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Bolshoi in DC -- 6/12 Swan Lake


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I did. ;) I'd say it was a run-of-the-mill performance, equal to ABT on a non-star night. Anna Antonicheva appears to be a "house ballerina" (a more tactful way of saying utility ballerina)—competent but nothing special. It's hard to enjoy her performance when she looks so pained; I don't think she was injured, the expression seems to be habitual with her. (See the head shot of her on Marc Haegeman's site.) Both she and Andrei Uvarov were much freer and more relaxed than at the opening gala, and I warmed to Uvarov a bit more than I had on opening night.

The "twin" Marias, Alexandrova and Allash, danced the pas de trois (with Uvarov) and two of the national dances in Act III. Two years ago, Alexandrova looked poised to become the Bolshoi's new star, but here she is, back in soloist roles again. She will get to dance Gamzatti on Friday, however.

Grigorovich's production has a new, puzzling ending: Odette bourees behind a scrim and dies, Siegfried suffers silently centerstage. At least in other versions they get to be together, whether in death or in life.

It's strange to see the Bolshoi like this. In the past, they always elicited some kind of feeling, be it positive or negative, but never before have they been boring.

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Did anyone else go? Is the Pope Polish? Here's my quick take, working from memory, so apologies if I omit the names of some soloists.

June 12, 2002

Bolshoi Ballet's 'Swan Lake'

Yuri Grigorovich's revised version, 2001

A far more satisfying night than the opening gala, not only because it was a full ballet, but because the overall level of dancing, especially by the corps, was on a higher level...not great, mind you, just 'higher'!

Changes to this version, compared to early Grigorovich -

Comparing what I know from the videos of the earlier Grigorovich version (starring Bessmertnova in one; Mikhalchenko in another)the most obvious change is the new, not-so-happy finale to the story -- Rothbart takes Odette down to sea with him, after she bourees to him behind a screen, leaving a sad Siegfried on stage alone. Grigorovich has also heightened the role of Rothbart a bit, particularly at the start of Act II, before the entrance of Odette; Rothbart partners Siefried and even lifts him a time or two. Last night's Rothbart, Dmitri Belogolobtsev, is an overall stronger dancer than the Siegfried, Andrei Uvarov, and the additions/extra-zippiness to the role of Rothbart seem tailor-made for Belogolobtsev. (A long essay on this revival, in the May/June 2001 issue of the Russian magazine 'Balet' seems to support this theory...Rothbart-Belogolobtsev was Grigorovich's true inspiration this time around.)

All Moscow & Mother Russia cheered the return of this production last year...just as it cheered the return of the Soviet national anthem, with revised wording, around the same time! If you had seen the Vasiliev version of 'Swan Lake' that this one replaced, then you would well understand what all the cheering was about when the Grigorovich returned. "All is now well in the Land of Oz, amen"...such was the feeling.

Last night's performance - the dancing:

Belogolobtsev was wonderful, especially in lightning-paced jetes & in his menacing solo of pirouettes a la seconde in the ballroom scene, surrounded by eight black swans.

Hurrah! -- the Jester lives! Yes, the Jester from the earlier production remains and, why not, given the glorious zingy dancing of the short Japanese dancer who essayed the role (M. Ibata, I think, is his name). The audience sprung to life after his first cavorting in Act I; huge volley of 'bravos' for this might-mite jester!

Anna Antonicheva must have gotten over her jet lag, as she was quite lovely & stronger last night, especially as the swan queen Odette. [but who advised her on her make-up for the white acts - frosty-white shadow on her eyelids & pale lipstick -- looked like a cadaver in motion. In contrast, her Odile makeup was gorgeous; no wonder Siegfried fell for the black swan!] Antonicheva's black swan was OK until the 32 fouettes which, as in the gala, were weak. So she is back on tonight for Nikiya...hmmmm...good luck to her.

As Siegried, Andrei Uvarov was an elegant gentleman....but no match for so powerful a Rothbart as Belogolobsev.

One of my long-time favorite features of the Grigorovich version of 'Swan Lake' are the five national dances performed by the fiancee-princesses on pointe, with respective 'platoons' of corps dancers! Last night's five princesses were all lovely:

Hungarian - Maria Allash

Russian - Olga Suvorova

Neapolitan - Nina Kaptsova

Spanish - Maria Alexandrova (those feather-light jetes of hers!)

Polish (Mazurka) - Mariana Ryzhkina ??

The corps of swans were lovely. They must be rehearsed day-in/day-out in this ballet & the near-perfection shows, especially in the legs. It's too bad that the hands & arms seem to go every which way.

Similar sloppiness was displayed during the palace scenes by a group of male corps members portraying "trumpet players" -- instruments so long, they look like muskets -- and those trumpet-muskets went every which way at times, instead of switching left-to-right in unison. Either do it precisely or keep the darn trumpets in one position, guys!!!

Sets & Costumes -

These remain as in the earlier Grigorovich. They are the work of Simon Virsaladze, who designed most of Grigorovich's ballets for three decades. The costumes remain stunning as ever. On the other hand, the heavy-metallic/glittery sets date the production...it's 'That 70's Show'!!!!

Jeannie Szoradi

Washington, DC

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