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 Post subject: Kirov Ballet at Covent Garden 2002
PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2002 2:47 pm 
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The Kirov - that's Opera and Ballet companies - returned to Covent Garden tonight (28 May) for the first of two evenings to kick off the celebrations of the 300th anniversary of the founding of the city of St Petersburg. Yes, strictly speaking the anniversary falls due next year. But any excuse is just fine if it means that Gergiev brings these superlative companies back to London.
The programme for both evenings are mixed opera and ballet (as already discussed in a separate thread under UK news). And there were some magnificent arias this evening in particular from operas Eugene Onegin, The Tsar's Bride and Boris Godunov with Gergiev conducting. But it's the ballet that we're all really interested in, right?
First ballet piece was Don Quixote Act III pdd, with Diana Vishneva and Andrei Merkuriev. Perhaps a slightly odd choice to open with, Vishneva was nevertheless on characteristically strong form exuding assurance. Unfortuently, Merkuriev seemed a touch tentative - perhaps first night nerves. Towards the end of their first pdd, he failed to get Vishneva fully aloft in preparation for the fish dive. But a spot of improvisation (and sheer professionalism from Vishneva) just about saved the day. She carried on for the rest of the Act with her usual panache in this role - a lovely string of double fouettes, fan held high, for example - while Merkuriev decided to play safe and completed his variations without further mishap. A pity not to see him dance full out - he's obviously a talented dancer.
The next ballet was a meltingly beautiful performance of Balanchine's Serenade with Natalia Sologub, Veronika Part and Irina Golub plus Daniil Korsuntsev. A fabulous example of the Kirov style illuminating Balanchine's work, and deservedly appreciated by the audience.
Next was the ensemble piece "Danse Hongroise" from Raymonda - classic stamping feet and twirling moustaches Ruritanian style with Polina Rassadina and Andrei Yakovlev (1) as lead couple. This was followed by the Bluebird variation from Act III Sleepng Beauty. The wonderful Irina Golub was a delicate, sweet-natured Princess Florine with Vassily Scherbakov as the Bluebird coping admirably with the famous entrechats. The evening ended with both operatic and balletic extracts (Polovtsian Dances) from Prince Igor. The whole stage, ringed by the operatic chorus, became a whirling mass of dancers. Clearly neither Borodin nor Fokine were the sort of people to let a fact like the non-existence of any "Polovtsian people" to get in the way of a good theatrical spectacle.

<small>[ 06 December 2003, 08:00 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet at Covent Garden 2002
PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2002 2:53 pm 
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The Polovtsi did exist, but I'm sure their music sounded nothing like Borodin's, and their dances looked nothing like Fokine's.


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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet at Covent Garden 2002
PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2002 2:58 pm 
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Thanks Nino - are you going to the second performance?


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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet at Covent Garden 2002
PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2002 11:53 pm 
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Oops sorry djb you are quite right. At one stage the ancient Kipchak people, at the height of their powers in the 12th century, were called by Slavs "Polovtsi". But, as you say, what we see and hear on stage is a wildly romantic fiction that owes more to 19th century Russian imagination than it does to any historical source. A bit like the English idea of what constitutes curry, maybe.


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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet at Covent Garden 2002
PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2002 1:33 am 
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I've come to the conclusion that the Polovtsian dances should only be performed with accompanying opera chorus, as the singing adds so much to the onstage atmosphere. It really made a memorable finale.<P>To be honest the opera dominated last night with all but one of the items from the Russian repertoire, some of which must have been unfamiliar to London audiences. The ballet looked best when that famous corps was on display as the three pas de deux were all rather lacklustre.<P>One niggling gripe though: The Kirov pointe shoes have increased in decibel level since last year, adding an unwelcome percussive effect to Tchaikovsky's music in Serenade. Do they now have the loudest shoes in the ballet world?<P>I remember reading that Marie Taglioni's father said he would kill his daughter if he ever heard her dance. If Mr Taglioni had been around last night, I fear the stage would have been strewn with corpses.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet at Covent Garden 2002
PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2002 7:51 am 
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I'd like to see <I>Serenade</I> (one of my favorite ballets) and other Balanchine classics performed by various ballet companies of the world, just to see how much each company's style comes through. The closest I've come to this is seeing <I>Apollo</I> on video (part of the Balanchine Collection), with Zhanna Ayupova (Kirov), Patricia Barker (Pacific Northwest Ballet) and Isabelle Guérin (POB) as the muses. I thought they danced quite differently, and not just because of each dancer's innate qualities.


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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet at Covent Garden 2002
PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2002 11:20 pm 
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Review in The Guardian.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Gala evenings, with their disruptive stop-go format and their inescapable lack of theatrical atmospherics, always promise more than they deliver. The moneyed audience that turns out for such events can bring out the lurking Bolshevik in one's soul, too. Yet this gala, first of two mounted by and for St Petersburg's Kirov opera and ballet company at Covent Garden this week, had far more artistic unity than most, as well as bags of artistic interest. For one thing, everyone in the pit or on the stage was Russian, as were most of the 12 items in the programme, while the exceptions had a direct St Petersburg connection. It is hard to think of any other company that could continue to showcase a national tradition in this way. <P><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4424201,00.html" TARGET=_blank> <B> MORE </B> </A>


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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet at Covent Garden 2002
PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2002 12:13 pm 
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Yes - vive la difference when it comes to different balletic styles. Life would be very dull if classic ballet interpretations were globalised. That's one of the reasons why I have reservations about the approach the Balanchine Trust takes - encase a work in stone and don't let it breath in the interpretive air of successive generations.<BR>I found the second Kirov gala performance on 29 May altogether a more diverse, and successful, affair. Some stunning operatic pieces (a wonderfully atmospheric Kitezh Act III and the gorgeous Anna Netrebko in Betrothal in a Monastery), but I thought the ballet more than held its own in comparison. First up was a pleasant if undemanding modern piece by Alexei Ratmansky called "Middle Duet" to music by Yuri Khanin, with Natalia Sologub and Islom Baimuradov. Next was a historical curiosity - a pdd from Spartacus but with choreography by Leonid Jacobson dating from 1956 rather than the Grigorovich version that is better known in the West. Performing were Yulia Makhalina and Alexander Kurkov. I was interested to see work by Jacobson for the first time (the Kirov have quite a few of his pieces in the repertoire). But it was, I thought, showing its age and at times seemed to get too close for comfort to silent film type emoting. Quite in a different class however was the next piece - Igor Belsky's elegy to Leningrad's suffering in WWII set to Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony. It was affectingly danced by Daria Pavlenko (what amazingly flexible feet) and Andrei Yakovlev (2). Sounds dangerious to tackle such a subject, and to such masterly music, I know. But believe me, it works. I'd certainly like to see more of Belsky's work on the basis of this. <BR>After the interval, first up was a snippet from the new 2001 Nutcracker production with choreography by Kirill Simonov (ho hum) and immensely chic designs by Mikhail Chemiakin. Someone told me that I had to see the production if only for the designs, and I now see what they mean. This was followed by Balanchine's Prodigal Son - Daria Pavlenko again as the Siren and Andrei Merkuriev back on form (and loving it) as the Prodigal. Last ballet piece was Ratmansky again, this time his Cinderella which was first unveiled only two months ago. The extract we saw was a dreamy ball room scene pdd for Diana Vishneva (Cinderella) and Merkuriev (the Prince) set in what looked like a pared down 1930s setting. Lovely expressive stuff, and Merkuriev and Vishneva looked very well suited to each other. Maybe a serious partnership in the making?


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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet at Covent Garden 2002
PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2002 4:45 pm 
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I thought that the Serenade was one of the best performances I have ever seen of this, one of my very favourite ballets. The supreme Kirov dancing combined with exquisite orchestral playing, and thrilling conducting by Gergiev, left me in tears - not a common thing for me. One reservation only - the noisy shoes. Leningrad Symphony was tremendously powerful and a real revelation. Both of the evenings were really magnificent,and a tribute to the genius of Gergiev


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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet at Covent Garden 2002
PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2002 8:10 pm 
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This message was posted by coda in our 'Ballet' forum:<P>************************ <P>Two Mariinsky galas at Covent Garden, on the 28th and 29th of May, were a great success (though they were not complete sellouts - surprisingly, some people managed to buy tickets before the performances at a fraction of the original price).<BR>The "Serenade" by Balanchine was heavenly danced, even in the absence of Zhanna Ayupova. A great surprise was the appearance of Yulia Makhalina who did not participate in the last year tour. Yesterday she danced the adagio of Phrygia and Spartacus (Kurkov)from the Jacobson's production, which was so different from one by Grigorovich: no points but sandals.<BR>On the second evening, especially memorable was the "Leningrad Symphony", the theatre's tribute to their city's suffering during the 2WW. Daria Pavlenko was excellent, both technically and artistically, in the main role of the Girl. She took curtain calls with tears streaming down her cheeks. Watch this name: she is developing into a remarkable ballerina.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet at Covent Garden 2002
PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2002 10:37 pm 
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Review in The Telegraph.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>LIKE some vast cultural spaceship, the Kirov Opera, Ballet and Orchestra alighted in London for two magnificent nights advertising the tercentenary next year of St Petersburg. Just the array of these four-hour evenings beggars the normal concept of a gala.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2002/05/31/btkirov31.xml&sSheet=/arts/2002/05/31/ixartright.html" TARGET=_blank> <B> MORE </B> </A>


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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet at Covent Garden 2002
PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2002 11:40 pm 
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<B>Kirov Gala 2</B> <BR>By Judith Mackrell in The Guardian<P><BR>In 1991 the Kirov reverted to its pre-Revolutionary title - the Mariinsky - for domestic use, and the ballet company in particular looked as if it might be hell-bent on denying its Soviet past. The troupe's current reputation certainly rests on the tutus and tiaras of its 19th-century repertory, and on recent western imports. Yet the seven decades following 1917 were critical, not only in the maintenance of the Imperial heritage but in the production of vividly populist, if politically orthodox, new ballets. <P>Few of the latter have been shown in the west though, and one of the treats in the second of the Kirov's retrospective galas this week was to see a genuine classic of that era, Igor Belsky's Leningrad Symphony. <P><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/reviews/story/0,3604,725010,00.html" TARGET=_blank><B>click for more</B></A><P>


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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet at Covent Garden 2002
PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2002 11:44 pm 
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<B>Kirov Gala</B><BR>By Rodney Milnes in The Times. The ballet is discussed towards the end of the article. <BR> <BR> <BR>AFTER last year’s not entirely successful Verdi season at Covent Garden, the Maryinsky Theatre perhaps needed to polish up its reputation, which this, the first of two galas, most certainly did. Galas are not the most promising of showcases, but by the end — with orchestra, chorus, dancers and soloists in full cry in the Polovtsian Dances — I realised afresh that no other company in the world can field a repertory and an ensemble of such breadth and depth. <BR> <BR><A HREF="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,685-311831,00.html" TARGET=_blank><B>click for more</B></A><BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet at Covent Garden 2002
PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2002 11:45 pm 
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<B>A Celebration of St Petersburg at Covent Garden</B> <BR>By Ismene Brown in The Daily Telegraph <BR> <P>LIKE some vast cultural spaceship, the Kirov Opera, Ballet and Orchestra alighted in London for two magnificent nights advertising the tercentenary next year of St Petersburg. Just the array of these four-hour evenings beggars the normal concept of a gala.<BR> <BR>Extracts from operas and ballets side by side, played by one of the finest orchestras in the world, put the casual cold cuts of the Royal Opera House's Golden Jubilee Gala in July in its overpriced place.<P>But then this Kirov celebration comes from the Russians' heart, not from a sense of duty, and these galas were affecting as well as impressive. <P><A HREF="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2002/05/31/btkirov31.xml&sSheet=/arts/2002/05/31/ixartright.html" TARGET=_blank><B>click for more</B></A>


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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet at Covent Garden 2002
PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2002 1:29 am 
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<B>Kirov Gala</B><BR>by Debra Craine in The Times<P> <BR>THE Kirov’s second London gala this week brought many musical pleasures, but for dance fans it was a chance to see a different face of their beloved Kirov Ballet. The night before, the first of two evenings commemorating the 300th anniversary of St Petersburg, they got Russian ballet at its most familiar. On this night, we were treated to choreography which doesn’t normally make the trip abroad. <BR>With some of it you can see why. Alexei Ratmansky’s Middle Duet, an abstract pas de deux created in 1998 to music by Yuri Khanin, is part of the experimental new wave of Russian ballets. It’s a curious hybrid, clearly influenced by international neo-classicism yet unsure of what line it wants to take. Full of steps and academic poise, it also literally falls to pieces in places. Dancers Natalia Sologub and Islom Baimuradov were convincing, even if the choreography wasn’t.<P><A HREF="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,685-313059,00.html" TARGET=_blank><B>click for more</B></A>


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