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"Swan Lake" in London - 2003
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Jul 12, 2003 7:54 am ]
Post subject:  "Swan Lake" in London - 2003

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Performances of "Swan Lake"

24 July Thu 19:30

25 July Fri 19:30

26 July Sat 14:30 19:30

6 Aug Wed 14:30 19:30

7 Aug Thu 19:30

8 Aug Fri 19:30

click for unofficial cast lists

<small>[ 18 September 2003, 06:23 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed Jul 16, 2003 7:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Swan Lake" in London - 2003

An interesting Russian perspective from the Mariinsky website on the most famous of all ballets:

Swan Lake
fantasty ballet in three acts, four scenes
Music: Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Choreography: Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov (1895)

When we say "Russian Ballet", we imply "Swan Lake". Tchaikovsky´s masterpiece is a savoury dish readily used to serve to messengers from a friendly state and to open a theatrical season or a tour. Swan Lake is a must in tourist routes, usually mentioned second after a visit to the Hermitage. The ballet companies of the whole world seek to have it in their repertoires, but they tacitly admit the superiority of Russian performers. But who instilled the Russian soul into the story of the German Prince Siegfried and the Swan Queen with the French name of Odette? Not Tchaikovsky - he aestheticised minute emotional movements with a French rather than Russian grace. Neither was it Marius Petipa, for he deliberately evaded the Russian theme throughout his long sojourn in the country. The ballet was Russified by Lev Ivanov, Maestro Petipa´s modest assistant. It was he who invented, in his lakeside act, the spell-bound white maidens, arms folded over their tutus and their heads bowed, creating a pose suggesting the silhouette of a bird with folded wings.

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<small>[ 17 July 2003, 12:43 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Jul 20, 2003 9:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Swan Lake" in London - 2003

The Kirov's production by Konstantin Sergeyev is one of the favourites of the 20th Century versions and here is a recent review from the Kirov's visit to The Lowry earlier this year:

One more feather in the Kirov's cap
By Lynne Walker for The Independent

The Kirov Ballet flew into Britain, bringing Swan Lake and La Bayadère, its visit neatly timed to coincide with The Lowry's third birthday. Both the company and its shows, you can always be sure, sell tickets. And these timeless ballets, equally surely, receive picture-postcard, textbook productions, staged with care and understanding, presented with brilliance and flair. No sign of a hooting live owl tethered to Rothbart's head, no psychotic dwarf, no knights in armour, no Big New Concept. All those who have been bamboozled by recent banal gimmicks designed to "enhance" Petipa's choreography (and Jan Fabre's bizarre take on the story for the Royal Ballet of Flanders drags itself unwillingly to my mind) should get themselves over to Salford immediately.

click for more

Here are more reviews and comments:

Kirov at The Lowry 2003

Kirov's "Swan Lake" 2001

<small>[ 20 July 2003, 11:44 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  djb [ Thu Jul 24, 2003 12:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Swan Lake" in London - 2003

The Sergeyev production is a beautiful one. I have the video of the 1990 performance with Makhalina and Zelinsky. This video has the distinction of being the one I watch especially for the non-principal parts. This is no reflection on the principals; it's just that I find the rest of the ballet so much more enjoyable in this production than in others I've seen.

I especially like the dances in the first act. In some productions, I think they are too boisterous. These are supposed to be courtiers, after all, and Sergeyev's choreography is very gracious and elegant.

The costumes in the video, inspired by 16th-century styles, are beautiful. I hope for the sake of all of you who are seeing the Kirov now that they are the same.

<small>[ 25 July 2003, 01:15 AM: Message edited by: djb ]</small>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Jul 24, 2003 5:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Swan Lake" in London - 2003

I'm going tonight - anyone else?

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Jul 24, 2003 3:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Swan Lake" in London - 2003

Casts for "Swan lake" 25th and 26th July

Some very helpful people involved in the administration of the Kirov visit have provided us with the full cast sheets for the performances of "Swan lake" over the next two days. Bless you!

Click here for the full casting details

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Jul 24, 2003 4:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Swan Lake" in London - 2003

If "Le Corsaire" is a curate's egg of nonsense and some fine dancing, the Kirov's "Swan lake" is an excellent production overall. For opening night, 24th July, Svetlana Zakharova was outstanding as Odette/Odile and the corps and much of the supporting cast were exemplary. Costumes and sets are restrained and beautiful allowing the dance to stand out.

<small>[ 27 July 2003, 05:32 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  Emma Pegler [ Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Swan Lake" in London - 2003

Restrained is not a word that could be used for Le Corsaire.

Author:  OdileGB [ Fri Jul 25, 2003 4:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Swan Lake" in London - 2003

Svetlana Zakharova's performance last night was magical. She and Lopatkina are my favourite Swan Queens. The whole production is very tasteful and has a certain timeless quality. I hope it is not going to be replaced by another 'original reconstruction'. The corps de ballet is in a league of their own. I also very much enjoyed the national dances in the ballroom act. With other companies I often get bored with them but not with the Kirov. Probably all the consistent training in character dance throughout their schooling enables them to bring them off better than western companies? Does anyone know if the company still has dancers specialising soley in character dance and never doing strictly classical dance?

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Jul 26, 2003 1:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Swan Lake" in London - 2003

Swan Lake
By Luke Jennings for The Guardian

A deafening roar greeted the Kirov corps de ballet as they took their bow after Thursday's performance of Swan Lake. The response was more than justified; from the moment the curtain rose on Igor Ivanov's set - a late-summer Rhineland pastorale in muted golds and blues - they had danced as if collectively inspired, invested the smallest roles with poetry and nuance. There is an undertone of melancholy in Tchaikovsky's score which is beyond the expressive powers of most companies, but the Kirov's dancing embraces the bitter with the sweet, and the result is profoundly moving.

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Author:  Emma Pegler [ Sat Jul 26, 2003 2:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Swan Lake" in London - 2003

Swan Lake
The Kirov
Friday 25 July, 2003

The Kirov’s “Swan Lake” is the Konstantin Sergeyev version which premiered in March, 1950 at the Kirov Theatre in what was then, Leningrad. However many times I see “Swan Lake,” whichever the production, I still look forward to it with something close to the fervour and excitement that I felt as a child when I first began ballet classes and aspired to be a great ballerina. Ttime I was less excited because Odette/Odile was to be Sofia Gumerova, replacing Daria Pavlenko who had been taken ill on her arrival in London. I know Ms Pavlenko’s dancing well but didn’t really know Ms Gumerova in any notable or sizeable roles. Further, Prince Siegfried was due to be danced by Daniil Korsuntsev and I have poor memories of his performance of the role some years back in St Petersburg. The joys of booking blind – not knowing from the Kirov in advance whether your £80 for a top-price seat is being spent on your favourite dancers or those who leave you thinking that you wished you had ‘gone a little cheaper.’ If Odette/Odile is wrong, the whole ballet falls apart pretty much, however good the corps de ballet Swans.

Well, thank God, Gumerova is a fine Odette and Odile and Korsuntsev must just have been having an off-night when I saw him in St Petersburg. There isn’t a great deal for the Prince to do in Sergeyev’s version (well, in the original 1895 version by Petipa and Ivanov, generally. Later versions have evolved the man’s role to reflect the heightened virtuosity of modern male ballet dancers) other than to gesticulate to party guests, look questioningly at the Jester’s antics, raise his arms lovingly to Odette, present Odile to the Queen and get cross at Von Rothbart, none of which involves much dancing. Yet Korsuntsev was a noble Russian dance practitioner throughout and performed his one occasion for virtuosity – at the ball in Act II , where he mistakes Odile for Odette and indicates to the Queen (with much gesticulation by way of mime) that he has finally found the woman (swan) he wishes to marry – with aplomb and cleanness of execution. He lacked the factor X that would have made me wish I was Odette, but he was every inch the handsome, regal prince at whom you don’t feel very cross because it seems that he has made a genuine mistake. (I prefer a darkly handsome rakish prince where you’re left wondering…) So, the resulting chemistry between Prince and Swan Queen is nicely charged, although not desperately passionate.

The set design by Igor Ivanov and costumes by Galina Solovyova are a huge success. The vaulted ballroom in Act II, with pages on minstrel gallery-like balconies and guests draped on rich red Oriental carpets, is a Renaissance dream. Some Swan Lake productions are so steeped in Gothic imagery that we wonder if the guests went to the wrong ball and ended up in Dracula’s Castle by mistake, but this version is subtle and refined. On the whole the costumes are apt for the times and if occasionally they lapse into a Medieval past, that is probably reflective of the age since the Renaissance period preserved much of the late Medieval. There is, however, no excuse for the Queen’s dreadful dresses and totally ridiculous wimples. In Act I she sports a white chiffon number – tight and severe at the bodice, dropping to an A-line floaty floor-length skirt - with a low slung belt that drapes down the dress. She looked like Ginger Rogers starring in ‘Snow White,’ the musical. The ball-dress for Act II has strange cut out sleeves that make the costume too Medieval for the setting – a Queen would surely have an up-to-the-minute design – and she sits at the back watching the proceedings like a caricature cartoon Queen. To look more queen-like, she has been given paste diamonds from the 1930s and an Ostrich-feather fan that could not have been purchased before 1920. Perhaps she is meant to look timeless – a queen from any age. She parades around the stage in a very over-stated queenish way and sits next to next to an over-the-top Von Rothbart. In Act I he is given strange little black wings and prowls in a consciously atmospheric way around the smoking lake. In Act II, surely the pages should alert Palace security to the fact that a weirdo ‘traveller’ has turned up at the ball and is sitting dangerously close to the Royal Family? A black and red silk and velvet cape cannot disguise the slashed and straggly clothing underneath nor detract from his thickly-applied red eyeshadow. (Still, Osama Bin Laden managed to get into Windsor Castle during Prince William’s birthday party so I suppose Act II is not ‘that’ far-fetched.) There is a very tender moment in Act I, however, where the Queen allows her son to kiss her hand to thank her for the diamond-encrusted bow she has given him. She then draws him to her and kisses his forehead in a very motherly way. This is a very credible and human gesture. Good moments make good ballet.

So what about the dancing, I hear you ask? Absolutely superb, which is why I can afford to be pernickety about the costumes. The Swans move like one body – sleek, poetic, tragic and elegant, all at once. Utterly believable. The only criticism I have is that the Kirov ballerinas have yet to silence their toe-shoes. There is too much audible clicking on the boards when the music is quiet. Elvira Tarasova and Irina Zhelonkina as the Prince’s friends in Act I transform supporting roles into star-studded cameos. They are soloists in the Kirov, but being a company of such high-standards in technical prowess and grace, these dancers would be principals in most other companies. Petipa’s choreography comes alive under their light touch and I wanted their moments of glory to continue into infinity. Both demonstrated supreme virtuosity dusted with a golden gracefulness to produce true dance. I have seen many a principal dancer lost in the minor roles of a major ballet. Some dancers bring nothing to ballet unless they have the limelight. Being able to shine in a supporting role is surely the mark of a great dancer. Sofia Gumerova is an elegant Odette with good feathery arms. On occasions her face is too much a study in pain and dwells on the fact that she is a human locked into a bird’s body. We rarely see in her the ethereal quality of a mythical creature. Some Odettes look positively other-worldly but Miss Gumerova is always a woman in swan’s clothing. This isn’t wrong for the part, just not how I, personally, want Odette to be. Her Odile is studied and cool – foot-perfect in her solos and perfect in executing von Rothbart’s instructions to seduce the Prince.

The Jester is a controversial character. He was not, I believe, in the original Petipa/Ivanov version and does not appear in all productions today. Some people love the distraction of a cavorting joker and some people find him odious. I tend towards the former but found Andrei Ivanov the perfect jester, if you have to have a jester. He doesn’t irritate the other characters with persistent tomfoolery and his close-to-the-earth jumps and turns are a delight. He received a loud and spontaneous applause which is not something that happens very often at Covent Garden.

The final point to make in remembrance of my evening is that the Orchestra of the The Mariinsky Theatre did great justice to Tchaikovsky’s score under the direction of Boris Gruzin. “Swan Lake” is a production where the music and choreography receive equal billing and on occasions I wanted to close my eyes and let the melody ensnare me in the fairy tale.

<small>[ 28 July 2003, 03:04 PM: Message edited by: Emma Pegler ]</small>

Author:  OdileGB [ Sun Jul 27, 2003 12:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Swan Lake" in London - 2003

Natalia Sologub and Igor Kolb gave a beautiful performance on Saturday night. I do not recall having seen a lot of Sologub 2 years ago but now her performance as Odette/Odile was impressive.
The enthusiastic audience were also very taken by the corps de ballet and the mind bogling spins of Andrei Ivanov's Jester.

My sister who had never seen a live ballet before enjoyed the performance very much and said that TV and video tapes simply do not really capture the atmosphere in a theatre. She also said that she had never realised how high dancers jump.
I was happy when she told me that she would like to accompany me to a performance again when she comes to visit. Who could ask for a better verdict from a ballet first timer.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Jul 28, 2003 12:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Swan Lake" in London - 2003

A review that looks as if it has seen the heavy hand of a sub-editor as it virtually stops at the end of Act I (of 4). Not sure about, "...the only staging that a ballet-goer can watch with an easy conscience." San Francisco Ballet and English National Ballet also come to mind as fine productions.

Swan Lake/Kirov Covent Garden
By Clement Crisp for The Financial Times

The Kirov Ballet's Swan Lake is the best in the world, the only staging that a ballet-goer can watch with an easy conscience. Elsewhere, this beautiful and most popular of all "classics" is betrayed by its producers, by its design, its intentions, by sheer damned ignorance and chutzpah, and by its interpreters.

Crimes range from the disgraceful mockery of its theme, score and dances by the Cullberg troope to the imbecile dramatics that ruin the Royal Ballet's impeccable text.

click for more

<small>[ 28 July 2003, 05:29 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  Matthew [ Tue Jul 29, 2003 4:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Swan Lake" in London - 2003

As a venue for Swan Lake, how does Covent Garden compare with St Petersberg, or is there any real difference at all? Do you think that the Kirov looks better at home or on tour, or is just a matter of the particular night and the particular dancers?

Author:  Emma Pegler [ Tue Jul 29, 2003 10:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Swan Lake" in London - 2003

I personally think that it depends on the night and the particular dancers. The Mariinsky Theatre is a wonderfully atmospheric old theatre and the audience sits on real chairs - like dining room chairs rather than flip up velvet numbers. I like that - gives you lots of space so that your arms are not fighting with your neighbour's for the arm rest. The auditorium has a wonderful chandelier and in winter you come out to a thick layer of snow that has fallen after the feet had destroyed it on the way in. So the setting is perfect. The stage is a good size (not like the Bolshoi which is, at the name suggests, enormous, and so the dancers can disappear somewhere). But still, it depends on the dancers. The first time I saw Swan Lake there I didn't really enjoy it - was disappointed. Korsuntsev must have had an off night. Other times it was wonderful.

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