Tag Archives: Paris Opera Ballet

PALACE OPERA AND BALLET : CINDERELLA

Hugely spectacular ,with amazing set designs and a giant cast, full of superb dancing ,this is a revival filmed New Years Eve 2018 of the Paris Opera Ballet in Nureyev’s version of CINDERELLA.It is a tribute to the company’s former Artistic Director who would have been celebrating his 80th birthday.

Nureyev’s version uses the lush, intense Prokofiev score – the Orchestre Pasdeloup is dynamically, thoughtfully conducted by Vello Pähn . During the overture there are great closeups of various Orchestra members .

The huge set designs by Petrika Isonsesco are amazing, full of tiny detail. At Cinderella’s home there are grand windows , on the film set a huge King Kong and allusions to Metropolis with the huge cogs of machinery. Plus the ‘ballroom’ scene has a huge staircase for CInderella’s entrance .

In his version Nureyev has transposed the story of Cinderella to the Hollywood of the1920’s or thereabouts with allusions to Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, the Keystone Cops etc.

In this version Cinderella is trapped, a servant in her own home, her father a henpecked drunkard, the place instead being dominated by her autocratic stepmother and bitchy, bullying sisters. She dreams of escape,  of becoming a film star and meeting her handsome prince as word is passed around of an audition for a film and the stepsisters are coached. Continue reading PALACE OPERA AND BALLET : CINDERELLA

PARIS OPERA BALLET : SWAN LAKE

Swan Lake is one of the most loved and iconic ballets .As part of the Palace Opera and Ballet season, this is a very strong revival of the 1984 version by Rudolf Nureyev .

Nureyev uses as a basis the ‘traditional ‘ Petipa/Ivanov choreography ( especially for the ‘White’ Acts 2 and 4) to a degree, but with a twist and extra flourishes and additions of choreography . It is spectacularly staged with dark russet colours and gold for the court scenes of Acts 1 and 3. The ‘lake ‘ is simply staged with a low ramp of steps and a very atmospheric use of projections. Costumes (Ezio Frigerio who also designed the sets) are lavish, opulent and exquisitely detailed.

This version is quite dark and can be read as Freudian, especially in the relationships between Siegfried, his Mother and the tutor Wolfgang/Von Rothbart . Everything apparently is in Siegfried’s mind ( the ballet opens with him asleep in a chair – is everything a dream ?) .In Act 1 in particular Nureyev has added a lots of extra fiddly, fancy, almost Ashton like footwork for the dancers . Throughout the work there is more emphasis on the male dancing with the male roles expanded (especially for Siegfried and Von Rothbart, but also in Act1 for example with the huge corps de ballet of male dancers having their set piece ensemble with the polonaise). The mime for Odette telling Siegfried of her story and warning him of the spell is retained from a previous Royal Ballet version.

The national dances in Act 3 are performed almost right at the start of the Act – in this version they are welcome expected guests and not Von Rothbart’s uninvited ‘creatures’.

The six princesses Siegfried is required to choose from are (as is common in quite a few versions) in very similar dresses in shades of dusty pink and carry rather distracting gold fans shaped like mirrors.

The ‘Black Swan’ pas de deux in Act 3 here is far more a pas de trois for Siegfried, Odile and Von Rothbart with Von Rothbart manipulating – one could say perhaps say hypnotising – Siegfried and almost blatantly controlling him.

Rather than the ‘traditional’ ending, here it is far darker, with Siegfried collapsing (dying?), Odette transforming into a swan and being trapped in the spell forever and Von Rothbart, having transformed back into his bat/birdlike form, triumphant.

Only major companies like the Paris Opera can field such a HUGE cast – over 30 swans! and a corresponding number of male corps de ballet. Sometimes – eg for the large court ensembles in Act 1 and the swans – emphasis is made of the lines and criss-crossing blocks of patterns of the choreography (sometimes shot from a high aerial view so we can see them). The swans in the white acts breathe and pulsate as one.

As Odette/Odile Léonore Baulac was excellent displaying superb dancing. As Odette the Swan Queen she is all delicate birdlike and fluttery at first, regal yet softly lyrical and protective of her entourage, most unwilling to trust Siegfried at the start but comes to place her whole world in his trust. As Odile in Act 3 she is smiling, seductive and charming, sparkling and spinning, at times crisply mocking Odette.

As Siegfried handsome Germain Louvet was terrific, in fine form. Siegfried is presented as young , impetuous and romantic.  Technically his dancing is glorious -marvellous epaulement and flowing princely ‘lines’. He is shattered when he realises he has unwittingly betrayed Odette. Their partnership as Odette and Siegfried was delightful .

Francois Alu as Wolfgang the tutor/Von Rothbart gives a great performance. As Wolfgang he is slimily charming. What is interesting is that in Act 3 as von Rothbart he does not wear a mask or anything so that his alter ego is concealed (yet he wears a cap in Act 4 when far more bat/birdlike ).As Von Rothbart (in black , sometimes with , sometimes without , a large black fluttering trailing billowing cape) he is sinister, smiling and manipulative .In Act 3 Nureyev has added a flashy dashing showy solo for him .

Musically the Orchestre de l’Opera national de Paris under the baton of maestro Valery Ovsyanikov was glorious, giving a magnificent reading of the lush, dramatic and romantic Tchaikovsky score.

The ballet was captured live from the Opéra Bastille, Paris, 21 Feb 2019. A very  exciting, thought provoking version wonderfully danced.

Running time 3 hours including one interval .

The Paris Opera Ballet in Nureyev’s Swan Lake screened at selected cinemas between the 12th to the 17th April 2019.

https://palaceoperaandballet.com.au/production/swan-lake

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PITE-PEREZ- SHECTER-THIERRE: PARIS OPERA BALLET

 

The latest in the Palace Opera and Ballet season of dance is a striking mixed programme of works by four of the world’s most exciting contemporary dance makers as performed by the Paris Opera Ballet

 Frôlons , a new work from Switzerland’s James Thiérrée, opens the programme. The dancers in Thiérrée’s work invade the magnificent public areas of the Palais Garnier and introduces us to his dream-like world. There are also singers and musicians involved. The costumes are extraordinary – inspired by some of the various statues and decorations around the Opera building. Featured performers include huge slithering dragons, and a lady with an incredible lamp headdress.  There are some sections where the lighting is isolated and concentrated and the various ‘balls’ of light can be hand held and manipulated.  Continue reading PITE-PEREZ- SHECTER-THIERRE: PARIS OPERA BALLET

The Paris Opera Ballet in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

f we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumber’d here. While these visions did appearA Midsummer Night’s Dream, Scene 7

Stunningly danced the latest screening of the Palace Opera and Ballet season is the Paris Opera Ballet’s presentation of Balanchine’s A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM in two acts and six scenes .It is the first time the Paris Opera Ballet has performed this particular Balanchine work , one of Balanchine’s few narrative ballets .

Created in 1961 it features the marvellous music by Mendelssohn and uses a luscious reworking of the original Karinska costumes by fashion icon Christian Lacroix. Continue reading The Paris Opera Ballet in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

PARIS OPERA BALLET MAGNIFICENT REVIVAL OF NUREYEV’S ‘SWAN LAKE’

If you want to see pure, dazzling, practically perfect classical ballet technique danced superbly then this screening is for you.

The Paris Opera Ballet’s revival of  Nureyev’s SWAN LAKE is superb. The production choreographed by Nureyev was first presented at the Paris Opera Ballet in 1984 and previously last seen in 2011.  This screening was of the performance that took place at the Opera Bastille in Paris on the 8th December 2016.

Nureyev’s rather Freudian version is presented as if it is the main characters Siegfried’s dying dream,  controlled by Wolfgang, his tutor, who in Siegfried’s mind becomes the mysterious, malevolent Rothbart. The orchestra, under maestro Vello Pahn, plays superbly .

For the scenes in the palace there are clean , elegant lines of doorways and for the lakeside ‘white’ scenes there is  a rather Turner like ominous landscape. Continue reading PARIS OPERA BALLET MAGNIFICENT REVIVAL OF NUREYEV’S ‘SWAN LAKE’

Paris Opera Ballet Presents L’Histoire de Manon

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Lush, lavish, opulent and very detailed with a huge cast, this is an extraordinarily powerful version of the MacMillan masterpiece, wonderfully performed by the Paris Opera Ballet with a Gallic flavour.

What makes this performance extra special is that it is the farewell performance by the amazing Aurelie Dupont. Dupont plays the part of  Manon and she is simply superb.

Technically the dancing, as one would expect from the Paris Opera Ballet, is outstanding, with fine ensemble work and dazzling displays by the leads. There is great attention paid to characterisation and the sumptuous, detailed costumes- set and costume design are by Nicholas Georgiadis- are magnificent. Just for example observe Madame X’s superb bronze coloured ‘Watteau – back‘ opulent dress. Mostly the Georgiadis designs are in russet, autumnal tones. Continue reading Paris Opera Ballet Presents L’Histoire de Manon

Paris Opera Ballet: Balanchine and Millepied

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As part of the current Palace Opera and Ballet season, we were privileged to see the Paris Opera Ballet perform a classic double bill, Balanchine’s 1947 ‘Palais de Cristal’ and a new version of Ravel’s ‘ Daphnis Chloe’ by Millepied (who will take over from Brigitte Lefèvre in November). Both were steeped in the essence of classical ballet but revealed to be rather abstract. The dancing was superb, but I was left a little disappointed.

Balanchine’s ‘Palais de Cristal’ to Bizet’s ‘Symphony in C ‘, was originally produced in 1947 for the Paris Opera Ballet, and is one of his works that is a homage to Petipa and his Imperial Russian roots .It hints at his major full length work ‘Jewels’, choreographed twenty years later. Technically the performance was superb. but it was plotless and very show , with no real emotion. The glittering ,lavish costumes were designed by Christian Lacroix .As in his ‘Jewels’ , Balanchine assigns each movement of this work a particular colour: Allegro in red, Adagio in dark blue, Allegro Vivace in green, the second Allegro in pearly white. These colours and the choreography attempt to illustrate and emphasise the music and its structure.

With four movements and a finale, the dancer’s technique is severely tested with difficult balances and changes of direction and also Balanchine’s trademark demand of the fiendish speed with which the dancers have to perform very technical academic sequences. It was all extremely formulaic and formalised. There is no ‘set’ as such just a plain beautifully lit backclcoth. A lot of the ballet was shot from above so you could see the lines and pattern effects of Balanchine’s very demanding choreography. Balanchine devised angular, off balance movements with a dynamic thrust yet simultaneously his style here is very controlled and metronomic , at times repetitive and definitely On The Beat. The work , slightly adapted , is now often known as ‘Symphony in C’. The orchestra under enthusiastic maestro Phillipe Jordan was splendid with an enchanting, warm tone.

Continue reading Paris Opera Ballet: Balanchine and Millepied

PARIS OPERA BALLET: SLEEPING BEAUTY

Bigger than Ben Hur, excessively opulent , sumptous and over rich , this version of ‘ La Belle Au Bois Dormant ‘ (Sleeping Beauty) first produced in 1989 for the Paris Opera Ballet by Nureyev is actually quite fascinating from a historical perspective – steeped in the history of the Imperial Russian Ballet of the 1890’s , one can just imagine it being seen by the Tsar and his entourage. ‘After’ Petipa indeed, full of dazzling demanding academic virtuosity.

Continue reading PARIS OPERA BALLET: SLEEPING BEAUTY

LA SYLPHIDE

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This is a ravishing, exquisite production by the world famous Paris Opera Ballet and features some of the most jaw-droppingly, impressive dancing I have seen in ages.

Direct from the company that premiered it in 1832 , here we have a revival of the Lacotte production from 2004. In this version we have Aurelie Dupont as the Sylph and Mathieu Ganio as James in this magnificent production that looks straight out of lithographs of the originals. You can see the Bournonville influence ( leading to the other , alternative version of this work ) and how it inspired the slightly later ‘Giselle’ ,( especially in the pas de deux for James and the Sylph ) both of which are now regarded as landmarks of Romantic ballet .Are there also hints of ’La Bayadere’ in Act2 with the scarf ?

The finely detailed sets are the standard huge room with fireplace in Act1 .The costumes for this act are predominantly in red and blue. In Act 2 there is a marvellous leafy forest.

The exquisite corps de ballet of the women as sylphs in Act2 are magnificent .Precisely drilled they breathe and function as one to hypnotic effect. ( And keep a look out for the special flying effects ). In Act1 they are of this world as guests celebrating James and Effie’s wedding with wonderful exuberant dancing . There are controlled lines and lots of fast fleet fiddly footwork – a hint of the Bournonville version?

As the Sylph, Aurelie Dupont is astonishing . She appears as if straight out of a Taglioni lithograph. What was interesting to observe was the attention to detail in her costume – the pearl necklace and bracelets , the blue ribbon at her waist , the floral coronet in her hair. And peacock feathers in her wings ! Technically she was amazing , appearing lighter than a feather. Yet she had steely pointes , amazing control in her adage and a soft , lyrical rounded line in her portes des bras ( again echoing the lithographs) .It was also interesting to note that in this version she only brings James one offering of items from her world –  a birds nest- not three or so as in some versions .She appears to be of alabaster and not of this world, mysterious and ethereal. Playful and flirtatious she unwittingly leads James on to the tragic denouement.

Dreamily handsome James , a young man caught between illusion and reality ( the Sylph and his real , worldly fiance Effie ) was more than superbly danced by Mathieu Ganio . He has textbook pure technique and his elevation and batterie are astonishing. His short ,explosive solos are thrilling .

Madge the witch (here simply called The Sorceress) was chillingly played by Jean-Marie Didière .It is interesting to note that in this version she has six ‘weird sisters’ who help her with the incantations and preparations of the poisoned scarf ( long filmy veil)  to kill the Sylph and revenge herself on James. Didiere as Madge is tall , with a craggy , very  expressive face and long , bony, dirty fingers . He has a commanding presence and is not someone you would want to cross!

Effie, James’ fiancee ,was delightfully danced by Mélanie Hurel .And Gurn,James ‘ friend who is also in love with Effie is tremendously danced by Emmanuel Hoff . They have show stopping pas de deux in Act1 .

So if you are into Romantic era ‘Ballet Blancs’ and want to see some extraordinary dancing don’t miss this.

The Paris Opera Ballet in LA SYLPHIDE screened at selected cinemas with screenings taking place on July 27, 28 and 31.