Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Well, I'm afraid it wasn't a flawless broadcast of Raymonda today at the cinema I went to: in addition to numerous (and seemingly regular) gaps in the audio (and often video) of about one second, we had two long losses of picture and sound, one in each of the first two acts.  One of them resulted in the screen becoming more horribly pixelated than anything I'd seen since the motherboard on my new laptop failed about a decade ago :(  I hope others fared better.

 

Technical issues apart, I'm afraid I found myself nodding off several times during Act I: not sure to what extent that was due to the very dark set.  The third act is quite different in many respects from the Raymonda Act III which the Royal Ballet are currently performing, in particular due to the lack of solos for the supporting dancers - presumably these were given earlier in the ballet, perhaps in the bits I was unable to view.  Certainly, the only additional solo was for either Clémence or Henriette, which I thought was a bit odd - I did entertain the thought that one of the dancers might have injured herself and so her solo was simply omitted without comment.  It has to be said that it looks a lot more expansive on the Bolshoi's far more spacious stage.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

BTW, it was announced that, in its 10th anniversary year, the Bolshoi's cinema programming this year would consist only of classics.  That will at least help to distinguish its offering from that of the Royal Ballet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree Alison- it was sadly  far from the best Bolshoi I have seen in the 10 years of screenings.

( and I have been to most of them and overwhelmingly enjoyed what I have seen.)

The production could do with a re-think, in my opinion. Some of the Act 2 'orientalism' was embarrassing ( rows of grovelling slaves etc) and the whole look of it seemed rather below the usual standard, to my eyes. In acts 1 and 3 there did seem to be ghosts of delectably beautiful Petipa arrangements on the stage.  But dark heavy sets,  wobbly daggers, absurd head gear, laughable wigs, did the dancers no favours, also scenes such as poor Raymonda having to fall asleep leaning awkwardly on a pillar etc. I thought Olga Smirnova looked uncomfortable up until her glorious solo in Act 3.

 

 Act 3 seemed far and away the most attractive even without all the variations clustered together.

 

It was interesting to see Igor Tsvirko ( who struggled valiantly with the role of gurning 'Saracen',  complete with prosthetic nose)  interviewed in interval 2, particularly for his comment that he hoped we might see more of the Bolshoi's modern productions in future screenings, and he mentioned 'Nureyev'. Possibly not everyone agreed that the 10th year of screenings should consist of just classics- this and their Swan Lake are really not their best work .....in my view.....

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My response to 'Raymonda' was somewhat different from those above.  Fortunately we had no technical glitches, unlike poor @Alison, so that must’ve been a fault at her particular cinema, and did not find anything too dark. This is the first time I’ve seen ballet in the cinema as I generally get frustrated by on-screen ballet, but now I realise what I’ve been missing out on by not going to the Bolshoi live relays for the last decade.  This was really intelligently filmed, with very little unwanted zooming in at points where I wanted to see the feet or the whole stage.  And at last I know what the full-length Raymonda is like.

 

The title role was played by Olga Smirnova, with Aretmi Belyakov as de Brienne and Igor Tsvirko as the Saracen, Abderakhman.  It’s a tough role for whoever plays Raymonda as she is on stage nearly all the time, performing a great variety of demanding choreography.  Glasunov’s musical score varied from pleasant to gorgeous.  It struck me he must’ve felt a real challenge when he was called on to be the successor to Tchaikowsky, but although his compositions aren’t as charming as those of the great man (whose are?) I felt this music was at least respectable, with some very captivating themes.  I liked the interval talks and interview which took place on stage with the dancers warming up in the background.  We were told that in Petipa’s original version the part of the Saracen was a non-dancing role but some interesting choreography was added for him and the whole second act is now Grigorovich’s creation.

Smirnova was technically splendid I thought, very dignified throughout (too much so for a character whom I assume is a young girl about to get married, then nearly abducted etc).  She was beautiful (she has such a lovely figure – very shapely for a ballerina) but not very expressive.  Belyakov, whom I enjoyed watching in London this summer when a reviewer described him as ‘cartoonishly handsome’ continued to impress me.  He really is a wonderful dancer, and his ballon seems to defy physics.  (I asked my scientifically educated partner how on earth Belyakov managed to hover so high and so long and got an answer with something about centre of gravity that I didn’t understand.  I think it’s sorcery.)  There were a great number of lifts, including dramatic and prolonged one-handed lifts high above the head, which were beautifully performed – but then he fumbled an easier one so even Belyakov isn’t perfect.

 

The choreography was so comprehensive that the between-scenes Russian commentator smilingly described it as being almost like a full ballet education because it covers such a variety of steps and set-pieces.  There was a lot of exposed virtuoso dancing for not only the main pair but many side characters and the corps de ballet formations were a visual delight.  To be honest I can’t imagine any of our native ballet companies coping with the full work but I would love to be proved wrong.

 

Overall I would say the story is a very slim vehicle for rich choreography danced beautifully but leaving one’s emotions untouched.   I didn’t empathise with any of the characters, except perhaps (unexpectedly) with Abderakhman who genuinely seemed to love Raymonda in spite of his violence towards her, and died for that love.  The three hours went by quickly for me - no nodding off! - as all three acts were wonderful to watch and I was so glad we went.  It will be interesting to compare RB’s Act III this coming weekend.  I’m glad to hear it incorporates some extra solos.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought Raymonda was lovely - I loved the costumes (and the gorgeous headpieces!) and thought all the main dancers were incredible. The 3 hours flew by. I particularly loved the  Clemence/Henriette who had the solo in Act 3 ... Does any one know which dancer this is? 

 

I'd say it was a sort of light hearted ballet - no great tragedy or plot twist. I thought Smirnova and Belyakov were a wonderful partnership and what music! 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

38 minutes ago, ArucariaBallerina said:

I particularly loved the  Clemence/Henriette who had the solo in Act 3 ... Does any one know which dancer this is? 

 

 

Here's the link to the cast list:

https://www.bolshoi.ru/en/performances/63/roles/#20191027180000

 

If you click on the names of the dancers who took the roles of  Clemence and Henriette, you should get a picture which will help you identify the one you mean.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've just finished catching up on this on the Bolshoi's website & can't say that I enjoyed it much (admittedly I do currently have a heavy cold so am not enjoying anything much!). As in last season's La Bayadere cinecast, I didn't think Smirnova & Belyakov had much chemistry together or did much acting. She seemed to have pretty much the same expression when dancing with Belyakov, who she was supposed to be in love with, that with Tsvirko, who she was supposed to be afraid of. Tsvirko's acting was pretty OTT, but I'm not sure he could have done anything else with his character than play him as a pantomime villain. The production could do with a bit of updating. Some of the wigs & helmets are frankly risible.

 

I'm starting to think the 19th century classical ballets are rather like baroque opera: while technically the plots are different, in practice very similar things occur in each of them. The plot of Raymonda could have probably been got through in about 20 minutes, leaving at awful lot of dancing for the sake of it. I'm now glad that I only have to see the RB doing one act. When I think of the emotion of the recent Manons I've seen & compare them with this, Raymonda comes up as deeply unsatisfactory by comparison.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

49 minutes ago, Dawnstar said:

I'm starting to think the 19th century classical ballets are rather like baroque opera: while technically the plots are different, in practice very similar things occur in each of them. The plot of Raymonda could have probably been got through in about 20 minutes, leaving at awful lot of dancing for the sake of it. I'm now glad that I only have to see the RB doing one act. When I think of the emotion of the recent Manons I've seen & compare them with this, Raymonda comes up as deeply unsatisfactory by comparison.

 

It's true that most C19th ballets seem to have a very similar plot although I find most of them much more moving than Raymonda.  But 'dancing for the sake of it' is a very good thing too.  What about 'Symphony in C' or 'Concerto'?  I agree about Smirnova's lack of variation in expression.  Maybe she didn't buy the story either!  :D  But wasn't the actual dancing worth seeing?  I thought so.

I agree that Manon is a world apart in terms of emotion.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, maryrosesatonapin said:

 

It's true that most C19th ballets seem to have a very similar plot although I find most of them much more moving than Raymonda.  But 'dancing for the sake of it' is a very good thing too.  What about 'Symphony in C' or 'Concerto'?  I agree about Smirnova's lack of variation in expression.  Maybe she didn't buy the story either!  :D  But wasn't the actual dancing worth seeing?  I thought so.

I agree that Manon is a world apart in terms of emotion.

 

I can only take 'dancing for the sake of it' in limited amounts. When it feels as though the majority of the ballet is this then it doesn't do much for me. I like dancing to convey plot or emotion, or preferably both at once. I did like Symphony In C but it's only one act so didn't outstay its welcome. Concerto I have yet to see, as I couldn't go this past Friday.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My husband was very upset by Jewels. I explained it was danced in different styles to evoke the different qualities of the stones but he still didn’t care for it. I loved Emeralds and Rubies but like Dawnstar, my husband felt it was dancing for the sake of it although he loved Symphony in C. I suppose no one likes everything.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 minutes ago, Fiz said:

My husband was very upset by Jewels. I explained it was danced in different styles to evoke the different qualities of the stones but he still didn’t care for it. I loved Emeralds and Rubies but like Dawnstar, my husband felt it was dancing for the sake of it although he loved Symphony in C. I suppose no one likes everything.

 

I've not seen Jewels live but when I saw a recording I found Emeralds a bit boring & Rubies wasn't really to my taste, so I only really enjoyed Diamonds. I'm still trying to work out what I do & don't like in ballet but so far the Do list is rather short, consisting of MacMillan, Ashton & Cranko (the latter again only seen so far on recordings) plus some of the classics depending on the productions (I've seen Nutcrackers I've both enjoyed & disliked & enjoyed the RB's Bayadere livestream last season but didn't enjoy the Bolshoi's a couple of months later). ETA Also Hobson's Choice & the Bolshoi Spartacus & The Bright Stream when I saw them live this summer. So I do like some of the Bolshoi's productions.

Edited by Dawnstar
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Dawnstar said:

I've just finished catching up on this on the Bolshoi's website & can't say that I enjoyed it much (admittedly I do currently have a heavy cold so am not enjoying anything much!). As in last season's La Bayadere cinecast, I didn't think Smirnova & Belyakov had much chemistry together or did much acting. She seemed to have pretty much the same expression when dancing with Belyakov, who she was supposed to be in love with, that with Tsvirko, who she was supposed to be afraid of. Tsvirko's acting was pretty OTT, but I'm not sure he could have done anything else with his character than play him as a pantomime villain. The production could do with a bit of updating. Some of the wigs & helmets are frankly risible.

 

I'm starting to think the 19th century classical ballets are rather like baroque opera: while technically the plots are different, in practice very similar things occur in each of them. The plot of Raymonda could have probably been got through in about 20 minutes, leaving at awful lot of dancing for the sake of it. I'm now glad that I only have to see the RB doing one act. When I think of the emotion of the recent Manons I've seen & compare them with this, Raymonda comes up as deeply unsatisfactory by comparison.

Undeniably, Smirnova is capable of strong characterization yet not of the kind that makes those great classical ballets really touching. Instead of radiating warmth and deep feelings she is always wearing a mask of an unstoppable cold conqueror. So the problem lies not with "Raymonda", "La Bayadere", and other classical ballets. The problem is the lead who cannot touch your soul.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 minutes ago, Dawnstar said:

 

I've not seen Jewels live but when I saw a recording I found Emeralds a bit boring & Rubies wasn't really to my taste, so I only really enjoyed Diamonds. I'm still trying to work out what I do & don't like in ballet but so far the Do list is rather short, consisting of MacMillan, Ashton & Cranko (the latter again only seen so far on recordings) plus some of the classics depending on the productions (I've seen Nutcrackers I've both enjoyed & disliked & enjoyed the RB's Bayadere livestream last season but didn't enjoy the Bolshoi's a couple of months later). ETA Also Hobson's Choice & the Bolshoi Spartacus & The Bright Stream when I saw them live this summer. So I do like some of the Bolshoi's productions.

I loved Emeralds for its pure classicism and Rubies was so energetic and extraordinary that it forced me to love it. I think my husband’s main problem was that it wasn’t a narrative ballet but he has enjoyed other non narrative ballets and I know he will enjoy the Elgar piece because he loves Elgar. I am selfishly thinking that I don’t much mind if he doesn’t like the RB Act III of Raymonda as I have wanted to see it for years. Unfortunately it will only be the cinema simulcast as we live far too away from London now and associated travel cost make the exercise unaffordable. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, assoluta said:

Undeniably, Smirnova is capable of strong characterization yet not of the kind that makes those great classical ballets really touching. Instead of radiating warmth and deep feelings she is always wearing a mask of an unstoppable cold conqueror. So the problem lies not with "Raymonda", "La Bayadere", and other classical ballets. The problem is the lead who cannot touch your soul.

 

I saw her in Spartacus this summer & thought her acting was quite good in that, so it doesn't seem to be that she can't act, more that she's chosing not to. Which is annoying!

 

57 minutes ago, Fiz said:

I loved Emeralds for its pure classicism and Rubies was so energetic and extraordinary that it forced me to love it. I think my husband’s main problem was that it wasn’t a narrative ballet but he has enjoyed other non narrative ballets and I know he will enjoy the Elgar piece because he loves Elgar. I am selfishly thinking that I don’t much mind if he doesn’t like the RB Act III of Raymonda as I have wanted to see it for years. Unfortunately it will only be the cinema simulcast as we live far too away from London now and associated travel cost make the exercise unaffordable. 

 

I'm hoping that I'll be okay with just the third act of Raymonda, since I'm seeing it both live twice & at the cinema. Which isn't to due to wanting to see Raymonda multiple times but wanting to see multiple Concerto & Enigma Variations casts.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Dawnstar said:

 

I'm still trying to work out what I do & don't like in ballet but so far the Do list is rather short, consisting of MacMillan, Ashton & Cranko (the latter again only seen so far on recordings) plus some of the classics depending on the productions

 

I'd say don't completely write things off at this early stage in your balletgoing, Dawnstar.  There have been a number of ballets I really didn't like the first time round, but when I revisited them some years later I found I loved them, or at least appreciated them rather better.  (Casting/production may of course make a difference, too :) )

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 minutes ago, alison said:

 

I'd say don't completely write things off at this early stage in your balletgoing, Dawnstar.  There have been a number of ballets I really didn't like the first time round, but when I revisited them some years later I found I loved them, or at least appreciated them rather better.  (Casting/production may of course make a difference, too :) )

 

The only ones I've seen live so far that I would definitely never see again are Flight Pattern & a modern one whose name I've forgotten that was part of the Senior School's OHP performances. However that's because I've been avoiding ballets - or, more accurately, modern dance pieces - that I know I won't like, i.e. the "writhing around" school of choreography!

Edited by Dawnstar
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Raymonda — Some really wonderful dancing, notably Belyakov and the adorable Liza kokoreva in the third act variation.  There were also a few shockingly weak performances like antonina Chapkina as Clemence or hortense (not sure which) — she really seemed lost to the music. As to Smirnova, her lower half was technically close to perfection but whatever has happened to her vaganova hands?  just since the Bayadere transmission they seem to have turned into sticks sharply bent at the wrist and then there’s that index finger sticking up at an exaggerated anglle.  I blame Maria Allash, her new coach, because somebody has to be blamed for such ugliness. 🤨Aside from those few negatives enjoyed seeing the complete ballet for the first time. 

 

sorry for telegraphic writing and bad typing — have to type quickly — power outage due to fires

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Dawnstar said:

I saw her in Spartacus this summer & thought her acting was quite good in that, so it doesn't seem to be that she can't act, more that she's chosing not to. Which is annoying!

I am sure she isn't. Taking acting classes can make you a competent actress, the old truth is, however, that a ballet artist can show on stage only what he or she really has inside. Conscious acting cannot get you everywhere, no matter how competent it may initially seem, it will feel insincere, artificial, "manufactured" (as a friend of mine aptly said). Additionally, acting the role of a Roman courtisan poses entirely different challenges from acting a tender, pure-of-heart medieval princess. Still, Jann Parry thought that her Aegina "Not for any money could she plausibly seduce a campful of mercenary gladiators."

 

Quote

As to Smirnova, her lower half was technically close to perfection but whatever has happened to her vaganova hands?

She never had those "Vaganova" hands, in the first place, so nothing could have happened to them. Everybody in the trade is aware that her hands, wrists and shoulders, are her greatest problem. Her pedagogue at the school tried to rectify it for several years, without success. Concerning the lower half, the form of her feet is another problem and it only will get worse in the future.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The variation in the last act that several have mentioned is not performed by one of Raymnonda's named friends, Clemence or Henriette, but by yet another soloist. The cast list I saw (posted by Tours en L'air's Katherine Barber) listed Elizaveta Kokoreva for that variation. I liked her a lot. And Chapkina was listed as dancing one of the vision scene variations, not the role of Henriette or Clemence; those were listed as Maria Vinogradova and Anastasia Denisova. (A lot of different dancers get opportunities in this ballet.) 

 

At my movie theater in the States, the ballet also looked dark as someone else mentioned experiencing. The dimness of lighting especially impacted -- or drained the impact -- of the vision scene which is more dimly lit to begin with. (In the theater, that is my favorite scene in the ballet.) In general I have found the Bolshoi broadcasts strangely dark in lighting, but had assumed it was either a "my bad luck" problem localized to certain movie theaters and/or an unavoidable problem caused by the gap between lighting for stage performances and lighting for high quality HD cameras. Otherwise I very much enjoy these broadcasts with the usual ballet fan caveats--sometimes I like dancer x, don't like dancer y; enjoy xyz about a production but not abc...etc. Basically, though, very grateful to see them.

Edited by DrewCo
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 minutes ago, DrewCo said:

I liked her a lot. And Chapkina was listed as dancing one of the vision scene variations, not the role of Henriette or Clemence; those were listed as Maria Vinogradova and Anastasia Denisova. (A lot of different dancers get opportunities in this ballet.) 

Yes @DrewCo you are correct about that. Now that the power is back on I could look it up to check!  I also meant to mention favorably vinogradova, whose lightness is quite miraculous. 
However, with all due respect, I am interested in reading and discussing comments on technical details based on objective observations. It’s not just about who we like or don’t like. 😉

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, DrewCo said:

The variation in the last act that several have mentioned is not performed by one of Raymnonda's named friends, Clemence or Henriette, but by yet another soloist.

 

Ah.  That would explain it - I thought I didn't recognise her.  I'm sure in The Trocks' version (which is probably the one I'm most familiar with!) both Clemence and Henriette have their own variations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I very much enjoyed the broadcast, very grateful for the Bolshoi to be bringing such masterpieces to a worldwide audience. I thought the production was extremely strong in terms of the choreography and the plot, though the sets appear dated and some of the costumes are downright ridiculous, with the knights' helmets like out of some cheesy sci-fi movie, and the abundant stereotyping of the "Saracen" host getting a bit too much. I second the opinion that it is unbecoming for Raymonda to fall asleep on nothing, but a cube to sit upon, leaning against a pillar. Would have been more appropriate if she reposed in a nice armchair, like in Le Spectre de la Rose. A cosmetic refresher prior to the broadcast would have helped tremendously.

 

On the main three protagonists: their selection was perfect, reflecting the multi-faceted of the Bolshoi talent. Olga Smirnova was an absolutely gorgeous Raymonda: a dazzling, glorious, blindingly beautiful young lady born to medieval French aristocracy . This part is considered to be among the most difficult and technically demanding in classical ballet, and Olga Smirnova is absolutely brilliant in it. Her stage presence is exactly what this big, lavish, imperial ballet needs. I absolutely adored her impeccable technique, and exquisite, fluid, yet accurate arms and body movement in a true St. Petersburg style. I also loved her take on the character. Her Raymonda is, on one hand, an impeccable, well-bred and refined young lady, destined for a "perfect" marriage to a similarly impeccable young knight de Brienne. Yet deep inside she is still a living woman, with emotions, passions and desires, which she has been taught not to display openly, let alone act upon. These desires show themselves in her dream, were she conjures a vision of a passionate, loving, masculine Abderakhman, who can bring her sensual fulfillment, fun and excitement, which was embodied dazzlingly by the fiery Igor Tsvirko in a luscious, over-the-top style that the Bolshoi is famous for. Raymonda fears him, but cannot help but feel attracted to him, this tension within her was splendidly played. I really liked how she was moved towards Abderakhman was he prostrated himself before her in his death agony. Raymonda was moved by compassion and attraction towards him, but displayed it only so slightly, because she also could not betray her kin, her upbringing, her fiance. In my view, Artemy Belyakov was a great fit for de Brienne. He was gallant, handsome, but not so much as for a woman to lose her head over him. Belyakov's de Brienne was proper to the point of being a little bland and boring, so it was no surprise that his Raymonda was distracted by a fiery Saracen gentleman. But when it came to fighting Abderakhman for his love, this de Brienne showed that he was capable of passion too. He grew so incited, that sparks literally flew off the swords as the two heroes clashed. And once Raymonda saw how passionate and bold her fiance could be, she felt greater tenderness and attachment towards him in the closing second act adagio, though there was still a slight trace of sadness that dreams of a passionate, hot-blooded Eastern prince now had to give way to a life of a proper and dutiful wife. I think this psychological overlay has served this ballet well, for it was often criticized for its unremarkable and somewhat silly plot, while this production by Grigorovich has made it more immediate and true to human emotions and motivations, more realistic and up-to-date, if you wish, without departing from its classical style.

 

Besides the story of the three main characters, the ballet is a hugely impressive decorative feast for the eyes. Hardly in any other ballet one will see such a panoply of dances of various nations and styles - from classical to Spanish, Oriental and, ultimately, to the Hungarian grand finale - performed by the formidable corps masses on an ample stage which only the Bolshoi can deliver. All woven together by Alexander Glazunov's intricate, elegant and melodious score, which I consider to be one of the best ever to be written for a ballet

Edited by ElenaF
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, ElenaF said:

I second the opinion that it is unbecoming for Raymonda to fall asleep on nothing, but a cube to sit upon, leaning against a pillar. Would have been more appropriate if she reposed in a nice armchair, like in Le Spectre de la Rose.

I enjoyed your enthusiastic review, ElenaF, but would point out that Raymonda is daydreaming not sleeping so leaning against a pillar is fine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 04/11/2019 at 12:57, ElenaF said:

Olga Smirnova was an absolutely gorgeous Raymonda: a dazzling, glorious, blindingly beautiful young lady born to medieval French aristocracy . This part is considered to be among the most difficult and technically demanding in classical ballet, and Olga Smirnova is absolutely brilliant in it. Her stage presence is exactly what this big, lavish, imperial ballet needs. I absolutely adored her impeccable technique, and exquisite, fluid, yet accurate arms and body movement in a true St. Petersburg style. I also loved her take on the character. Her Raymonda is, on one hand, an impeccable, well-bred and refined young lady, destined for a "perfect" marriage to a similarly impeccable young knight de Brienne. Yet deep inside she is still a living woman, with emotions, passions and desires, which she has been taught not to display openly, let alone act upon.

 

That sounds absolutely fabulous, I realize I must have gone to a wrong theatre, in mine, Raymonda was, unfortunately, none of that. I believe that this work of Marius Petipa was meant to be a hymn to femininity, every variation of Raymonda was supposed to celebrate one of its aspects. The Raymonda I saw was glacial, straighforward, not interested in her partner, marriage, etc. It seemed as if her main objective was to prevent de Brienne from marrying somebody he would love to be with instead of being forced to be with her.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...