CriticalDance Forum

Vienna State Opera Ballet
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed Jan 15, 2003 4:25 am ]
Post subject:  Vienna State Opera Ballet

Vienna pays tribute to an adopted son
By Clement Crisp for The Financial Times

Rudolf Nureyev had a long and special relationship with Vienna. In 1959 he made his first appearance in the west in that city as part of a group of young Russian performers in a Communist Youth Festival. From 1964 he maintained a close relationship with the Vienna State Opera Ballet. It was his Swan Lake staging in that year which earned him - and Margot Fonteyn - the record-breaking 89 curtain calls after the premiere. In 1982 he became an Austrian citizen. And, indomitable, two years before his death in 1993, he began a new career as an orchestral conductor in Vienna.

Thus the commemorative celebrations to mark the 10th anniversary of his passing at the Staatsoper, imaginatively devised by Renato Zanella, director of the ballet company. Two galas offered a generous perspective of Nureyev's work at the State Opera, and a symposium provided commentary from artists associated with Nureyev, and assessments from historians. It was in every way a worthy and, most important, a loving tribute to this protean figure.

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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Dec 02, 2003 12:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Vienna State Opera Ballet

Review from the Ft.

Mixed bills of ballets by breathing choreographers tend to coax Viennese audiences into staying home in droves and discourage State Opera administration from letting them occur at all.

Four recent works grouped as Choreographic Worlds are proving such a hard sell, one later performance has been scrapped. Too bad: the company’s corps gets to strip off its ubiquitous swan and peasant costumes and goes at the modern choreography like starving orphans presented with a Christmas pudding.


Author:  Joanne [ Wed Jan 07, 2004 1:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Vienna State Opera Ballet

Review from The FT.

The Vienna State Opera Ballet's new holiday fare could inspire a grand jeté from Ebenezer Scrooge.

The Cadet's Ball, a mini-extravaganza for 50 dancers, whimsically depicts 19th-century teenage courting rituals between a seaman (there is something inherently humorous about male ballet dancers in sailor uniforms swaggering in their personal visions of hyper-masculinity) and a ne'er-do-well convent school outcast.


Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Feb 28, 2004 4:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Vienna State Opera Ballet

Not really the way you want to hit the headlines, but the penalty of "...never again choreograph the national dance ensemble at Vienna’s annual Opera Ball" probably isn't going to worry the choreographer too much.

Hope the Company doesn't lose money, but you do feel like saying to the sponsors - get a life!

Dancers drop a surprise into eminent Vienna ballet
By Irene Zöch for The Times

AS THE Carmen-Quadrille reached its climax, the male dancers of the State Opera Ballet — effortless, dynamic yet so elegant in their black tuxedos — dropped their trousers. The finale would be danced in white underpants, trousers flapping around muscular ankles.

The ballerinas, splendid in their red dresses, removed not a stitch.

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<small>[ 28 February 2004, 05:55 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  kurinuku [ Tue May 04, 2004 9:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Vienna State Opera Ballet

ARTS: As You Like It Vienna State Opera

The Financial Times
May 4, 2004

Here's a novel idea: come to Vienna and see a ballet! A decade into Renato Zanella's artistic leadership, the Vienna State Opera Ballet can regain its claim as one of the world's great dance companies. The company hasn't looked so good since it was one of Nureyev's pet projects: the principals would be the darlings of any company on this planet

Author:  kurinuku [ Wed Jun 30, 2004 11:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Vienna State Opera Ballet

Spartacus Vienna State Opera Ballet

The Financial Times
July 1, 2004

Zanella keeps the action flowing cinematically from the childhood enslavement of Spartacus and his comrades to the warrior's crucifixion, enlivened with effulgent ensembles and show-stopping classical pyrotechnics...

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Nov 07, 2006 7:18 am ]
Post subject: 

"Onegin" by John Cranko, Das Ballett der Wiener Staatsoper
16th October 2006

John Cranko, generally regarded as one of the leading ballet choreographers of the second half of the 20th Century divided his career between London and Stuttgart. Yet, if you want to see his work, your best bet is to visit Continental Europe. At the time of his death, Cranko was Artistic Director of Stuttgart Ballet and there his memory is revered, with the ballet school taking his name. His most popular ballet, “Onegin”, from the Pushkin poem, took no less than 35 years to première at the Royal Ballet and hasn’t been scheduled there since the 2004/5 season. Thus it was a pleasant bonus to see this beautiful full-length work on a trip to Vienna.

The exterior and the front of house area of the Opera House are elaborate examples of the Eclectic Historicism that dominated Viennese architecture in the 19th Century and can be described as grand or grandiose, according to taste. However, the auditorium is in a simpler, timeless style with light colours providing an elegant setting for music and dance. Wiener Staatsoper ballet company has a 100-strong roster plus a glittering collection of guest artists.

“Onegin” is primarily a ballet of magnificent duets, describing a wide range of relationships and emotions. These involve five characters, which risks diffusion, but the clear focus of Cranko’s story-telling ensures one of those ballets that require little help from the programme notes, unlike the narrative chaos of ballets such as “Le Corsaire”.

The first scene introduces us to the Larin family – a mother and her two daughters. Olga, the eldest, is engaged to Lenski, a poet, and their opening romantic duet in the garden is joyous and uplifting. It is only later in the scene that the two central characters, the younger sister, Tatjana and Onegin, a handsome friend of Lenski, dance together for the first time, with the bored man hardly looking at the beautiful young woman who is clearly already intrigued. Nothing could be in greater contrast than the next scene; in her bedroom, Tatjana pens a letter to her love and then dreams of a duet as passionate as any in ballet with swirling lifts to take your breath away.

The second Act opens with Tatjana’s birthday party and much ensemble dancing,but apart from a couple of highlights, these scenes are almost filling between the more intimate sections of dance. After Onegin rejects the young sister, tearing up her love letter, he flirts with Olga, eventually provoking a duel with Lenski. The prelude to the duel provides a doom-laden trio for Lenski and the two sisters, which is all the more moving because of this abrupt change of mood.

After shooting Lenski, Onegin flees abroad and the action jumps forward several years, with Act III opening on another ball and a dance with Tatjana and Prince Gremin, her husband: a relationship of close friends, but with little fervour, clearly expressed by Cranko. Onegin returns and his indifference to Tatjana has metamorphosed into strong love. The final scene has both characters desperately wishing for a fresh start, but ends with Tatjana tearing up his letter, and their separation, each realising they have lost the love of their life.

In this performance, Polina Seminova, a guest from Berlin Staatsoper and making her debut in the role, played the younger sister's shift from teenager to adult with a maturity that belied her 22 years. Her height and long neck sustained an immaculate line and I was particularly impressed by her slow pirouettes: this danger zone for many dancers always accomplished with smooth grace. As Onegin, Tamas Solymosi partnered capably and his acting was convincing. However, his dancing in the two love scenes seemed under-powered and I found myself reflecting Carlos Acosta and others would express their ardour in towering jumps. Cranko gives Lenski quick steps reflecting his fertile imagination and Mihail Sosnovishi executed these with much flair. Maria Yakovleva's attractive and skilled performance brought Olga to life. Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper lived up to their world famous reputation in the score adapted from Tchaikovsky by Kurt Heinz-Stolze.

The continued success of Cranko's “Onegin” around the world is heartening, but I wish the UK companies would do more to preserve his fine legacy.

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