Last night the White Nights Festival began. I planned to write a formal review of Lopatkina's opening, but I arrived in the theatre only to learn she had been replaced by Kolegova. The 200-ruble White Nights Festival booklet still lists her on May 24, and she is not injured, so I presume this decision was made quite some time ago but never announced. I believe the website may have been updated the day of, but I typically do not double check. At 6:30 p.m. it did reflect Kolegova (as did the short printed programs) but those could have been updated the same morning.
In any case, the best surprise of the evening was Danila Korsuntsev back on stage as Prince Siegfried. With no perceptible remnants from recent injury (unless one counts the white adagio overhead lift, in which Kolegova did a press lift in arabesque rather than the arched-back / rotation with the back leg in attitude), he offered a stunning performance -- turns and jete manege to the left as always.
Two steely ladies danced the pas de trois, the fail-proof Elena Evseeva and iron woman Nadia Gonchar, both offering power and attack with enthusiasm. Maxim Zuizin partnered them with a cooler demeanor -- but with feet and legs like his, it almost, well, sometimes, doesn't matter. Pulling into a quintuple pirouette at the end didn't hurt matters either.
Daria Vasnetsova did a fine job as the most eye-catching of the four Big Swans, but unfortunately Yulia Stepanova's port de bras did not match the other four; nor did Lilia Lishuk's. There was a period when the four swans was led by Kondaurova (years ago), or included others (Novikova) who matched each other perfectly in height and technique. The current pairing appears lopsided, unfortunately. This was distracting, as the four big swans are typically one of the highlights of the corps work in Act One; certainly their section of the score is particularly grand.
Both Anna Lavrinenko and Oksana Marchuk appeared as the taller two of the four Little Swans, but the entire quartet, rounded out by Elena Chmil and Elena Firsova, maintained synchronicity and crispness in both their head positions and footwork.
Most pleasing were Karen --panache must be his middle name-- Iohannsen with Ksenia Dubrovina in the Hungarian Dance. A smiling Alexei Nedvega led the Neopolitan with a sprightly and very young Ksenia Romashova as his partner.
Rothbart's razor sharp mannerisms and air-cutting jumps were etched perfectly by Alexander Romanchikov, a reliable dancer in this role.
As for Kolegova, she was a very human Odette, but one senses a distance in her that isn't quite explicable. Her Odile was sharp and accurate. Technically she carries the entire ballet with confidence and professionalism, but one senses less a swan than a maiden caught in a fairytale in her rendition.
Pavel Bubelnikov conducted to a nearly full house. And so the white nights have begun...
Author, "Vaganova Today: The Preservation of Pedagogical Tradition" (available on amazon.com)