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Kirov in London, 2005 - "Romeo and Juliet"
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Apr 17, 2005 3:54 am ]
Post subject:  Kirov in London, 2005 - "Romeo and Juliet"

Diana Vishneva and Igor Kolb; Image by Valentin Baranovsky

Romeo & Juliet
The Kirov Ballet

Royal Opera House,
Covent Garden

22, 25 July, at 7.30pm
23 July at 2.00pm and 7.30pm

Set to Prokofiev’s magnificent score, the most famous love story of all time is presented in its original version by Leonid Lavrovsky and remains one of the most cherished ballets in the Kirov’s repertoire.

Embodying the drama and passion of Shakespeare’s text, the ballet portrays the bittersweet love of the star-crossed lovers from their first fateful meeting to their untimely and tragic deaths.

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Author:  kurinuku [ Mon Jul 25, 2005 2:13 am ]
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Romeo and Juliet
by JUDITH MaCKRELL for the Guardianl

What makes the Kirov's version such an eye-opener though is not just that it's danced in such a different style. It's the fact that it makes such definitive sense of what's going on in the music.

published: July 25, 2005

Author:  AnaM [ Mon Jul 25, 2005 2:49 am ]
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Just a quick note before posting the review for Romeo and Juliet, as performed on Friday by the Kirov.

It is wonderful to see the company back in London and in top form. The performance on Friday had Diana Vishneva and Andrian Fadeyev as the leading pair and they were simply wonderful. It takes a while for your mind and eye to adjust to the Lavrovsky version and to forget about the Cranko or MacMillan's which, as later versions seem much more developed in terms of musicality and drama. However, this was the first successful staging of Prokofiev's music and performances such as the one we saw on Friday make you realise how wonderful the ballet still looks.

The ensemble work was as stylistically beautiful as usual and there were some wonderful soloist performances too.

Looking forward to the Balanchine programme!

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Mon Jul 25, 2005 6:12 am ]
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That pair cast in this ballet is a rare pleasure to behold -- Vishneva doesnt dance Juliet often here in St. P at all. She and Fadeyev (and Fadeyev and just about anyone) form a good partnership. I am looking forward to hearing about it!

Author:  OdileGB [ Mon Jul 25, 2005 2:20 pm ]
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I really loved Vishneva's performance as Juliet. I had never seen this production before and being used to the MacMillan version, which I have seen often over the past few year I took me a while to get into the swing of things in spite of all the beautiful dancing on show.

Although I absloutely adore the score I realised once again that the sequence of Mercutio's death is simply too long. I have yet to see any production (and I have seen various) that does not drag a bit in that spot no matter how marvellous the dancer cast in the role.

Author:  kurinuku [ Tue Jul 26, 2005 3:06 am ]
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With dancing like this, who needs psychology?
by ISMENE BROWN for the Daily Telegraph

The Kirov's acting style is outside-in, not inside-out; every character on stage appears to have been long established by every gesture, but I find this faint whiff of ritual deepens the Shakespeareanness - these Capulets and Montagues have been rehearsing those same duels for decades at the Kirov, just as they did in Verona.

published: July 25, 2005

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Tue Jul 26, 2005 8:57 am ]
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OdileGB -- do you think MacMillan's version also drags? I remember seeing Liepa dance Romeo with ABT in the late 90s in SF. It escapes me who danced Mercutio in that performance but it didnt seem to drag at all. I agree though, the Lavrovsky version is difficult to love after seeing MacMillan...

Author:  Cassandra [ Wed Jul 27, 2005 3:37 am ]
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Romeo and Juliet
Kirov Ballet
ROH London
22nd July & 23rd July (mat)

Leonid Lavrovsky’s production of Romeo and Juliet was the first successful version of this repertory staple and it is fair to say that it has influenced every production that has followed it. Over the years it has undergone minor changes, but the original spirit of the work remains.

What distinguishes this production from others is the use of the corps de ballets at the expense of the soloists, as one dance of townsfolk is followed by another with little involvement with the named characters, rather as if in creating a sense of renaissance Verona, the choreographer has at times concentrated to much on detail to the detriment of the plot.

I’ve often felt that each production of this ballet that I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a lot) has some outstanding moment that the others haven’t; and in this Lavrovsky version I never fail to be moved by the wedding scene in Friar Lawrence’s cell. That wonderful moment before Juliet arrives when Romeo examines the skull left on the Friar’s table and ponders on his own mortality, then as Juliet enters he strews flowers before her as she approaches what is to be both their marriage and their death. True inspiration!

The first cast of Diana Vishneva and Andrian Fadeyev looked good on paper, but didn’t quite work for me. Vishneva makes a very spirited Juliet, one who would have rebelled against those over-bearing parents of hers anyway before too long. As her Romeo Fadeyev looked the business, handsome and romantic and dancing on the top of his form, but there was precious little chemistry between the pair and Vishneva’s passion for her much cooler lover seemed to me a bit misplaced.

In the role of Mercutio, Leonid Sarafanov quite simply stole the show: this is the best thing I’ve seen him do so far. Still looking overly young on stage, he turned this to his advantage with the chubby cheeked mask he wears to the Capulets ball looking uncannily like a caricature of his own face. He danced with an effortless clarity and precision that is seen all too infrequently and his death scene was devastating because of the shock of seeing the slaughter of someone little more than a kid. Sarafanov has been criticized as getting too much too soon, but this was an exceptionally fine performance. Other noteworthy performances came from Islom Baimuradov as a rather cynical, world-weary Benvolio and a beautiful display of impeccable classicism from the ever-impressive Vasily Scherbakov.

The second cast lovers were Irina Golub and Andrei Merkuriev making an extremely well matched pair. Merkuriev’s Romeo was ardent and headstrong with only some partnering blips in the bedroom pas de deux revealing his relative inexperience. As his Juliet, Golub (who is a real beauty by the way) gave a much softer, more dreamy interpretation of the role and looked far more vulnerable in the scenes with her dreadful parents than the more forceful Vishneva.

Mercutio on this occasion was Scherbakov, who hinted at the ambiguities of one of Shakespeare’s most complex characters and had the advantage of playing opposite Dmitri Pykhachev as Tybalt, who although far from being ideal was still a vast improvement on the over the top and down the other side Ilya Kuznetsov, who turned Tybalt into a pantomime villain the night before. Lavrovsky’s concept of this character was and is entirely wrong and in need of some urgent revision.

One more gripe: the final scene of reconciliation between the warring families was virtually invisible to most of the audience due to poor lighting. I know this scene takes place at night, but we should still be able to see what is happening.

Author:  Rosella [ Wed Jul 27, 2005 10:01 am ]
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I was at the matinee on Saturday, on the overall I enjoyed the dancers' perfect technique and intense interpretation, I was not entirely convinced by Irina Golub as Juliet, she was maybe too fragile and vulnerable as Cassandra says in her review...

Author:  AnaM [ Wed Jul 27, 2005 10:26 am ]
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The Kirov Ballet presented Leonid Lavrovsky’s version of Romeo and Juliet on Friday 22nd July at the Royal Opera House. Lavrovsky’s version was the first successful choreographic interpretation of Prokofiev’s music. Created in 1940, years after the music had been composed, the ballet was a challenge both for artists and audiences alike. Galina Ulanova, who played the first Juliet, admitted being scared of the music and, in fact, most choreographers prior to Lavrovsky had pronounced it “impossible to dance”. Obviously, parallels with Tchaykowsky’s Swan Lake are easy to establish… That is why Lavrovsky’s interpretation was so groundbreaking. Nowadays, being used to a myriad of readings of the score, audiences may find this Soviet interpretation a bit old fashioned in the way it deals with dramatic interpretation or even musical phrasing, and yet, without this first choreographic attempt, there would have been no Cranko version and, therefore, no MacMillan’s either. All subsequent versions of the ballet have been so heavily influenced by the Russian version that it strikes as odd to see Ashton’s reading of the story and music. He had not seen the Bolshoi’s production and his choreography for the Royal Danish Ballet was very far away from the overdramatic and acrobatic style of the Soviet school. One look at MacMillan and Cranko’s version and it is not very difficult to see that the “overdramatic”, the opulence and the “acrobatics” are all there.

In spite of all this, it is still difficult to see Lavrovsky’s version with innocent eyes any more and credit has to be given to the Kirov Ballet for managing to bring their version of the ballet alive in such a coherent and touching way. Special mention must go to the principals and soloists of the company who portrayed the different characters in the ballet to perfection, none better than the two principals: Diana Vishneva and Andrian Fadeyev, who not only did have the looks and technical ability to dance the roles, but also managed to make their characters so alive it was impossible to take one’s eyes away from either of them.

The character roles belong to the Soviet Realist tradition in which the ballet was born. The villains are real baddies, there is no doubt about that. Tybald’s character is perhaps one of the best examples. Ilya Kuznetsov played it so over the top that he rightly deserved the boos at the end –though by the look on his face, this is something he did not expect! At times, the audience could be heard laughing at the excesses of the character, but once again, this character playing is as far away from MacMillan’s realism as anything can be. Therefore, his portrayal was just fantastic, for he managed to carry the character through to his death. It may be interesting to note how Ashton presented this character as the King of Cats, once again, a far cry from later interpretations.

Leonid Sarafanov played Mercutio with charm and incredible technique. His choreography is, once again, rooted in the Jester tradition and, though one misses the deeper emotional bonding that subsequent versions gave to Romeo’s friends, the dancing and acting were of the highest standards. The death scene did seem very long, but it is a fact of Prokofiev’s music that people in this ballet take a very long time to die…
Mention must be given to Vladimir Ponomarev’s Lord Capulet, like Kuznetsov’s Tybald, this was an interpretation to treasure. Some people in the interval were commenting in the ability of these dancers to transcend even the wigs that were assigned and it is truly magnificent to witness Lavrovsky’s dramatic renderings of these roles and the Kirov’s ability to maintain them despite the naturalistic approaches to drama that, by now, they have experienced.

There was plenty of Italian imagery that Lavrovsky used for his ballet, among which Lady Capulet’s mourning over Tybald’s body was most unusual. The scene was obviously inspired by the religious processions that take place in Mediterranean countries, especially at Easter and I found this use of iconographic imagery most significant.

Needless to say, the most important interpretations were those of Romeo and Juliet. Again, the ballet sets them apart from the start. Romeo is a lonesome hero; there is no previous fling with Rosaline, nothing that can detract from him the purity of character that obviously Lavrovsky envisioned. His choreography is equally pure and, in fact it is both Romeo and Juliet –and one might add Juliet’s friends- the only characters that express themselves through purely classical technique… if such thing does exist. Fadeyev’s interpretation was simply beautiful. He is one of those rare Kirov dancers who can achieve all technical difficulties and yet never outshine them by inflicting any showiness to them. He always serves the choreographer’s purposes and he therefore knows that this ballet belongs to Juliet and never objects to this fact. His variation in the balcony scene was breathtaking in its purity of lines and total abandon, something that he repeated in the later scene prior to the crypt, when he is seen brooding over his love till Benvolio announces Juliet’s death.

Diana Vishneva’s Juliet was of a different kind as well. Lavrovsky idealised his main characters to the point of making them totally unbelievable, and yet thanks to the sincerity of the interpretations, they were believable. Hers was not the curious, stubborn, rebellious Juliet that other versions have presented. As with Romeo, this reading of Juliet is uncommon in its simplicity. Juliet’s actions are simple to understand, there is no layered interpretation to the role. Vishneva danced it to the limit of its possibilities and succeeded in creating an ideal of heroine ready to fight and sacrifice herself for her love without any other thoughts.

The parts of the ballet that suffer most, after having seen other versions, are the market scenes. In the Lavrovsky version they seem to be lifeless and not very imaginative, still, in trying to convey some national colour, there were some interesting group numbers for the corps de ballet that, as usual with the Kirov, looked simply beautiful. It is a reminder of what a good corps de ballet is all about, a group of individuals that share a style and a way of interpreting the music.

Lavrovsky created a model of a ballet that has, since its creation, seen deep departures in the characters, but, in his version the premise seemed as solid as in Ashton’s. If Ashton’s only concern was the love between the two main characters, Lavrovsky’s was the heroic disposition of these two pure souls in the middle of a corrupted society. It was wonderful to see the Kirov keeping this premise alive in spite of the problems it must present in terms of coaching and ever changing fashions.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Jul 29, 2005 2:17 am ]
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Romeo and Juliet
By Gavin roebuck for The Stage

This ballet created for the Kirov by Sergei Prokofiev and Leonid Lavrovsky has continuously been in their repertory since its first full performance in 1940. Other creations, including the Royal Ballet’s, all borrow from this one. It is designed in rich renaissance colours such as vermilion and gold by Pyotr Williams. This original production of the most famous love story of all time is living ballet history and the at times silent movie type acting should be viewed in this context. The work encompasses the drama and passion of Shakespeare’s text.

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Author:  Rosella [ Fri Jul 29, 2005 11:44 am ]
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Saturday 23rd (matinee), 2005, Royal Opera House, London

The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is always seen as a question of impossible and passionate love which ends in bloodshed. This story though, is also a question of power relations and of public interests. The war between Capulets and Montaugs reveals the thirst for supremacy and control in the renowned town of Verona. A thirst which is carried on at the expense of the private love affair between the two proagonists. The interplay between these two dimensions is interestingly portrayed in Leonid Lavrovsky's 1940 ballet adaptation which the Kirov ballet presented at the Royal Opera House. The scenes during the three acts unfold according to two pathways, one focused on the main stage for the public scenes, the other on the upstage, separated from the rest of the space by a huge red curtain, where the private scenes are represented.

This interplay confers dynamism to the action, a dynamism which lacks in terms of dance variations. It recalls in a way the cinematic close-up where the camera focuses on a detail of the character or of the action. It is very effectively arranged during Romeo and Juliet's encounter at the ball, with the red curtain draped on the sides, leaving the main central part down. While the ball goes on behind the curtain, in the front Romeo and Juliet appear and disappear until, a scene later, they declare eternal love to each other in the famous balcony scene.

Lavrovsky's choreography is intense and particularly suggestive in the pas de deux between the two protagonists, however, it seems a bit static in certain group sections. One example takes place during the duel between Tybalt and Mercutio in the second act. The death of Mercutio, interpreted by a sparkling and Arlecchinean-like Vasily Scherbakov, is carried on for too long and with exaggerated rethoric, although it unrols in perfect resonance with Prokofiev's music set to highlight every last beat of Mercutio's heart.

The costumes by Pytor Williams are sumptuous and carefully tailored, apart maybe from Tybalt's costume whose orangy colour stands excessively out. The two protagonists are a very fine match, Andrei Merkuriev as Romeo is sweet in the love scenes and powerful in his dispair for his loss of Juliet. A tragic double loss, which first occurs when he has to leave Verona after he has killed Tybalt, and second when he believes her dead in her crypt. Irina Golub is very good in her performance, she is particularly fresh in her first appearence during the scene with her nurse, but she is not as convincing as her male couterpart. There are some aspects of this ballet which bear a too strong tinge in the unfolding of the tragedy, such as the emphatic crying ritual of Juliet's mother over Tybalt's body. On the overall it is a rich version of the Shakespearan story and it still represents the reference point for most of the subsequent versions.

Author:  Patrizia Vallone [ Sun Jul 31, 2005 4:12 am ]
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Romeo and Juliet
Kirov Ballet
22nd July
By Patrizia Vallone

After the evergreen Swan Lake the Kirov Ballet performed a different kind of classic, Romeo and Juliet in the 1940 version by Leonid Lavrosky. This choreography is at the base of various following versions. From Cranko to McMillan and others it is evident how all of them knew it so well when they started to create their own. Carla Fracci, who created Cranko’s Juliet in 1958, always recalls that when she was working with the South African choreographer he would show her the movie with Ulanova nearly every day, telling her: ‘Just watch and learn’.

Today Lavrosky’s ballet is sort of a beautiful and precious antiquity. Costumes and settings seem a bit old fashioned and some characters, Tybalt for example seem just over the top in accordance with Soviet expressionist tastes, but the choreography itself is a real masterpiece. No wonder that it is still in the Kirov repertoire. We have love and surrender, passion and despair, group scenes are well arranged and fighting moments are very striking.

Diana Vishneva as Juliet grew with the character. She started as a childish girl who loves to play and have fun. When she fell in love she turned into a mature and responsible woman ready to face any sort of trouble for the sake of her love. Andrian Fadeyev was a brave and loving Romeo. Leonid Sarafanov looked a bit to boyish as Mercutio and Ilya Kuznetsov was an arrogant and aggressive Tybalt. Is it necessary to add that the whole company danced at their best and that there was a lot of applause?

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