Jump to content
CharlieH

Ratmansky’s Bayadere in Berlin (4 Nov. 2018 premiere)

Recommended Posts

On 11/7/2018 at 1:44 PM, cubanmiamiboy said:

The other important issue is to actually bring the original libretto back..the proper story with the real ending. Fake endings do jeopardize classic works-(perfect example with Andersen's The Little Mermaid, where her original suicide is becoming lost in popular folk culture after Disney's changes.)

I have to comment on this.  I am OK with changes for different mediums, etc.  As much as I love Anderson's Little Mermaid, it's so different from the Disney version anyway--an unhappy ending in Disney's version would make zero sense (maybe they could have her commit suicide to a reprise of "Under the Sea" 😉 ).  And, speaking of ballets, have you seen La Esmeralda?  Do you know how Notre Dame de Paris ends?  😉 (Of course it's true that Victor Hugo himself had already written the libretto of an opera based on his work which was a hit, though now forgotten, which similarly had a happy ending.)

Share this post


Link to post
49 minutes ago, EricMontreal said:

I can't find a source anywhere, but I swear in one interview I read of Ratmansky's, he strongly implied that he was against releasing filmed versions of these reconstructions and they should be saved for people to savour in person.  Which, given the fact that I can hardly afford to travel very often to see these works, is very frustrating (further more, he actually posted a link to the YouTube of the streaming film of his production of Paquita for the Bavarian State Ballet when they apparently destroyed the sets--which implies on some level he must understand the importance of having an available professionally filmed version of these works). 
 

This reminds me of comments made by Jerome Robbins, viz., that nothing could replace the experience of seeing dance in the theater, so he resisted televising or recording his ballets after a few early attempts (e.g., the televised show in 1980 of excerpts from DAAG). Sure, it would be great if we could all get to the theater whenever we wanted, anywhere in the world, and they were performing things we wanted to see. But that's just not reality for almost all of us on the planet.

Share this post


Link to post

https://www.nypl.org/about/divisions/theatre-film-and-tape-archive/access

1 hour ago, California said:

This reminds me of comments made by Jerome Robbins, viz., that nothing could replace the experience of seeing dance in the theater, so he resisted televising or recording his ballets after a few early attempts (e.g., the televised show in 1980 of excerpts from DAAG). Sure, it would be great if we could all get to the theater whenever we wanted, anywhere in the world, and they were performing things we wanted to see. But that's just not reality for almost all of us on the planet.

My background is in musical theatre, and in New York there's been a system where shows get filmed (for the most part) and are viewable for educational and research reasons at TOFT, NYPL's Theatre Film and Tape Archive.  It goes back to some amazing works--when I was writing about the original Hal Prince/Michael Bennett production of the Stephen Sondheim/George Furth musical Company, from 1970, I was able to go and view a video of the original staging (albeit shot on tour in Washington) and have some sense of what I was writing about. 

These archives, BTW, are easy to view for anyone interested--there is a lot of Blanchine video there, for example.  You need a valid NYPL library card, but one is easy to get, even for international students like myself. 

However, some directors back when it was being established did not approve of it.  Bob Fosse refused to have any of his shows filmed for the archives, although they ended up including audience recorded bootlegs of his final musical, the flop Big Deal, as well as his revival of his original staging of Sweet Charity, and Jerome Robbins, as you mention, was against filming his work, including his Broadway retrospective, Jerome Robbins' Broadway--which also exists in the archives in "bootleg" prints.

All of this causes me to shake my head.  I have no right to tell a creator that they shouldn't have their work preserved, except...  I think that they should have their work preserved.  I suppose there's the worry about plagiarism, but I think that is already going on, in an unfortunate way, in the dance world.  I think the greater worry is that either original works or such great recreations simply get lost, without a recording. 

Share this post


Link to post
On 11/8/2018 at 12:42 PM, Mashinka said:

Having just watched her version for the RB, I consider it a dismal thing with so many of the usual elements missing.  Where is the drum dance?  where's Manu and her pot.  No parrots, no elephant.  A betrothal party so sparsely populated you wonder if the relatives of the tiger that Solor killed earlier have gone on the rampage.   Above all we're eight Bayaderes short going down the ramp,  An ineffectual  last act viewed through a scrim is no substitute for the feast of opulence that the Russians give us, including Vikharev's version.

When the National Ballet of Ukraine performed Makarova's version, it included 32 shades and the drum dance, perhaps others. So evidently she wasn't completely opposed to the idea, if the company requested these elements and had a sufficiently large corps. I don't know how it's done at the Stanislavsky.

Share this post


Link to post
19 hours ago, EricMontreal said:

I have to comment on this.  I am OK with changes for different mediums, etc.  As much as I love Anderson's Little Mermaid, it's so different from the Disney version anyway--an unhappy ending in Disney's version would make zero sense (maybe they could have her commit suicide to a reprise of "Under the Sea" 😉 ).  And, speaking of ballets, have you seen La Esmeralda?  Do you know how Notre Dame de Paris ends?  😉 (Of course it's true that Victor Hugo himself had already written the libretto of an opera based on his work which was a hit, though now forgotten, which similarly had a happy ending.)

Yes...I know the original "La Esmeralda" libretto. Re: "The Little Mermaid", it could be that I grew up not only reading the original fairy tales, but also watching a beautiful Russian cartoon from 1960 that is faithful to Anderson. Disney's version came up in my adulthood, and because it sort of erased the original-(ask around to millennials)- I felt it like a bombastic fake. Same with Swan Lake double suicide. Whole generations of ballet goers, principally in Russia, do not know it. Russian Bayaderes case is different.. more like an omission than a change. 

 

Edited by cubanmiamiboy

Share this post


Link to post

It's a shame that the cuts/shortenings in Berlin-Ratmansky (compared to StP-Vikharev) take place at the very end because "the last thing seen is the first thing remembered." Other than those slight disappointments at the end, I give Berlin-Ratmansky five stars!

 

The deep cuts to the Pas d'Action's Coda (not just Gamzatti's fouettees but many other segment/steps, such as enchainements danced by trios made up of bridesmaids and the "Nikolai Legat cavalier" plus a final "run on pointe" up to the footlights by Gamzatti) are all  outlined by Vikharev's associate, Pavel Gershenzon, in the Fall 2002 issue of Ballet Review...four pages detailing every number and segment-of-a-number recovered by Vikharev in 2001/2002 through various sources (not just the Stepanov notes but scribbles in the margins of scores, contemporary reviews, dancer recollections)...but Vikharev and his team weren't able to execute all of those findings. (EricMontreal - yes, I remember an interview in which Vikharev lamented not being able to stage all of his Bayadere findings.) 

In case anyone was wondering, I carried a hard-copy of that Ballet Review article to the Berlin Staatsopen Unter den Linden...true balletomane! Oh, I will miss Ballet Review for those sorts of analytic articles about the great reconstructions. I'm so hoping that at least one more Ballet Review may include an article by Ratmansky about his Berlin Bayadere, just as he wrote a great one on Harlequinade, published in the current issue. :beg:

Edited by Roberta

Share this post


Link to post

Cubanmiamiboy--Wow!  I grew up watching a French version of that exact same cartoon!  I had forgotten all about it.  Anyway, your point makes sense and is fair enough (the Disney's Little Mermaid came out when I was 9, but as mentioned I knew previous versions--the live action one from Faerie Tale Theatre as well which also kept the original ending).  And it's interesting you bring up Swan Lake--I still don't understand why the Soviet tradition of a happy ending started (especially since it was Soviet authorities who persuaded Prokofiev to abandon his original idea for Romeo and Juliet to get a happy ending--thankfully).

Roberta--I didn't even know about those Ballet Review articles (a magazine I would buy when I'd see it at dance stores, but that was pretty random--I also didn't know it was being put on "hiatus").  They have the Harlequinade article on their website but nothing going back as far a the Vikharev back issues...  Hrmm, I wonder if I can find back issues for sale anywhere.

Share this post


Link to post

EricMontreal, I found this: http://balletreview.com/backissues.html (but let's not get too excited).

Alternatives:  In addition to "your local library," some of the academic-research sites sell back issues of many periodicals or make articles available via digital scans, for a small fee. I'm on a deadline today for my real job (ha ha) but I can search a bit for links later this week.

Great news! There will be at least one more issue of BR (Fall 2019): http://balletreview.com/v47n34.html   Maybe it will contain something on the Berlin Bayadere?

Thanks to Ballet Review, we have an entire series by the late-great David Vaughan - The Annals of Sleeping Beauty - which spans literally decades. Vaughan wrote many articles for BR detailing important re-stagings of Sleeping Beauty around the world, from the Royal to the Mariinsky and ABT. Those articles alone should be compiled into a treasured book.

Share this post


Link to post

I made this trip to Berlin with Ratmansky's La bayadere as a centerpiece, and I'm glad I did.  Vikharev recon didn't quite cut it off completely for me, so I had great expectations for this, and they were amply fulfilled.

Ratmansky's recon first hints of novelty are when the bayaderes come out in Act I.  They are in dancing shoes, not on pointes, so by the time Nikiya makes her appearance, her superlative importance as a character is evident, as she's the only one on pointe. The choreography for the dancers is also simpler...not as stylized as we see in Ponomarev et all-(Makarova and Nureyev).  They are lighter and with less plasticity. 

For Nikiya's first variation we have Ponomarev.  I assume is his, because I've read that Nikiya's dances are not notated all the way until the Kingdom of the Shades. And then comes the first really big surprise, which is the absence of Solor/Nikiya's pdd at their encounter.  It is all mime here, and it looks beautiful.  The music is sped up, and the whole thing happens in half the time we usually get with Ponomarev dancing choreo.  Previously we had the beautiful section with Nikiya playing her veena at the temple's window while Solor listens from below.  The window here is in a second floor of the temple, so when Solor calls her attention and they extend their arms to each other the whole thing looks very Romeo and Juliet.

Nikiya rejecting the priest and the end of the act stays the same. 

Fast forward to act II.  Priest has watched the lovers and the story stays the same.  The Rajah is furious when the Brahman tells him everything, and when he leaves and calls for the Brahman to  follow him, we know he will be taking part of the charade to eliminate Nikiya, albeit reluctantly. 

Gamzatti/Nikiya fight stays the same. Gamzatti is furious, and by the end of the act we also feel she will be taking part on the plot to eliminate Nikiya.

The betrothal scene is of course shorter because the Grand Pas will be placed where it really belongs, in Act IV.  Nikiya's dancing with the veena is also beautiful.  Semionova did changed a bit her "happy dancing" ending, doing something different than the usual round of chainee turns.  Again...I believe this variation is also Ponomarev.  When Nikiya dies, all faces but Solor look as if they all know what's going on.  The Brahman, the Rajah, Nikiya, Aya.  The Brahman have the antidote, which I believe he has carried as a matter of ultimatum, if Nikiya decides to give up Solor and give herself to him.  But that does not happen.

And here comes The Kingdom of the Shades.  For those who are familiar with Vikharev, you might remember this was one of the things we could see as a huge change.  The whole addition of Solor's scene at his bedchamber with Gamzatti coming in and trying to persuade him, as well as Nikiya's shade, who makes her entrance on this act way before the Himalayas.  Here Nikiya comes in and out, with Solor trying to catch her, very much as in La Sylphide, or Giselle.

And here I have my first question that can be applied to certain sections reconstructed by both Vikharev and Ratmansky.  If both were working from the notations...why is it that, let's say, Nikiya's variation in Solor's bedchamber when she first shows up is different on both productions...?

And here they come.  The shades descending the Himalayas.  I have mixed feelings about it.  The whole affair looks and feels way less dramatic, less hypnotic, less severe than the way we know it via Ponomarev/Makarova/Nureyev. The tempo is speedier, the cambres are not as pronounced, the arabesques are 90 degrees...not more.  And the shades walk faster.  The stage is also brighter than the mysterious, dark affair we know from the Soviets.  Also, as the tutus are bell shaped, and longer, we don't get to see the elongated lines of the shades the way we're used to, which in cases like the Mariinsky, with their tall, military-like corps, can be mesmerizing.  Again.  this is a totally different concept, probably closer to Petipa, but the differences are palpable.  Oh... and that little frappe they do right before the arabesque is also new to me.  Vikharev certainly didn't have it.  Ratmansky also changes bits of the choreo once the shades are all positioned.  Gone are the tilted torsos we get  in previous versions.

The next big change comes via Nikiya's solo with the veil, which as some have reported, she carries herself, with an invisible string that pulls it up to the heavens after she does her grand pirouettes  No Solor.  When Nikiya's coda comes, we have her advancing in surprising sautes on pointe to demiplie and back to sautes.  Very unorthodox, I must say.  No Dudinskaya's changes.

And then comes the ice of the cake.  The spectacular grand Pas.  Here Ratmansky outdoes everyone else.  This pas is dramatically perfect...giving back to the ballet is most deserved logic and finale, after decades of tweaking and suppression.  The ins and outs of Nikiya during the pas de quatre-(Nikiya/solor/Gamzatti/cavalier)- look and feel like a glove to Minkus music.  Many of the musical accents that look so awkward when this pas is done in the Soviet manner, with only Gamzatti and Solor, look totally justified and used to their best here.  And finally, Solor can act a bit, and at times he might look regretful or distressed at what's going on around him.  Again, In Ponomarev we don't see this, and Solor looks weird, many dancers even making the character smile and everything, as if his affair with Nikiya has never existed.

Definitely, things are in their right place now. 

Solor and Nikiya both lose the variations we know from Ponomarev, which I still don't know their rooting.  Instead we have what was notated at the turn of the century when the ballet was last revived by Petipa for Pavlova.  Solor uses an old variation from Le Papillon, and Gamzatti uses Dulcinea variation from DQ, which is what Olga Preobrajenska danced back then.  The coda is also not the one we're used to from Ponomarev.  That coda, which includes the music of Gamzatti's fouettes, belongs, in Ratmansky's, to the betrothal act.  Here, just as with Vikharev, the coda music is different.  Oh, and no fouettes for anybody. Not needed, really.

What do I miss, honestly...? The golden idol.

The temple destruction is done via digital projections, with a screen that comes down quickly which mimics the real props.  So the destruction happens digitized, and then the screen comes back up in the middle of the smoke to reveal props of the destroyed temple.  Here the laurels belong to Makarova's production over both Vikharev and Ratmansky.

As I said before, the final tableaux looks way better in Makarova's.  Ratmansky follows Vikharev, with Nikiya reviving Solor in the middle of the carnage.

Ratmansky compresses two acts in one, intermezzo and two more acts in one.  I'm not sure it works, as the acts really feel VERY long.  I would have had preferred three intermezzos for sure.

Anyhow...the performance was wonderful.  This was historical, and I truly hope more companies can offer audiences the real La Bayadere and not a truncated, tweaked version.  We're in 2019....we are not in Soviet Union and we don't have a shortage of machinery to get a temple destruction.

Oh...and as a side note, national pride here at seeing a couple of Cubans making ballet history.  Alejandro Virelles as Solor and Yolanda Correa as Gamzatti.  I believe their originated the roles.  Polina Semionova danced Nikiya, as I mentioned earlier.

Bravi tutti!!

Edited by cubanmiamiboy

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks for this detailed report. I would love to be able to see this production.

Share this post


Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...