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June 14, 2002 in Bolshoi Ballet
Ha-ha-ha...I'm here but working on a deadline in the office. Contrary to rumors I really have a normal job & have to produce every now & then. ;)
I LOVED last night's 'Bayadere' & promise a nice lengthy review later, perhaps tomorrow. Hopefully others will write, too.
It was the most pure FUN I've had at the ballet in a while (besides the gala-concert in St Petes in which the fan kissed the feet of his favorite ballerinas). What a tonic, following the semi-bomb of the new/old 'Baya' at the Kirov two weeks ago. I cried with delight. Good old-fashioned tom-tom dance, Golden Idol, a soaring Solor.
On the other hand...NO ELEPHANT??? :confused:
More later - promise.
They don't have an elephant -- I asked. No tiger either. They do have children, but these were left at home.
Well, I'm traveling again soon...work-related/non-Russia...so full review must go by the wayside. However, I'll expand a bit on what I wrote above.
Thursday night's Bolshoi 'Baya' was fun -- I laughed a lot! -- in that Grigorovich saw it fit to turn this work into a 'Spartacus in India.' Almost all of the elegant & 'quiet' ensemble dancing has been jazzed-up with hunters hopping up & down, when before they walked or marched....Egyptian-like priests in the procession (Act II) now stoop & thrust out arms, as if in search of Tanah Leaves, instead of merely walking in single file...that sort of thing. It's a hoot, unless one is so sensitive to Petipa that one is offended.
As Nikiya, Antonicheva was at her very best, compared to the gala & 'Swan lake' earlier in the week. She was at her best in the mournful adagio at the Betrothal Scene in Act II. She is a beauty in the face...when she gets the right make-up...unlike Act III!!
As Solor, Nikolai Tsiskaridze was spectacular & took many risks. I love virtuoso risky dancers & NT is my man of the moment!! Audience went nuts for him.
Maria Allash was OK as Gamzatti...a pretty girl, almost too sweet-looking for the role. Her famous Act II jetes variation was ho-hum...it didn't really zzzzing.
On the other hand, there was LOTS of 'zzzzinging' from the Golden Idol -- an absolutely-magnificent Dennis Medveyev -- one of the best I've ever seen!! And the Tom-Tom Dance was superb, with Yuliana Malkhasiants as the female half of the main pair; we could have used some of her abandon at the Kirov, earlier this month, with the all-too-careful rendering of the 1900 reconstruction.
The 'Danse Manu' (girl with the water jug) was OK but I really missed the two little girls who accompany Manu & try to knock-off the water jug...without the kids, this dance loses its spark & meaning & becomes too long. [The two kids were also missing from the Act I acrobatic (Soviet Era) adagio for Nikiya & a 'Strongman'...the two little girls are supposed to present Nikiya with white lilies near the end of the dance; Nikiya is lifted by the he-man & scatters the lilies...didn't happen here.
The corps of 32 shades were eloquent & precise in their entrace-dance. Sublime! On the other hand the three solo shades were every bit as sloppy & unmusical as they were at the opening night gala...although the new 3rd dhade, Maria Alexandrova was a tad better than Maria Allash at the gala.
p.s. to Alexandra - A commercial video of this production, filmed at the Bolshoi, is available from Kultur...so I already knew that the elephant & tiger-on-stick are omitted from the Act II procession. However, the 'chaise-longues' for Gamzatti & her father should have appeared, as they exist in this production. And those horrendous lilac costumes on Gamzatti & Solor, in that scene, are a new invention for this particular tour...back at home, Gamzatti & Solor are in the more traditional silver-and-white costumes for this act. Little nit-picking but it makes a difference to those of us who know & love this ballet very well.
But I had FUN & LAUGHED a lot with the hop-dee-doo romps of those spearmen & high priests. I guess that I was in a funny mood that night.
- Jeannie Szoradi
Thanks for that, Jeannie -- who would think of putting a HUNTER in mint (Act I) and lavender (Act II)? Uvarov and Ivanchenko both wore the white costume (the one that's on the program book cover).
I tried not to laugh -- I don't think they wanted us to laugh! But the bowing Egyptian priests were a bit much.
Several people pointed out that Nikia should not be partnered in Act II, that that variation was originally danced by a slave girl as entertainment. (I'm quoting someone else here; this isn't my observation) Nikia can't be partnered, can't be touched, because she's a virgin.
Neither Nikia on view here was particular virginal.
AT - You are so right about the non-virginal character of that 'Soviet Adagio' of Nikia & the He-man!!! That number was added to the 1940s Kirov production using, of all things, music from another Petipa-exotic oeuvre: "Talisman" by Riccardo Drigo. [That piece of music is oneof the most recycled ones in Mariinsky history! It appeared yet again in Act II of Petipa's revision of "Esmeralda" in the late 1890s, as an adagio at the wedding of Fleur-de-Lys. Later, ca 1980, the conductor-arranger Lanchberry used that very music for the 'Lotus Dance' of the Makarova Act III at ABT! However, the tune was first heard in 'Talisman' as far as I can tell.]
Thank goodness, the Nikia/He-man Adagio was excised in the most recent Kirov-Mariinsky production...the one that may or MAY NOT make it to the stage of the Met come July 8, 2002. If the Kirov sends its 1941 version, then we'll see the Nikia/He-man Adagio back on the stage of the Met, after all.
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