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Saw no one has yet lifted this topic off, so I thought I would jump in.

 

I wrote a review of the production itself the last time round so I will leave that to historical record.  In many ways I thought last night's outing was more fair to the the variety of Ratmansky's choreographic outlines - and certainly Burlaka's 'Dramatic Conception'  - such as it exists in this particular 're-imagining'.  Indeed - and perhaps more to the point - it was the Bolshoi Ballet Company - itself - as a whole - that here now shone minus its originating - and focus stealing - 'Vasipova' effect, as thrilling as that historic moment in balletic time was.  That is perhaps ironic given much of the Bolshoi's own history ... but there is no question but that it is more fitting just now.  (The Shrew of the last two nights has made that vividly clear.  This is a Company set sail with a differing - if not an entirely different charge.) 

 

In many ways I felt that Ekaterina Krysanova bettered her predecessor as Jeanne in that she seemed a tad more comfortable in the many character dance aspects and was certainly determined in her character observations throughout.  Her stare as she progressed forward at the end pierced through with steel.  What a gloriously versatile artist this young dancer is.  Certainly you could feel that in the clearly distinct differences in her own O/O framework.  She is, in fact, the ONLY female principal who will have appeared in principal roles in ALL FIVE of the ballets being presented in London's 2016 Bolshoi season.  This surely is HER season and hers - at least as far as I'm concerned - is very much a well deserved showcase ... as was it on this occasion for the dramatically thrilling Igor Tsvirko (looking - as arrayed here - every inch the Bolshoi's answer to John Travolta of yore) - who threw his own eye popping - both literally and figuratively - blaze into last night's mix as Philippe.  

 

Denis Rodkin was replaced 'due to injury' (as announced) last night by the arduously svelte Artem Ovcharenko and his real-life fiancee (it has been publicly announced they will be getting married later this month) the always enticingly exquisite Anna Tikhomirova - surely a principal in waiting.  They dazzled as Mireille de Poitiers and Antoine Mistral and the oh, so difficult partnering of that central adagio - even inclusive here of a very small slip by Tihomirova which Ovcharenko make almost entirely unnoticable.  Theirs was a heart-rendering love knot and oh, so very musically enhanced.  

 

Outstanding too - once again - in the role he originated - was that phenomenal character artist in a company of world leading character dancers, Vitaly Biktimiov.  Once more he proffered a distinctly 'David-Niven-like' air as Gilbert, Captain of the Marseillais.  How lucky we are to be able to watch his ever present and always uniquely stunning detail of his life enriching creations much as we are with our very own and equally vivid Gary Avis.  Denis Savin once again brought keen heart to Jerome as did the effervescent Nina Kaptsova as Adeline (much as she had in the performance now incarcerated on DVD).  I felt that Chudin - in an act of wholly unnecessary luxury casting - was a tad wasted in the role of The Marquis Costa de Beauregard - for short of his revelatory bristling brises - there is not a great deal of dance for this character and otherwise Chudin did appear somewhat out of place at times - (and the wig too certainly does him no favours much as it historically didn't a younger Wayne Eagling - who every year he seems to facially resemble more and more - in the RB's Nutcracker).  This may well, of course, have been an appropriate character choice given that this role is largely written out as the proceedings progress; a bit like David Cameron after Brexit.  That said I was entranced once more by the gloriously witty account Denis Medvedev gave as King Louis XVI in his one scene.  During this you could well see why Stalin - zealously puffing smoke from his Bolshoi box - would reportedly guffaw with such bucolic mirth.  Indeed at one point therein I thought I could hear the trace of his echo.

 

In all though it was the stunning character dances - here in such an abundantly rich array - that tied this fanciful delight up with a distinctly charged ribbon.  Georgy Gusev's precision in placement alone in the thrilling Marseillaise Dance almost cried out 'Liberte, egalite ... and certainly fraternite' and the adoring audience once again detonated in the explosive thunder of their admiration.    

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Too tired to say much other than I agree with Bruce Wall, the only odd casting was Semyon Chudin as the baddie, having missed Artem Ovcharenko on Tuesday I was delighted to see him last night, also Anna Tikhomirova (thought there was a huge rapport between them, now I know why), glorious particularly in the Soviet style pdd in act 2, Denis Medvedev superb in the short cameo role of Louis XVI, and best of all Igor Tsvirko, coming very close to Ivan Vasiliev in his thrilling dancing! His acting, as always, was superb!

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I was at the rehearsal on Friday afternoon - we had the first act with the Saturday matinee cast - plus a snippet from the leads on opening night. Here are a few photos from that.

28693052242_c72ddd0cfa_z.jpg
Igor Tsvirko, Ekaterina Krysanova
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

28693045782_e0f7e38ced_z.jpg
Kristina Kretova, Vyacheslav Lopatin
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

28183284943_80694a10d3_z.jpg
Artem Ovcharenko, Anna Tikhomirova, Diana Kosyreva
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Set from DanceTabs: Bolshoi Ballet - The Flames of Paris
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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In many ways I felt that Ekaterina Krysanova bettered her predecessor as Jeanne in that she seemed a tad more comfortable in the many character dance aspects and was certainly determined in her character observations throughout.  Her stare as she progressed forward at the end pierced through with steel.  What a gloriously versatile artist this young dancer is.  Certainly you could feel that in the clearly distinct differences in her own O/O framework.  She is, in fact, the ONLY female principal who will have appeared in principal roles in ALL FIVE of the ballets being presented in London's 2016 Bolshoi season.  This surely is HER season and hers - at least as far as I'm concerned - is very much a well deserved showcase ... 

 

 

Absolutely agree. Krysanova was amazing when she danced Jeanne in 2013 but, last night, she totally owned the stage.

 

Came home from Flames really excited for the first time this Bolshoi season.

 

Perhaps more after tonight........

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Bruce, I don't suppose you caught all the cast changes? I must confess I hadn’t realised that both Rodkin and Stepanova had been swapped out and was about to sing the praises of the wrong Mireille de Poitiers…

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Bruce, I don't suppose you caught all the cast changes? I must confess I hadn’t realised that both Rodkin and Stepanova had been swapped out and was about to sing the praises of the wrong Mireille de Poitiers…

 

As far as I am aware - and certainly as announced - those were the only two cast changes last night.  

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Flames of Paris was truly marvellous. Ekaterina Krysanova as Jeanne, as well as a great dancer, really showed off her acting skills, as Odette/Odile the week before I hadn’t been totally convinced by her acting (too many applause interrupts?). But with the more flowing FoP Act 1 there was more of a story line. In fact all the acting was good.

 

Igor Tsvirko was tremendous as Philippe, he has the look of Ivan Vasiliev and a lot of the strutting mannerisms – which really works in FoP. You could see during the dancing that came before the big wedding pas de deux that he was going to deliver the goods and he really did. They both did. The audience loved it, the leads clearly loved the audience loving it. The Bolshoi at their absolute best.

 

As well as the two leads Anna Tikhomirova was the night’s stand out for me. I truly loved her fine portrayal of Armida which was classily classical. I so love this Rinaldo and Armida interlude in FoP, the ballet would be much less without it. I did notice the little slide (the floor’s fault not the dancer)!

 

Nina Kaptsova was lovely as Adeline, so pleased to have seen her in the role so I can enjoy the Blu Ray even more as she has that role on the disc.

 

Each of the Bolshoi performances has got better for me. Only one left though :( .

 

Edit: typo.

Edited by Timmie
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Bruce - I love the idea of Vitaly Biktimiov as David Niven-esque! 

 

The Bolshoi seem to have finally learned that milking the audience for applause if there is the slightest pause in the music may not be the most popular approach in the UK, because they did a lot less of it last night. I thought Igor Tsvirko was fantastic - and I wasn't really sure what to expect from him - despite a stumble in his solo in Act II. Krysanova was gorgeous; I think she really showed the progression of Jeanne's character throughout the ballet, as well as achieving technical greatness. 

 

I have to say that when the announcement about the injury replacements came on, I had a huge smile on my face. I am, of course, sad for Rodkin (potentially somewhat overworked? I wonder if he'll be performing on Monday...), but since I had not booked for any of Ovcharenko's performances, and was regretting it slightly, I was thoroughly pleased at the opportunity to see him. He was, of course, amazing, and it was wonderful to see him with Tikhomirova. They have such a lovely tenderness between them on stage. 

 

I have to agree with Timmie - in my opinion, each night the Bolshoi get better!

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I also enjoyed  the photocall. Here is my contribution.

 

Bolshoi+Ballet+-+Flames+of+Paris+-+16_00

 

Igor Tsvirko and Ekaterina Krysanova
 
Bolshoi+Ballet+-+Flames+of+Paris+-+16_03

 

Jerome - Vyacheslav Lopatin and Jeanne - Kristina Kretova  

 

Bolshoi+Ballet+-+Flames+of+Paris+-+16_10

 

Antoine Mistral, an actor - Artem Ovcharenko and Mireille de Poitiers, an Actress - Anna Tikhomirova 

 

More pictures on www.johnrossballetgallery.co.uk

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Hmmmm ..... interesting to read these enthusiastic reviews because I have to say that last night really didn't take off for me. I find slightly the ballet problematic, maybe I mean boring. I don't love the music and the "ballet within the ballet" seems interminable (in spite of the best efforts last night of the supremely elegant princely Ovcharenko and the gorgeous Tikomirova) just when you think it's finished, the furies appear.

Much as I admire Tsvirko, and consider him a virtuoso dancer and generally charismatic actor, last night he didn't seem to electrify the stage or project the level of intensity out into the auditorium that Vasiliev and Lantratov do. Oddly, I thought also that at times Krysanova looked tired, which would be entirely understandable given her workload over the last two weeks. On the other hand, maybe it was me that was tired and that's why I didn't enjoy as much as others did. 

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A friend sent me an absolutely glowing email about it this morning.  He hadn't liked it last time they brought it, but he said that last night totally changed his mind.  He loved it and said the company really danced like an ensemble, no-one trying to take the limelight and everyone working together to make a wonderful evening.  So I am looking forward to seeing it again tonight, as I haven't seen it since last time the Bolshoi were here with it.

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I'm not sure it *was* Rodkin who was injured last night: Anna Nikulina was replaced by Nina Kaptsova as Adeline in today's matinee.

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This was the Bolshoi I fell in love with in the 1980s. A big, bold ensemble dancing beautifully, magnificently, with the Principals feeding off one another’s stellar performances to give added meaning to a coherent, vibrant whole.

 

As feisty Jeanne, Krysanova was quite simply astonishing in her technical facility and huge energy. Alexandrova’s characterisation perhaps had the edge in Act 1 but her basque dance and pdd in Act 2 were slightly less ‘full on’. Tsvirko cut a deal dash as Philippe (who cares about a slight slip?) and the versatile Lantratov offered a force to be reckoned with and lovely rapport with his Jeanne.

 

Tikhomirova as Mireille de Poitier, elegantly supported by Ovcharenko, was simply glorious in the stylised play within the ballet.. She is, for me, the emerging star of the season and early promotion surely beckons. Good, also, to see Nina Kaptsova as Adeline (fond memories of her as Phrygia in Spartacus, not least with Carlos Acosta).

 

OK – despite being refreshed by Ratmansky, Flames of Paris retains its dated feel, a slightly fragile storyline in places, and rather predictable music. But it comes across as fresh as a daisy. WOW ! just WOW!

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I agree with Capybara. We saw the evening performance with Alexandrova and Lantratov and their Act 2 pdd was simply stunning, astonishing dancing of the highest quality. I thought the whole company were on top form and seemed to be really enjoying themselves and the thunderous response from the audience confirmed that they thought so to. Loved it when the two leads ran downstage to duck under the curtain just as it was about to hit the stage to leave them in front of it to huge cheers. Again a top performance from the orchestra. The was some cast changes announced as the curtain was about to rise and I missed them  but the couple who danced as leads in the play within the story were also beautiful, particularly the girl.

 

My second view of the Bolshoi and I can understand why they are held in such high esteem, Brilliant, Brilliant performance.

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Tikhomirova (...) is, for me, the emerging star of the season and early promotion surely beckons.

 

She is already First Soloist.

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In terms of cast changes, Tikhomirova and Ovcharenko danced all three performances.  So did Kaptsova.

 

I saw both casts yesterday and loved them.  The ballet lost nothing without Osipova and Vasiliev - not really something I thought I'd say (and I say it with my utmost respect to both of them).  Top marks to Bolshoi corps de ballet who were on great form. 

 

Only one more week left...

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Another performance to treasure last night, saw Maria Alexandrova at last in the role she created, she was so warm and joyous, energetic too as she runs round the stage, Vladislav Lantrotov was still fired up after Shrew I think, Artem Ovcharenko and Anna Tikhormirova danced the actor/actress again, I was secretly hoping they would, and Nina Kaptsova and Denis Savin brought emotion to the third couple, I'm going to watch my Blu-Ray tonight, didn't really miss Osipova and Vasiliev at all but will be interesting to compare!

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The matinee yesterday was the  first ballet I have been able to get to for months- what a  tonic. Ovcharenko's solos were thrilling and, for me, the highlight.

 

However, I was delighted to see Semyon Chudin, having loved his performances in the live screenings. It's a bit of a shame that the role of the bad Marquise did not really give him the opportunity to shine (and the bad hair day at the end, caused by being guilotined I guess, was a sad sight to behold).

 

I agree that this was a new, revivified, electrifying Bolshoi, with everyone feeding off one another to stoke up the excitement.

 

For me the production was- well, a bit silly really, but it was fun, colourful and entertaining.

 

Not only that, but a very quiet, attentive audience too.

 

 

Subtle? Not exactly..but who cares...on this occasion it was just what the Dr ordered.

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Really enjoyed both performances yesterday, especially the evening one. Lantrotov and Alexandrova were electrifying and Ovcharenko and Tikhormirova really excellent too (though even with them I still think the court scene is too long). I hope to see at least some of them in the cinema Golden Age. Tikhormirova in particular I can really see in this ballet, especially after her fabulous performance in Shrew.

 

I waited at the stage door to see them come out and was amply rewarded. they were all very friendly; signing, posing for photos and selfies and smiling and talking to those who had waited (about 20 or 30 of us).Both couples were applauded when they appeared and they responded by smilling and applauding us back  Alexandrova and Lantratov in particular must have been there over 20 minutes, chatting away and showing no inclination to rush away and finally even agreed to pose together for photos, smiling and laughing away as if they were as fresh as a daisy and not just completed a really physically exhausting ballet. Well done them! A lovely ending to a brilliant evening.

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 We saw the evening performance with Alexandrova and Lantratov and their Act 2 pdd was simply stunning, astonishing dancing of the highest quality. I thought the whole company were on top form and seemed to be really enjoying themselves

My second view of the Bolshoi and I can understand why they are held in such high esteem, Brilliant, Brilliant performance.

 

Yes, I don't think anyone could have enjoyed the performance as much as Maria Alexandrova seemed to be enjoying it - it was wholly infectious! I'd happily see her dance anything I must confess.

I can't deny that i've enjoyed the two 'short' ballets enormously. I am not keen on their Swan Lake (lakeside scene excepted) so happy to let someone else grab any tickets I would have bought; liked Don Q well enough (except the constant pauses to milk applause). One Corsaire left now, and a marathon standing session as it is a very long ballet!! Wonder if anyone will mind if I wear my slippers....

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Saw all three of the FLAMES OF PARIS Bolshoi performances in their 2016 London run.  The ballet is a trifle absurd ... but then I'm sure it was ever thus ... and perhaps it was even more so until Ratmansky took his talented paws to it.  For me - unquestionably - the highlight were the performances of Anna Tikhomirova and Artem Ovcharenko in the second scene's divertisment.  I know many think that this was too long.  I appreciated the length - as I know full well that the pagents that were here being represented went on - literally - for many hours - while people wafted in and out.  By the end I could easily have watched these two dance this segment three more times and still been panting for more.  The first stunning variations by both - both being deceptively fast and furious - were - in EVERY instance - masterclasses in balletic expertise and surely worth the price of anyone's tickets.  The difference they made between their artifice in the second scene and liberation in the second act could not have been clearly marked nor more graciously proffered.  Ratmansky had given us all a great gift in those specific items and here these two ravishing dancers - each so in tune with the other - saw that we could fully treasure them.  Bravi!!

 

Other than that there were the wide and hugely enjoyable swathes of character dances which so cleverly were fitted into the fabric of the whole.  No company on earth does character dances better than the Bolshoi.  (Then no company has such a large contingent in that category.)  I so adored Artur Mkrtchyan, Alexei Matrakhov and most especially the vastly talented Georgy Gusev in the Marseillaise Dance.  Surely Vitaly Biktimirov is without peer as a character dancer.  His performances always stay with me long after the final curtain has come down.   I also adored the luxurious wit of Alexei Loparevich as the Master of Ceremonies in all three performances.  The detail of his offering spoke volumes ... and always did so with spontaneous variety and a genuine response of purpose completely in ear to the very fine company which surrounded him.

 

At the matinee I was also struck by the stunningly detailed control of Diana Kosyreva's Amour.  It was simply divine.  Here was a wonderful match for the extraordinary pair that she was lucky enough to surround.  This was made especially clear when she was, herself, being partnered by Ovcharenko and in her second brief but devilishly difficult solo.  Why she wasn't given at least one Amour in Don Quixote (ALL four were danced by Daria Khokhlova) I'll never know. 

 

All three sets of featured principals were excellent and each brought their own particular magic to Jeanne and Philippe.  That said - Mikhail Lobukhin - who looks in every considerable inch like a young Brando - replete with flaring blonde hair and fiery blue eyes - and who was truly excellent in his Basque leaps and in first very macho PDD solo - did look entirely exhausted at the end of the ballet.  I must confess that I have never seen a dancer sweat more.  He stood there entirely drenched ... His white shirt at that point was almost part of his flesh.  It was entirely melded.  

 

Certainly there is no question but that the divinity that is Maria Alexandrova wins the prize - if ever there was one awarded - for the best orchestration of curtain calls.  Her joy in and outside of the dance throughout was entirely life enriching - but then it always is.  When she looked up to the heavens waving and blew a kiss to the Amphi in front of the ROH's rich front curtain you could tell just how very much this London visit by the Bolshoi meant to her.  Bless you, Ms. Alexandrova.  

 

I also wanted to note - as no one else has mentioned it - how stunning Vyacheslav Lopatin was as Jerome, the catalytic character of this entire undertaking.  As much as I appreciated Savin - who created this role - the exact precision of Lopatin's dance was always able to give his characterisation an even more focused through line.  His interactions with the delicious Kristina Kretova as his sister and then the ardent love he expressed for Nina Kaptsova's winning Adeline were glorious to behold.  Certainly the ending was heightened for me when his puppy dog eyes simply starred straight out as Jarcass placed the head of his love into his hands.  He never once looked at it - no, just at us - as he felt over its diminished figure.  As the company moved forward in heat of their fevered revolt beyond he made entirely clear the price that our world would - and did - pay.  It was as a new and sudden stroke of music had sounded.  Magical.  

 

It was interesting in the extreme to watch Chudin develop as the Marquis Costa de Beauregard in each of the three performances he gave in that role.  His dancing - and traditional partnering were - as they always are - fine.  What elegantly arched feet that young man has.  Still I wondered why he had seemed - in terms of the portrayal of his particular character - out of sorts at the opening performance as noted not only by me but by others.  For this reason I paid special attention to him at the matinee.  What possibly could have been the difficulty?  I didn't have long to wait.  He clearly telegraphed his answer.  Bless him.  In a way it made me admire him more than I already do ... which is very much indeed.  Chudin made all too very clear his discomfort in actually manhandling women on stage - no matter how delicately suggestive it might be.  He simply wasn't comfortable.  He had no problem when fighting with men or shooting the pistol.  None at all.  The reticence only really reared its head when he had shove, poke or press women in a manner that suggested shame.  I thought to myself that he might profit from even a brief guesting stint with the RB in the later MacMillan rep here held so dear where female characters are often abused if now downright raped.  Certainly there are several masters here present in this particular area..  I'm sure he would get over his reticence very quickly indeed in such circumstances..  Still, perhaps - in the long term - it isn't necessary.  There is a vast world balletic repertory where he will never be asked to portray such abuse.  Blessedly the world - and Balanchine - and Ashton - has taught us It is not de rigueur.  He will just fine without it.      

 

What a wonderful privilege it was to see this production again, so rich in its balletic history and idiosyncrasies.  It made me hunger even ore keenly that I recently have been for a wider choice in London of the Bolshoi rep; for an Esmeralda; for a Marco Spada; for a Lost Illusions.  (How I would love to see the magnificent Vladislav Lantratov in the role created for his brilliant special gifts in that latter.)  It is clear that the Bolshoi BRAND sells itself in London.  Ballets don't HAVE to be named Swan Lake or Alice in Wonderland to fill the furthest reaches of the Royal Opera House.  They just need to be BOLSHOI .. and - oh, so gloriously - THEY ARE.  

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Tikhomirova as Mireille de Poitier, elegantly supported by Ovcharenko, was simply glorious in the stylised play within the ballet.. She is, for me, the emerging star of the season

 

I've been noticing her for some years now, I think - unless I'm confusing her with someone else of a similar-ish name.

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You are right, Alison, Anna has been very visible for a number of years, she has been dancing with Bolshoi since 2005.

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I was at the rehearsal on Friday afternoon - we had the first act with the Saturday matinee cast - plus a snippet from the leads on opening night. Here are a few photos from that.

 

 

Just wondering how you were able to see the rehearsal???

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Dave is an accredited photographer who would have been invited to the rehearsal as a photoshoot opportunity.

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