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CharlieH

Hungarian National Ballet tour to NY, Oct/Nov 2018

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At the Koch, Lincoln Center. Ballets include Don Q, Swan Lake & Van Manen Evening. I was posted to Budapest in the ‘00s and can attest to both the ballet and opera companies’ greatness. Not to be missed, esp Swan Lake and their national opera, Bank Ban.

http://www.opera.hu/

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Has anyone on the board seen Rudi van Dantzig's Swan lake? As someone who prefers a traditional version this is not sounding too appealing to me, we in NY already have 2 bad updated versions.

"While using the traditional story of the Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov 1895 classic, much of van Dantzig's choreography is completely original. "

http://www.shumanassociates.net/artist.php?id=hso&aview=news&nid=9423

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Posted (edited)

I think the press release is misleading.  It states:

 

"Tamás Solymosi, a former principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, is ballet director and artistic director of the 120-member company. "

To my recollection he was a guest artist at ABT, not a former principal dancer with ABT.  His guest appearance was in a principal role, but  this press release does not accurately represent what his status was with ABT.

Edited by abatt

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Posted (edited)

I have not seen the SL ... but I have seen the Company a goodly number of times in Budapest in Oneign; in Anna Karenina; in Le Corsaire, in a Kylian programme and in a Nagy gala celebrating all bits and pieces of their rep.  They did do a segment from the SL in that gala - but as it featured the RB's Muntagirov and a principal dancer from Vienna (which is only an hour away) I doubt that it was even remotely connected to van Dantzig's take.  

I would say they are a competent regional company with a well mannered orchestra of a higher ilk.  (I mean this as a compliment - but want to be realistic.)  I also saw a number of opera performances; a fine production of Queen of Spades and one of the worst Traviatas it has been my misfortune ever to encounter.  I much admired the Eva Marton Singing Contest - but then that had an international roster of competitors.

I am surprised at their sojourn in New York - especially for such a span of time at State Theater (sorry, I prefer to call it as I remember it).  Perhaps I should not be entirely surprised as the opera house in Budapest (and it is a TRULY STUNNING one) is closed for renovations - certainly into next year as far as I recall.  The Erkel Theatre where they are currently holding fort is definitely bland by comparison ... but then - in many instances - what wouldn't be.  

A side note:  Tamas Solymosi's younger brother, Zoltan, danced with the Royal Ballet for a spell - largely partnering (Dame) Darcey Bussell.  He was tall and handsome - as many Hungarian men are.  I don't remember him as being entirely exemplary as a dancer, however.  He now it appears teaches for his native alma mater.  

Hope that's of some help.  

 

Edited by meunier fan

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20 hours ago, abatt said:

I think the press release is misleading.  It states:

 

"Tamás Solymosi, a former principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, is ballet director and artistic director of the 120-member company. "

To my recollection he was a guest artist at ABT, not a former principal dancer with ABT.  His guest appearance was in a principal role, but  this press release does not accurately represent what his status was with ABT.

Something got lost in translation.  Tamas S. was a soloist with the Vienna State Opera Ballet, Austria. His brother, Zoltan, was for several years the partner of Darcy Bussell at the RB in London. 

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Posted (edited)

Well, the Bolshoi's Igor Tsvirko is now listed as a principal dancer on the company's website and is also listed as dancing in Don Quixote in New York. (I don't know if he will be dividing his time between the Bolshoi and the Hungarian National Ballet or not.)

Something like 25 years ago I saw them dance Don Quixote in their home theater which is, as Meunier Fan mentions, "TRULY STUNNING" -- imagine a sort of "orientalized" Palais Garnier.  I remember the production included a fantastic gypsy dance done by an ensemble of men that was very different from the backbending, anguished gypsy woman of some other versions...I also enjoyed the Kitri, a somewhat hyperextended ballerina named Popova. (The cashier at the box-office had recommended Popova to me when I asked her if she could recommend which cast I should see.) Obviously it must be a very different company now--and I have no idea what production of Don Quixote they dance, but if I were in New York, curiosity would draw me to the theater as well as sentiment. And I definitely wouldn't want to miss Tsvirko's Basilio.

Edited by Drew

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I'm a big fan of Alia Tanykpaeva, one  of the company's leading dancers who bears some resemblance to her compatriot Asylmuratova.  I saw her dance Kitri some years ago, but although I have a DVD of her in the role dancing with Taranda's company I can't find any clips of her in Don Q. on line.  In fact I like her so much I might even consider going to see her if she should be dancing with Tsvirko.  Maina Gielgud coaches this company, so expect the very highest of standards in anything she has had a hand in.

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Posted (edited)

Lili Felmery is the Hungarians’ gorgeous young rising star...and she’s a Magyar! Try to catch her in anything. She dances Pas de trois in SL but, IMO, should be O/O soon. Nice interview (&cover) here:

http://www.opera.hu/

Tatyana Melnik is the company’s Etoile of choice as O/O, IMO.

As for Igor Tsvirko...good technician but too demicaractere for my taste to be a compelling Siegfried. Maybe as Basil, with a shortish Kitri.

Edited by CharlieH
added link to Lili’s interview

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Apparently my Russian friend(a former corp of Bolshoi) thinks Tatiana Melnik is a wonderful classical dancer so I will try to catch her performances! 

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I plan to see Swan Lake. FWIW the Wagner Society of New York has a promo code on their Facebook page.

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I just noticed they've canceled seven of their performances, and it's unclear to me who is dancing in the one remaining Don Quixote (both casts are still listed if you click on November 9).

The ticket prices are very reasonable and there are a ton of seats available, so I may try to catch the Don Q or Swan Lake

I'm sorry this run has sold so poorly for them, though I've seen zero advertising for these performances, and I don't believe they are a well-known company here in NYC.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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This is sad. It really is a fine troupe - both the opera and the ballet. It's amazing to think that complete productions of Swan Lake & Don Q would be shipped across the Atlantic Ocean just for one performance each. Not to mention the cost of personnel, even though the orchestra will already be here for the previous week of operas. The underwriters must have very deep pockets.

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3 hours ago, manhattangal said:

The underwriters must have very deep pockets.

Hungarian cultural institutions are heavily and notoriously dependent on state funding. (The Budapest Festival Orchestra under the wonderful Iván Fischer is a noteworthy exception.) It's worth reflecting on this tour against the backdrop of Fidesz's increasingly alarming and illiberal cultural interventions. See for instance: https://www.ft.com/content/9c657408-b514-11e8-bbc3-ccd7de085ffe

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9 hours ago, laurel said:

Short article in the Wall Street Journal focusing on the motivations behind the Hungarian State Opera and National Ballet's expensive visit to New York.  (Article is not locked and should be free to all non-subscribers.)

https://www.wsj.com/articles/hungarian-opera-and-ballet-take-their-show-on-the-road-1540248626?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=1

 

It is locked to non-subscribers. I can only read the first paragraph and a half unfortunately. Typical of WSJ.

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It is locked to non-subscribers. I can only read the first paragraph and a half unfortunately. Typical of WSJ.

 

Sorry about that.  For some reason, the article is available to me, and I'm definitely not a subscriber.  Consequently, I've paraphrased it below for anyone who may be interested.  The article is entitled "Hungarian Opera and Ballet Take Their Show on the Road," dated Oct. 22, 2018, and the author is Charles Passy.

Both the State Opera and the National Ballet will be making their U.S. debuts starting October 30, with what is described as a 13-day residency at Lincoln Center.  They will be bringing 367 people to New York, including 20 opera singers, 83 ballet dancers, 10 child dancers, 87 orchestra musicians and 3 conductors.  The general director of the opera, Szilveszter Ókovács, notes New York trip will cost $4 million, an expensive venture for a country whose GDP ($139 billion) is less than the net worth of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos.  However, Mr. Ókovács argues that the financial cost of the trip will be offset by the nation’s strong artistic values; despite its small size, Hungary’s cultural power is enormous.  In addition, Budapest’s opera house, where both companies perform, has been undergoing renovation since last year, possibly continuing for up to three years.   

Accordingly, the opera and ballet companies stay active by touring, and have visited Japan and Estonia in addition to New York said Mr. Ókovács.  Yet some wonder if the companies’ New York visit is merely cultural propaganda for nationalist right wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, known for his anti-immigration views, as his government tries to use these two great cultural institutions to present itself in a more positive light.  Hungarian writer and theater critic Andrea Tompa feels the money spent on the tour should be used to support smaller artistic institutions at home, particularly ones that produce more adventurous programming.  Referring to the ballet’s choice of Swan Lake for its Lincoln Center visit, she stated, “I’m very skeptical if this is the best way to represent Hungarian culture.”  Mr. Ókovács said it was strictly the companies’ own choice to visit New York and the government had no input into the decision.  Máté Vincze, head of the Hungarian Cultural Center in New York, an organization overseen by Hungary’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said the visit to the city has no political agenda.  “The visit of the Hungarian State Opera and the Hungarian National Ballet is what it seems—a cultural program,” he said via email.

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Thank you @laurel  for the summary. The Budapest opera house is stunning. And if it's being renovated, then touring of the opera and ballet companies in the meanwhile seems rather normal to me whatever other goals or meanings may have accrued to the tour. That is, whoever was in government, the companies would presumably have gone on tour if they couldn't perform at home.

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On Sunday, after the last performance of Balanchine Festival I trotted to the Koch Theater to catch the gala performance of the Hungarian State Opera and National Ballet. It was a long night with a lot of self-aggrandizing speeches by various Hungarian dignitaries and quite a display of nationalistic pride that at times looked desperate and pitiful. Instead of being a celebration of Hungarian culture,  the night quickly turned into a propaganda event. There were some interesting facts to learn; for example, that Hungarians were “ the finest group of immigrants this country ever had.”🙄

I was attracted to this gala because of its program’s ballet offering that consisted of Van Manen’s Tiois Gnossiennes, Andras Lukacs’s Whirling (set to the music of Philip Glass) and Pas de Trois from Le Corsaire. It was such a huge meh! I probably should have tamed my expectations after having experienced five days of mostly exquisite dancing at the City Center. With the exception of two principal ballerinas—Tatiana Melnik as Medora and Lili Felmery feautured in Van Manen’s piece— all other dancers looked mediocre at best. Their bodies and the style of dancing had a look and feel of a semi-professional contemporary dance company. Unless the Hungarian National Ballet has two companies, one for classical repertory and another one  for contemporary pieces, I don’t see how they’ll be able to pull off Swan Lake and Don Q.  

Edited by Dreamer

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6 hours ago, Dreamer said:

There were some interesting facts to learn; for example, that Hungarians were “ the finest group of immigrants this country ever had.”🙄

YIKES. 🤯 I'm glad Anthony Tommasini made note of the self-aggrandizing speeches in his review, but this particular detail is new to me. Unsurprising; still atrocious.

(And it makes me feel even more grateful that Iván Fischer is in town with the NYPhil this week.)

 

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On 11/5/2018 at 12:21 AM, Drew said:

Thank you @laurel  for the summary. The Budapest opera house is stunning. And if it's being renovated, then touring of the opera and ballet companies in the meanwhile seems rather normal to me whatever other goals or meanings may have accrued to the tour. That is, whoever was in government, the companies would presumably have gone on tour if they couldn't perform at home.

The company is performing at another Budapest theatre, the Erkel Theatre, while the opera house is being renovated.

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24 minutes ago, kbarber said:

The company is performing at another Budapest theatre, the Erkel Theatre, while the opera house is being renovated.

Great to know...it still seems plausible to me that the renovation of their usual theatre would make this a season when they opted for some major tours. 

Self-aggrandizement is rarely charming and fascism never, but there are links between Hungary’s modern struggle for independence and Hungarian immigrants in the United States. (There’s even a statue of Kossuth in Washington D.C.) Sounds like the evening @Dreamer describes went overboard in bad ways, but perhaps once the season is underway, dancing and other elements will pick up. At least, for the sake of those with tickets, I hope so.

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17 hours ago, Dreamer said:

On Sunday, after the last performance of Balanchine Festival I trotted to the Koch Theater to catch the gala performance of the Hungarian State Opera and National Ballet. It was a long night with a lot of self-aggrandizing speeches by various Hungarian dignitaries and quite a display of nationalistic pride that at times looked desperate and pitiful. Instead of being a celebration of Hungarian culture,  the night quickly turned into a propaganda event. There were some interesting facts to learn; for example, that Hungarians were “ the finest group of immigrants this country ever had.”🙄

I was attracted to this gala because of its program’s ballet offering that consisted of Van Manen’s Tiois Gnossiennes, Andras Lukacs’s Whirling (set to the music of Philip Glass) and Pas de Trois from Le Corsaire. It was such a huge meh! I probably should have tamed my expectations after having experienced five days of mostly exquisite dancing at the City Center. With the exception of two principal ballerinas—Tatiana Melnik as Medora and Lili Felmery feautured in Van Manen’s piece— all other dancers looked mediocre at best. Their bodies and the style of dancing had a look and feel of a semi-professional contemporary dance company. Unless the Hungarian National Ballet has two companies, one for classical repertory and another one  for contemporary pieces, I don’t see how they’ll be able to pull off Swan Lake and Don Q.  

Yikes, is right. I was considering getting a ticket. Glad I didn't!

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Good grief!  I am seeing Swan Lake tomorrow night and I can do without the propaganda speeches.  I hope the talk was only for opening night!!  Unfortunately I have been questioning why I bought the tickets in the first place,,,,,I blame it all on TDF.

 

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