CriticalDance Forum

Paris Opera Ballet 2011-12
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Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Sep 30, 2011 12:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Paris Opera Ballet 2011-12

Paris Opera Ballet opened the 2011-12 season on Tuesday, September 27 with a performance of Serge Lifar's "Phedre" and Alexei Ratmansky's "Psyche." Roslyn Sulcas reviews the performance for the New York Times.

NY Times

Author:  Cassandra [ Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paris Opera Ballet 2011-12

Phèdre (Lifar) & Psyché (Ratmansky)
Paris Opera Ballet
Opera Garnier
24th September 2011

On paper this pairing of two powerful Greek myths looked like an attractive coupling but the reality proved rather different. After seeing Lifar’s wonderful Suite en Blanc danced so outstandingly by ENB earlier this year, the idea of a further helping of his choreography was appealing but the reality of performance doused my expectations.

Phèdre is a period piece, very much of its time and a curiosity to a modern day audience; the pleasure it provides is minimal. The thinking behind the actual production is provided by Jean Cocteau who no doubt saw the story’s potential for a spot of danced homo eroticism but to a modern audience it just comes across as high camp. Are there any redeeming features? Few: Agnes Letestu in the title role actually managed to bring some dignity and intelligence to the proceedings. For example the telling moment when she gazes intently at her refection in her mirror, her hand brushing her cheek as she recognizes the first signs of aging. Undeniably she has real regal bearing, but how she could ever be attracted to Hippolytus; so repellent in his costume of Day-Glo lemon with matching wig is beyond comprehension. Indeed the entire production is beyond comprehension with its ugly costumes and silly settings, but here and there Lifar’s reputation still just about stands as the choreography he creates for the ladies (Sabrina Mallem and Mathilde Frousty in the two other featured roles) comes across as a little oasis of interest in what is otherwise a desert of dross, put simply the men mostly pose in a preposterous manner whereas the women actually get to dance occasionally and it was telling that the three principal ladies elicited decent applause at the curtain calls whereas the general response from the audience was boredom with embarrassing silences in the breaks for applause written into the music.

A new work by Alexei Ratmansky was the second half of this double bill with a retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth. Ratmansky has chosen the score by Cesar Franck in his version, though there is also a ballet score on this theme by Lord Berners (Ashton used it) as well as an orchestral version by Hindemith and an opera score by Lully. The Franck score is lush and sensuous with a haunting female choir underscoring Psyché’s emotions and Ratmansky uses that music very well he also shows off the dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet very well too, playing to their strengths and for all the work’s almost naïve charm it is still reveals a vein of Parisian chic.

The cast on Saturday 27th wasn’t the first cast but the dancers I saw will always be indelibly linked to their roles in this ballet for me. Psyché is danced by Dorothée Gilbert as a wide eyed innocent finding love where she least expected it, a figure of youthful beauty, lovely enough to tempt a god. As her adoring lover (here called Eros) Mathieu Ganio made the divine look sexy, clad in a kind of semi leotard of feathers, he playfully shot invisible arrows from an imaginary bow creating amorous havoc amongst the corps de ballet. When love pierces his own heart it comes with the condition that Psyché must never see his form: in the myth he only visits her in the dark of night, but in this danced version the couple never make eye contact in their romantic pas de deux. This ecstatic idyll is shattered when Psyché’s sisters hand her a lantern and encourage her to discover his true appearance, causing Eros to reluctantly desert her. Of course their mutual love brings them back together and even overcomes the animosity of Venus, Eros’s mother who eventually gives the couple her blessing in the final tableau with Eros reunited with the heavily pregnant Psyché.

The sets and costumes mostly worked and those who shared my delight in those giant vegetables that turned up in Ratmansky’s earlier work , The Bright Stream, will also be charmed by the oversized flowers and fauna that show up in this ballet too. The backdrops are attractive with one set clearly harking back to imperial Russia, depicting a lake in front of a mansion looking very much like Kuskovo, that stately pile on the edge of Moscow. The costumes varied in effectiveness but I’m afraid I disliked those of Psyché’s sisters, looking for all the world like Cinderella’s sisters’ in bright mini dresses and silly wigs and the Four Zephyrs who audibly blow Psyché across the stage were let down by absurdly ugly wigs and beards.

Ratmansky’s choreography was impressive, he doesn’t show us anything new but he does show off the dancers to their best advantage and he makes light work of re-telling a hoary old myth as he has developed a sure hand when it comes to narrative ballets. Hopefully the POB will invite Ratmansky back before too long as on the night I went the audience seemed to enjoy themselves just as much as I did.

Moscow, Copenhagen, New York and now Paris, all these major ballet cities have given us works by this outstanding choreographer. Can someone tell me why London remains unable to recognize this man’s prodigious talent?

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paris Opera Ballet 2011-12

Roslyn Sulcas reviews the December 2011 revival of Nureyev's "Cinderella" for the New York Times. Also included (at the end of the review) is a brief review of the Royal Ballet of Flanders' performance of William Forsythe's complete "Artifact."

NY Times

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Sat Dec 17, 2011 3:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paris Opera Ballet 2011-12

Laura Cappelle reviews John Cranko's "Onegin" for the Financial Times.

Financial Times

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paris Opera Ballet 2011-12

Michael Church reviews Jean-Guillaume Bart's "La Source" for The Independent.


Author:  Francis Timlin [ Sat Jan 28, 2012 2:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paris Opera Ballet 2011-12

Patricia Boccadoro reviews "Onegin" for Culturekiosque.


Author:  Buddy [ Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paris Opera Ballet 2011-12

There actually seem to be good seats (Orchestra, 92 euro) available for Svetlana Zakharova's April 4 Paris performance of La Baydere, not a normal occurence from my experiences with the Paris Opera Ballet. Grab them now if you are at all interested.

Also, Myriam Ould Braham, March 28. ... tribution/

Author:  Buddy [ Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paris Opera Ballet 2011-12

Tickets are no longer available for any of the La Bayadere performances from the Paris Opera Ballet site, but it might be worth checking again from time to time.

Here's the site in english. ... tribution/

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paris Opera Ballet 2011-12

In the Financial Times, Laura Cappelle reviews "La Bayadere," with POB's newest etoile, Josue Hoffelt as Solor, Aurelie Dupont as Nikiya, Dorothee Gilbert as Gamzatti, and Emmanuel Thibault as the Golden Idol.

Financial Times

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paris Opera Ballet 2011-12

Ludmila Pagliero is promoted to etoile at the conclusion of her performance as Gamzatti in "La Bayadere" on Thursday, March 22, 2012. Roslyn Sulcas reports for the New York Times.

NY Times

Author:  Buddy [ Tue Jun 19, 2012 2:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paris Opera Ballet 2011-12

Very Good News, it would seem, by the number of "Enfin!"s (Finally!), etc. at Dansomanie in french !

* Myriam Ould-Braham *

* Etoile -- Principal ! *

Everyone seemed to agree on this one at Dansomanie, including one no-holds-barred poster, who I haven't heard from in years !

I've only seen her in some internet video clips, including the one of her dancing "Paquita" with Nikolai Tsiskaridze at the Bolshoi (2010), but I'm Entranced. Hopefully this will make my dream of seeing her at a Mariinsky Festival (or anywhere else for that matter) much more of a possibility.

Félicitations !

"Une fée au firmament des étoiles"

("A Fairy in the Heaven of the Stars")

(LysNoir -- Dansomanie)

(And some photos, scroll down about half way) ... c&start=15

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