Tag Archives: Rudolf Nureyev

Palace Opera and Ballet La Scala Ballet in Sleeping Beauty

PALACE OPERA AND BALLET
LA SCALA BALLET SLEEPING BEAUTY
OCTOBER 2019

The La Scala Ballet has revived Nureyev’s version of THE SLEEPING BEAUTY , created in 1966 and last seen twelve years ago.
While the dancing was superb, and it is a lavish , extremely opulent production , this reviewer was rather disappointed. It is absolutely crammed full with excessive numbers of dancers at times and the gilded ornate set design is at times way overdone , heavily Baroque . The sumptuous costumes also by Franca Squarciapino ) are at times perhaps a trifle over fussy at times , but in some ways you can see how it is a tribute to Nureyev’s Russian back ground and the traditions of the Marinksy .Aurora’s shell like cradle in the prologue is transformed into her bed in act2 where she sleeps for a century.
Under the energetic and enthusiastic baton of Felix Korobov the Orchestra was in rich, lush form .

Nureyev remained true to the ‘traditional ‘ Petipa choreography but , Rudi being Rudi , also adding some very demanding extra segments for Desire.For the huge corps de ballet scenes ( the ‘garland waltz ‘ etc ) there are crisp , precise many layers of criss- crossing , entwining patterns of choreography.

The fairies -with their cavaliers , and numerous attendants – were very good but not really that especially remarkable. The ‘canary fairy’ in yellow hovered beautifully and ‘finger fairy’ who twinkled enchantingly were perhaps the most noticeable.

Polina Semionova as Aurora was ravishing .Her opening solos etc in Act 1 were radiant and the Rose Adagio was excellently done with rock solid balances . And she glows in Act 3. (Speaking of the Rose Adagio it is sad that Carabosse malevolently kills all four princes.)

Our Prince Desire, Timofej Andrijashenko was jaw dropping .Tall , blonde and handsome he was magnificent , niftily dealing with all the demanding double tours , jetes etc with great panache , and a gallant partner.
Both had a glorious clean ‘ line’ .The Grand pas de deux at the end with the fish dives etc was regal and polished yet also very tender and joyous.

Carabosse the evil fairy was spitefully , malevolently played by Beatrice Carbone , sinister in black.No Her first angry entrance wasn”t really scary .( No dramatic appearance with a flash crash and puff of smoke or anything. and her attendant creatures however were not really menacing.( No dramatic appearance with a flash crash and puff of smoke or anything.)

What is also interesting is that the Lilac Fairy (Emanuela Montanari ) wears a long frock rather than atutu .While she radiates warmth and charm , it does feel rather odd.The confrontation between the two powerful fairies is rather limp , and Carabosse sort of collapses and dies ( ?) but not really dramatically.

With regards to the third act (aka ‘ Aurora’s Wedding’ ) with the fairytale characters … the BlueBird pas de deux was wonderfully danced .The cats however reminded me more of Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer from the musical Cats.Interestingly there were no ‘Three Ivans’ or Red Riding Hood and the Wolf as there often are.

Riccardo Massimi as fussy, nitpciking court chamberlain Catalabutte , in red was terrific .

A sumptuous overly rich and crowded production fabulously danced.

The La Scala Ballet in Sleeping Beauty screens at selected cinemas as part of the Palace Opera and Ballet Season 25-30 October 2019
https://palaceoperaandballet.com.au/production/the-sleeping-beauty
Running time : roughly 2hours 45 minutes no interval

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

THE WHITE CROW : A TERRIFIC FILM FOR DANCE LOVERS

 

THE WHITE CROW is Russian slang for a person who is “unusual” and not like the others. It is a double-edged term used both for someone of exceptional ability and for an outsider who doesn’t fit in anywhere .

Screening as part of the Sydney Film Festival ,beautifully, elegantly photographed this film tells the story of the young Rudolf Nureyev from his birth on a train to his dramatic defection in Paris in 1961. It is directed by Ralph Fiennes (his third film as director) who also in the film plays Nureyev’s teacher and mentor Alexander Pushkin. Julie Kavanagh’s biography of Nureyev was adapted for the screen by David Hare. It is mostly in English but there are sequences in Russian and French with English surtitles. There are some exquisite shots of Paris. Continue reading THE WHITE CROW : A TERRIFIC FILM FOR DANCE LOVERS

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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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: 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