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Romeo & Juliet Live Cinecast of 21st January

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On 1/22/2018 at 6:01 AM, Helene said:

I've always loved the film of the Lavrovsky version, but that's not what Ratmansky's is playing against:  the Grigorovich version, still playing on the main stage, dates from 1979 and will be 40 next year.

Can't decide which one deserves the most condemnation : this "R&J Light" version by Ratmansky or the Grigarovich version. I am respectful of the views of others - people have different opinions on what ballet is or should be. Having discovered at a late age that ballet can be the highest form of dramatic expression, of which the original Lavrovsky is a prime example, I cannot settle for anything less. Grigarovich has made a hash of the story but has at least something going for it :  of the various versions I have seen so far only this displays to the viewer why Romeo is unable to receive the letter sent by the friar (although its depiction is different from Shakespeare's story which is impossible to mime). Ratmansky "has largely if not totally destroyed the intensely spiritual side of ballet and left only the mechanical" (in the words of someone else on Mr. B, as recounted in the recent book on the Ballets Russes". (I am going into hiding :P)

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1 hour ago, mnacenani said:

Ratmansky "has largely if not totally destroyed the intensely spiritual side of ballet and left only the mechanical"

You found Krysanova mechanical?

And Sandik, I couldn't agree more about the Norwegian curling team.

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If the Ratmansky choreography doesn't resonate, it doesn't resonate.  If the "passing in the winds" metaphor doesn't convey that there was a critical missed connection, and it's critical to convey through a note not being passed, like in the play, it's a miss to the viewer.  I found it a major miss that Juliet doesn't show any sign of knowing or processing that Romeo has killed Tybalt. 

I disagree with the assessment, even if I don't agree with every decision Ratmansky has made: I found many parts highly moving, more so than in any other version.  I think the Prokofiev score needs some editing if Balanchine didn't choreograph to it, and Ratmansky's isn't stronger.  But I've always had qualms about it, although I think it was Rudi van Danzig's performed by Dutch National Ballet that has been removed from YouTube that I've found most convincing.

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18 minutes ago, Amy Reusch said:

You found Krysanova mechanical?

No way - after seeing her live at the Bolshoy I already wrote that I discovered a great artist in addition to the great dancer I already knew. I found Ratmansky's staging rather mechanical and devoid of the "spirituality" of the original, other people may have different views.

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3 minutes ago, Helene said:

...

I disagree with the assessment, even if I don't agree with every decision Ratmansky has made: I found many parts highly moving, more so than in any other version.  I think the Prokofiev score needs some editing if Balanchine didn't choreograph to it, and Ratmansky's isn't stronger.  But I've always had qualms about it, although I think it was Rudi van Danzig's performed by Dutch National Ballet that has been removed from YouTube that I've found most convincing.

I don't know the Van Dantzig -- can you comment on it here?  What was it about the production that felt convincing to you?

There have been an amazing number of danced versions of this play -- something that thrills one of us will make someone else's teeth ache.  I only know the Lavrovsky production through the film of Ulanova's performance.  While I do love that film, I really can't make an informed comment on the ballet as it existed in a theater, or the role of Juliet as it was danced by someone else.  And this is true of the Ratmansky version -- I know it as a film, though a much more conventional one than the Lavrovsky.  Some of the effects (like the interplay between Juliet and her mother) that were so effective in the broadcast might not read as powerfully in the theater. 

While Lavrovsky was one of the first choreographers to work with the score, his version is not necessarily the definitive one -- this is not a case of Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty, where we continue to strive to know what the original production looked like, and to emulate those affects.  R&J is much more open to interpretation than those works.

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20 minutes ago, sandik said:

I only know the Lavrovsky production through the film of Ulanova's performance.

Really do suggest you see it again with Vishnova-Shklyarov in this HD telecast from 2013. Diana's Juliet made me drop opera and take to ballet - hadn't seen anything like it in my life. I do hope Mezzo or Mariinsky will not have this taken down :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYhT2AsdprI

Edited by mnacenani

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Thanks for the link -- I'll carve out some time over the weekend.

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https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/23/arts/music/prokofiev-romeo-and-juliet-new-york-philharmonic-new-york-city-ballet.html

Many thanks to dirac for posting this in "Links", thought copying it under this thread may draw more attention to it. Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending ...... aw schucks !  Had read somewhere a couple of years ago that Prokofiev was eyeing an American audience in attempting this, after his sojourn in the US. Seems his Commie masters had infinitely better taste !

PS : after seeing Ratmansky's R&J I wouldn't be surprised one bit if his next edition has a happy ending !

Edited by mnacenani

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1 hour ago, mnacenani said:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/23/arts/music/prokofiev-romeo-and-juliet-new-york-philharmonic-new-york-city-ballet.html

Many thanks to dirac for posting this in "Links", thought copying it under this thread may draw more attention to it. Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending ...... aw schucks !  Had read somewhere a couple of years ago that Prokofiev was eyeing an American audience in attempting this, after his sojourn in the US. Seems his Commie masters had infinitely better taste !

PS : after seeing Ratmansky's R&J I wouldn't be surprised one bit if his next edition has a happy ending !

It was the Soviets who tacked a happy ending on to Swan Lake not Lucia Chase ...  As it happens, whatever may have been the exiled Prokofiev's thoughts about the United States, the article linked to makes clear it was the (Soviet) Piotrovsky  working with Prokofiev who came up with a happy ending to Romeo and Juliet in one version of the libretto.

However, you will hear nothing but respect for Piotrovsky from me. He also was responsible for the libretto for the Shostakovich/Lopukhov Bright Stream that brought several great artists into disfavor with their "commie masters" (as you call them) and that Ratmansky has brought back to the ballet stage in part as a way to honor their accomplishment.  One of the best parts of the Ratmansky Romeo and Juliet broadcast came when the Bolshoi Ballet's spokesperson Katerina Novikova took time to honor Piotrovsky's memory. As she narrated the story (mentioned in passing in the article as well), Piotrovsky fell into disfavor with the regime after Bright Stream, and was arrested and shot; in the wake of that horror, he was also erased from ballet history -- Novikova explained that his name did not appear in programs as a librettist for Romeo and Juliet etc.  As for his "taste" in coming up with the happy ending idea (or taking it from Prokofiev or whatever)...different ideas are tried out in the theater all the time; some work--some don't. As it happens Piotrovsky worked in the world of Russian experimental theater during one of its most exciting periods. I know next to nothing about him, and still I'm confident he must have been a remarkable person. The Bolshoi does a lot of things that make me want to scream. Novikova's tribute made me want to write them a thank you note. (Given Ratmansky's involvement with Bright Stream and respect for both Russian and Soviet Ballet history I found myself wondering if he had suggested mentioning Piotrovsky--but Novikova's presentations are always full of interesting historical information.)

As for Ratmansky's Romeo and Juliet, given his obvious respect for so much of Shakespeare's text, I am confused why one would think he would be interested in a happy ending. Well, I guess it was a joke about the horrible degradation of taste visited on Russian artists who live for any period of time in the United States (like Prokoviev or Ratmansky), but as far as Ratmansky's Romeo and Juliet goes, I think it misses the mark.  Waking Juliet up a little early enables a different type of dancing and a different type of irony than one gets in some other productions.  It's decidedly not cheerful or trivializing when she leads Romeo out of the Crypt only to discover he has collapsed dead behind her.  The reconciliation of the families in the end is not just true to Shakespeare, but true to the music, and I find it profound. (It's my favorite part of the story in any version or production of Shakespeare's play.)

I can't argue with someone disliking Ratmansky's ballet -- as you say above, people have different perspectives. I do think this production appears via the broadcast to be both intelligent and feeling in its attempt to capture Shakespeare and Prokofiev. (And to suggest Ratmansky somehow has a blithely instrumental view of his work seems rather a mis-characterization to me.)

One thing Ratmansky's version of Romeo and Juliet does also give is some unexpected and rich neoclassical detailing in the choreography...for Romeo especially as it seemed to me watching the broadcast. It makes Romeo more of a character, less of a generic type, though I can imagine that Volcanohunter is right that a dancer more used to neoclassical choreography than Lantratov could do still more with it.  Ratmansky also makes some aspects of the story clearer for someone without a synopsis including the Friar's plan with the pseudo-poison. Anyway, I'm grateful to have seen this version even if Prokofiev's ballet is unlikely ever to be first on my list of favorites no matter who the choreographer.

Edited by Drew

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I was at the Met in HD "Tosca" this past weekend, and in the audience shots they show before the performance, two young boys caught the camera and were waving.  I think they were about 7 or 8 and 5, and I remember thinking, "I wonder what questions those kids ask their parents about 'Tosca'."

Then I remembered the last time I was at an arts event listening to kids ask their parents questions, and it was at a performance of Ib Andersen's "Romeo and Juliet" for Ballet Arizona:  after Act II, where Lady Capulet's histrionics raised a number of questions.  I remember thinking during the performance that it was an anomaly in a production that was so beautifully choreographed and so dramatically sound, with that one exception, which, granted, is in the music.

I can't believe I forgot that wonderful "Romeo and Juliet" until last Saturday.  Kansas City Ballet also performed it, which is unusual when a work is still in the rep of a company whose Artistic Director created it.

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On 1/25/2018 at 3:07 AM, Drew said:

 ...  As it happens, whatever may have been the exiled Prokofiev's thoughts about the United States, the article linked to makes clear it was the (Soviet) Piotrovsky  working with Prokofiev who came up with a happy ending to Romeo and Juliet in one version of the libretto.

The NY Phil recently performed the R&J suite, and the program notes have a nice account of the happy ending controversy, as well as excerpts from an old interview with Galina Ulanova discussing the creation of the original production (and Prokofiev’s score). The information starts around page labeled 32 here: https://nyphil.org/~/media/pdfs/program-notes/1718/Prokofiev-Selections-from-Romeo-and-Juliet.pdf

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4 hours ago, tutu said:

The NY Phil recently performed the R&J suite, and the program notes have a nice account of the happy ending controversy, as well as excerpts from an old interview with Galina Ulanova discussing the creation of the original production (and Prokofiev’s score). The information starts around page labeled 32 here: https://nyphil.org/~/media/pdfs/program-notes/1718/Prokofiev-Selections-from-Romeo-and-Juliet.pdf

Thank you for the pdf with the Philharmonic's program notes about the happy ending and the excerpt from Ulanova. I see Piotrovsky's name doesn't make it into those notes when discussing the libretto--only Radlov along w. Prokofiev.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks to Fathom Events/Pathé Live having Encore presentations this July, I finally got to see the Bolshoi perform the Ratmansky Romeo and Juliet on the "big screen" as opposed to my computer screen -- and it was well worth it. One really does see more, and however inadequate compared to a live performance, a big screen broadcast still carries more of the excitement of a live performance than the same on a computer screen (or even on a television-screen ).  Krysanova and Lantratov led very vivid and compelling performance from the whole company. I'd enjoy a chance to see this live -- at least in a comparable performance.

Edited by Drew

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I'm so glad you got to see this in the theater -- I was impressed with several parts of the work, especially for the ensemble.  There are so many different versions of this ballet, and it's so fun to compare and contrast.

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