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Mikhailovsky at the London Coliseum, March 2013


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Well, tonight saw the first night of the Mikhailovsky's London run: a pretty packed Coliseum, by all accounts, to watch Giselle with Osipova and Vasiliev.  Please post your views on the entire run in this thread rather than the general Bolshoi/Mariinsky/Mikhailovsky thread.

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I agree with Jann Parry.  I first saw Osipova's Giselle when she danced it with the Bolshoi here in London two or three years ago.  Then, I cried from beginning to end.  Now, I just sat and marveled.  I don't have time to write in detail now as am sneaking this in at work, but both she and Vasiliev put on a searing performance, technically and dramatically.  Osipova's variation in Act 2, including backwards hops, was astounding and she was duly rewarded by huge applause from the audience.  My one reservation is her makeup in Act 2....she came onstage looking like she'd forgotten to take off her face pack.  As the act went on, it settled down a bit, but considering that the Wilis had all been in their graves for much longer, they looked like they'd just come out of a beauty salon, with red lipstick and blush.  In fact, Myrthe had so much makeup on that she looked like she should be in the Trocks.  However, this niggle aside, it was fascinating to see this production again, and with two such brilliant interpreters of the role. 

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I brought a friend who had never seen Giselle and she loved it. I thought Osipova was fantastic and did some jaw-dropping technical prowess but I agree with Sim, I didn't shed a tear which I usually do when I watch Giselle. Apart from Osipova and Vasiliev, it's not one of my favorite production and I was less convinced by the corps. I also could have done without the tree moving up and down on the left-hand side, although I'm guessing that people seating more center than me probably didn't find it as distracting?

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I too found Osipova amazing. Certainly one of the best interpretations I've seen. Though I loved seeing Vasiliev again I thought the evening belonged to her. She was very touching with her heart problems in act one though I don't think she was as obviously frail as she seemed to be in the Bolshoi. I seemed to remember in her Bolshoi performance Clement Crisp described her as the sickest Giselle he'd ever seen. I will await his comments on last nights performance with great interest. Huge applause and bravos for her second act variations. She literally didn't put a foot wrong and her port de bras were incredible. Completely different to her Swan lake which left me unmoved. Unfortunately I had to leave after Vasilievs solo so didn't get the hear the reception at the end of the performance but I expect it to be incredible. I was in the balcony which was only about three quarters full which surprised me. I thought it would have been a sell-out for this performance.  joan

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I too was in the balcony, and surprised to see some empty seats.  I think there was a techical problem with the moving tree (and the one at the back of the stage);  it isn't supposed to go up and down like a yo-yo, so hopefully that will be fixed for the next performance.

 

Yes, the reception at the end was amazing, and they kept coming through the curtains for more bows, even when the house lights were up. 

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I too was, as ever, hugely impressed by Osipova and Vasiliev at last night's performance . They are very much young lovers at the moment, which leaves room for their interpretation to develop, especially his.


The audience response was also impressive, restrained until an appropriate break allowed applause, sometimes even ignoring the moment, completely absorbed in the drama and unwilling to break the mood with very little coughing or talking over the music. I noticed a neighbour preparing to clap some of the most perfect technical achievements but stopping herself. swept on by the emotion.
 

However I am surprised by Jann Parry's statement that the audience was “stunned into silence even after the curtain descends" because I particularly noted that it began, enthusiastically, before:  that silent ending before a crescendo of applause is a very rare occurrence in my experience (excluding new works, where there's an element of doubt) and this wasn't one, but it leaves them something to aim for – there can't be much else they haven't conquered.
 

Joan, the final applause was indeed tremendous, indeed good for the whole company and Osipova and Vasiliev were encouraged out in front of the curtain, twice I think, house lights down, then came out again after the lights went on, some people still applauding and others on their way out, so a standing ovation, at least in part.

Edited by Grand Tier Left
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I disagree about the audience. I have a puritanical streak and feel that Giselle Act II is much better performed without enthusiastic interruptions to the flow of the music, the dance and the drama. Last night's was not like that and I thought was much the worse because of understandable but intrusive applause. Less is much more on these occasions. When was Hamlet last interrupted for a particularly effective rendition of 'To be or not to be'?

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Sadly we only had the first act so no Wllies but here are some pictures from the general rehearsal.

 

Mikhailovsky%2B-%2BGiselle_jr_023_gisell

 

 Giselle - Natalia Osipova and Count - Ivan Vasiliev 

 

Mikhailovsky+-+Giselle_jr_095_giselle_ma
 
 Duke - Alexey Malakhov, Giselle's Mother - Anna Novosyolova, Count's Fiancee - Olga Semyonova and Giselle - Natalia Osipova 
 
 
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John, yes, ideally I'd like to see most things uninterrupted by applause but I imagine the dancers in general would find it pretty disconcerting: I know from my own observation at the ROH that their own teachers/management do not stint in their mid-performance applause.  Compared with, say, the Bolshoi performances I've attended here in London, I thought last night good - nothing mid-variation, thank goodness.  The ballet is some way behind the theatre - at least the subsidised bit - in this respect so let's start by abolishing entrance applause, It's ridiculous in my view.   Perhaps a new thread on when to applaud?

Edited by Grand Tier Left
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Russian audiences are notorious for applauding flashy steps at any (inappropriate) moment so the kind of silence some of us like might  feel a little disconcerting for Russians dancing here.

 

Greeting Principals on stage with applause has become such a regular feature at RB performances that it feels strange (as if something is missing) when one sees a show in the regions where there is no such tradition.

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I think this is one of those performances that was sufficiently special that it seems somehow wrong to criticise it on the basis of audience behaviour or some of the rather silly production effects (the amazing flying veils caused quite a bit of giggling where I was sitting).  I don't think we should assess ballet (or indeed other theatrical performances) on the basis of a checklist where every element (dancing/acting/choreography/set/costumes/audience reaction etc.) is given equal weight.

 

It is something more complex than that and the lead performances last night, particularly Osipova's, provided dancing of a technical and artistic level that we rarely see in London.  That for me makes it an experience which I enjoyed far more than last week's Alice at the ROH, which probably cost about a hundred times as much as Giselle in terms of set and effects and had an "appropriately behaved" audience and perfectly competent dancing.     

 

So of course it's nice to discuss the production and the audience's reaction but I would nevertheless urge  people to go and see this if they get a chance despite all the legitimate points being made here - Osipova and Vasiliev really are something special. Unlike some others I also thought the corps was pretty well-drilled; I've certainly seen far worse in London!   I'm not a PR for the Mikhailovsky by the way but a  somewhat jaded theatre goer who is rarely excited by performances these days and feels it's important to comment when "a good one" comes along.

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Sim wrote, 'I think there was a techical problem with the moving tree (and the one at the back of the stage);  it isn't supposed to go up and down like a yo-yo, so hopefully that will be fixed for the next performance.'

 

I think the moving trees are part of the special effects. (Unfortunately)

Edited by billboyd
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Ha ha they are, Bill....but I'm not sure they were supposed to keep going up and down like they did!  If they were, it sure looked bizarre as there was no point to it once Giselle's grave had been revealed!  We didn't need them again until she was hidden by the other one at the end!

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The review in The Arts Desk mentions an Act II corps of 24.   I could have sworn I counted 32, am I going mad?   I know it's trivial in the overall scheme of things, but I hate to think I might be mis-remembering such a memorable evening.

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Sounds like Natalia and Ivan did not disappoint - would have loved to have seen them.  I have always enjoyed the Mikhailovsky's Giselle so look forward to Friday's performance with Novikova and Sarafanov.  I do wonder what has happened to Irina Perren she does not seem to be here this time but she is still with the company?  Her Giselle is lovely and I cried buckets when she danced Giselle in Venice (which, incidentally, was devoid of all applause until the curtain calls).

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There are not enough superlatives to describe the performance I witnessed on Tuesday evening it was absolutley fantastic! I am very rarely moved by a ballet, I can appreciate the technique and fabulous extensions but emotionally I usually remain unaffected. However in the second act both Osipova and Vasiliev pulled out all the stops, for Vasiliev especially provoked such concern that I could genuinely believe he was being danced to death it was incredible. Combined with the speed of Osipova's turns and her ethereal lightness it was quite a sight to behold.

 

Osipova also seems to have subdued her line, in the first act her extensions were nowhere near as high as she is capable of and this appeared to be a conscious decision - this was a much more classical than modern Giselle. I also have to say that I quite liked the moving shruberry and the veils being whipped away off stage and the costuming which the ballet critics in the press have criticised. The Queen of the Wilis, Hilarion and the corps also .gave an impressive performance .

 

I have a ticket for Don Quixote this Saturday so I'm looking forward to another amazing performance being delivered by Osipova and Vasiliev!

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I want to record my appreciation for the performance of Giselle last night by Olesya Novikova and Leonid Sarafanov. Their dancing was so beautiful and their characterisation so sincere that the surrounding mediocrities of the corps and the sets faded into insignificance. They were cheered wholeheartedly by a very appreciative audience. If you were not there, you missed something really special.

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I agree about the Novikova and Sarafanov (who I find are married) performance.  They were astounding.  Sarafanov's entrechats are truly world class ... No one in that league at the Royal Ballet.  Well, perhaps Koburg but MANY years ago.  Sarafanov outdoes even a young Nureyev in this regard which certainly takes some doing.  Such gloriously beautiful feet that young man has.  She is totally radiant in all departments.  Doesn't hurt that she has the looks of a young Julia Roberts - but what is particularly notable is her musicality.  Nothing is overdone, but all is refreshingly whole.  This is a Giselle 'that has to be'.  It was a privilege to be there last night.  Truly.  Was wonderful to see Richard Bonynge applauding generously in the front row.  :) 

Edited by Meunier
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