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Vasily Medvedev’s Cleopatra – World Premiere (19.11.2016)

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My experience at the world premier of Vasily Medvedev’s Cleopatra at Macedonian Opera and Ballet in Skopje was a mixed bag of disappointment, relief, fleeting joy, and an unexpected end to the evening.


I traveled from Chicago to Skopje to see Cleopatra on 19 November, the first performance after the world premier on 17 November.  When I attempted to collect my ticket at the box office, I was informed that the 17 November world premier was re-scheduled to 19 November (due to technical reasons), that the 19 November world premier was for diplomats, dignitaries and specially invited guests only, and that all tickets for 19 November were rescheduled for a performance on 25 November.  Apparently, the decision to reschedule all of the performances was made a week prior, but no notice was provided to ticket holders.  Disappointment was setting in.  I explained to the manager that I traveled to Macedonia just to see Cleopatra.  He told me to wait.  Although others were in the same situation, only about 10 waited.  As you can imagine, the not-so-specially invited guests grumbled amongst ourselves as we waited....


After waiting until all of the “diplomats, dignitaries and specially invited guests” were seated, the manager passed out the tickets of those who did not show.  Relief.


Vasily Medvedev’s Cleopatra was made especially for Aleksandra Mijalkova who played the lead role.  She was lovely to watch.  Her pas de deuxs with Vasil Chichiashvili (Caesar) in Act I and with Boban Kovachevski (Marco Antonio) in Act II were especially beautiful.  However, these lovely fleeting moments were lost in the ballet’s excessive theatrics and distracting music.  The ballet Cleopatra reminded me, in a certain way, of Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella, which, in my view, is more theatrics than dancing. The music was a mix of a live orchestra and recorded music, all of which was amplified (and distorted) through speakers.  I don’t know who was responsible, but my guess it was Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel who set the volume on eleven.  


After the ballet, the diplomats, dignitaries and specially invited guests were treated to an after-party at the theatre where there was live music, food and drinks.  The not-so-specially invited guests found each other at the after-party and, while we indulged in our surroundings, we had a few laughs about the whole experience.

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