By Judith Mackrell for The Guardian
Watching the Eifman Ballet's Tchaikovsky, you can easily imagine its subject feeling hounded in his grave. Aside from the casual mauling of his music (a tinny compilation of greatest hits), this portrayal of Tchaikovsky's traumatised sexual and creative life is as histrionic as anything Ken Russell fantasised in The Music Lovers. The composer is plagued by characters from his most famous ballet scores as he battles with his homosexuality and fights to preserve the integrity of his music. This Tchaikovsky, as danced by Konstantin Matulevski with a quivering lip and anguished gaze, is not the brilliant musician, but a character who is nine parts torment, one part genius.
Yet Boris Eifman's version of the composer's life does build its own peculiar, flamboyant logic. On the surface, his plot progresses straightforwardly through the emotional points in Tchaikovsky's life: his troubled dependence on his domineering patron Countess Von Meck, his even more troubled attempts at loving a woman, his struggle with depression and desire for death. click for more
By Debra Craine for The Times
TWO famous Russians had the Boris Eifman treatment at Sadler’s Wells last week. The first was the ballerina Olga Spessivtseva, whose emotionally fraught life provided the inspiration for Eifman’s lurid ballet Red Giselle, which opened the company’s London season. The second was Tchaikovsky, whose emotionally fraught life provided the inspiration for the aptly titled Tchaikovsky, a colourful bio-ballet made in 1993, back when Russian contemporary dance was breaking free after years of restraint.
Like Red Giselle, Tchaikovsky is a showy, churning drama that sets out to explore the turbulent inner life of a character torn by conflicting desires — in this case, homosexuality. As the composer lies dying on a minimalist stage, his life is revealed in energetic flashbacks which mingle fact with fiction. click for more
****************************** Genius reduced to a self-loathing zombie
In The Daily Telegraph, Ismene Brown reviews Tchaikovsky performed by Eifman Ballet Theatre at Sadler's Wells.
With Tchaikovsky, Eifman Ballet Theatre, Russia's leading modern company, were treading on even thinner ice than with the previous offering, Red Giselle. Both productions waded unwisely into ballet-biography, a genre that has, in a fortnight, provided three outstanding contenders for Stinker of the Year. Bejart's Mother Teresa and the Children of the World was a dead-cert winner, until Red Giselle, Boris Eifman's coarsely miscalculated bio-ballet of the Diaghilev superstar Olga Spessivtseva. This made it clear that Eifman thinks like a tabloid headline-writer: "Gay boyfriend drove Bolshevik ballerina mad" summing it up.
But Tchaikovsky was in a class of its own. Any lingering doubts that Eifman is unmentionable anywhere near Kenneth MacMillan were put to flight in his 1993 fantasy portrait of another tortured genius, this one in a "gay, syphilitic schizophrenic shock". click for more
<small>[ 19 February 2003, 04:14 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>