Posts Tagged ‘Pavel Bubelnikov’

Don Quixote, with Osipova and Vasiliev, Mikhailovsky Ballet, London Coliseum, March 2013

1 April, 2013

For classical ballet in glorious costumes with plenty of bouncy music it is hard to equal Don Quixote, and the Mikhailovsky Ballet did us proud with the feast they served up at the London Coliseum. The feel-good music by Minkus, plus some additions by Drigo, is a favourite of pianists in ballet class, and Lanchbery used parts of it in Tales of Beatrix Potter.

Osipova and Vasiliev, all images © Mikhailovsky Theatre

Osipova and Vasiliev, all images © Mikhailovsky Theatre

This dance-pantomime is not a recent favourite of British companies, though Carlos Acosta is staging a new version for the Royal Ballet in October 2013. That aside we have tended to rely on the Russians to bring it over, and they never fail to please. Originally created by Minkus and Petipa for Moscow in 1869, they expanded it for St. Petersburg two years later, and in 1900 and 1902 Alexander Gorsky restaged it in both cities. What we see here is due to Petipa and Gorsky.

2.Don Quixote. Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev2_The whole company gave a vivid portrayal of the choreography, led by the peerless Natalia Osipova as Kitri, who doesn’t merely use the music as background but feels it in all the small movements of her body. Ivan Vasiliev as her lover Basilio showed sensational leaps en tournant, hugely dramatic if sometimes untidy and his smaller jumps sometimes lacked classical poise. His strong partnering allowed him to perform an arabesque while holding her up with one hand, the orchestra falling silent for effect, and when they enter the tavern and he catches her as she flies horizontally through the air, he almost allows her head to sweep the floor. Wonderful fun.

Excellent solos from other dancers such as Nikolay Korypayev as the toreador, and Veronica Ignatyeva as Cupid in the dream scene. This white section, where Quixote dreams of his beloved Dulcinea in her enchanted garden of dryads, was beautifully performed and Natalia Osipova as Dulcinea was a delight.

Her exemplary dancing and musicality raised this joyous 2012 production to a seriously high level, and the Company responded in superb style. The glorious set and costume designs by Vyacheslav Okunev even had a horse and pony for the entrance of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in Act I. No expense spared, and the Mikhailovsky orchestra conducted by music director Pavel Bubelnikov played with great panache.

This London visit of the Mikhailovsky Ballet is a treat, and I look forward to their production of Laurencia on April 2. A Soviet era ballet, first danced by the Kirov in 1939, this is a village love story with a peasant rebellion against the wicked Commander who abducts the girl and imprisons her lover.

Performances of Laurencia take place on April 2 and 3, followed by other productions until April 7 — for details click here.

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Review of Sleeping Beauty, Mariinsky Ballet, Royal Opera House, August 2009

15 August, 2009

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What better way to end the Mariinsky Ballet’s tour of London than with this lovely production by Konstantin Sergeyev, with its beautiful sets and costumes by Simon Virsaladze. The corps de ballet danced superbly, Igor Kolb made a very fine prince, and Maxim Zuzin danced delightfully as the bluebird. All might have been well if Pavel Bubelnikov could have done a better job conducting, but the orchestra sounded as if it wasn’t really playing as a team, and each female solo was taken so slowly it became more a sequence of poses than a dance. I’ve never before heard some of Tchaikovsky’s glorious score sound like this, and while the interval timings and the start-time were strictly adhered to, the performance overran by almost twenty minutes. Is no-one in charge of this production? I’ve heard conductors slow down female solos before, because they’ve been asked to by the dancer herself and have entirely overdone it and ruined her solo, but to ruin every female solo in the ballet is extraordinary. Because of this absurd conducting it’s very difficult to judge the many performers, but certainly Evgenia Obraztsova made a poor Princess Aurora, except when partnered by Igor Kolb. In one solo in Act I she was so off the music that she finished it with two bars yet to go. This is a striking difference from her wonderful performance in Spectre de la Rose for the Royal Ballet’s Tribute to Diaghilev in June. It’s difficult to judge the fairy variations in the Prologue when played at this pace, so I’ll say nothing about the performers, but when Ekaterina Kondaurova follows them with the lilac fairy solo the music should lift our spirits. It did nothing of the sort because it sounded like sludge and you simply can’t dance to that — nor could she. The entrance of Islom Baimuradov as Carabosse was not as strong as one might have hoped, and his stage presence seemed a bit weak, but this may be partly due to the production. Out of all the soloists, I thought the Diamond Fairy in Act III did very well — I believe it was Anastasia Petushkova, replacing Irina Golub — but the conducting was a travesty, and it is hardly surprising that the audience was so luke-warm.

As a conductor of both ballet and opera at the Mariinsky, Pavel Bubelnikov is working alongside the opera’s artistic director, Valery Gergiev, whose performance of Sleeping Beauty at the Proms last year was sensational. Bubelnikov may say he’s slowing it down for the dancers, but that won’t wash because in some parts of the score, such as the journey to the enchanted forest, and much of the Rose adagio, there is essentially no dancing, yet they sounded very bland. There was also a production glitch in the journey to the sleeping forest when the barque carrying the prince and the lilac fairy bumped to a sudden halt, so the prince got out, the interior curtain closed and remained closed until the finale of the act. I know that production glitches happen from time to time, but the Mariinsky Ring had far too many of them, and one just has the impression that the stage hands haven’t really got their act together. Pity.

Homage to Balanchine, Mariinsky Ballet, Royal Opera House, August 2009

13 August, 2009

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In this triple bill the first item was Serenade, to Tchaikovky’s Serenade in C major for strings. It was Balanchine’s first composition in America, which he created at a series of evening classes in New York, and it starts with seventeen girls because that was the number that came to the first class. One girl arrived late, another fell over, and these incidents were incorporated in the ballet. The main couple, Viktoria Tereshkina and Evgeny Ivanchenko, were the principals in Swan Lake last Saturday evening, and here they danced well together, with excellent partnering from Ivanchenko. The other dancers also did a fine job, but while some ballets can be seen with pleasure innumerable times, this, for me, is not one of them, so let us move on to the next item.

Rubies is the second part of a full evening ballet called Jewels, and I’d prefer to see it in context. The music is a Capriccio for piano and orchestra by Stravinsky, and the ballet is a racy piece. The main couple was Irina Golub with Vladimir Shklyarov, who was a fine Romeo on the Mariinsky’s opening night last week. The second woman was Ekaterina Kondaurova, and she and the lead couple take turns to dance with the ensemble. It all worked well enough, but I felt no buzz, and the audience was lukewarm. What really made the evening work, however, was the third item.

Symphony in C. This ballet in four movements is to Bizet’s Symphony No. 1, and is a blaze of action, with colourful tutus for the soloists. It is designed to show off a classical ballet company, and its original title, when Balanchine created it in 1947 in Paris, was Palais de Cristal. In each of the four movements there is a principal couple, two male and two female soloists, and a corps de ballet. At the end all dancers appear in a final tableau. This evening the main couples were Viktoria Tereshkina with Denis Matvienko, Uliana Lopatkina with Daniil Korsuntsev, Elena Evseeva with Filipp Stepin, and Evgenia Obraztsova with Alexei Timofeyev. The soloists were not named. The whole thing went off to great effect, and I thought Uliana Lopatkina and Daniil Korsuntsev were outstanding. But to pick out one couple seems unfair when it was such a fine team of dancers, and more musical than anything I have seen so far.

The orchestra was very well conducted by Pavel Bubelnikov, and the piano solo in Rubies was played by Ludmila Sveshnikova. It is good to hear Stravinsky sound like Stravinsky, which has sadly not always been the case with one of the Royal Ballet conductors, and a particularly egregious example occurred in Apollo during a triple bill from March 2007.