple of them ridiculous). Of course they were well done but I just wanted stars! Of the 3 last night Aurelie Dupont impressed me most. Her ACT II pdd with Manual Legris and then solos were full of pirouettes, doubles, doubles that became triples, etc., and she was dead on. Magnificent. Even her fouettes, if you're into fouettes, were among the best I've seen; not all that numerous but slow, deliberate, with the working leg at about 93 degrees (yup) and gorgeous. The Shades scene was well done; few wobbles, mostly in sync. As impressive as they were coming down the ramp they were equally, if not more, impressive when lined up afterwards. The ballet ended with Nikiya and Solor's pdd; no temple crumbling but rather Nikiya forgiving Solor (didn't see it but the program says she did).

I would recommend it to all. I'd like to compare it to Makarova's production but, well....you know my memory.

I'm planning on going again tonight; I'm on baby-watch (grandchild due any moment) so my life is on hold.


[ 05-09-2001: Message edited by: Giannina Mooney ]

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Giannina, thanks for posting your comments. As doug wrote, Isabelle Guerin is injured. She has had a difficult season: she came back in december after a one-year leave because of pregnancy (she had a baby girl last summer), but got injured a few months later. It prevented her from dancing some of the Robbins programs (and so I couldn't see her), and some of the performances of "Manon". She's supposed to have her farewell performance in "Romeo and Juliet" in July, but I don't know if she'll be back in shape.

Next season, she'll dance at the Paris Opera as a guest dancer in "Notre-Dame de Paris".

What did you think of Legris? He's one of my very favorite dancers. I don't know for how long he'll continue dancing "La Bayadere", as he's 37 (and has announced that he'd stop dancing Romeo after this season).

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Hilaire had danced Solor in the premiere of that production at the Paris Opera (with Guerin and Platel; if I remember correctly, the second cast was Legris, Loudieres and Maurin), and has danced that role many times since then. But last fall he got injured during a tour to Italy, and since then he has danced almost nothing, so perhaps he's not back to a really good shape yet (and he's 38 or 39 now). But that's just a hypothesis. And I hope he'll dance more often next season.

For Le Riche, I really have no idea... I don't know if it was his choice or if it was the direction which preferred to cast other dancers.

Actually, the three Solors who danced in California (Legris, Martinez, Bart) are the three male dancers who have been the most active this season at the Paris Opera. Hilaire was absent because of his injury, Belarbi (who is 39 too) now dances mostly contemporary works, and Le Riche guested a lot abroad and was quite absent on the POB stage. Jean-Guillaume Bart, who is the most recently promoted principal (and the youngest principal with Le Riche), danced in *every* program since the beginning of the season except the modern creation "Nosferatu" (i.e., in "Raymonda",

"Apollo" in a mixed bill, a Forsythe mxed bill, two roles in "Jewels", "The Nutcracker", "Paquita", two ballets in the Robbins mixed bill, Manon, the Kylian program, and he'll dance in Neumeier's "Midsummer night's dream"); Legris and Martinez danced a lot too. In her interviews, Brigitte Lefevre insists that she doesn't want the company to have too many principals, but considering that three female principals retire that season (and isn't it a bit odd to cast Juliets who all are above 38?) and that three male principals have to dance most of the big roles, one might wonder if it is not the opposite, i.e. not enough principals.

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Yes, the POB does look a bit thin in the top rank of 'etoile', compared to the Bolshoi and the Kirov who can perform in 2 to 3 places simultaneously. For instance, while one Bolshoi contingent is performing in London at present, another group is performing in Italy, and there are performances at home in Moscow as well.

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Le Riche must rule his first choreography at Nancy, it's for that he doesn't dance in USA.

Estelle, Legris is 36 years, he must have 37 but at the end of the year.

Guérin has broken ribs and I don't think she could dance for her Farewells perhaps for Notre-dame de Paris

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Wednesday's La Bayadere

Aagnes Letestu

Jean-Guillaume Bart (instead of Martinez)

Marie-Agnes Gillot

Benjamin Pech as the Golden Idol

Estelle, I like Legris even more than I did Tues. night after seeing Bart in the same role. Bart is a fine dancer but there was no emotion, no chemistry with Letestu. At least Legris connected, and I now realize that his dancing had fire and depth. I'd remember a wonderful dancing passage of Legris' from the night before and await it in Bart; it never came. Same steps, entirely different offering. The same with Pech as the Idol; last night he was the Idol but Tues. night Jeremie Belingard was the THE IDOL!

Letestu was a wonderful Nikiya, more supple and in control than I found Gaida Tues. night. In the faster (Allegro?) portion of her dance with the flower/serpent basket Gaida's interpretation bordered on the hoochy-koochy while Letestu made it more ethnic. She changed in Act III; her dancing seemed brittle and she looked like a ghost, which, of course, she is but I've never seen the ballerina try to give that impression. Gillot was very nice but didn't match Dupont's control on Tues. On Tues. I sat at orchestra level; last night I was in the 3rd Tier which is so high you have to see it to believe it. The Shades scene was much better from up there, especially once they're off the ramp. The patterns and the symmetry are beautiful.

I expected lots of high extensions but there were few. One was jarring. (Excuse ballet terms.) Letestu had a supported develope in 2nd position facing the audience, then turned to face her partner and moved the extended leg into an arabesque. The develope was "way up there". Bringing the leg down for the 90 degree arabesque was awkward and spoiled the line of the move.

Again...the costumes. They are a work of art. Still think they impede the dancing but they are a feast for the eyes.

I'll see my final performance Sat., unless the little tyke puts in an appearance first.


[ 05-10-2001: Message edited by: Giannina Mooney ]

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Giannina, thanks for the comments about the second performances. Actually, Jean-Guillaume Bart and Marie-Agnes Gillot had never danced "La Bayadere" before the California tour, so perhaps they will improve when they become more experienced with the roles...

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Sorry Estelle but Jean-Guillaume made her debuts in Solor in Manchester tour, last year. And Marie-Agnès Gillot had dance Gamzatti' role against Agnès Letestu last time they're dancing it in Paris.

Against we never saw Bart in Paris as well as Aurelie Dupont in Nykia role.

Fanny Gaïda is an Artistic dancer it's not a technical dancer and I prefer Gaïda interpretation to Letestu cold appearance. Against Agnès Letestu is a great technical dancer, but I didn't like her when she danced the role in Paris. She was not a Nykia for me, it's a Gamzatti, even I prefer Aurelie Dupont in this role.

Giannina, could you say us which are the other role as Manou, Fakir, Indian dance, Shade. Thanks for your comments. :)

[ 05-10-2001: Message edited by: Françoise ]

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Francoise..you asked about the role of "Manou". On our program I find "Manu" so I'll assume that's what you meant.


Manu: Melanie Hurel

Fakir: Leonel Delanoe

Indian Dance: Fanny Fiat, Karl Paquette

Shade (I assume you mean the Variations): First: Eleanora Abbagnato. Second: Laetitia Pujol. Third: Delphine Moussin


Manu: Sandrine Marache

Fakir: Fabien Rogues

Indian Dance: Geraldine Wairt, Yann Saiz

Shade Variations: same as Tuesday

[ 05-10-2001: Message edited by: Giannina Mooney ]

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The little sweetheart is putting off his/her appearance so that Grandma can see POB, bless his/her heart.

Saturday night's La Bayadere

Aurelie Depont

Manual Legris

Delphine Moussin

Jeremie Belingard as The Golden Idol

Lionel Delanoe as The Fakir

Sandrine Marache: Manu

Alexandra Cardinale, Chrisophe Duquenne: Indian Dance

Shade Variations: #1: Abbagnato. #2: Pujol. #3: Muriel Halle

Aurelia Dupont was my favorite Nikiya. As Gamzatti on Tues. night she impressed me with her pirouettes and the same was certainly true Sat. night. That quality, plus her generally superb dancing, made Act III a stand-out. Even my hard-to-impress husband enjoyed it. The beauty and control of her dancing just kept unfolding and the act was a jewel. The....oh, what's it called; scarf dance?....was the best I have ever seen! The cast had some wobbly moments, especially the men. Lifts were shakey (downright scarey at times), and solos ending with tours or multiple pirouettes and then a pose on one knee had the men fighting for control. One of the leading Shades was just a tad out of sync but finally pulled it together.

Other things I noticed.

The opening scene has soldiers marching in to a very obvious tempo. It's just a bit too campy and almost sets a comical mood right at the beginning of the ballet.

I think it's the "Dance Djampo" in Scene 2 of Act I. There are about 8 women dancing and they make one of the greatest exits, rapidly dancing sideways as they go off. It's so quick, lively, and happy that you want to applaud the exit itself.

Nureyev's presence is felt throughout the ballet. I find him almost standing on stage at the beginning of Act III when Solor comes in swirling a cape, then goes into a typical Nureyev-choreographed solo.

Legris is not only an excellent dancer but very strong. It's been posted that he's 36 or 37, and he lifts his ballerinas with apparent ease.

It was wonderful to have POB here; I hope they return soon.

OK, sweetie; you can be born now.


[ 05-14-2001: Message edited by: Giannina Mooney ]

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Francoise...sorry but the only casting I can give you is for the nights I attended the ballet. Other casts were not published in the newspaper, and the only performances reviewed in the newspaper were for the nights I attended, cooincidentally. On my programs they are listed among the corps dancers, for example Solor's Friends, The Kshatriyas.


[ 05-14-2001: Message edited by: Giannina Mooney ]

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