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Bolshoi Ballet, Don Quixote, Royal Opera House, 2016

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Well, the Bolshoi's 2016 season started tonight at the Royal Opera House with their new production of Don Quixote.  For those who were there, please report back!

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I thought it was good but not great performance tonight.  Smirnova is fabulous, but not as Kitri.  I thought she did a decent job but the role just doesn't suit her.  She will be more in her element on Friday in Swan Lake.  Rodkin was much better as Basilio and had more oomph than I thought he would based on what I have seen of him before.  I'm looking forward to Krysanova and Chudin on Wednesday and it is going to be interesting to see how Corps de Ballet member Shrainer does as Kitri on Thursday.  It is good to have the company back here.  Even a slightly underpowered performance like tonight's is so much more exciting than the Royal.

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i agree with Barton22, this flashily dressed Russian squib was - last night at least - decidedly damp.  Would that there might have been an injection of the O/V thrill of not very distant Bolshoi yore within the walls of this particular museum.  Bless Anna Tikhomirova as Street Dancer/Grand Pas 1st Variation and Daria Khokhlova as Cupid for adding a dash of personal vigour.  Their investment - at least in my quarter of the ROH Amphitheatre - one oh, so heavily populated by a non-English speaking clientele - was hugely appreciated.  They at least did not appear to be hermetically sealed.  Bless them.  So many other elements were I fear simply tarnished by an all seeming tradition.  I came away dispirited.  Here's hoping other DQ campaigns in coming nights will be more lively under different Bolshoi leaders.  (That said I do think that Denis Rodkin - whose quietly caustic humour can - in other lights - be entirely appealing - should get an award for best coif.  No question.  The life of that cut was gloriously impressive.  It will have been worth every kopek!)  

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Tikhomirova really caught my attention during the recent Bolshoi cinema broadcast of DQ. I'd love to see her as Kitri.

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I thought it was good but not great performance tonight. Smirnova is fabulous, but not as Kitri. I thought she did a decent job but the role just doesn't suit her. She will be more in her element on Friday in Swan Lake. Rodkin was much better as Basilio and had more oomph than I thought he would based on what I have seen of him before. I'm looking forward to Krysanova and Chudin on Wednesday and it is going to be interesting to see how Corps de Ballet member Shrainer does as Kitri on Thursday. It is good to have the company back here. Even a slightly underpowered performance like tonight's is so much more exciting than the Royal.

I agree although Smirnova was better than I'd expected and clearly tried very hard to overcome type, nonetheless she looked far more at home in the Dryads scene. Technically she was very secure throughout. Rodkin was terrific. I enjoyed the new costumes but the production inevitably looks cramped on the RoH stage.

The Herculean task for any couple in this run is to banish the ghosts of Osipova & Vasiliev whose unforgettable performances are a too recent memory.

Edited by annamk
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I agree with Barton. Lovely dancing, lots of character dancing which was danced well. Don Q is, I suppose, one of those ballets where there isn't a lot of classical ballet but so much to see with all of the fabulous costumes and other dances to be entertained.

 

 

They certainly deserve to be called the 'big' ballet to bring over all of the costumes for this ballet alone. First time I have seen the Bolshoi live so pretty wowed by the whole experience.

 

Final thought: you know you have seen too much ballet when you can see a dream sequence coming....

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Although I agree Olga Smirnova is not a natural Kitri, I was impressed by her technique and daring last night, Denis Rodkin doesn't really have bravura technique either but both looked happy and got a huge audience response. The Bolshoi still has the best Don Q ever and this new production isn't that different from the previous one in choreography, glad it still keeps the female Gypsy Dance and the Spanish dances, the dancers were so expressive! What a difference indeed between this ultra fast production and the RB one.

 

Advance casting was accurate, hopefully a sign of things to come!

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 What a difference indeed between this ultra fast production and the RB one.

 

Yes and what a NICE, WELCOME difference. More later........

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Static scenery, an"unimproved" Minkus score,Kitri gets a proper entrance rather than squeezing onto the stage now all that is needed is a cast for whom the roles of Kitri and Basilio are a better fit. I know that there are some people who think that dancers should not be type cast and that the rules of emploi should be abandoned altogether. Last night showed very clearly that there are very good reasons for retaining them.Casting against type can produce some interesting results but there are ballets where "interesting" does not work. Don Q is one of them.

 

Don Q does not require jaw dropping displays of technical fireworks but it does need a Kitri and a Basilio who bring warmth, joie de vivre and apparent spontaneity to their performances.Last night was an evening singularly lacking in fun. There was some good dancing but the setting provided by the rest of the cast did not frame a characterful performance from either Kitri or Basil, as he was called in the cast sheet. Describing Basilio as Basil was, I felt, symptomatic of the whole performance which, even with a few rough patches in the partnering, had the feeling of a performance that had been so carefully prepared that all the life had been sucked out of it.  I do hope that subsequent performances will not be as underwhelming.

Edited by FLOSS
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Agree with most of the above. The last Russian Don Q I saw in London was Osipova/Vasiliev and I fear they have ruined future performances for me.

 

Smirnoff was miscast - lovely as Dulcinea, too slow and lacking attack as Kitti. The Odette arms were beautiful but looked odd in the grand pdd. The lighting was horrendous, the start of the dream sequence was probably medically dangerous. I found some of the athletics, especially the back bends in the tavern scene rather off putting - although they did get applause from the audience so maybe that is what people come to the Bolshoi for. The libretto was a mess - but I think that may be just Don Q - and I will never cease to be irritated by the Russian habit of breaking off the music to take bows after fouettés.

 

On the plus side, Smirnova was gorgeous and her swan queen will look lovely in its proper setting, the energy of the crowd in the first act was wonderful to watch - even at the dancers at the very back jumping up and down, the orchestra was great if small and there were some decent soloists - street dancer especially and I quite enjoyed Stepanova as queen of the dryads

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I really can't imagine Smirnova as Kitri.  Looking forward to seeing it tonight, though.  Can anyone tell me what the running time was, please?  I'd forgotten the production had changed to the "Napoli" one :)

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I think we got out at almost exactly 10.30pm alison.  The acts are of very uneven length so don't be too alarmed by the fact that the second interval is still going on at 10 pm.

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Thanks, Lindsay.  I may have to be prepared to miss my train, then, if it's that late.

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Smirnoff was miscast - lovely as Dulcinea,

 

Oh, Lindsay - you did make me laugh.  Bless you.  

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Got to agree with the general consensus on Smirnova here. I wasn't really expecting her to wow my socks off though, because it was so clearly not a role that came naturally to her. At times she seemed to be almost fighting against the choreography. I was surprised by how frosty the audience initially seemed towards Rodkin. I had only previously seen him in the cinema broadcast of Swan Lake from last year, so I wasn't sure what to expect other than fabulous hair, but actually I thought he handled it quite well. He might not have been quite as constantly technically perfect as Smirnova, but I think he succeeded a little in reproducing the energy and verve necessary for the role. I have to say, I was really impressed by Tikhomirova, who got a huge round of much deserved applause. It will be interesting to see her in other roles in the future.

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I have doubts that the Bolshoi fielded it's best cast last night (I still prefer Smirnoff that comes in a clear bottle), but in general found only the character dancers rewarding to watch.  The classical sections were very underpowered with the dreariest Dryad scene I've seen in a long time and Dryad Queen Stepanova, so beloved by internet shills, was as unimpressive as she is unmusical.  Don't think this new production scores many points over the previous one, it had its moments but sets and costumes were mostly better in the old version.

 

With Alexandrova tonight and Krysanova tomorrow, I'm pretty certain things will brighten up as both are very good Kitris. I don't buy the theory that only one type of dancer should be allowed to dance certain roles as I still remember with affection the sparkling Kitri of elegant, soulful Bessmertnova, but perhaps it just takes a very special kind of dancer to impress in all the roles across the board.

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The lighting was horrendous, the start of the dream sequence was probably medically dangerous.

The lighting is almost blindingly bright isn't it?  From one extreme with the Royal's low light/gloomy productions of Scarlett/McGregor et al to something so bright with this Don Q that it takes a few seconds for your retina to recover from the shock when the lights come on at the start of each act!

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Foteini Christofilopoulou was at the rehearsal of 'Don Quixote'

Here are some sample photos...

 

28526733316_31ee22471d_z.jpg

Olga Smirnova, Danis Rodkin (Kitri & Basil)

© Foteini Christofilopoulou.

Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

27943476123_11a0a7ebe1_z.jpg

Angelina Karpova (Street Dancer)

© Foteini Christofilopoulou.

Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

28526739706_190e8f6f29_z.jpg

Margarita Shrainer, Artem Ovcharenko  (Kitri & Basil)

© Foteini Christofilopoulou.

Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

See more...

Set from DanceTabs: Bolshoi Ballet - Don Quixote

Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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As a big fan of Don Q I lament greatly the loss of the previous version danced by the Bolshoi. That was IMHO the definitive version. This new one has been messed up in the order of the story and as for that hiddeous jig stuck incongruously in Act2 get me my secateurs now! It was a complete misnomer transplanted from a Broadway Musical.
Smirnova was a nice Kitri but no Osipova. I agree with others a trifle underwhelming. That Friday night, ? 5 years ago, performance with Osipova and Vasiliev can never be bettered I fear.
Tikhomirova was great and Skvorsov did a good Espada. I enjoyed seeing Vitaly Biktimorov in the Bolero. The Dream Scene was very pretty and it's a hurrah from me for the bright lights...I could see!!! I too found the stage rather crowded with sets and dancers. I would have liked to see a bit more of Gamache his role seems a bit curtailed.
I am hoping the more experienced casting of Alexandrova and Lantratov will provide a slightly better chemistry than that of Smirnova and Rodkin.

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Hi, I don't know whether this is the right place to ask this but what are the programmes like, do they cover the whole season or just specific productions, Also how much are they?

 

I am going to see Le Corsaire on the 12th of August - greatly looking forward to it.

 

Thanks.

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And here are some pictures from Act 1 of Don Q.

 

Bolshoi%2B-%2BDon%2BQuixote%2B-%2BROH%2B
 
Olga Smirnova - Kitri and Denis Rodkin - Basil
 
Bolshoi+-+Don+Quixote+-+ROH+-+July+2016_

 

Artem Ovcharenko - Basil and Margarita Shrainer - Kitri

 

Bolshoi+-+Don+Quixote+-+ROH+-+July+2016_
 
Sancho Panza - Roman Simachev bounced
 
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Hi, I don't know whether this is the right place to ask this but what are the programmes like, do they cover the whole season or just specific productions, Also how much are they?

 

The programme covers all the productions and cost £12!

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I have to agree with the other reviewers, DQ last night was enjoyable enough but not a performance I’ll particularly remember. Unfortunately this is my only Bolshoi DQ. Roll on Swan Lake!

 

One thing I did find a bit surreal was the occasional projections of (presumably) excerpts from the book (presumably) telling us what was coming next – the problem was the text was in Russian. Can any readers of Russian elaborate on whether the text was setting the scene or not?

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...The lighting was horrendous, the start of the dream sequence was probably medically dangerous. I found some of the athletics, especially the back bends in the tavern scene rather off putting - although they did get applause from the audience so maybe that is what people come to the Bolshoi for. ...

 

:lol: I loved the dream scene lighting when the curtain went up. A stage full of tutu'd dancers brilliantly lit (!) is my idea of heaven. I agree the back-bends were very much OTT. I felt the audience last night was not a typical Royal Ballet audience.

 

... it's a hurrah from me for the bright lights...I could see!!! ...

 

:) absolutely. Whilst it may have been a bit too bright I hope the Royal Ballet take note (though I don't know if the Bolshoi pay the electric bill when they are in residence? Or will it blow the RB budget?).

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Just a quick note on my way home, notwithstanding the farcical lighting, tonight was exceptional, Lantratov was superb. 1/3 standing ovation from the OS!

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What a difference a night can make.

 

One of the most horrific evenings I have ever spent in the ROH was that dreadful evening - during the Bolshoi's last visit - that saw the wonderful Maria Alexandrova as Gamzatti literally fall from the sky in Le Bayadere during the lead up to the adagio of the engagement PDD.  A friend sitting close to the stage said the very pop of her tendon was actually audible; explosive.  To Alexandrova certainly it must have been deafening.  We all watched as she hobbled off stage in pain - the very same stage she enchanted us all on this evening - and when in that performance of Le Bayadere she should have been centre stage during her variation ... the orchestra played but famed platform was left vacant.  The lights shone and the music played but the space was bare.  It was as if the end of the The Red Shoes had been reborn unto reality.  It was I vividly recall cruel in the extreme.  The pain of that occasion still haunts me as I type this. .

 

Imagine then tonight's delight seeing the same Alexandrova - this extraordinary Maria - after a triumphant portrayal as Kitri - do a full stage curtsy in front of that gloriously ornate front curtain - kiss her hand and reach down and meaningfully touch the very same foot that had experienced what for many a dancer is a career ending injury.  This extraordinary woman had fought against the odds AND WON.  Her courage throughout this evening did not only dispel ghosts it created a new vision of Kitri; enriched by the pride of her life giving smile seemed to stretch from the inspired lunacy of Lucille Ball to that same wrapped in the humane glory that is Sara Means.  It - and SHE - glowed..  Alexandrova's accomplishment - a fine one on ANY evening - was I knew especially poignant and certainly historic tonight.  It was - I'm proud to report - a privilege to be there.  Brava!

 

Her partner - the lyrically svelte Vadislav Lanrratov - gave life to a very fine (here christened) Basil - and - knowing the full significance of this undertaking to his devoted partner - graced her with keen support throughout. After a dazzling grand pas - while the crowd was roaring - he gently squeezed her hand as a note of his own excitement and pride.  This was very much a shared - and one suspect's private triumph - one undertaken - as reality had demanded - in full public glare in the same space that had seen her previous tragedy.  Throughout the affection between these two artists - and not just the characters they so vividly portrayed - was plain for all to see and - without hesitation - to cherish.  Let there be NO DOUBT - it lifted the veil of mute uncertainty that had hung over the previous evening's performance of the same ballet.  Everyone's game was here raised and the audience instinctively responded in kind.  This truly was - and oh, so richly was it deserved - a BOLSHOI experience in the best sense of that word.  Even the orchestra rose to applaud during the curtain call ... and one suspects that takes some doing :)   

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Welcome back, Maria Alexandrova!  I hope tonight's performance and its reception will have gone some way towards eradicating some horrible memories.

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After the performance Masha said: "It is the same stage. I wanted to come back to dance on this stage again. I don't want people to remember my injury. I want them to remember my come back."

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Much better performance tonight from Alexandrova and Lantratov they were great.

 

Seems my last post from 26/7 at 6.14pm has gone AWOL??? Didn't think I'd said anything offensive.

Edited by Don Q Fan
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