When "Giselle" is performed with love, care and attention to detail, it's an event. It remains forever new because of what individual dancers bring to the leading roles. Yesterday afternoon's (Oct 12) final matinee performance of "Giselle" at OCPAC found the Maryinsky in excellent form. Ekaterina Osmolkina and Evgeny Ivanchenko were a young couple who were truly in love. Carla Fracci once said that the most important thing about this ballet was, " . . . how you look at one another." Osmolkina's peasant girl was human and trusting, and thankfully without mannerisms. She also projected to the back of the hall such an innocent personality: You believed that her whole existence revolved around that yard, and that she had never in her life been too far away from her cottage. Evgeny Ivanchenko's Albrecht adored this Giselle. Ivanchenko's Albrecht was an aristocrat who really wanted to break free from his royal existence. He wanted escape and he found freedom with this Giselle. He conveyed this by blending in with the villagers, and exhibiting his carefree youthfulness, while masterfully concealing his nobility and true identity.
Osmolkina & Ivanchenko were totally happy and content in one another's presence. Osmolkina's and Ivanchenko's acting in Act 1 was particularly praiseworthy. The acting blended seamlessly into the dancing, and the dancing blended seamlessly into the acting. The action of the mime passages were successfully linked with the dancing, and therefore real and spontaneous. Osmolkina's method was especially effective here: We have no idea she has a heart problem, until she simply stops, and slowly touches her chest, then slowly falters. She backed slowly away, eyes locking with Ivanchenko, then gradually catches up with the corps as the make their round rotation.
I can't find enough superlatives to describe the Maryinsky's corps de ballet! In both Acts, they were simply perfect. Sunday afternoon they dressed their lines, moved as one and executed the choreography in unison and with musicality - marvelous! Technically, Osmolkina was light, airy and precise. She had exemplary Romantic ports de bras. Her feet were very articulate in Act 1's variation. Throughout the ballet, she had wonderful ballon; she just seemed to bounce, then float to silent landings. Ivanchenko was well matched with Osmolkina in this respect: He too has articulate feet and precise ballon and his elevation and technique matched her's. Tatiana Gorunova's Berthe was a concerned and over-protective mother. Maxim Khrebtov was Albrecht's neurotic sword-bearer: He was full of worry and anxiety about his master getting caught in both Acts. Elena Bazhenova's Bathilde is every inch the elite noblewoman; Vladimir Ponomarev's Duke of Courland was as majestic as a king. Valeria Martynuk and Alexei Timofeev performed a correct but juiceless > (?) Peasant pas de deux. These two seemed to be phoning in this segment. It was well danced, yes - but by rote, and that included the fixed smiles. Konstantin Zverev's Hans was a selfish, obsessed and jealous stalker. He wants to prove to Giselle that he has her best interests at heart, and that he is the one who really loves her. He was spiteful and vindictive when he revealed Albrecht's true identity and he did it with a sneer on his face. Zverev's Hans enjoyed this immensely. Here's a Hans who hates the "other man" with a visceral hatred. He really didn't understand the tragic consequences of his actions until the curtain fell. When Albrecht ran off the stage, Zverev fell to his knees at Giselle's feet screamed, his head in his hands, his body contracting with sobs.
Osmolkina's mad scene is a measured descent into insanity. She's already laid the foundation. Then slowly but surely, Osmolkina builds upon it, until her 'tower' comes crashing down. When she's confronted with the truth, she sparingly acknowledges her surroundings, and the people around her. She takes her time, reprising the details of her fateful day. At the conclusion, Osmolkina comes full circle back to the reality of her humiliation, and she flies lifeless into Ivanchenko's arms. Very effective; very believable. One of the best features of her mad scene is the blankness of her large eyes. Osmolkina uses her eyes here to great effect. Ivanchenko realizes what he has done. He runs off in grief.
Act 2 introduced the frightening Myrtha of Victoria Tereshkina. Her entrance was eerie and most effective. The bourrees were seamless, moving steadily towards the center, then towards the pit, then exiting stage right. Each bourree was (seemed) identical, as if she were standing en pointe moving on a slow moving conveyor belt. IMO she's the best Maryinsky Wili Queen of this generation, as Terekhova was in the former generation. Her opening variation gave the illusion of a spirit in the distance, swinging back and forth like a pendulum in slow motion. Her center work was executed as if it were child's play. Tereshkina has large piercing grey/blue eyes. The lighting was very effective here. I noticed that when she first began the act, her eyes were half closed, as if awakening from the dead for another night. As the night wears on, and as she summons the rest of the Wilis, her eyes opened more. Then, when the ballabile begins her eyes are wide open, like a zombie's. This gave her a slightly crazed expression. This gave me the impression that here is a vampiric and vengeful Wili Queen, with a technique that drips blood. Her authority, elevation, batterie and ballon are just unbelievable! And how were the General's lieutenants? By comparison, Yulia Kasenkova's Monna was rather stiff and earthbound compared to the rest of her deceased sisters, and we could hear it too. Maria Shirikina was light and fleet as Zulma. I almost wished that Shirikina could have doubled as Monna.
Osmolkina's spirit was ecstatic to break free from the constraints of her grave: Her variation illustrated this. Her centerwork adagio was traditional and "old school" as in, no 6:00 p.m. penchees or developpes. She let the dance speak eloquently for itself. The pas de deux was the culmination of their love in Act 1. Ivanchenko gave Osmolkina dream quality support. It was a sublime communion of souls. He loved her to the end. Well done!
The Music Corner And Final Trivia
The Maryinsky Orchestra played the Adam score with sympathy and care, paying special attention to all of the dramatic accents. The uncredited maestro was Pavel Bubelnikov, who (apparently) was in complete simpatico with Osmolkina for the highlights. So, thanks to the program book omission, Mikhail Sinkevich and Pasha Bubelnikov were both here but "officially" not here. The pit microphones seemed to be on 'low,' compared with Thursday night's bombastic amplification for "Don Quixote." I noticed that the inverted name errors of OCPAC's program book included not only the corps de ballet, but the Maryinsky musicians as well. There was a 'noises off' moment during Hans' confrontation with Albrecht & Giselle before the royalty arrived. Something quite large was dropped backstage. Fortunately, no one onstage was phased by it. For this performance, Bubelnikov wore his best black silk p.j.'s alá Gergiev. Osmolkina, Tereshkina, Ivanchenko & Co. received a + 7 minute standing ovation. Brava Maryinsky!
Point of clarification:
It was indeed Tatiana Tkachenko
who replaced the over-promoted Somova as Myrtha - who btw, featured prominently in both pics and print for this engagement. If Somova is unable to fulfill her touring assignments, for any reason other than physical health
, (assuming that was
the reason), this is something the management seriously needs to address. And that only IF it's not their idea.
This is a fact: The company didn't use the P.A. system to announce any cast changes, and there were a few this week.
All told, Somova completed two (2) Dryad performances and was indisposed for her Myrtha assignments this past weekend. Novikova opened the run with her Kitri. And, in Olesya's case, a full-length opening night performance carries much gravitas compared to a less than 2 minute Dryad variation, and a 15 minute scene in "Don Q" Act 2 - which Somova was given. Katya Osmolkina danced two Giselles, and three Act 3 variations during the "Don Q" run. Tkachenko's fellow 2nd Soloist, Katya Kondaurova, danced three Street Dancers, two Myrthas and one Dryad. Of the 1st Soloists occupied with work for this engagement, Somova was on stage the least of them all. Tkachenko is a far superior
replacement for Somova. She is an extremely strong Second Soloist of technical excellence and artistry. She has triumphed in roles such as "Raymonda"
the attainment of this role being a rare feat for someone of her young age and rank - particularly in this
company. Unfortunately, Tkachenko suffered the same treatment as the conductors: Her name and bio was also absent in the program book. It's a credit to her professionalism and versatility that she was available to step in on a moment's notice to fill for an individual who to this day has not merited the First Soloist title.