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 Post subject: The Pharaoh's Daughter
PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2004 4:12 am 
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<img src="http://www.victorhochhauser.co.uk/Graphics/the_pharaohs_daughter400.jpg" alt="" />

5, 6 August at 7.30pm
7 August at 2.00pm
and 7.30pm
Royal Opera House
UK Premiere

Press release

For the first time in this country, the Bolshoi Ballet presents Petipa's extravaganza, The Pharaoh's Daughter, in a stunning production by Pierre Lacotte. Recreating the spectacular sumptuousness of the original, the ballet tells the tale of a young Englishman who dreams he elopes with a Pharaoh's daughter. Despite a desert storm, a lion hunt and an attempted suicide, the couple finally wins the Pharaoh's blessing to their marriage.

From its creation in 1862, Petipa's grandiose ballet was a sensational success; its stupendous costumes and striking scenery, its exotica, romanticism and drama appealing to audiences as much as the virtuoso choreography.

<small>[ 27 July 2004, 06:13 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: The Pharaoh's Daughter
PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 1:23 am 
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Todo the horse rides to Bolshoi's rescue

By SAMANTHA ELLIS
The Guardian
August 5, 2004

The Bolshoi is having a "horse problem" with its staging of Marius Petipa's The Pharaoh's Daughter at the Royal Opera House in London. The show involves a performing horse - but the company was barred from using a Russian one by quarantine laws.
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 Post subject: Re: The Pharaoh's Daughter
PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2004 12:52 am 
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Bolshoi Ballet
By Judith Mackrell for The Guardian

Ballet scenarios don't come much sillier than The Pharaoh's Daughter, which turns on the story of British Egyptologist Lord Wilson who, after a reckless hit of opium, dreams himself back to the time of the pharaohs. Wilson falls in love with Aspicia, the ballet's titular heroine, and when she throws herself into the Nile to avoid being married off to the King of Nubia, Wilson is left to face death by snakebite. Tragedy is averted by the Nile's underwater king who restores Aspicia to Wilson's arms.

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*********************************

Bolshoi discovers ancient wonders
by Debra Craine for The Times


THIS Russian ballet enjoys a special place in history. Premiered in 1862, this grand spectacle, which lasted four hours and featured a cast of 400, was Petipa’s first truly successful ballet and secured his future in St Petersburg, where he went on to become the most influential choreographer of the 19th century.

Unfortunately for us, The Pharaoh’s Daughter is also one of Petipa’s lost ballets; it hasn’t been performed since 1928. In 2000 the French choreographer Pierre Lacotte premiered a so-called restored version at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. The latter production received its UK debut on Thursday, performed by the Bolshoi.

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 Post subject: Re: The Pharaoh's Daughter
PostPosted: Sun Aug 08, 2004 12:36 am 
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Raiders of the lost archaeology ballet
By Michael Coveney for The Observer


The Pharaoh's Daughter Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House, London WC2
A travelling British toff, Lord Wilson (his servant is called John Bull), gets caught in a storm in Egypt right next to a convenient pyramid, which happens also to be an opium den. In his drug-induced dream, the sarcophagus of a pharaoh's dead daughter, Aspicia, rises to join him. Lord Wilson instantly becomes an Egyptian love god, Taor, in a skimpy white tunic and glossy hairstyle.

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 Post subject: Re: The Pharaoh's Daughter
PostPosted: Sun Aug 08, 2004 6:21 am 
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Big, bold and brassy it certainly is, with lots of solo dancing and trillions of steps and "The Pharaoh's Daughter" received tumultuous applause at the end of the first night of the Royal Opera House run.

But with no emotional content and a ramshackle pantomime narrative it didn't work any magic for me, despite some fine performances.

Did anyone else see it?

<small>[ 08 August 2004, 08:40 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: The Pharaoh's Daughter
PostPosted: Sun Aug 08, 2004 7:41 am 
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Stuart, I think you are a bit too harsh on the piece. What kind of narrative and emotional contend did you expect from a restored (not really reconstructed) version of Petipa's first big success?

Taken in that context I thought it was a marvellous spectacle. Even a bit of a fashion show: Aspicia has 7 different outfits, her slave Ramze has 3, I did not manage to keep track of all the others. Taor has varoius skimpy outfits as well so there was a fair amount of Sergei Filin on display to the delight of all the ladies in the audience.

I rather enjoyed Lacotte's French style choreography featuring lots of delicate footwork.
This is probably rather an improvement to whatever steps Petipa dreamed up all that time ago.

Unfortunately the score by Cesare Pugni is nice and pleasant but completely unmemorable. A friend of mine called it 'functional' which pretty much sums it up.


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 Post subject: Re: The Pharaoh's Daughter
PostPosted: Sun Aug 08, 2004 9:01 am 
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You are clearly in the majority Petra and I'm glad you enjoyed it so much.

I suppose the ballet which is closest in style and spirit is "La Bayadere" and I consider that a much more successful work, both from its relationships and the choreography. I found Lacotte's vision of Petipa had too many steps crammed into the male solos and much less interesting ensemble patterns. However, Zakarova was very winning and Filin gave it plenty of attack.

<small>[ 08 August 2004, 11:08 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: The Pharaoh's Daughter
PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2004 1:09 am 
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Quote:
The Pharaoh's Daughter Bolshoi Ballet Royal Opera House, London

By CLEMENT CRISP
The Financial Times
August 9, 2004

Only the Bolshoi has the dramatic tradition to make its rachitic drama work. Only the Bolshoi can field such legions of dancers to leap and wield bows and spears, and whip through academic ensembles with such glassy assurance.
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 Post subject: Re: The Pharaoh's Daughter
PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2004 4:12 am 
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Quote:
Living the Egyptian dream

By ZOE ANDERSON
The Independent
August 9, 2004

The Bolshoi is known for big, dynamic dancing, but it plunges eagerly into Lacotte's quick little steps. There are dozens of solos, and some terrific solo dancing.
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 Post subject: Re: The Pharaoh's Daughter
PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2004 3:09 pm 
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Location: Roma , Italy
The Pharaoh's Daughter
Bolshoi Ballet
07.08.04

London's Bolshoi season ended on Saturday 7th August with Pharaoh's Daughter, a ballet never before seen in London and actually not seen around until a few years ago.
The present production is a reconstruction of an early Petipa work, his first success, by Pierre Lacotte.

I am quite familiar with the work of Pierre Lacotte since he was invited quite often in the '80s by the Rome Opera Ballet. The French choreographer is an expert in the reconstruction of lost romantic ballets, working accurately from old sources. In Rome he mounted Marco Spada for Rudolf Nureyev - maybe his first demi-character role - and for his own wife Ghislein Thesmar, one of the most elegant ballerinas I have ever seen on stage. Marco Spada was a big success, although it was a bit too long (I remember I left the theatre at 1 o'clock in the morning), so it was re-staged the following year in Rome and in Paris. Lacotte was then invited again to mount his Taglioni's La Sylphide with Thesmar and Nureyev again in the principal roles. Later Lacotte came to Rome once again to stage his version of A Midsummer night's Dream which I did not see at the time.

Watching Pharaoh's Daughter I am wondering how much of Petipa is left and how much of Lacotte is in there. Although Petipa had been in Russia since 1848 he was still at the beginning as a choreographer in 1862, having worked as a dancer before, so he may not have developed his own style yet. This Ballet is very French in style, Petipa was French after all - never forget!- very graceful, delicate, a bit coquettish. The port de bras is small and rounded, the feet perform all sorts of batterie - just the opposite of Bolshoi style, bold and big.

The story is of no importance, a good excuse for a long divertissement with lots of variations, solos and pas de deux. The Bolshoi company has quite a lot to do, there are always lots of people on stage, nobody is idle. It is a pleasure to see how the dancers have mastered a style that is so different form their own - generally Russian dancers are not so much at ease with batterie. Svetlana Zakharova and Sergei Filin were the brilliant principals on Saturday night, they get along very well together. The rest of the company with the many soloists dances very well too.

The painted sets were delightfully old fashioned and the costumes were all splendour and many (Zakharova alone wore 7 different costumes), all desigend by Piere Lacotte himself. All in all a ballet I loved and wish to see again.


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 Post subject: Re: The Pharaoh's Daughter
PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2004 3:12 pm 
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The Bolshoi Ballet
The Pharaoh's Daughter
Friday 06/08/04

Premiered in 1862 in St. Petersburg the colourful Egyptian spectacle The Pharaoh's Daughter was Marius Petipa's first big success in Russia. Although popular and frequently revived it was withdrawn from the repertoire during the Sowjet area after a brief reappearance in 1928 and gradually became forgotten. In 2000 Pierre Lacotte restored the work to its old glory with the help of the detailed libretto and some remaining fragments of pre-Revolutionary choreographic notation. In the end he redesigned and recreated the entire work in order to "resurrect not the letter but the spirit of the age.

The ballet tells the story of Lord Wilson who on his travels through Egypt takes refuge from a sandstorm in a nearby pyramid. After smoking an opium pipe he falls asleep and dreams himself back to ancient times where he, now changed into the Egyptian Taor, falls in love with Aspicia, the Pharaoh's daughter. Her father wants her to marry the King of Nubia so the lovers flea and after some trials and tribulations the Pharaoh gives the young couple his blessing. In the midst of the rejoicing Lord Wilson wakes from his dream. The story is not really that important but merely the excuse for great ensemble,
solo and pas de deux dances. At one point Aspicia even throws herself into the river Nile in despair which leads to an underwater divertissement featuring the Ruler of the river Nile who bears a strong resemblance to Neptune and a corps de ballet dressed in pale blue romantic tutus.

Apart from the underwater scene which was a bit too kitschy for my taste the lavish sets and costumes are charmingly beautiful. Pierre Lacotte certainly did not restrain himself in any way. Aspicia has 7 different outfits, her slave Ramze has 3 and this is only the count for 2 main characters. The choreography is very French with lots of delicate footwork, so unlike the big, bold style one normally associates with the Bolshoi. Interestingly the pas de deux are focusing a bit less on the ballerina than one would normally expect in a Petipa ballet. Quite often Taor appears right next to Aspicia performing the same steps.
On Friday night Svetlana Zakharova and Sergei Filin danced the lead roles and easily won the audience over. The entire company looked in very good shape and the fine performances in the many solo variations were too many too count. A couple of the big ensemble scenes looked slightly overcrowded but that is understandable since the piece had been created on a bigger stage.

I would say The Pharaoh's Daughter is a very enjoyable piece of light entertainment but it does not have the same impact as a good performance of Swan Lake or La Bayadere.
In that respect it is probably hampered by Pugni's nice and pleasant but completely unmemorable score. Nevertheless given the chance I would certainly go and see it again.


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 Post subject: Re: The Pharaoh's Daughter
PostPosted: Fri Aug 13, 2004 8:12 am 
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Location: London UK
The Pharaoh's Daughter
Bolshoi Ballet
London
7th August 2004 matinee


Throughout this Bolshoi season, I’ve been speaking to a number of regular ballet goers to get their reactions to what they’ve been watching. When I asked on the last night what they had enjoyed the most, there was no hesitation: “The Pharaoh’s Daughter”. This didn’t really surprise me, as a three-act ballet in the classical idiom is a jewel beyond price for most balletomanes.

Pierre Lacotte already has a number of 19th century reconstructions to his credit, but in many ways this ballet surpasses anything he has done before simply by the sheer size and scope of the undertaking. The Bolshoi stage is vast and Lacotte clearly set out to fill its empty spaces with rank upon rank of dancers as every last member of the corps de ballet is required to occupy the stage together with a supporting cast of extras and children. The look is of one of those Egyptian paintings by Alma Tadema and a heavily populated one at that. If it’s spectacle you are after, this ballet certainly delivers.

The story is slight: An archaeologist called Lord Wilson and his servant take shelter inside a pyramid to escape a desert storm, Wilson falls asleep and dreams he is Taor, an ancient Egyptian warrior who saves the Pharaoh’s daughter, Aspicia, from a lion. The pair fall in love and elope pursued by the wicked King of Nubia who wishes to marry Aspicia. After plunging into the Nile to escape the Nubian’s designs on her, Aspicia is restored to the surface by the Ruler of the Nile (a kind of Neptune figure) and is reunited with her father who relents by allowing her to marry Taor. At that point Lord W. wakes up.

Now for a lot of us Egyptology is Harrison Ford with a whip, just as Lord Wilson was a dumpy pipe-smoking former prime minister with a wife who wrote bad poetry, so there is very little chance of a British audience regarding this ballet as anything other than pure hokum. But hokum can be enjoyable and “The Pharaoh’s Daughter” is very enjoyable indeed. The Pugni music is a delight and the sumptuous sets and costumes, all designed by the multi-talented M. Lacotte himself, are beautiful approximations of 19th century style with enough pseudo-Egyptian motifs on the costumes to suggest some hours spent strolling the Egyptian galleries of the Louvre.

If this ballet has a drawback it is that the choreography is French whereas the dancers are Russian and therefore unfamiliar with the more intricate style they are called upon to perform. They cope well enough now, but I remember when I went to Moscow for the premiere of this work four years ago, being told by a dancer that they were finding the steps very difficult. Lacotte spares no one and the principals, soloists and corps are all expected to dance full out so that at times the stage becomes a great swirling mass of colour with everyone dancing at once.

At the Saturday matinee I saw there was a great deal to admire from the dancers and as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, Bolshoi matinees don’t necessarily mean an inferior cast. With Andrienko, Godovsky, Medvedev, Neporozhny, Yanin and Yatsenko all in soloist roles and all dancing at their best you realize just how strong the company is in dancing talent. Taor was danced by newly promoted Dmitri Goudanov, a stylish dancer with clean lines and admirable ballon. Already something of a favourite with London audiences, Goudanov was associated with this ballet from the start as he originally danced the role of the Fisherman who befriends the eloping Aspicia. In the leading male role I liked him very much as he depicted Taor as boyish romantic hero, very impulsive and spontaneous towards his Egyptian princess. The only problem he encountered was that his partner was clearly too tall for him, but this was the case with a number of other pairings throughout the season, brought about I imagine by the injuries afflicting at least two taller male dancers in the company

Regardless of all this splendid support, the entire ballet revolves around the character of Aspicia, the Pharaoh’s daughter herself, and Maria Alexandrova in the leading role didn’t just dance the role she lived it. This princess didn’t go weak at the knees at the sight of the handsome Taor, no; love emboldened her to the extent of defying her formidable father and eloping with her lover. Alexandrova is a true aristocrat of the dance and her portrayal of Aspicia was both regal and warm with every step executed as close to perfection as I’m ever likely to see. She reminds me of the great ballerinas of the past with perfect placement and line, outstanding musicality and (in this role at least), the bearing of a queen. Her technique is awe inspiring, but for Alexandrova it is merely the means to end, unlike so many of her contemporaries straining for that extra millimetre in a penchée arabesque, for when Alexandrova dances the emphasis is clearly on interpretation and of breathing life into a role for the sake of her audience.

Frankly this ballet is a bit of an oddity in many ways, a pastiche rather than the real McCoy, but with a dancer such as Alexandrova as its centrepiece it becomes high art. The work itself though is the balletic equivalent of a meringue. Too rich to digest every day, but a real treat when you’re in the right mood


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 Post subject: Re: The Pharaoh's Daughter
PostPosted: Wed Sep 15, 2004 7:53 am 
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This ballet was aired in a live broadcast from Moscow on Sunday. Unfortunately my ongoing scramble to get the VCR here to record was all for naught. But i was riveted to the set, and thoroughly enjoyed the performance. Having not caught the beginning, I had no idea what the ballet was until well into it, and then I figured it out. I don't, unfortunatley, recall who the dancers were, but I thought it was an excellent large scale production that frankly (dare I say it) put the Kirov's dancing, in some ways, to shame.

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