CriticalDance Forum

"Le Corsaire" in London 2003
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Author:  OdileGB [ Fri Jul 25, 2003 4:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Le Corsaire" in London 2003

I had never seen 'Le Corsaire' before Wednesday night and I have to admit this is not going to be one of my favourites. The story is vey thin to put it mildly and if you were to add just one more colour to sets and costumes they would come dangerously close to being a hazard to one's eyesight. It is just too over the top for my taste.

Anyway we were treated to some lovely dancing. Sofia Gumerova seems to have matured considerably since their last London tour. Elvira Tarasova sparkled as Gulnara and Igor Kolb was quite impressive as Ali. There were many other notable performances in other roles too and the corps de ballet were as accurate as ever. It certainly takes a great company to make this ballet work at least to some degree.

<small>[ 25 July 2003, 06:29 AM: Message edited by: OdileGB ]</small>

Author:  Nino [ Sat Jul 26, 2003 3:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Le Corsaire" in London 2003

Yes, I usually approach this ballet in an intellectual cringe... sort of nudge nudge wink wink way of showing a respectable St Petersburg nineteenth century audience stuff like semi naked females, rapacious males, abduction and so on. Thank heavens its got some stunning set pieces one can concentrate on instead.

Author:  mehunt [ Sat Jul 26, 2003 7:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Le Corsaire" in London 2003

Corsaire is ...ummm.... quite a story. Have the audiences been responding to it positively though? (The company I mean, not necessarily the actual story itself!)

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Jul 26, 2003 7:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Le Corsaire" in London 2003

The "Corsaire" matinee I went to was well received, especially for Sarafanov as Ali. However, the applause for "Swan Lake" was greater I believe, albeit with a very starry cast.

Author:  djb [ Sat Jul 26, 2003 9:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Le Corsaire" in London 2003

I can't help but think that Tchaikovsky's music might also have had something to do with Swan Lake getting more applause. Better music makes for a better ballet.

Last night I went to a San Francisco Symphony concert, a Gershwin tribute. All of the music was wonderful. But Rhapsody in Blue -- the best piece on the program, in my opinion -- got a standing ovation. I think the audience generally was of my opinion. Granted, the pianist was excellent, but not any more so than the singers in the excerpts from Porgy and Bess.

<small>[ 26 July 2003, 11:41 AM: Message edited by: djb ]</small>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Jul 26, 2003 9:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Le Corsaire" in London 2003

That sounds like a great concert djb and I would have been on my feet for Porgy and Bess. "There's a Boat" mesmerized me when I first heard it.

Seen on a video this week, the music from that well known score, "Porky and Bess", I kid you not!

However, it goes a lot deeper than than just the music I suspect. "Swan Lake" has an emotional impact and the contrast between Acts II and III is one of the most striking in ballet

Author:  djb [ Sat Jul 26, 2003 10:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Le Corsaire" in London 2003

"P-P-P-Porky and Bess"? (That won't make any sense if the old Warner Bros. cartoons aren't known in the UK.)

Yes, you're right about the emotional impact, of course. But for me, what makes Swan Lake the best of the 19th-century ballets is primarily the music.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Jul 27, 2003 12:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Le Corsaire" in London 2003

Jumped up
Tongue-in-cheek fun makes up for a lack of conviction in the Kirov’s Le Corsaire, says David Dougill for The Sunday Times.

The Kirov Ballet’s latest season at Covent Garden promises, as usual, plenty of riches, including its first London performances of the reconstructed, full-length La Bayadère (fascinating, by report), Nijinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Nijinska’s Les Noces and Harald Lander’s Etudes. But it opened on Monday with one of its jolliest productions from the old 19th-century repertoire, the picaresque Le Corsaire.

click for more

Author:  Emma Pegler [ Sun Jul 27, 2003 12:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Le Corsaire" in London 2003

You can't have too many dancing girls

Jann Parry
The Observer
Le Corsaire
Kirov Ballet

A mighty crash of cymbals heralded the start of the Kirov's three-week summer season: Le Corsaire opens with a storm, a shipwreck and a silent-movie score credited to at least five composers. Very loosely based on Byron's poem, the ballet is a buccaneering tale of abduction, slavery, bravery and true love.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Jul 27, 2003 2:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Le Corsaire" in London 2003

Jann Parry wrote:

On tour, however, the emphasis is on the Russian heritage ballets. Le Corsaire is a bit of a cheat because it's a Soviet concoction, blithely mixing choreography from different eras along with a Petipa setpiece from 1868, the Jardin Animé, in the last act.
I was surprised at this paragraph for a variety of reasons. It is true that the Kirov has carried out reconstructions of early productions of "Sleeping Beauty" and now "La Bayadere", which incidentally still contain 20th C elements, often to prevent the men being bored to death. However, it's worth noting:

- That the current Kirov "Swan Lake" is also a production from the Soviet period from Konstantin Sergeyev, with a range of 20th C additions and deletions.
- When the Kirov were in Salford in May, they performed Ponomarev's 1941 version of "La Bayadere". So both Soviet and reconstructed versions remain in the touring rep.
- Of the 6 ballets in the upcoming triple bills, only two are long-standing ballets from the Kirov rep.
- The use of the word "concoction" seems odd. Petipa's "Giselle" is an amalgam of the original Coralli and Perrot production plus his own innovations. Do we think of that as a "concoction"?

The truth is that ballets develop and change. Further, on the last tour, I appreciated the chance to see the 4-hour reconstructed Kirov "Sleeping Beauty", but it is not my preferred production.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Jul 28, 2003 12:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Le Corsaire" in London 2003

Dated, vulgar, gawdy, implausible... in a word, delectable
By Jenny Gilbert
27 July 2003

The times they are a-changing, and nowhere more than at the Maryinsky Ballet of St Petersburg, better known to British audiences as The Kirov. It's significant that Russia's premier ballet company, with its unbroken line of descent from the heyday of the court of the Tsar, should have reverted to its pre-Soviet name - even if the rest of the world seems peculiarly resistant to it.

For the past 10 years have seen The Kirov steadily revamping its repertory, purging its 19th-century classics of the ideological and aesthetic dictates of the Soviet era and adding "modern" ballets from the 20th century, though as yet 1950s Balanchine is about as modern as it gets.

click for more

Author:  art076 [ Thu Jul 31, 2003 6:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Le Corsaire" in London 2003

"Le Corsaire"
Royal Opera House
Wednesday, July 23, 8 p.m.

I saw the evening performance of "Le Corsaire" on Wednesday, July 23. Unfortunately, there wasn't any real excitement coming from the stage that night, though it may have been my perspective in the auditorium - standing at the back of the amphitheatre. From there, one looks down on the proceedings and wonders why anyone should care what is going on at all - the production doesn't make much of a concerted effort to jump out and get the audience to pay attention. Plus, the whole ballet doesn't make much sense (plotwise) to begin with, so when it appears as though the cast is "going through the motions," it makes for an ordeal. I've read about how ballet in opera houses used to be almost secondary entertainment to the audience's watching of other people in the audience - I can see how this ballet may have come out of that era.

This sounds harsh - but I did like some of the ballet. There were isolated moments of brilliance (e.g. Act I's pas d'eclave with Gulnare and the slave trader and the Act II pas de trois), but the company as a whole did not seem to wake up until Act III's Jardin Anime sequence. There, the stage lighting actually gets much brighter, the costuming is colorful, and we get to see the Kirov's famed corps de ballet in action, doing what they do best. And the Jardin Anime dances were done extremely well, and I was in ballet heaven for a few minutes. Overall, the aforemention pas de deux/pas de trois and the Jardin Anime secenes were the truly wonderful. I just wish the rest of the performance was like that.

Sofia Gumerova was a technically clean Medora - which made for an excellent Act II pas de toris -but she and Vladimir Shishov (as Conrad) barely seemed to notice one another beyond choreographed glances.

This version of "Le Corsaire" may simply be too melodramatic. I kept comparing the performance to that of American Ballet Theatre's, which I have seen and enjoyed many, many times. Despite the fact that ABT's version isn't very dramatically sound either, the production really chooses to have fun with the ballet. From the opening, the audience is treated to virtually non-stop delights, and the diversion into plot is treated comically and in a spirit of good fun. Some of the ABT production's revisions also work much better: the dance of the Odalisques is performed in Act I instead of in Act III like the Kirov's. In Act I, the dance makes more of an excuse to be there: the girls are being traded in the market. Sitting in Act III, the dance seems to appear out of nowhere; yes they are the pasha's harem, but there is no real reason for them to dance. As for the Jardin Anime sequence, I like much better that the ABT production turns it into a fantasy/dream sequence. It seems overblown and silly that in the Kirov production, the harem suddenly gets decked out in bright tutus and begins dancing. ABT's production also re-orchestrates much of the musical score, presumably to match the spirit of its production. The reorchestrations are, however, superior to the Kirov's orchestrations; the Kirov production's music is heavy and uninteresting accompaniment. But overall, I think the main difference between the ABT and Kirov productions is that ABT's is just more entertaining. Perhaps I caught the Kirov on an off night, but the mime was boring, overlong and very melodramatic. ABT has fun with it. Take whichever version you like, but when it comes to "Le Corsaire," I prefer the fun of ABT's.


<small>[ 31 July 2003, 09:14 AM: Message edited by: art076 ]</small>

Author:  coda [ Thu Jul 31, 2003 3:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Le Corsaire" in London 2003

Some critics really plunge me into depression. This time it was Jenny Gilbert of "The Independent" who, apparently, did not bother to read the cast list or the programme or press releases and even has no idea how the Kirov dancers look. However, she wrote a review on "Le Corsair":
"...young Leonid Sarafanov - a sprig of a boy fresh from the Vaganova School..."
"...The efforts of Ilya Kuznetsov as Conrad, the noble shipwreckee, were almost as rapturously received. Romantically enhanced by a Björn Borg headband, his floppy hair flying, he presented the most lovable of heroes, the exertion of his beautifully padded jump never once clouding his frank and sunny smile..."
Sarafanov's teachers in Kiev will not be amused while Ilya Kuznetsov who stayed in St.Petersburg will be amazed to learn how highly he was praised in his absence. Then, what about "the most lovable of heroes", Vladimir Shishov, whose name was not mentioned at all by this 'critic' and whose merits were ascribed to an absent man? Why do the editors pay for this non-professional work?

<small>[ 31 July 2003, 06:16 PM: Message edited by: coda ]</small>

Author:  mehunt [ Thu Jul 31, 2003 4:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Le Corsaire" in London 2003

I agree it is frustrating, coda, but I have to sympathize a little with the reviewer (being one). For companies you don't really follow closely, one is so dependent on other people's information. All it takes is a quick look at the wrong casting sheet (which, I must admit, when I'm writing an overnight review at 3 am, I have been known to do) and there's mistake.

Of course most writers try to check themselves before filing, but mistakes like that do happen. When I reviewed the Moscow Stanislavsky Ballet I was afraid of making the same mistake, so I faxed the casting sheet to my editor, and it still took the two of us ten minutes of going back and forth to make sure we had the right names for the right people.

Hopefully the Independent will print a correction though.

Author:  Cassandra [ Fri Aug 01, 2003 1:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Le Corsaire" in London 2003

For companies you don't really follow closely, one is so dependent on other people's information. All it takes is a quick look at the wrong casting sheet (which, I must admit, when I'm writing an overnight review at 3 am, I have been known to do) and there's mistake.
I appreciate that and can sympathize as Russian companies are notorious for last minute changes, but the Kirov dancers are very frequent visitors to London and Ilya Kuznetsov last danced here only a couple of months ago. He is one of ballets biggest extroverts - once seen never forgotten. I have to agree with Coda that this was an inexcusable mistake.

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