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Mariinsky Theatre

'Romeo and Juliet'

by Catherine Pawlick

15 November 2008 -- St. Petersburg, Russia

The Mariinsky Theatre filled to the brim on November 15th as locals and foreigners alike crowded the house in anticipation of Leonid Sarafanov’s debut in “Romeo and Juliet”. This young dancer whose growing talent seemingly knows no bounds is a Petersburg favorite among local audiences, and his performance on Saturday night proved him worthy of each “bravo” that echoed through the hall.

From his first entrance, Sarafanov’s strong characterization of the dreamy romantic matched his strength of technique. It is one thing to be able to dance, but another to be able to act. Sarafanov does both with authority. Every tour-jeté was an expression of his love for Juliet, and done with the intensity that only young lovers hold. But even in the non-dancing sections he captured the attention of everyone in the house.

Olesya Novikova is a veteran Juliet by now, but her performance was nonetheless as fresh as a spring day. Seemingly born for this role, Novikova’s light jump, effortless legwork and soft arms epitomized the beautiful young Capulet. Together the couple seems a dancing pair made in heaven; their lines and technical levels compliment each other, and both have a talent for dramatic expression. In her interaction with the Nurse, danced with bumbling affection by Tatiana Gorionova , Novikova’s childish playfulness proved a nice contrast to her anguish later on in her struggles with a forceful Father (Vladimir Ponomarev). By the final scene, when her realization that Romeo was dead drove her–without hesitation–to her own suicide, we had watched Novikova’s Juliet mature considerably in the span of just a few hours.

As Tybalt, Andrey Yakovlev (2nd) did a good job depicting the enraged Capulet itching for a fight. In his attack on Mercutio, Yakovlev appeared intent on the kill (which, obviously, he succeeded in). Alexander Sergeev must be mentioned for his brilliance as Mercutio.  His noble lines bring polish to any role he dances, and here the character’s playful nature came across clearly. Just three years ago it was Sarafanov in his place, which gives one hope that Sergeev will soon be rewarded for his talents with a long overdue promotion.

Dramatic awards should be extended as well to Sergey Salikov as Paris, whose initial keen interest and later confusion at Juliet’s temper tantrum created a more tangible sense of his character than is often the case. Likewise, as Benvolio, Islam Baimuradov was the ideal choice to round out Romeo’s pair of friends.

 Maxim Zuizin danced the red bereted Toreador with beautiful lines. As his partner Viktoria Kutepova was adequate in her role.

Boris Gruzin conducted.

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