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 Post subject: Kirov in London 2009
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:55 am 
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Here is the official press release with details of this summer's London seson of the Kirov Ballet.

Aristocrats of the dance return to Covent Garden

VICTOR HOCHHAUSER presents

THE MARIINSKY BALLET (formerly The Kirov Ballet)
Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre

ROYAL OPERA HOUSE, LONDON
Monday 3 August – Saturday 15 August 2009

Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty
Homage to Balanchine: Serenade / Rubies (Jewels) / Symphony in C

Public booking opens 28 April 2009 www.roh.org.uk/mariinsky

One of the world’s great ballet companies, the Mariinsky Ballet, formerly known as the Kirov, comes to the Royal Opera House with an eagerly awaited two week season (3-15 August 2009) presented by Victor Hochhauser.

Returning to Covent Garden, the two hundred strong company, under the direction of Yuri Fateev, brings a programme of classic works: Leonid Lavrovsky’s powerful Romeo and Juliet; Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty in versions created by the great Russian choreographer Konstantin Sergeyev; and a homage to the incomparable George Balanchine.

Since its legendary first visit to London in 1961, The Mariinsky Ballet has enthralled and delighted British audiences. Its dancers are the aristocrats of the dance world, its style synonymous with elegance and beauty, its corps de ballet a marvel of precision and grace.

ROMEO AND JULIET (3,4,5,6 August at 7.30pm)
This Mariinsky Ballet season opens with the return of one of the most cherished and admired Russian ballets of the twentieth century: Lavrovsky’s celebrated realisation of Romeo and Juliet to Prokofiev’s music, created at the Mariinsky Theatre in January 1940. Guided by the dramatic force and lyric power of Prokofiev’s score, Lavrovsky’s choreography draws a grandly moving portrait of the star-crossed lovers and the Renaissance society which frames their tragedy. For its forthcoming Royal Opera House season, the Mariinsky Ballet presents four of today’s leading exponents: Alina Somova, Olesia Novikova, Ekaterina Osmolkina and Evgenia Obrazstova partnered by Vladimir Shklyarov, Igor Kolb, Evgeny Ivanchenko and Anton Korsakov as their Romeos.

SWAN LAKE (7,8,10,11 August at 7.30pm; 8 August at 2pm)
Swan Lake has been treasured in St. Petersburg ever since Marius Petipa and his assistant Lev Ivanov created the first performances there in the 1890s. Konstantin Sergeyev, one of the great dancers of the Mariinsky’s Soviet years, and a celebrated choreographer and producer, created this definitive version of Swan Lake in 1950 for the Mariinsky Ballet. It remains a superlative realisation of Tchaikovsky’s score and of Petipa and Ivanov’s choreography, with its mysterious inner world, its romantic atmosphere and the brilliance of its court dances. Generations of St. Petersburg ballerinas have aspired to the double role of Odette the Swan Princess, and Odile the evil enchantress. The outstanding ballerinas cast in the role for the Mariinsky Ballet’s London season are the incomparable Uliana Lopatkina, Viktoria Tereshkina, Anastasia Kolegova and Alina Somova.

HOMAGE TO BALANCHINE: Serenade / Rubies (Jewels) / Symphony in C
(12,13 August at 7.30pm)
The Mariinsky Ballet pays tribute to George Balanchine, one of the greatest choreographers in the history of ballet, in an exhilarating evening which displays the company’s greatest stars in three inspirational works: Serenade is a milestone in the history of dance, a magical fusion of Balanchine’s choreographic genius with Tchaikovsky’s dramatic music. Rubies, the witty central section of Balanchine’s sparkling three-act ballet Jewels, was inspired by the brilliance of the gemstone and by Stravinsky’s vibrant, jazzy score for piano and orchestra. Symphony in C is a superlative realisation of Georges Bizet’s youthful, effervescent symphony, where the dance, like the score, is filled with light and a joyous assurance.

THE SLEEPING BEAUTY (14,15 August at 7.30pm; 15 August at 2pm)
The Sleeping Beauty is hailed as the greatest of all ballets - and nowhere more so than at the Mariinsky Theatre, where it was created in1890 by Marius Petipa, delighting audiences with its spectacular effects, its sublime dances and Tchaikovsky’s grandly unfolding score. The production that the Mariinsky Ballet brings to London is by Konstantin Sergeyev, with softly romantic sets and costumes by Simon Virsaladze. Created in 1952, it is much loved for its stylistic purity. Its interpreters this season include Uliana Lopatkina, Viktoria Tereshkina, Alina Somova and Leonid Sarafanov.

Booking information
Public booking opens on 28 April 2009 Online booking www.roh.org.uk/mariinsky
Tickets: £95 - £8.50 Box office Tel: 020 7304 4000

THE MARIINSKY BALLET at
THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE

Monday 3 August – Saturday 15 August 2009

Presented by Victor Hochhauser

Performance calendar

Week 1

Mon 3 August 7.30pm Romeo and Juliet
Tue 4 August 7.30pm Romeo and Juliet
Wed 5 August 7.30pm Romeo and Juliet
Thu 6 August 7.30pm Romeo and Juliet
Fri 7 August 7.30pm Swan Lake
Sat 8 August 2.00pm Swan Lake
Sat 8 August 7.30pm Swan Lake

Week 2

Mon 10 August 7.30pm Swan Lake
Tue 11August 7.30pm Swan Lake
Wed 12 August 7.30pm Homage to Balanchine*
Thu 13 August 7.30pm Homage to Balanchine*
Fri 14 August 7.30pm The Sleeping Beauty
Fri 15 August 2.00pm The Sleeping Beauty
Fri 15 August 7.30pm The Sleeping Beauty

*Serenade, Rubies (Jewels), Symphony in C

Booking information

Public booking opens on 28 April 2009.
Tickets: £95 - £8.50
Online booking: www.roh.org.uk/mariinsky
Box Office Tel: 020 7304 4000


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:03 pm 
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Thanks for sharing this information with us, Cassandra. Interesting that the tour this year is in August, when typically the company goes on vacation. I"m guessing that may push the season opening in September to later than usual...


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 4:42 am 
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August could represent a problem for audiences too as it is traditionally the month everyone goes off on holiday and certainly the well-heeled with kids will have decamped to southern Europe for the school holidays. Committed ballet goers that I've spoken to have expressed a fair degree of disappointment with the season as most (like myself) expected the new Ratmansky Little Humpbacked Horse, also Carnival and the ravishing Awakening of Flora. Some won't be bothering. Also London will see a lot of Swan Lakes this year as there is a lengthy run by the Royal Ballet with ABT bringing the ballet over at the same time.

So Alina Somova is now a "leading exponent" of Juliet. Eh??? Lavrovsky's Juliet requires a degree of nobility as personified by Ulanova and is just one of the many qualities beyond the minimal attainments of this over-hyped performer. I hope putting her name first is down to alphabetical order as opening a London season with this dancer would be a very grave error.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 3:02 pm 
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Cassandra wrote:
August could represent a problem for audiences too as it is traditionally the month everyone goes off on holiday and certainly the well-heeled with kids will have decamped to southern Europe for the school holidays. Committed ballet goers that I've spoken to have expressed a fair degree of disappointment with the season as most (like myself) expected the new Ratmansky Little Humpbacked Horse, also Carnival and the ravishing Awakening of Flora. Some won't be bothering. Also London will see a lot of Swan Lakes this year as there is a lengthy run by the Royal Ballet with ABT bringing the ballet over at the same time.


I totally agree with you Cassandra. The management's judgement continues off the chart. The last new work they brought to London was Gelber's "Golden Age." That same year, they neglected to bring "Ondine." The critical response to "Golden Age" has been fully documented: It was a mistake. After this, they expended time and resources on the "Flora" reconstruction. They didn't bring that production either. Last summer at Sadlers Wells, they brought the Forsythe program, which had 1/3 of "Beauty in Motion." Response to that engagement was reportedly 'okay,' but still, not the ideal showcase for the raison d'etre of this company. "Carnavale" was revived; it won't be brought this summer even though it's nominated for a Golden Mask next month. What if "Carnavale" wins? Apparently, regardless of the outcome, it's not on the playbill schedule. And as you've noted, this year the London market will be over-saturated with "Swan Lakes," both foreign and domestic.
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So Alina Somova is now a "leading exponent" of Juliet. Eh??? Lavrovsky's Juliet requires a degree of nobility as personified by Ulanova and is just one of the many qualities beyond the minimal attainments of this over-hyped performer. I hope putting her name first is down to alphabetical order as opening a London season with this dancer would be a very grave error.

I co-sign your statement, with this addendum. They cast Somova as Juliet, on March 28 as "Giselle," and in the balance of the Covent Garden engagement, at the peril of what's left of the reputation of this company. If it were merely a matter of alphabetical order, by recognition, critical acclaim, consistent and proven ability, (and in one case, an IBC Gold Medal, numerous awards, Golden Mask, and a nomination next month for another), both Novikova and Obratzova would always come before her. But typographical over-hype/over-praise," :arrow: i.e. "leading exponent"(:?: :!:), and alphabetical order aren't the issues here. If Somova had .01 of a millileter of the abilities, talent, international critical acclaim and recognition that any of her betters have, she would still be unacceptable. Period.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 5:29 pm 
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I agree, Cassandra and Cygne, with your points.

I think the reality is (as some Kirov company members have said to me), "The audience(s) like her." San Francisco's main critic wrote about the Kirov's last stop in that city in October and she trashed the company -- but pointed out that in her opinion Somova was the saving grace. (over Tereshkina!)

I will grant that every company has bad nights and bad performances. But my recent exposure to SFB's latest "new and improved Swan Lake" (see my review in the Americas thread) confirms my growing suspicions that the standards of American audiences are disappointingly low on an international scale.

But back to the point. When you have that kind of publicity and audience reaction to someone like Somova--and like it or not, there ARE audience members who attend based on what they read, not their own assessment, opinions, research or exposure to the art form-- ticket sales are affected. And when ticket sales are affected, the company administration pays attention and then casts accordingly. The circus branding then starts to perpetuate itself. As I see it, the responsibility for this phenomenon lays as much on the shoulders of ignorant publicity (or shall I say inappropriate publicity) as it does on the company admin's choices for casting. They could, after all, promote the harbingers of Mariinsky traditions over the quick-fix fanfare, but due to "audience reaction" (which includes critics reaction and what is written and published in metropolitan newspapers), the MT has "expanded the repertoire" to include Somova, who doesn't necessarily represent traditional Vaganova-style taste, and refinement of technique.

A fellow critic recently pointed out that Sylvie Guillem, for all of her hyper-flexibility, was able to thoughtfully execute Forsythe's "In the Middle" -- hitting exact 90-degree attitudes when she chose to, and then whacking her leg at other moments. The point being that those with such facility do not have to "show off" the extension at every turn, and toning it down often has a greater effect. But I again digress...

Let's face it, the mass of American audiences are not well exposed to, or cultured in the best that ballet has to offer. (I cannot speak for European, as I've only been to Paris & Vienna for European performances). I speak NOT of balletomanes -- those of us who follow the Kirov can tell apples from oranges. It is the rest of the viewers that are of concern. Those new recruits with little exposure to ballet as an art form, those who hear the Russian ballet company is in town and they've never seen it so they decide to go, and so on. There's nothing wrong with not knowing much about ballet. But when those viewers see Somova and presume she's representative of the Russian tradition as a whole (which IS the assumption being made), then that lower-level knowledge and understanding is now (IMHO) starting to harm the art form itself in weird ways such as those mentioned in this thread. But then, we've had this discussion before, so many times :-)


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 12:17 pm 
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I haven't seen Somova in person, but I have watched a few online videos (ugh), and I would put her in the same category as Lucia Lacarra. Both have a very impressive facility and it is quite astounding when you first see it. But Somova, like Lacarra, is kind of a one trick pony and once you've seen her in a few performances in a few different roles, the novelty wears off and you see that there is no depth, technique, or thought behind the rubber band body. (This is what happened to me when I was watching Lacarra regularly. By the time she left San Francisco I couldn't stand to watch her in anything.)

So to defend Rachel Howard, we in San Francisco don't have the advantage you guys have of being able to follow the Kirov/Maryinsky regularly and having the Somova novelty wear thin. Ms. Howard was accurately critical of Lacarra by the time she left, and I believe if she had the chance to watch Somova more closely she would start to see what you all see.

I think American audiences are taken in by the incredible acrobatics because most of us are still uneducated country squires. though I have great hopes for our improvement.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:04 pm 
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On the programming issue, don't underestimate the influence of the Hochhausers. As I understand it, they want big name ballets to get bums on seats, especially at up to £100 a seat, and it takes a determined company management to persuade them to programme lesser known full-lengths / mixed bills.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 6:22 pm 
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If that is the case, then they've gotten their wish: three full-length ballets out of four programs! Other cities should be so lucky -- in fact, there is something to be said for the Hochhauser approach. I think the US reviews for the fall tour in some cases could have been improved had the billings and casting showed off the best the Kirov can offer. (as it was, I gather there was a lot of second and third stringing going on).


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 Post subject: Kirov dancers in a London Gala
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:30 am 
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Last night a number of Kirov dancers turned up for the Diaghilev gala at Covent Garden: Lopatkina, Batalov, Kuznetsov, Nioradze, Obratzova and Zelensky. Obratzova was adorable as Columbine.


Last edited by Cassandra on Tue Jun 09, 2009 3:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Kirov dancers in a London Gala
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 5:29 am 
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Cassandra wrote:
Last night a number of Kirov dancers turned up for the Diaghilev gala at Covent Garden: Farouk Ruzimatov (well, ex Kirov), Lopatkina, Batalov, Kuznetsov, Nioradze, Obratzova and Zelensky. Obratzova was adorable as Columbine and Ruzimatov shed the years as a magnificent Golden Slave.


Wow--that is one seriously major group of MT ballet dancers (and one ex-troupe) at the Diaghilev gala! 8)


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 Post subject: Wot, no Somova?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 4:05 am 
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I picked up a flyer at Covent Garden last night. It is a single sheet of card featuring a picture of Kondaurova in Serenade on the front. On the back there are two pictures of Obratzova and Shklyarov in R & J and Beauty another of Kondaurova in Rubies and one of Lopatkina as the Black Swan.

It does lull the more casual ballet goer into a sense of false security though as after seeing these excellent ladies in the flyer they will be in for a shock if they rashly book those first and last nights.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 4:48 am 
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I would laugh, but it really isn't funny. I agree, that is misleading. If those girls are doing the advertising then they should be the ones who are *predominantly* onstage...


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:55 am 
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I totally agree Catherine and Cassandra: This isn't truth in advertising. Whenever the Maryinsky comes to the U.S. it's all Somova all the time, onstage, in the programs and promotional posters. At least Ardani Artists Management, which presents the Maryinsky here, gives fair warning, so that those of us who know what's going on with this dancer can avoid her. The Hochhausers are playing a shell game, employing a "Where's Waldo" casting policy for the Covent Garden engagement. The Maryinsky management does this at home as well, especially when it comes to exceptional talents such as Kondaurova, Obratzova, and others.

For example, yesterday evening Somova unceremoniously replaced Obratzova as Kitri. On it's face, this is par for the course. However, Obratzova was scheduled to dance Kitri for a number of weeks on the company's website. She recently made a successful debut as Siumbike in the "Shurale" revival. The July 8 "Don Q" performance would have been only her second opportunity to dance Kitri on her home stage. Barring indisposition or injury, this cast switch wasn't entirely at the last minute, (a few days), but those ticket holders who booked specifically for Obratzova were left holding the bag.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 11:50 am 
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Just a little over two weeks to go before the opening of the Mariinsky Ballet's London season.

A 'Dumb Question':

Is Ms. Somova ready to debut the role of Juliet at the opening night of the troupe's most prestigious tour of the year? Are they (the Hochhausers and the Mariinsky management) really going through with this? I still would not bet hard cash on this. We'll believe it when we see it.

Opening-night reviews can have the power of making or breaking a run. I don't want the troupe to 'bomb' as it pretty much did the last time that it went to London (Shostakovich Festival with Golden Age, etc.). They need to open with an undisputed hit this time -- and the ballerina must be glorious.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 3:04 am 
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As far as I'm aware no changes have been made to the stated casting therefore Somova will in fact dance both the first and last nights. I think this will be the first Kirov season in London where I will be missing both the first and last performances.

Are you planning on coming to London to see any performances Natalia?


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