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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi in London, Summer 2010
PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 11:03 am 
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Location: London UK
Spartacus
Bolshoi Ballet
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
London
19th July 2010


It was a packed house for Spartacus yesterday on the opening night of the Bolshoi Ballet’s London season and with the avalanche of advance publicity about latest company star Ivan Vasiliev, expectations were high. To the best of my knowledge Vasiliev, at the age of twenty one, is the youngest to attempt this most testing of roles and he wasn’t on the whole found wanting.

Spartacus is a difficult part to dance with massive demands on technique, partnering skills and stamina and of those I’ve seen attempt the role, only a small number have fully succeeded. Dancing the choreography of Yuri Grigorovich is always taxing and it is true to say that within the Bolshoi Company only a select few become Grigorovich specialists and amongst male dancers they tend not to be from the classical elite. Ivan Vasiliev is essentially a demi caractère dancer and I imagine his career path will lead him towards a very specific repertoire where his mind blowing technical feats can be fully exploited, so the raw physicality of Spartacus must be his dream role. He dances with quite a passion and his face, a very handsome face, is highly animated with blazing eyes and an expression of fierce determination as he dominates the stage more by his powerful presence than by his physical stature. The technical tricks were what thrilled the audience though and I was particularly impressed by a series of incredibly powerful turns in the second act, though I felt the big romantic pas de deux worked less well as the acrobatics of the partnering seemed more emphasized than usual and romantic nuances got a bit lost. That is however just a niggle from someone who has seen the ballet dozens of times; suffice it to say that last night the ballet going London audience was worshipping at Ivan Vasiliev’s feet.

The other principals were rather good too, though I did think that Nina Kaptsova as Phrygia looked on this occasion a little under par. The Romans were impressive with Alexander Volchkov’s film star good looks making arrogant Crassus the most attractive of scoundrels and his dancing got better and better as the ballet progressed. He has always looked good in this role with its technical demands very little less than those of Spartacus himself, he seems to have found an ever greater degree of virtuosity than when I last saw him. As his scheming mistress, Aegina, Maria Allash displays a new level of sophistication as the trophy girlfriend capable of whatever villainy she is called upon to commit. Allash has been dancing this role for several seasons now and I’ve always thought she was unusual casting as this dancer generally has a somewhat reticent stage manner, all the same she always gave of her best and now it seems she has the measure of the role completely.

One little worry: for the first time I can remember the slave warriors were unable to jump in unison in the scene where they join the shepherds in the second act. I very much hope that was a case of first night nerves, but I plan to see the second cast and hopefully the male corps will be back on form by then.


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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi in London, Summer 2010
PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 12:10 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Judith Mackrell's preview piece in The Guardian.

Bolshoi Preview

Judith Mackrell's review of "Spartacus."

"Spartacus" Review


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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi in London, Summer 2010
PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 12:40 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Sanjay Roy presents a Step-By-Step Guide to the Bolshoi in The Guardian.

Step-By-Step Guide


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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi in London, Summer 2010
PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 1:02 pm 
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Reviews of the Monday, July 19 opening of "Spartacus."

Mark Monahan in The Telegraph.

The Telegraph

Zoe Anderson in The Independent.

The Independent

David Nice for The Arts Desk.

The Arts Desk

Sarah Frater in The Evening Standard.

The Evening Standard


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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi in London, Summer 2010
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 9:11 am 
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Posts: 142
Location: London
I was at the opening of Spartacus, too, and I agree with Cassandra's review. I was also very concerned about the lack of synchronicity in that opening of the second act. I know that number by heart and I love it (it was shown on Spanish TV in the 80s at a UNESCO Gala and it was my only recorded bit of Spartacus for some time, so I watched it over and over again... ah! If only we had had youtube in those days!!!)
I hope it was just an incident and that the standards the company has so carefully kept for its corps de ballet for so many years are left intact!!

As for Vasiliev, great performance!! For somebody so young, it was really wonderful to see so much passion and commitment. Yes, at times, you fear he's going to kill himself in one of his landings, but then, I found that lack of finish... almost welcome funnily enough! In a world of clean techniques that say very little on their own sake, I truly welcome a young dancer willing to sacrifice technical accuracy for sheer passion and who will take the risks he does. This, of course, only proves that his technique is outstanding. Only then, you can understand that he survived some of his technical feats!!


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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi in London, Summer 2010
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 7:10 pm 
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Gerald Dowler reviews "Spartacus" in The Financial Times.

Financial Times


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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi in London, Summer 2010
PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:00 am 
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Location: London UK
Coppelia
Bolshoi Ballet
Royal Opera House, London
22nd July 2010


Of all the great nineteenth century ballets, it is true to say that Coppelia is least often performed and my own viewings of this work have been few and far between. Generally regarded as a good piece to take the kids to, it conjures up matinees of ice-cream smeared tots running up and down the aisles in provincial theatres. A more grown up experience was needed and with this beautiful Bolshoi production, that’s what we’ve got.

This version of Coppelia is another carefully crafted reconstruction by the ballet world’s very own living treasure, Sergei Vikharev, and certainly has an authentic feel of the time in which it was first choreographed. It looks so very good, with the girls all dressed in those most flattering costumes of nineteenth century cut and with the sets looking pristine and pretty, creating a time and place where the locals sweep in dancing a mazurka without a care in the world.

Out of place in the village is unresponsive self-absorbed Coppelia who sits alone in her upper room engrossed in her book who disregards the friendly waves of young Swanilda (Natalia Osipova) and even more puzzling she shows no interest in the flirty overtures of Swanilda’s very handsome boyfriend Franz (Ruslan Skvortsov). This is because Coppelia is in reality an automaton, the creation of Dr Coppelius (Gennady Yanin) who keeps her and his other creations safely away from prying eyes behind locked doors. Swanilda after finding the old doctor’s front door key wants to investigate a mystery and more gullible Franz with the aid of a ladder simply wants to meet the pretty girl with what he assumes is an over protective father.

Act two is never much fun for the dancer playing Franz as he sits slumped over the table after being drugged by Coppelius, Franz’s lack of dancing opportunities can perhaps be attributed to the fact that the role was originally a role for a girl, but for Swanilda and her pals the unusual inhabitants of Coppelius’s house first terrify and then amuse as the automata go through their paces. Osipova has a lot of fun pretending to be Coppelia come to life and performing Spanish and Scottish dances for the old doctor’s entertainment between desperately trying to rouse Franz from his stupor, but generally this act is the weakest in terms of dance content.

The third act sees order restored and reconciliation between Swanilda and her roving boyfriend and is the choreographic heart of the ballet with a real gem of a pas de deux for the two lovers, some wonderful ensemble work and solos for four of the girls.

Vikharev bases this production on one staged by Petipa and Cechetti in 1894, in turn based on the original by Arthur Saint-Léon and there are a few differences from other productions I've seen, mainly embellishments stripped away, a good example being the ‘prayer’ solo. The character of Coppelius was less grotesque than usual and some of the often superfluous humour has gone; whether this is to the advantage of the work or not must be up to the individual viewer but I personally enjoyed the straight forwardness of this production and the emphasis more on dance than stage business. And that dancing was superb, with the corps de ballet showing its strength in both character and classical items. The two principals were excellent but perhaps Skvortsov is a little too princely and less the village Jack-the-Lad to be totally convincing. Osipova is one of the company’s brightest stars and her every step is to be admired and marvelled over: she is a joy to watch. Of the third act soloists Krysanova as Dawn and Anna Leonova as Folly were especially note worthy, but the dancing standard was high all round. The Bolshoi seems very much in tune with these restoration projects and I very much hope that Mr Vikharev is able to uncover more historical gems for them in the future.


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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi in London, Summer 2010
PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2010 1:35 pm 
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Sarah Frater reviews "Coppelia" in the London Evening Standard.

Evening Standard


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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi in London, Summer 2010
PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2010 11:47 am 
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Judith Mackrell reviews "Coppelia" in The Guardian.

The Guardian


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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi in London, Summer 2010
PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 12:22 am 
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Jenny Gilbert reviews both "Spartacus" and "Coppelia" for The Independent.

The Independent


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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi in London, Summer 2010
PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:20 am 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Clement Crisp reviews "Coppelia" in the Financial Times.

Financial Times


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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi in London, Summer 2010
PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:10 am 
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In The Telegraph, Mark Monahan reviews "Serenade" and "Giselle" (the latter with Natalia Osipova) and comments briefly on "Coppelia."

The Telegraph


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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi in London, Summer 2010
PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:34 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Zoe Anderson reviews the "Serenade" and "Giselle" program and comments briefly on "Coppelia" in The Independent.

The Independent

Judith Mackrell reviews "Serenade" and "Giselle" in The Guardian.

The Guardian

Clement Crisp reviews "Giselle" and lauds "Serenade" in The Financial Times

Financial Times


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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi in London, Summer 2010
PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:51 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Ismene Brown reviews "Giselle" and "Serenade" for The Arts Desk.

The Arts Desk


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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi in London, Summer 2010
PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:36 pm 
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A competition in The Guardian afforded a dozen people the opportunity to observe the Bolshoi in daily class. A report with photographs appears in The Guardian.

The Guardian


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