Here's hoping that you are relatively pain free this morning, LinMM, and will make a complete and speedy recovery.
Have enjoyed the two performances - the second more fervently certainly as I had the second over the first of Bolshoi's Spartacus - of The Bright Stream; a feast of ironic joy fed by the ever glorious wit and wisdom of Ratmansky. The Bolshoi orchestra was - as it has been in other performances - brighter and certainly less plastic in terms of tempi - when not under Sorokin. In last night's instance it was another Pavel (Klinichev) at the helm and the entire instrument of this zealous instrument found renewed zeal in inflating Shostakovich's satiric balloon allowing it to pop in any number of different directions. I so loved the heightened use of the xylophone's usage in Zina's disguised solo variation which Nikulina excelled in much as she so aptly did in all else. What a happy journey his particular artist has been on not just in this ballet but in her career. Her ravishing development is clear for all to see.
One key reason why the second performance (IMHO) was superior was because the roles of Zina and The Ballerina (and their relevant status) were so much more clearly delineated than they had been in the first performance. No grumblers in my earshot certainly last night. This clear distinction made the whole thing appear less cliched as it sadly had sometimes been made to seem the evening previous. I loved how Nikulina in her opening set of fouettes illustrated the fact that her character was out of practice aside the key largess of stunningly authoritative Shipulina as 'The Ballerina' - by making her porte de bras rather gauche. Her fingers there were seen as whirlwind spokes. Happily at the end of the act Nikulina did the actual choreography and in doing so clearly illustrated her character's development. This may be because at this juncture such is just not in the gift of Khokhlova (the Zina of the night before) who was most certainly winsome. I wonder if this had Ratmansky's approval. Nikulina was so much more full and distinct in her modulation and it helped stitch the synopsis of the whole with a greater clarity. You could actively see/hear this in the response of the whole company. It was heartening to see the corps as a whole applaud her when she modestly stepped forward to take her featured bow at the final call. Most crucially it also led to a much more enhanced and understanding response from the entire audience. Here they were totally unified in the build of their joy. At the close of that second variation at the end of the first act Nikulina went from singles to doubles and back before ending - as had been seen in 2007 at the ROH - with the closed fouettes so often favoured by Balanchine in, say, his Wilde or Hayden variations. She helped build a solid platform for the gloriously varied delight of all of the variations from all that were to come. Each and all were rightly celebrated.
The one performance I preferred from Monday was that of Tsvirko as Pyotr as opposed to that of Chudin last night. It wasn't just the fact that Chudin didn't finish his first act solo and changed the end of this second act variation (again I wonder if this had Ratmansky's approval) but the depiction of the character was just so much more on one level. Tsvirko brought so much more varied life in the chart of this colourful characterisation - much as Vasiliev who I had the good fortune to see in it some years ago had. Such a shame that we hadn't had a chance to see that as originally planned for this tour. Loparevich as The Old Dacha-dweller also was much more detailed - with less obvious buffoonery - than the night previous and that gave Skvortsov so much more opportunities for meaningful play as The Classical Dancer en travesty. (By the bye that role is one of the highlights in the repertory the Royal's new 'permanent guest artist' - being one to which he is uniquely suited and appears to delight in. Perhaps for this reason I, myself, would not be surprised if the Cranko Estate had chosen to restrict his appearance in the title role opposite Osipova in RB's upcoming run of Oneign - especially after having him perform such opposite her recently in Munich.)
The one shared depiction that glued the two Bright Stream performances together in honour - again in my lights and my lights ONLY - was that of Denis Savin as The Accordion Player, a role he originated. What a stunning theatrical presence Savin is; one replete with the dramatic acuity of, say, a Peter Sellers. His is a performance I hope the National Dance Awards might consider nominating. This artist - who is consistently fine - deserves every recognition going and then some as far as I'm concerned. As it is I don't think he has got the rewards he so clearly deserves. I kept thinking of the wide breadth of repertory that I'd love to see him in including Pyotr in this very work which I know is in his rep. I so wish we could have seen Nureyev as had originally been put forward for this tour. His segment from that - as well as that by Shipulina - were very much the highlight for me in that programme Vishneva ran at Sadler's Wells last season. Each and all of Savin's outings are a full and happy repast for which one offers keen thanks.