Jump to content

Bolshoi Ballet: Swan Lake, London 2013


Recommended Posts

The Bolshoi Ballet are in London, at the Royal Opera House for their 3-week residency for the end of July, through into August. They started with Swan Lake, and here are a couple of photos to get the ball rolling.

 

 


9394912217_0097d74d3a_c.jpg
Swan Lake - Bolshoi Ballet: Prince Siegfried and a friend (Ruslan Skvortsov, Anastasia Stashkevich)
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr


9394903933_0090735c21_z.jpg
Swan Lake - Bolshoi Ballet: Prince Siegfried and Odette (Ruslan Skvortsov, Maria Alexandrova)
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr


9397664960_b985718870_z.jpg
Swan Lake - Bolshoi Ballet: Prince Siegfried and Odette (Svetlana Zakharova, Alexander Volchkov)
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr



See more...

Set from DanceTabs - Bolshoi Ballet: Swan Lake
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 77
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Well, I'll start us off. Perhaps I've no taste or perhaps I've overlooked things, but IMO last night's performance did not live up to all the hype about the Bolshoi. The sets and many of the costumes were unattractive, the story was not well told and the ending was a real anti-climax. Zakharova was expressive in body but had no real emotional connection with her partner. She was surprisingly disappointing as Odile and it was unforgiveable that the whole ballet ground to a halt after her fouettes so that she could take (and milk!) her applause. Volchkov was very average at best, and had a really rocky patch towards the end of Act 3, which is not what you expect of an opening night Siegfried from the Bolshoi. On the plus side, the 'national' dances, each led by one of the princesses, were good. There was one (the second?) which I had not seen/heard before.

 

Edited for spelling of names

Edited by aileen
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Agree about the overall production and Siegfried (and how it oddly just fizzled out towards the end), but I thought Zakharova was stunning. She's more beautiful than she appears on dvd, though I still say she'd make a good Bond villainess.  Also enjoyed the corps (the good thing about my seat a mile away in the amphi was that it was perfect for the patterns of the corps) and the four swans.  The national dances normally rather bore me, but last night were excellent - had they been shortened?  I think the dancers deserve a better production.. would love to see Zakharova guesting in the ROH version.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wondered whether volchkov was injured. There were just a few moments where he began to shine and then it slightly fell apart again.

Zakharova's odile was stunning; her odette also beautiful though lacking in vulnerability.

looking forward to the rest of the season - the company had such depth, with every single solo and the corps strong. But absolutely agree about the production. The first half an hour is a symphony in sludge brown.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For me, Lantratov clearly stole the show as the 'evil genius'.  His assurance buoyed the audience's rather (otherwise) unsteady journey.  Look forward to seeing him in Jewels, Bayadere and Flames.  Agree re national dances.  For me Yulia Grebenshchikova and Maria Vinogradova stood out. Look forward to seeing more of them as well.  Saw the Soares' in the Royal Box.   

Edited by Meunier
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I too wondered whether Volchkov was already injured or injured himself during the performance. His landings were heavy and untidy throughout and there was a long pause before he came in for his really rocky solo in the third Act. I was surprised that Zakharova didn't have a stronger partner.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I too wondered whether Volchkov was already injured or injured himself during the performance. His landings were heavy and untidy throughout and there was a long pause before he came in for his really rocky solo in the third Act. I was surprised that Zakharova didn't have a stronger partner.

 

Vis a vis the somewhat crippled performance of Volchov:  From my standing perch in the amphi, I began to wonder if the Hochhauser's might have requested a leading couple made up of dancers who had danced/starred in previous London/Bolshoi outings.  Zakharova, of course, missed the 2010 round as she was pregnant and is clearly an international star but Volchkov had too, of course, danced Crassus in that mind-blowing Spartacus where the young Ivan Vasiliev blew everyone and everything (including yet another sullen surround) out of the water.  VASILIEV blazed through its dark.  That's what it obviously takes and the lack here was clearly felt.  

 

I am sorry too that they are bringing this particular production of Swan Lake to London in place of some other part of their rep that would have been more fresh for London eyes.  I well remember seeing Andris Liepa (ah, yes, him of those Coliseum speeches but two weeks ago) and that oh, so tastefully resplendent Georgian dancer Nina Ananiashvili in it low those many years ago.  I understand the inclusion of The Sleeping Beauty because it is, of course, a new production and was the one which opened the refreshed Bolshoi Theatre.  The Company are dancing in NYC next year immediately following the ABT season.  It will be interesting to see if they take a less conservative selection of choreography there.  

 

Mrs. Hochhauser made a comment in a recent interview that they couldn't afford to be 'like Boston Ballet' in London.  To my mind more is the shame.  Indeed - again to my mind - such attitudes do a dis-service for all concerned.  (Of course, it is not my money that is at risk here and, hey, words are cheap.)  Still, - in the longer run - it will be - as it has always been - the art form in this country that will ultimately pay the price from such restrictions.  Bless people like Kevin O'Hare and Tamara Rojo for their avid and active determination to fight against this; their STATED willingness to not just flail but fail.  Hopefully they will produce/inspire a generation of producers (or at least one if not a few) who will be keen and capable to lead AND feed in terms of the sharing of an international feed through which to colour a world picture through the balletic arts.  How one now cherishes the key value of people like Lincoln Kirstein and Diaghilev.  They built our world's balletic history.  They would have been rare at ANY time.  I myself pray we may see their like again ... even if I understand it may not be in my lifetime.  While in part disappointed I stood there last night not only appreciative Grigorovich's production was relatively short (I had after all just finished the RAH Wagner slog) but in hope.  As the song has it:  'We WILL overcome.'  In THAT sense this particular slice of the past fed.

 

 (That said, one is deeply and sincerely appreciative to the Hochausers for their work in the support of these tours AT ALL.  Bravi!)  

Edited by Meunier
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gosh, some of the critics have been (IMO) very kind about the production and last night's performance. One even describes Volchkov as dancing 'efficiently' which I think is very generous. I'm sorry if he is injured but that does raise the question of whether it is fair to the audience (who are paying high prices) to put on an injured dancer. The Bolshoi is a huge company and there must be several dancers who could have replaced him last night.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

And that about sums up (plus that infernal spinning,grinning jester) why I never go anywhere near the Bolshoi's Swan Lake. I learnt the hard way!

 

Another ditto.  And having seen the new Sleeping Beauty in the cinema last year I decided I could happily give that one a miss, too.

 

(I do, actually, quite like Swan Lake, although if you put together all my slaggings-off of various companies' productions you might not think so!)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess it's back to the thread on stars and companies; for me the opportunity to see Zakharova outweighed any shortcomings of the production. I'd happily watch her dance the Hokey Cokey at Butlins...

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I unfortunately won't have a chance to see any of these performances, but I do thank everyone for their reviews, which I'll try to catch up on.


 


One comment by Director Sergei Filin in an article posted here the 28th sums up my feelings almost exactly about the current *Wonderfulness* of Svetlana Zakharova. I saw her most recently last March at the Mariinsky Festival performing "Giselle." This performance I consider possibly the best performance of *Anything* that I've ever seen !


 


“Sveta is a star of world ballet whom people will want to see again and again,” he says. “Especially now after the birth of her child she has changed a great deal. She became even warmer, more womanly, more transparent – more magical.”  


 


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/dance/10207889/Dancing-in-defiance.html


Edited by Buddy
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Unfortnately, I found Zakharova very cold last night. I think many of you disagree with me :) . I sat very close to the stage and could see every single expression all dancers had. I wonder where was her passion or yearning for love to the Prince. Do not like the re-visited 2004 version of Swan Lake. It seemed to cut off the composer's sheer beauty of music.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cherryonegin, I think that many people, on and away from this forum, agree with you. One critic described her as 'frosty'. I don't know whether it is the Russian way to play Odette as rather glacial, more Snow Queen than Swan Queen.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm afraid I avoid Zakharova's performances in the classics, though in modern works she can be very good.  Her limited range of expressions and the murderous 6 o'clock extensions just don't do it for me.

 

I also avoid the Bolshoi Swan Lake, though would have gone if Tsiskaridze had danced the Evil Genius (Rothbart).  Just for the record I avoid the RB SL too, so I'm not Bolshoi bashing here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

 

 

Ditto again....am skipping their SL this time around! I also hate the happy ending.

 Tritto - though it was an utter pleasure photographing Maria Alexandrova for most of the photo call. The 'story' seems all but non-existent, and don't get me started on the jester/fool. We didn't see the 'black' act, so no National dances - which I've liked in the past, as it makes logical sense of the '6 Princesses', especially if they are differently costumed and lead their respective national dance. Happy ending? Pah!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can understand that:  Maria Alexandrova is head and shoulders above the rest in terms of technique, personality and expressiveness.  Had I not seen her in the role before I would have gone, but I have tickets for her in other roles where hopefully the productions will be better.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Saw the performance tonight and Alexandrova was a definite improvement over the extended extremes of Zakarhova the evening before.  (I pray those are toned down for Diamonds or it will look right out of sorts I fear.)  Can see why they wanted Alexandrova to film this production of Swan Lake for the cinema release.  Technically overall she is far more secure to my eyes.  Admittedly she was better partnered on this occasion than Ms. Z so that may make for an unfair advantage certainly.  Lantratov, however, needn't worry.  As the 'evil genius' he is in a realm of his own on this voyage.  Standouts this evening were (for me) Anna Tikhomirova performing the Spanish Bride as she did in Monday's performance and the truly exquisite Anastasia Stashkevich (she of the glorious feet as vivacious as the blonde glean of her smile) as the Neapolitan Bride.  (I wonder about some of those photo references.  She is definitely blonde.  That certainly was no wig she was wearing ... or every woman should have at least a few in their wardrobe!!  She radiated joy in her dance enveloping all within her considerable reach.)  She was much missed as the prince's prime friend in the first act tonight.  I so look forward to her principal casting in Flames. The ROH was packed to its considerable rafters and it seemed everyone was present.  I was standing on the left side of the amphi tonight and where there should have been only two people standing in my section (W62 and 63) there were four ... with all other attendant spots (W64-66) being well and truly spoken for.  Skvortsov made more of his mystery at the end ... so I don't think the audience felt quite so ENTIRELY puzzled as they seemed to be last evening with Volchkov. There is no question,but that this production is rife with uncertainties ... although it can at least be seen (e.g., the lighting) which can't be said for all aspects of certain 'other' Swan Lakes I'm aware of that grace that same stage.  Oh, and no cups were spilt (at least that I could see/hear) or cassocks rudely upturned ... to a brief sigh of much appreciated relief.  Well, at least from me.  Still, there was that damned jester ... and this one's ability was more raw whist his tumbled antics as chaotically disturbing as ever.  Enough already.    

Edited by Meunier
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Volchkov being injured would make a lot of sense, since he did start of quite sprightly in the first few minutes. And when I next paid attention, he just wasn't and that was that for the rest of the performance.

 

I'm glad I saw Zakharova on Monday and I did love her arms. Some of the corps scenes were breathtakingly beautiful to me. First time the swans come on, standing behind the gauze with just their arms moving? Made me shiver with the gorgeousness of it. The 4 swans were marvellous, and I really liked Lantratov as the 'Evil Genius'.

 

The story telling is somewhat incidental, and I doubt than anyone without prior knowledge could guess what was going on onstage. Siegfried could have been her brother for all the stage chemistry they had on the day.

I have a couple more swan lake tickets, and I'm rather looking forward to see what other dancers will bring to the role, and assuming Volchkov hasn't been severely injured, I'm likely to see him again on the 15th which ought to be interesting just to see how he interacts with another partner.

 

Though i have to admit that I'd go back just for the orchestra even if I hadn't enjoyed a fair amount of the dancing (could do with less court scenes). One of the violin solos during the princess dances was so beautiful that I accidentally closed my eyes to listen better, even though the dancing was excellent at the time (couldn't make out which nationality the princess at the time was though, so I probably won't figure out who was dancing)

Edited by Coated
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is a copy of Jann Parry's DanceTabs review - I think it provides much illumination around an 'odd' Swan Lake...

 

Swan Lake

Bolshoi Ballet

Royal Opera House

 

29 July 2013

 

Yuri Grigorovich, choreographer and former director of the Bolshoi Ballet (1964-1995), and Lilian Hochhauser, impresario, are almost the same age – well into their eighties and still going strong. This summer, Lilian and Victor (now 90) Hochhauser are celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of their first presentation of the Bolshoi Ballet in the Royal Opera House. They, the Bolshoi and Grigorovich have weathered many a drama over the past half a century. We, their audience, admire and applaud their fortitude, even as we deplore the crime committed against Sergei Filin, the Bolshoi Ballet’s blinded artistic director, still undergoing treatment. He is duly credited in the programme as director of the company, with former ballerina Galina Stepanenko as interim artistic director.

 

To open the latest season with Grigorovich’s production of Swan Lake seems a throwback to a previous era, when he determined what and how the Bolshoi danced. Grigorovich first mounted his idea of Swan Lake in 1969, not long after he took over the Bolshoi Ballet. The powerful Soviet Minister of Culture, Ekaterina Fursteva, didn’t like it and made him produce a second version with a happy ending.  Once Furtseva had gone, he reverted to his original concept of Swan Lake as essentially Siegfried’s dilemma. The production he brought to London for the Bolshoi’s 1989 season was similar to the present one, mounted in 2001 and last seen at the ROH in 2004. He has tinkered with it over the years, noting in the programme that what once seemed unusual has since been ‘emulated in many other productions of Swan Lake the world over’.

 

He’s right. The tale of an enchanted princess in thrall to an evil sorcerer has often become a psychological study of a young man torn between duty and desire, idealised love and sexual lust. Odette and Odile are his fantasies, von Rothbart his dark inner self. The ballerina’s dual role has been usurped by the divided persona of the male hero. The corps of swan-maidens longing for Odette’s rescuer to release them from the sorcerer’s spell has been reduced to a delusion. Sometimes Siegfried commits suicide, sometimes he comes to his senses – or in the latest Grigorovich version, is left wondering what to do with himself.

 

Grigorivich has streamlined the the four-act ballet into two halves, each with scenes alternating reality and fantasy in swift transition. Spare designs by Simon Virsaladze (who died in 1989) look as though they date back to the 1960s. An inner curtain shaped as an escutcheon bearing Prince Siegfried’s coat of arms with a white and a black swan drops down to indicate a change of scene. Behind the drop cloth, emerging like a mirage, is either a lake or a gothic castle interior. Virsaladze’s palette is subdued: black and dull gold costumes for the court, pure white tutus for the swans. Siegfried, all in white, is always picked out in a bright spotlight, as is Odette, while the rest of the stage is mostly dimly lit.

 

There is no mime, no back story for any of the characters. The opening celebrations are a sombre affair, so dull they need a jester (Denis Medvedev) to animate them.  Bland Siegfried (Alexander Volchkov) is cheerful enough to dance a pas de trois with two lively ladies (Anastasia Stashkevich is particularly engaging) and compete with the jester in who can bring off the most pirouettes. But the prince has longings, expressed in yearning arabesques and renversés in a solo in front of the drop cloth. He is shadowed by his Evil Genius (Vladislav Lantratov), who conjures up a vision of swan-maidens protecting their queen.

 

With an abrupt cut to Tchaikovsky’s music, Odette appears in a swift transition to Ivanov’s choreography for Act II. Svetlana Zakharova’s long slender arms and high raised leg in attitude make her resemble a swan sailing across water. Almost unreal, she is exquisite, refined, her technique immaculate. But her phrasing of the familiar choreography is so ritualised that it is unrevealing. There’s no telling whether her Odette is fearful, vulnerable or pleading for rescue; her response to the plangent solo violin isn’t cantabile, in contrast to her attempts to fly from Siegfried or the Evil Genius. The corps, her image multiplied 31 times, moves like clockwork, without the expansive breath the Maryinsky used to – I hope still do – infuse the swans’ ensembles. The Bolshoi’s orchestra, conducted by Pavel Klinichev, play Tchaikovsky with the soul the dancing lacks.

 

The score has been ruthlessly reordered. When Odile appears in the ballroom scene, for example, she and her six black swan clones dance to Tchaikovsky’s Valse Bluette, orchestrated by Drigo, usually placed in the mournful last act. To the same music, the Evil Genius proves that he, too, can do multiple pirouettes as well as dashing split jetés. Lantratov dominates every scene in which he appears, even though he’s almost invisible in black. He makes the most of the virtuoso role, formerly danced by Nikolai Tsiskaridze and by Pavel Dmitrichenko, accused of masterminding the attck on Filin. (The role’s title has been a gift to the press.)

 

The ballroom scene whizzes by, thanks to sparkling performances by the five princesses vying for the prince’s hand, as well as by Zakharova as Odile. The soloist princesses lead national dances all on pointe instead of in heeled shoes or boots. The Spanish would-be bride, Anna Tikhomirova, seems to be channelling Kitri. The Neapolitan one, Daria Kohkhlova, has lovely feet and the Russian princess, Maria Vinogradova, is so luscious that Siegfried would surely be tempted – if only he were there. But he’s never around when guests or courtiers are supposed to be dancing for his delectation. Grigorovich’s production is not concerned with dramatic plausibility or characterisation, which may account for Zakharova’s Odette remaining a remote vision and her Odile a cool doppelganger rather than a temptress.

 

On  the opening night, Volchov wasn’t present for Zakharova’s super-fast fouettés in the Black Swan pas de deux. Perhaps he was lamenting in the wings for the shambles he made of the prince’s variation. Perhaps he was injured. When he came back to swear Siegfried’s mistaken passion for Odile, it was impossible to care about his plight, or indeed, about Odette’s. Since she is the prince’s fantasy, there’s no call for her to commune with her fellow swan-maidens in the final scene about the betrayal of their hopes. The lakeside choreography can’t convey anything, despite the passion in the music. The inconclusive ending is bewildering. Odette is no more and the Evil Genius, Siegfried’s dark side, has triumphed. The prince gazes out at the audience, like Albrecht at the end of Giselle, bereft. But this Swan Lake hasn’t been a love story, so what is Siegfried inconsolable about?

 

There are two more Grigorovich productions to come in this season, La Bayadère and The Sleeping Beauty, before just a few performances of Balanchine’s Jewels and Ratmansky’s 2008 version of The Flames of Paris. Shall we gain any sense of where the Bolshoi Ballet is headed in the future? Or is it marking time artistically, relying on the revisions of an old Soviet era producer to maintain its once glorious reputation, while trying to overcome its appalling infighting?

 

The full review with pictures is at:

http://dancetabs.com/2013/07/bolshoi-ballet-swan-lake-london/

 

And for completeness I ought to say that words © Jann Parry.

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...