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Mariinsky Paquita KennCen Oct 8-13, 19

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I'm in! Just arrived in DC. Where is the ballet pack getting together....? By the Kennedy bust....? I'm going tonight.

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Ok. So I'm here, at intermezzo after Act II and...what a mess. Will elaborate later about this Esmeralda...I mean, Don Quixote...I mean, Paquita.

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I read the above reviews with interest, having seen Paquita several times in St Petersburg, with varying casts.  I enjoyed it very much!  Of course, it has Spanish and gypsy flavoured choreography, being set in Spain!    I don't think the opening cast was the best though, Askerov not being renowned for his acting, so maybe that is why sparks did not fly and I like Batoeva best of the Paquitas!  Of course, it's personal, and, personally, I think the choreography by Smekalov IS a success; I like the choreography for the friends, and loved the dramatic role of Carducha, as danced by Shakirova and Bulanova, both fabulous actresses and dancers.  Maria Shirinkina is a lovely Christine.  I also like the pd3 placed in Act 2, as someone mentioned above.  The whole of the grand pas IS spectacular with the opportunity to see many soloists in some rarely seen variations.  I do agree though, that the prison scene does not work - the first time I saw it, it took me a while to realise that the centre of the stage marked a dividing line and I was wondering why the dancers apparently couldn't see each other!  LOL!  Maybe I can tolerate the dancing horse more, being British where we have the tradition of the pantomime cow, but the St Petersburg audiences certainly love that horse also!  

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14 hours ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

I'm in! Just arrived in DC. Where is the ballet pack getting together....? By the Kennedy bust....? I'm going tonight.

At the Kennedy bust.  See you  Friday.

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I will be attending Saturday and Sunday afternoon.  Hope to see some of you.

Sad to hear that this is not a good production.

Makes me angry all over again that ABT didn't buy the sets to Ratmansky's Munich Ballet "Paquita" when the company discarded the production.  That one followed the original libretto and the Harvard Library Sergeyev notations.

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I'm watching all performances all the way until Sunday, but I feel comfortable to say that this is quite a mess. Someone asked me this morning what had I seen, and me best answer was, and I will repeat my answer here. I saw two acts of some boring stuff by an unknown choreographer, much looking like the editing left overs of Esmeralda and DQ, and then I saw Petipa's Paquita Grand Pas.

Maria Khoreva-( my first time seeing her)- felt to me like a completely underwhelming dancer. I was quite distracted by the big size of her pointes compared to how little she is. In all fairness, I have to say that she did great fouettes... clean, not rushed, minimal traveling and she finished them on pointe and on music. 

I understand that this Grand Pas tries to capture the correct variations used by Petipa on his last revival of the work, but I really miss the very two variations I love the most, which pop out here and there in other productions: the Celesta variation from Pavilion d'Armide and the "Harvey variation"-(😈), with the big diagonal of saut de chats. Given that this is the only context in which we get to see this rarities performed, I felt their absence as a miss. Oh well...

More to come. I'll be by the Kennedy bust tonight.🤗

Edited by cubanmiamiboy

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12 minutes ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

Maria Khoreva-( my first time seeing her)- felt to me like a completely underwhelming dancer. I was quite distracted by the big size of her pointes compared to how little she is.

 

Seeing the sunday show and I am quite worried about her inability to emote. 

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51 minutes ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

...

Maria Khoreva-( my first time seeing her)- felt to me like a completely underwhelming dancer. ....

After her Medora last year, I have to agree with you. Not my cup of tea, to put it politely. On the other hand, I cannot wait for Batoeva. I'm not expecting the greatness of Terioshkina, the troupe's #1 prima after Lopatkina's retirement, but Batoeva's Gamzatti impressed me last year. I also fondly recall Xander Parish's Siegfried in London a few seasons ago. Batoeva/Parish should be a dynamite team, no matter the crappy production, cotton-candy pink trees in the background, horse gimmicks, and what not.

 

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I loved the opening night show, easily followed the plot pre reading the libretto.  Smekalov applied the wit we’ve enjoyed in his performances to the choreography and coaching. I’d like to see new Smekalov on a mixed bill and his full-length The Bronze Horseman. It was fun to see the pas de trois magically appear in context, Act 2-tavern.   No discordant costumes, choreography, or coifs [inc wigs] to distract from the flow...variations   Paquita Grand Pas -original?  Cast: Tereshkina charming, Askerov great with comedy, Chebykina, Shakirova, Belykov, Nagahisi.  I wish Shapran was on the tour in that variation to see her do it again.  [KC Paquita Grand Pas Jan 2015].  

 

Edited by maps
.

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Just coming out of the theater. Tonight we had Batoeva and Parish as Paquita/Lucien-(yes...I know the name/character change, but a Paquita in the Grand Pas goes with a Lucien, and from then on). Batoeva was indeed more expressive and engaging than Khoreva, and I was already declaring her a winner...until her fouettes and variation in the Grand Pas. She sort of stumbled on her fouettes, and didn't finish on music or on pointe. Khoreva was definitely better, technically wise. Xander Parish looked strained during his circle of jete cupe en turnant....his face grimacing and all.  The one ballerina that really caught my eye tonight was Renata Shakirova as Carducha. Very promising dancer. 

There have been many problems with the moving backdrops. Last night the jail panels didn't come down at all after several failed attempts, and tonight the black backdrop that conceals the change of scenery-(with the silly moving trees in the front)-wasn't coming down either. A very angry Smekalov-(sitting next to me)- stormed backstage to fix the mess, and shouts could be heard. I asked him afterwards about it and he told me "I'm killing someone. This is NOT high level".

To be continued.

Edited by cubanmiamiboy

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18 minutes ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

Just coming out of the theater. Tonight we had Batoeva and Parish as Paquita/Lucien-(yes...I know the name/character change, but a Paquita in the Grand Pas goes with a Lucien, and from then on). Batoeva was indeed more expressive and engaging than Khoreva, and I was already declaring her a winner...until her fouettes and variation in the Grand Pas. She sort of stumbled on her fouettes, and didn't finish on music or on pointe. Khoreva was definitely better, technically wise. Xander Parish looked strained during his circle of jete cupe en turnant....his face grimacing and all.  The one ballerina that really caught my eye tonight was Renata Shakirova as Carducha. Very promising dancer. 

There have been many problems with the moving backdrops. Last night the jail panels didn't come down at all after several failed attempts, and tonight the black backdrop that conceals the change of scenery-(with the silly moving trees in the front)-wasn't coming down either. A very angry Smekalov-(sitting next to me)- stormed backstage to fix the mess, and shouts could be heard. I asked him afterwards about it and he told me "I'm killing someone. This is NOT high level".

To be continued.

I was wondering what's happened with the backdrop. Thank you for the backstory with Smekalov. I can't even imagine how embarrassed he must have been.... Batoeva is usually technically solid so I'm not sure why she struggled so much today. I'm sure she will redeem herself on Saturday evening.

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10 hours ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

...A very angry Smekalov-(sitting next to me)- stormed backstage to fix the mess, and shouts could be heard. I asked him afterwards about it and he told me "I'm killing someone. This is NOT high level".

To be continued.

Continued? Hopefully not in this fashion. I did not write about a similar incident at the opening night (Tues) but something also happened. There was a very long pause (about 5 minutes?) in A2, before the first jail scene. Even from my perch up in the 2nd Tier, I heard shouting from behind the scene by several men, in both Russian and English. I was relieved when, finally, the lights came on to reveal Terioshkina, as Paquita, coming down the steps to her jail cell.

Too bad about Batoeva's fouettes last night. Hope that all of this is fixed by tomorrow night.

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BTW...I have the suspicion of the twisting of the story to be, maybe, a bit politically motivated. See...it looks to me as if the new librettist was trying to avoid the whole concept of the French hero vs the bad Spaniards. And yes...they could had just turned d'Hervilly into officer Andres without changing anything else, but then it would had look like an obvious travesty a la ABT's Raymonda. Napoleon and his bloody conquests are not too kindly seen by our modern world's popular anti-imperial views...

And because the whole thing as Paquita being of noble birth, abducted by gypsies, her medallion and hence being able to marry the hero at the end still stays intact.

Edited by cubanmiamiboy

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Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I hope to see the Mariinsky's La Bayadere in Costa Mesa starting next Wednesday and will try to comment on it if I have internet access. I wish that Viktoria Tereshkina would be there, as I think that she has matured exceptionally in artistic expression this year, and am very glad to hear good reports about her from Washington DC. But I  am also quite happy with the casts that are being presented in Costa Mesa, especially the chance to see Alina Somova, who hasn't traveled much in recent years.

I did see the current Mariinsky production of Paquita several times in St. Petersburg. I have a tendency to minimalize the plots in many of these 'classics.'

I do go for the excellence  of the performances, expression of some of the more timeless themes, such as Love and the over-all effect. In this respect I thought that the production and the performances were fine.

Added comment: As for glitches, such as sets or props not working, for those somewhat more familiar with the company this can be part of the territory with a Mariinsky performance, especially with big sets on tour, and if I were Yuri Smekalov I wouldn't feel too upset about it, although on tour with unfamiliar audiences I can sympathise with him. After awhile it can even become part of the total charm of the company as the artists always manage to rise above company mishaps and give exceptional performances, making it all more than worthwhile. 😊

Edited by Buddy
"Added comment" added

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I liked it better the second time (it seems like that's always the case). Knowing who the characters were ahead of time was helpful. And sitting downstairs instead of in the nosebleed seats definitely makes for much better viewing. But I still think that there is plenty of room for improvement (and slimming down - once again, by the time the wedding Grand Pas started my attention was drifting). The story just isn't compelling. It doesn't seem to have a message, other than perhaps if you come from a rich family everything will work out.

Edited by YouOverThere

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YouOverThere, your post slipped in between my two. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed the second time. 

Actually, in fairness to the Mariinsky, I've seen no mishaps of the sets that I can recall. And I have to say that I find many of the sets to be magnificent, both mechanically and visually. I love the mechanical swans in Swan Lake. There are two prop glitches that are almost a tradition. One is when Siegfried in Swan Lake throws an arrow that often doesn't come close to the target, but a mechanical one emerges stuck in the target anyway. The other is a replica dummy of Don Quixote getting caught in the windmill, which seldom seems to work as intended. These are almost traditions by now, along with some of the wigs, etc. that add a whimsical charm to repeated performances.

Edited by Buddy

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On 10/10/2019 at 12:44 PM, cubanmiamiboy said:

I saw two acts of some boring stuff by an unknown choreographer, much looking like the editing left overs of Esmeralda and DQ, and then I saw Petipa's Paquita Grand Pas.

Did you see any Sleeping Beauty influence?

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I keep thinking that Paquita didn't need a "re imagined" libretto. So officer Andres deserts to become a gypsy. Then he kills one of his own fellow officers, only to be re instated as an officer to marry Paquita. Oh...and the quartet of uniformed men he comes with in Act I don't recognize him later on when he's with the gypsies. Non sense. 

The original libretto with the French officer is way more logical. I will try to read "La Gitanilla" and see if all this absurd business can be validated.

Edited by cubanmiamiboy

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In the Smekalov version, it vaguely seems odd to me that the hero is not in any potential trouble for desertion...nobleman or not. (He could still be pardoned for it at the end.) I did, though, enjoy many aspects of the production which I saw for the first time this past evening, and I am looking forward to seeing it again tomorrow.

Edited by Drew

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On 10/11/2019 at 2:00 AM, Dreamer said:

Smekalov might be unknown to some (or many) in the US but he is quite a prolific choreographer with his own dance company in St. Petersburg.

And he also choreographs for famed figure skaters such as Evgeny Plushenko and Alexei Yagudin. Especially Plushenko's Tribute to Nijinsky was a very popular program. 

I have not seen the full Smekalov Paquita so I cannot comment on that but Smekalov's The Bronze Horseman is an epic work worth seeing.  

At least Smekalov is not an unknown choreographer.

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Personally, I like Smekalov's choreography for both Bronze Horseman and Paquita and think it's great that MT gives him these opportunities to choreograph!  OK, can't resist posting this, which is one of my favourites of his.  "Parting"

 

 

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