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Bolshoi at the Bolshoi - PLISETSKAYA DANCES!


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Greetings. Just a really quick note from St Petersburg to describe a delightful surprise that I witnessed at the Bolshoi Theater (Moscow) a couple of night ago - Maya Plisetsya STILL dancing, to Schubert's 'Ave Maria'! It was the opening of a week-long festival dedicated to her husband, composer Rodion Schedrin. I attended this performance to see Anastasia Volochkova's 'Carmen' (ballet by Alberto Alonso to Schedrin's score). Little did any of us in the audience know what was in store for us, as it was totally unannounced in the programme/playbill -- suddenly the house lights dim, strains of Ave Maria played on a harp, and it's Maya Plisetskaya stage-center, very trim and beautiful, still with her trademark red hair, wearing a form-fitting black silk blouse-and-pants outfit, twirling two red feathered fans in her hands. The choreography was 80-percent Fokine's 'Dying Swan' pas de bourees and such, ending in the trademark pose on the floor (a-la Odette at start of Swan Lake adagio). The audience went nuts. We had just seen a Living Legend make magic in HER theater.

I feel privileged to have been there and wished to share with all of you.

Volochkova & Ivanchenko were fine, too. But what an act to follow!

Blessings on this holiday season - from Russia, with Love!

Jeannie Szoradi

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Sorry, but I think that both Volochkova and Ivanchenko were not more than pale shades of Carmen and Jose. They nearly ruined my unforgettable impressions of the "Carmen-suite" I sherish for years since I've seen it for the first time. After seeing this performanced I was forced to use as a remedy a video-tape with Maya Plisetskaya. I can assure you that 99% of Moscow balletomanes had similar feelings.

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I don't think that we attended the same performance, Ina. I was at the performance in which half of the parterre stood up and wildly shouted 'bravo" at Volochkova. I agree that her Carmen doesn't come close to Plisetskaya or Alonsos in spirit. However, she (& the Don Jose, Ivanchenko) danced the steps very well and with musicality. On the other hand, the guy who danced the Toreodor (Dennis Matvienko) was horribly bland...despite his reputation as a whiz-bang dancer.

I was troubled - have always been - by Anastasia Volockova's supermodel-primping personna, so I don't easily give her any sort of praise. But I stand by my brief comment: she was 'fine' that night. Nothing more - nothing less. The bravo-shouting hordes obviously thought that she was more than 'fine.'

WHAT REALLY BUGGED ME - Where the heck did her long flouncy costume, for the final scene, come from??? I don't recall that glamour-puss dress in the Alonso or Plisetskaya films. La Volochkova is notorious for her own extra-glitter costumes!

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This is becoming an interesting exchange of views. Could the infamous Bolshoi claque have been involved on this occasion?

It took me some time to distinguish between genuine enthusiastic applause and the noise created by these rather sinister people, but I'm now quite well attuned to the Bolshoi audience and able to differentiate between the two.

According to a newspaper article I read a few years ago in the UK, the Bolshoi claque operates on two levels, offering its services to provide over-long and over-loud applause to artists prepared to pay for this or, more unpleasantly, threatening to disrupt the performances of those that don't. Examples of this disruption included a broom being thrown onto the stage and an alarm clock being set off in the auditorium.

I personally had a brush with one of these people two years ago when a rather unkempt man barged into the box I was sharing with two friends during the Polovtsian act of the opera Price Igor. He loudly and ostentatiously cheered and applauded the woman singing the role of Konchakovna (she was dreadful), as did several of his "comrades" from strategic areas of the auditorium. Unfortunately neither my friends nor myself had sufficient Russian to deal with this man effectively and it was as well that we didn't seek help from a member of the theatre staff, as apparently the staff is known to frequently collude with them.

By the way this is not something I've ever witnessed in the UK and I'm told it is unheard of in the US also.

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