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"Swan Lake" and a Robbins-Petit mixed bill at the Paris Oper

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The POB season will start at the end of september with two programs:

-a Robbins-petit mixed bill, at the Opéra Garnier (Sept 27- 0ct 5), including Robbins' "The Cage" and "Other dances", two works which had entered the company's repertory about two seasons ago, and Petit's "Passacaille", created for the POB in 1994,

and "L'Arlesienne", created for Petit's Ballet de Marseille in 1974 and which had entered the POB's repertory in 1997.

I'm a bit puzzled about the logic of that program: Robbins and Petit both are choreographers which have enjoyed quite a lot of success with the POB, but to me there is little in common between them. Also, the two works of Petit in the program are relatively inferior in my opinion: I had seen the premiere of "Passacaille" in 1995, and had found it relatively boring (and I really didn't find Webern's score much suited to dance) and "L'Arlesienne" was interesting only thanks to the interpretation of the main role... And for Robbins, I'd have preferred to see "Dances at a gathering", which hasn't been danced by the POB for nearly a decade, but I suspect that there might be some copyright issues involved. But well, for me, if I can see Manuel Legris in "Other dances" it will be worth the trip! :)

The POB web site includes some information about the casting (3 casts for 8 performances). Interesting news: Isabelle Guérin will come back for "The Cage", "Other dances" and "L'Arlésienne"! :) The only principals in the casting are Laetitia Pujol (in "The Cage" and "Other dances", whch she had danced two seasons ago), Marie-Agnès Gillot (in "The Cage"), Nicolas Le Riche and Manuel Legris (both in "The Cage" and "L'Arlesienne"), and Jean-Guillaume Bart (in "Other Dances"). The premiers danseurs will be Eleonora Abbagnato, Delphine Moussin, Clairemarie Osta, Karin Averty, Nathalie Riqué, Yann Bridard, Benjamin Pech and Wilfrid Romoli.

In my opinion, it's a pity that the newest premiere danseuse, Nolwenn Daniel, isn't cast in "Other dances", as she was really lovely in a variation from that work during the annual competition of the corps de ballet.

-Nureyev's production of "Swan Lake", at the Opera Bastille (Sept 27- Oct 30).

Only the casts for the main roles are listed (with no dates). As Odette-Odile, Agnès Letestu, Elisabeth Maurin (probably her last series of "Swan Lake", as she'll turn 40 on Jan 1, 2003), Laetitia Pujol (new to the role) and Svetlana Zakharova. Delphine Moussin, who had danced in the previous time it was programmed, doesn't seem to be cast in it.

As Siegfried: Jean-Guillaume Bart, Manuel Legris, Nicolas Le Riche, Jose Martinez, and Benjamin Pech (I think it will be Pech's first Siegfried, but am not sure). As Rothbart, Kader Belarbi, or Yann Bridard, or Lionel Delanoë, or Karl Paquette, or Wilfried Romoli.

Two principals are missing from all the casts: Aurélie Dupont and Laurent Hilaire. I don't know about Hilaire, but Aurélie Dupont got injured at the end of the previous season, and unfortunately she seems not to have fully recovered yet. What a pity, it would have been interesting to see her in any of the two programs.

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The casts for "Swan Lake" have been posted on the POB page.


So there will be (Odette-Odile/ Siegfried/ Rothbart):

-Letestu/ Martinez/ Belarbi or Romoli

-Gillot/ Moreau/ Saiz

-Pujol/ Bart/ Belarbi

-Letestu/ Le Riche/ Martinez

-Zakharova/ Bart/ Belarbi

-Maurin/ Pech/ Paquette or Romoli (I'm still a bit puzzled: why do they pair Maurin and Pech so often, as their styles seem quite different to me... :confused: )

So it is a bit different from what had been announced: no Manuel Legris as Siegfried, no Bridard or Delanoe as Rothbart, and Marie-Agnes Gillot gets to dance Odette-Odile once. In the pas de trois, there will be (I'm too lazy to type the exact casts) Abbagnato, Averty, Daniel, Osta, Fiat, Hurel, Aubin, Ciaravola, Kudo, Cozette, Zusperreguy, Cordellier for the women, and Bélingard, Saiz, Thibault, Duquenne, Moreau, Carbone, Gaudion for the men.

Of course all that is likely to change again...

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Guest Marjorie Miller

Estelle: thanks for your extensive information. I haven't been able to find any casting on the POB site. I'll be at the Garnier on 9/26, and the Bastille on 10/1. I'd like to add one performance each: 9/25 at the Garnier, and 10/2 at the Bastille. Can you tell me if there will be different casts on those evenings? Also, any advice for a short person regarding sight lines at the Bastille?

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Marjorie, welcome on this board (as I see it is your first post)! :)

Clicking on the link in my post (on the second line) should lead you to the page with the casts.

The cast announced for Oct 1st is: Letestu (Odette-Odile), Martinez (Siegfried), Belarbi (Rothbart), Abbagnato, Averty, Bélingard (pas de trois). That for Oct 2nd is: Gillot, Moreau, Saïz, Fiat, Hurel, Thibault. So, unless there is some last minute change, it should be different. The casts for the other program haven't been announced in detail on the site yet: there is a list of performers, but no dates.

Alymer: yes, Le Riche and Letestu is a strange pairing too (I hadn't noticed it at first). I don't know Le Riche's height, but yes, she might be a bit too tall. And Letestu's style is much more reserved that that of Le Riche...The casting policy of the POB is hard to understand. Probably the fact that there are not many active principals doesn't help: there are only 4 female principals, and among them Aurélie Dupont, who would have surely danced Odette-Odile, is absent for injury (she's really unlucky: since she became a principal, she was absent a lot of time because of some injuries), that leaves 3 principals (Letestu, Maurin, and the newly promoted Pujol) for 25 performances, and Pujol also dances in the Robbins-Petit program. Maurin is close to retirement (she'll turn 40 in january), and doesn't seem to be very much appreciated by the direction given the way she's cast, Pujol has never danced it before, that's probably why the direction chose to invite Zakharova again, and to give 7 performances to Letestu... And there are not so many active male principals in it, as Hilaire and Legris who had danced it previously won't perform it this time, and there probably is a lack of tall prince-ish premiers danseurs now (Moreau only is a sujet, and I don't know if he is that tall).

I would say that when reading those casts, I realized that it really was a change of generations- many principals have retired in the last few seasons, or have stopped doing

prince roles (like Belarbi and Hilaire). A few years ago there were too many dancers for such roles, but now there doesn't seem to be that many people ready to replace the previous generation of principals.

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The casts for both programs have been updated on the POB web site. Laetitia Pujol is absent of both casts, probably because of an injury :)

For "Swan Lake":

Delphine Moussin is dancing instead of Laetitua Pujol. There also are some changes in the pas de trois, for example on Oct 1st it's now Fiat-Hurel-Carbone and for Oct 2nd Daniel-Averty-Duquenne.

For the Robbins-Petit mixed bill:

instead of Laetitia Pujol, Eleonora Abbagnato will dance "Other dances" with Jean-Guillaume Bart, and Laure Muret will dance "The Cage" once.

Giannina, the cast for Oct 4 is supposed to be: Abbagnato, Bridard and Riqué (all premiers danseurs) in "The Cage", Isabelle Guérin and Manuel Legris in "Other Dances" (that should be great :) ), and Clairemarie Osta and Jérémie Bélingard in "L'Arlésienne". But of course it might change...

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Thanks, Estelle!! I agree about "Other Dances" having the potential for being great. "The Cage" is a favorite of mine and I wish I knew more about the leads; however the choreography almost carries itself unless the lead is not masterful (think Heather Watts).

Can't wait!


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Guest clamous


i swaw swan lake yesterday evening in Paris (i live in paris).

Delphine Moussin was very beautiful (technic & artistic).

Jean-Guillaume a little bit disappointing technically in the 2nd act but a very good parternship. the ballet was pretty good but some big problems : Fiat and Cozette failed to fall.

Aurore Cordellier is injuried (she was supposed to dance "le pas de trois" le 22th, and the "danse espagnole" the 22th and the 28th with Gernez)

Gilbert will dance Czadas with Renaud the 25th and the 30th

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On September 26, I attended the second performance of the Robbins-Petit

miixed bill". Before attending it I was not very enthusiastic about the content of the program, as I had seen three of the four works in recent seasons, and didn't have especially good memories of the fourth one ("Passacaille"). But it turned out to be a good evening.

"Passacaille" had been premiered for the POB in 1994, during Dupond's directorship, along with two other works, "Rythmes de valses" and "Camera Obscura", all on Viennese music. "Rythmes de valses" was performed in another series of performances, but neither "Passacaille" nor "Camera Obscura" had been performed until last year. However, Petit revived "Passacaille" for the Bolshoi recently, and that's probably why he decided to revive it for the POB too.

The main roles, which had been premiered by Agnes Letestu and Jose Martinez (who were not yet etoiles back then), were performed that night by two talented sujets, Stéphane Phavorin and Céline Talon. The work itself was less boring that what I remembered of the 1994 performance I saw (but then, a few minutes before the beginning of the program, I had strained by ankle when rushing down the stairs to get a program booklet, which probably didn't help :rolleyes: ) , but still didn't look very satisfying to me. Roland Petit generally is at his best with theatrical works with strong characters, and the few abstract works of his weren't very convincing. "Passacaille" strangely made me think of some Balanchine-Stravinsky works, like "Agon", "Rubies", "Violin Concerto" or even "Apollo",

except that I found the score (Webern's "Five movements for string orchestra opus 5 " and "Passacaille for string orchestra op. 1") far less suited to ballet that Stravinsky's work, and the choreography, while not bad, far less inspired in general that Balanchine's. Most of the work was dark and slow, with a lot of somewhat acrobatic portés of the female dancers, and I kept on waiting for it to liven up. Well, I had plenty of time to see Herve Le Roux's funny costumes with horizontal stripes (white and flesh-colored) and the good work of the corps de ballets of 12 couples of dancers, and Talon and Phavorin both did an excellent job.

"The Cage" featured an impressive Marie-Agnès Gillot as the Queen (I regret not having seen her yet as Myrtha); Eleonora Abbagnato was good but perhaps a little bit too soft as the novice. Wilfried Romoli was excellent as the second man,

and the corps de ballet was in top shape.

I was especially glad to be able to see Isabelle Guérin in "Other Dances", as there aren't many opportunities to see her now that she's officially retired from the POB. She was very charming and poetic in Robbins' delicate ballet. On the other hand, I was slightly disappointed with Nicolas Le Riche's performance- he didn't do anything wrong, but his style was less to my taste than Manuel Legris' (whom I had seen two seasons ago), what was pure delight with Legris looked more ordinary with Le Riche.

The last work of the program, "L'Arlesienne", was the hightlight of the evening for me. The plot is inspired by Alphonse Daudet's short story (which is available online there:

http://www.ifrance.com/lestroisprovencaux/...ux/lettres6.htm ) and the play which he had made later after the story:


Curiously, "L'Arlesienne" has become an expression in French (meaning something or someone that many people talk about but which is never seen- as the character of l'Arlesienne- which means, the woman from Arles- in the story) but most people have never heard of that story itself (the play was very popular during the late 19th century and the early 20th century, after having been a big failure at the beginning). It deals with a young man from Provence, Frederi, who falls madly in love with a woman from Arles who doesn't love him, gets fianced with Vivette but can't forget his "Arlesienne", and it ends tragically. Petit's ballet features only two dancers in the main roles, Frederi and Vivette, and a corps de ballet of 16 dancers in dark, who do geometric shapes and sometimes act like a sort of chorus. The choreography isn't that great- but it can give great performances with suitable dancers. Those I saw were Delphine Moussin, a very moving Vivette, and Manuel Legris, who was absolutely wonderful frrom the beginning to the end. His stunning performance made me regret that he never danced some other works of Petit like "Le jeune homme et la mort", and transformed that evening in an unforgettable experience.

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Guest clamous

In fact, Cozette and Fiat had nearly the same problem but at different moment. At the end of the "pas de trois" for Fiat and the swan of the 2nd act for Cozette, when came the moment for greetings, they almost falled, it can be a concentration or a technical problem, I don't know.

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Finally....Paris Opera Ballet in Paris.

The best part about the performance Wednesday, Oct. 3 was meeting Estelle. We shared an evening at Opera Bastille...a modern and rather stark building. Our seats were 2nd row orchestra, a pleasant surprise for both of us. Of course a behemoth sat in front of me but with artful dodging I saw Agnes Letestu and Jose Martinez in Swan Lake. It's a long ballet with only one intermission; this is the way it should be and I wish all Swan Lakes were thus. (I'll have to admit it's a killer if you have jet lab, which I did in spades.) I have a few qualms with Letestu which have nothing to do with her dancing; putting them aside I found her performance lovely, in parts brilliant. Great feet. The Tutor is also Rothbart, and as Rothbart he does a lot of running with cape flowing behind him....so Nureyev-ish.

On Thurs, Oct. 4 my husband, Frank, and I saw a performance at Palaise Garnier. The best part about the performance Thursday was the Opera House. We'd seen the lobby 2 years previously, a wonder of staircases and sculptures and chandeliers and grandeur. Our seats were in the balcony and we were flabbergasted to find that all balcony seats are boxes! Six arm chairs, one armless chair, and a small settee per box with room to move about. The line of site can be a problem but we (Frank) moved around and eventually solved the problem. The program opened with Roland Petit's Passacaille; I did not care for it. Next was Jerome Robbin's The Cage with Laure Muret. This ballet is a favorite of mine and though it lacked a bit I did enjoy it. This was followed by Robbins' Other Dances with Isabelle Guerin and Manuel Legris, both wonderful dancers. I can't rid myself of the Baryshnikov influence in this ballet; I feel it was choreographed for his style and is therefore flashy and smacks of Broadway. It would do better without it. None the less it's a lovely piece. The program ended with Petit's L'Arlesienne. It was slow in starting and I was already shutting myself down, but it became beautiful and moving. The star is the male dancer, in this case Jeremie Belingard as the tortured Frederi; wonderful dancing and acting.

Two great evenings.

Of note. Big note. The Paris audience does not abuse applause. The wait until the appropriate moment to show their approval. In fact, they went through the entire ballet L'Arlesienne, with has several dramatic solos and duets, without any applause at all, almost an abuse at the other extreme but still preferable to drowning the evening with noise.


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