Tag Archive: Olga Smirnova

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“The Winter’s Tale”
Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Theatre
Moscow, Russia
April 06, 2019 (matinee and evening performance)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2019 by Ilona Landgraf

1. E. Svolkin, L. Timoshenko, O. Smirnova, and D. Savin, “The Winter's Tale” by C. Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / D. YusupovThe Bolshoi Ballet recently added Christopher Wheeldon’s “The Winter’s Tale” to their repertoire – and what a fortunate choice that was! It is a co-production of the Royal Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada, and premiered in London in 2014. It’s strange that such a strong piece of work is only now being performed by a third company.

The ballet is based on Shakespeare’s play of the same name – one of his intricately-plotted later works, which is classified as a comedy despite its intense psychological drama. The tale centers around two kings – Leontes of Sicily and Polixenes of 2. E. Svolkin, D. Savin, and O. Smirnova, “The Winter's Tale” by C. Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / D. YusupovBohemia – who have been close friends since childhood. Their friendship begins to erode when Polixenes makes a lengthy visit to Sicily, which causes Leontes to suddenly doubt his wife Hermione’s faithfulness. Believing Polixenes to be the father of Hermione’s second child, Leontes is eaten up by biting jealousy that quickly turns to out-of-control aggression. He nearly stabs Polixenes and publicly accuses his wife of adultery. His wrath is so furious that Leontes’s eldest son son, Mamillius, gets seriously ill from helplessly witnessing the violent attacks on his mother. Hermione, heavily pregnant, is placed under arrest, and she gives birth to a girl, Perdita, while in custody. Leontes’s heart hardens even more at the sight of the baby, and he orders Antigonus, the head of his household, to abandon the child on a desolate shore – later revealed to be that of Bohemia.
3. E. Svolkin, “The Winter's Tale” by C. Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / D. YusupovHermione is summoned to appear in court, but Leontes, unbelieving and practically mad, assaults her once again – and Mamillius, overwhelmed by the sight, dies on the spot. Hermione faints after seeing her son’s lifeless body and appears to be dead, finally bringing Leontes to his senses. For years he atones for the loss of his children and wife, emotionally petrified.
Time passes. Perdita, saved and raised by Bohemian shepherds, is now sixteen years old, and has fallen in love with Prince Florizel, who has fled his father Polixenes’s court to stay with the shepherds. When Polixenes tracks down his son, Florizel and Perdita flee to Sicily to escape Polixenes’s disapproval of their relationship. Eventually, all the protagonists meet at Leontes’s court, where everything sorts itself out: the kings reconcile; Perdita is recognized as Leontes’s daughter and is happily married to Florizel; joy and warmth return to the royal home. On top of this, Hermione is revealed to be still alive and reunites with her husband.

4. O. Smirnova and D. Savin, “The Winter's Tale” by C. Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / D. YusupovWheeldon pruned this complex tale into a meaty three-acter-plus-prologue, balancing the poignant drama of Sicily’s court in Acts I and III with the carefree shepherds’ life in the idyllic Bohemian countryside of Act II. Only a few minutes into the prologue, you know that Wheeldon is a talented storyteller. Just as he does in his ballet “Cinderella”, Wheeldon presents the defining moments from the childhoods of the main characters in a remarkably short amount of time. He emphasizes in a program booklet interview that the credit lies not only with him, but with his artistic team as well. Those who are familiar with Wheeldon’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” will recognize the musical handwriting of British composer and regular Wheeldon collaborator Joby Talbot, who often infuses his music with subtle and unfamiliar undercurrents that stoke anticipation. In this production, he places a five-person orchestra onstage to play folk music for the shepherds and royal tunes at the court. This is the first time Talbot has composed for an Indian bamboo cross flute (played by Natalia Bereslavtseva), a bandoneon (Artyom Kriklivy), a dulcimer (Alexander Koshevoy), and two percussion instruments (Andrey Gabelkov and Oleg Vorobiev). These fabulous musicians are complemented by the vibrant Bolshoi Orchestra, conducted by Anton Grishanin.

5. I. Tsvirko, “The Winter's Tale” by C. Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / N. Voronova 6. I. Tsvirko, “The Winter's Tale” by C. Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / N. Voronova The set and costumes are by Bob Crowley, who designed Wheeldon’s “Alice” and “An American in Paris”. Though Crowley wasn’t involved in Wheeldon’s “Cinderella”, he used a core set element of “Cinderella” in his design for this work: a huge tree. It’s broader than it is tall, and with its moss-grown stilt roots resembles a mangrove tree. Its branches are heavily decorated with talismans that are similar to the amulet placed in Perdita’s basket when she was abandoned and which is later used to identify her as Leontes’s daughter. “I saw my dad in that tree,” Wheeldon revealed in an interview, “and when the curtain goes up on this scene, the audience applauds because it’s a very beautiful image. Like if my dad is giving me applause.” Wheeldon dedicated “The Winter’s Tale” to his father, Peter, who passed away two weeks before the London premiere and never saw the piece.

7. A. Vlashinets, Y. Ostrovsky, and I. Tsvirko, “The Winter's Tale” by C. Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / N. Voronova“The Winter’s Tale” plays in two contrasting worlds: Leontes’s austere palace and the buoyant Bohemian countryside. For the latter, Crowley designed colorful, richly-patterned fabrics; for the former, he used white movable stairways and high archways with narrow passages that shift to form a hall, Hermione’s private room, and the courtroom. An armchair, Mamillius’s rocking horse, and a carpet provide some coziness. Several marble statues represent the ideals of the sophisticated wealth, but as the domestic violence rages hotter, they rather made me think of stagnation. Only at the final wedding feast was the central painting – a gray and gloomy winter scene – replaced by a Caspar David Friedrich-esque “Chalk Cliffs on Rügen” that revealed a hidden Hermione pretending to be part of a statue.

8. O. Smirnova and ensemble, “The Winter's Tale” by C. Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / D. YusupovBasil Twist, a sought-after American puppeteer, had already collaborated with Wheeldon on “Cinderella”. For this production, he was responsible for several sweeping visual effects that employ silk fabrics: memorably, creating a gigantic bear that ate poor Antigonus after he abandoned little Perdita. One of Daniel Brodie’s video designs, a sailing ship from the period, glided on Twist’s rippling sea of silk.
Natasha Katz’s lighting guided the attention cleverly while unmistakably distinguishing between Leontes’s idée fixe and reality.

For the rehearsals, six ballet masters came to Moscow, including Zenaida Yanowsky (the London premiere’s Paulina, i.e. the head of Hermione’s household), Jonathan Howells (a former Antigonus) from the Royal Ballet, and Piozr Stanczyk who performed the role of Leontes with the National Ballet of Canada.

10. K. Kretova and D. Savin, “The Winter's Tale” by C. Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / D. Yusupov9. A. Vlashinets, “The Winter's Tale” by C. Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / N. VoronovaWheeldon’s dance vocabulary is fresh, resourceful, and seems to be directly of the moment. He doesn’t use well-trodden movement vignettes, but instead makes us watch with keen eyes. I remember his statement on the challenge of expressing a flash of jealousy through movement. Wheeldon has Leontes begin with the hand: in the instant that he feels the baby kicking in his wife’s belly, Leontes’s hand suddenly writhes, spider-like, then crawls across his body to his spine. It seems then to inject a tormenting poison into his back, and in no time this poison taints his entire and innermost being. Denis Savin, the evening’s Leontes, played this change of personality with an eeriness that makes sense given his knack knack for strange characters, his strong physical stage presence, and his uncanny expressiveness. Savin’s entire performance brimmed with intensity and left no emotional depth unplumbed. I was glad to have a chance to see him perform.
11. Ensemble, “The Winter's Tale” by C. Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / D. YusupovOf Igor Tsvirko’s interpretation of Leontes at the matinee I especially remember the hot, seething fury with which he flew at Polixenes (Anton Savichev). His thorough disturbance after the deaths of Mamillius and Hermione really got to me. It was clear that he had reached the lowest point of his life.

Olga Smirnova danced Hermione alongside Savin, perfectly melding genuine warmth with aristocratic grace. The immediacy and directness of her movement made her performance hauntingly real. How many messages did Smirnova’s Hermione convey at court with merely a single look! And how aloof was she at first when reuniting with Leontes – like a statue that had to re-petrify.
13. A. Trikoz and D. Motta Soares, “The Winter's Tale” by C. Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / N. Voronova12. D. Motta Soares and A. Trikoz, “The Winter's Tale” by C. Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / N. VoronovaA bouquet to Kristina Kretova, who shouldered the two leading roles of Hermione and Paulina that day. At the matinee, her Hermione gave me goosebumps when she saw her daughter Perdita (Alexandra Trikoz) for the first time in sixteen years. Wheeldon’s Paulina is a more vital character than Shakespeare’s – in fact, she’s the ballet’s pivotal female role. She takes care of the mourning Leontes, directing his soul through its darkness, while stoically keeping the secret that Hermione is in fact alive. Fate was merciful with Leontes to give him such an emphatic, humble guide! After all, Paulina has been widowed because of him: it was Leontes who sent her husband, Antigonus (Yuri Ostrovsky), off with the baby and into the clutches of the bear.
14. D. Motta Soares, “The Winter's Tale” by C. Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / D. YusupovThe matinee’s Paulina was Angelina Vlashinets; Ostrovsky again played Antigonus. I liked how both ballerinas playing Paulina nearly hit out at Leontes when he attacked Hermione, but pulled themselves together at the last second and curtsied. However, upon seeing the queen and Mamillius dead, both Paulinas trashed their Leontes uncontrollably in fits of helpless desperation and rage.

In the evening, Erik Svolkin’s Polixenes was more flirtatious than Savichev’s at the matinee, but even if both Polixenes felt like third wheels the more Hermione’s pregnancy advanced and the more her and Leontes’s intimate togetherness deepened, one couldn’t imagine either Polixenes to cross the border of decency.
Mamillius (Kirill Travin / Lev Timoshenko) is a tough role. The boy has to witness blunt aggression without any means of escape (neither a teddy nor an armchair hideaway could protect him). My respect to both Travin and Timoshenko for their brave performances.

16. K. Kretova and I.Tsvirko, “The Winter's Tale” by C. Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / N. Voronova15. O. Smirnova and D. Savin, “The Winter's Tale” by C. Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / D. YusupovAt the matinee, Florizel (David Motta Soares) danced alongside Alexandra Trikoz’s Perdita. The blossoming of their tender, innocent romance warmed my heart. The same applies to the evening’s young lovers (Vyacheslav Lopatin & Dariya Khokhlova), a sunny couple that lived their love more openly.

17. V. Lantratov, “The Winter's Tale” by C. Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / N. VoronovaIn the supporting roles: Karim Abdullin and Egor Khromushin portrayed Father Shepherd; Igor Pugachyov and Alexey Putintsev danced his son, called Brother Clown; Maria Mishina and Bruna Catanhede Gaglianone performed the young shepherdess who loved him. In addition to the role of Mamillius, three other parts were played by children (Danila Klimenko, Viktor Uskov, and Sergey Shcherbina, with some of them doubling roles): the young Leontes, the young Polixenes, and the young Brother Clown. The corps exercised grave restraint at court and gave the shepherds’ zest for life vibrant colors. The rustic feast by the tree might have been a bigger party if attended by a few more revelers; the Bolshoi’s historic stage is vast, after all.

The only bitterness in this production emerged around the role of Florizel. Vladislav Lantratov was cast as the premiere’s Florizel, but injured himself shortly after the beginning of Act II. Motta Soares replaced him after a fifteen-minute break. I wish Lantratov a speedy recovery, but above all I wish him the patience necessary for a full recovery. He’s an outstanding artist and the Bolshoi needs him back in perfect health.

Links: Website of the Bolshoi Theatre
rehearsal  of “The Winter’s Tale” (video)
interview with Christopher Wheeldon about “The Winter’s Tale” / Green Room, Bolshoi Theater
Photos: 1. Erik Svolkin (Polixenes), Lev Timoshenko (Mamillius), Olga Smirnova (Hermione), and Denis Savin (Leontes), “The Winter’s Tale” by Christopher Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / Damir Yusupov
2. Erik Svolkin (Polixenes), Denis Savin (Leontes), and Olga Smirnova (Hermione), “The Winter’s Tale” by Christopher Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / Damir Yusupov
3. Erik Svolkin (Polixenes), “The Winter’s Tale” by Christopher Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / Damir Yusupov
4. Olga Smirnova (Hermione) and Denis Savin (Leontes), “The Winter’s Tale” by Christopher Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / Damir Yusupov
5. Igor Tsvirko (Leontes), “The Winter’s Tale” by Christopher Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / Natalia Voronova
6. Igor Tsvirko (Leontes), “The Winter’s Tale” by Christopher Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / Natalia Voronova
7. Angelina Vlashinets (Paulina), Yuri Ostrovsky (Antigonus), and Igor Tsvirko (Leontes), “The Winter’s Tale” by Christopher Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / Natalia Voronova
8. Olga Smirnova (Hermione) and ensemble, “The Winter’s Tale” by Christopher Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / Damir Yusupov
9. Angelina Vlashinets (Paulina), “The Winter’s Tale” by Christopher Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / Natalia Voronova
10. Kristina Kretova (Paulina) and Denis Savin (Leontes), “The Winter’s Tale” by Christopher Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / Damir Yusupov
11. Ensemble, “The Winter’s Tale” by Christopher Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / Damir Yusupov
12. David Motta Soares (Florizel) and Alexandra Trikoz (Perdita), “The Winter’s Tale” by Christopher Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / Natalia Voronova
13. Alexandra Trikoz (Perdita) and David Motta Soares (Florizel), “The Winter’s Tale” by Christopher Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / Natalia Voronova
14. David Motta Soares (Florizel), “The Winter’s Tale” by Christopher Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / Damir Yusupov
15. Olga Smirnova (Hermione) and Denis Savin (Leontes), “The Winter’s Tale” by Christopher Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / Damir Yusupov
16. Kristina Kretova (Hermione) and Igor Tsvirko (Leontes), “The Winter’s Tale” by Christopher Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / Natalia Voronova
17. Vladislav Lantratov (Florizel), “The Winter’s Tale” by Christopher Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / Natalia Voronova
Editing: Jake Stepansky

Real Life and Ideals – Nureyev’s “Swan Lake”

“Swan Lake”
Vienna State Ballet
Vienna State Opera
Vienna, Austria
May 14, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. S.Chudin and O.Smirnova, “Swan Lake” by R.Nureyev after M.Petipa and L.Ivanov, Vienna State Ballet © Vienna State Ballet / A.Taylor “French and Russian style differ, so everything is a bit new at the moment,” Semyon Chudin told me in an interview a few weeks before his premiere in Rudolf Nureyev’s “Swan Lake” in Vienna. He and Olga Smirnova, both figureheads of the Bolshoi, guested in the leading roles with Manuel Legris’s company. I saw the first of two performances. How did they do?

Nureyev’s version differs in style, choreography and the weight given to several characters in comparison to other traditional interpretations of “Swan Lake”. The role of Benno, Prince Siegfried’s friend, is gone and, unlike in Russian productions, there is no fool either. Instead the focus shifts towards Siegfried, whom Nureyev danced more than fifty times himself; his last performance was in 1988 a few days after his 50th birthday. Nureyev’s Siegfried has more to dance – a formal Pas de cinq at his birthday party followed by a melancholy solo, for example – and allows deeper insight into his psyche. At the end he falls victim to Von Rothbart’s revenge and drowns in the floods of the lake, whereas Odette, still alive, stands at the lakeside like the idealized female. However desperately Siegfried stretches his arms towards her she is unattainable. He is doomed to die. (more…)

Olga Smirnova and Semyon Chudin on “Swan Lake”

“Swan Lake”
Vienna State Ballet
Moscow / Vienna
April 28, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. S.Chudin and O.Smirnova, “Swan Lake” by Y.Grigorovich after M.Petipa, L.Ivanov and A.Gorsky, Bolshoi Ballet © Bolshoi Theatre / D.YusupovIn mid-May Vienna State Ballet revives Rudolf Nureyev’s “Swan Lake,” the version he choreographed for the company in 1964. The new set and costumes are by Luisa Spinatelli. Four guest dancers will take the leading roles in the course of the run. The Bolshoi’s Olga Smirnova and Semyon Chudin dance twice, on May 14th and 17th; on June 4th Marianela Nuñez and Vadim Muntagirov of The Royal Ballet guest in Vienna. The last performance on Monday, June 12th, will be streamed live on the internet.

While “Swan Lake” is Smirnova’s debut in Vienna, Chudin returns for the third time to the Austrian capital. Two weeks before opening night I asked both about their roles and about Nureyev’s production in particular. Smirnova, who at that time was in Moscow, answered in written form. Katerina Novikova, head of the Bolshoi’s press office, kindly translated Smirnova’s answers into English. Chudin, already rehearsing with the company in Vienna, talked with me via Skype. (more…)

Bringing “Onegin” Home

“Onegin”
Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Theatre
Moscow, Russia
March 10, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.Tikhomirova, S.Chudin and ensemble, “Onegin” by J.Cranko, Bolshoi Ballet © Bolshoi Theatre / D.Yusupov“John is here” is a well-known saying within the walls of Stuttgart Ballet. People know what they are talking about. Ever since his untimely death more than forty years ago John Cranko’s spirit has energized his Stuttgart company.
Yet last weekend his presence was strongly palpable elsewhere. The Bolshoi performed his “Onegin” on three consecutive evenings at home in Moscow. On first night not only Cranko seemed close but also Reid Anderson, who had supervised the production at the Bolshoi in 2013, and Jürgen Rose, whose costumes and set design are unvaryingly matchless. The Bolshoi Theatre and Stuttgart State Opera merged into one house on this Friday evening uniting their powers in a performance of overwhelming intensity. (more…)

Grigorovich’s “Giselle”

“Giselle”
Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Theatre
Moscow, Russia
February 18 / 19, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. O.Smirnova and S.Chudin, “Giselle” by Y.Grigorovich after J.Coralli, J.Perrot and M.Petipa, Bolshoi Ballet 2017 © Bolshoi Theatre / E.Fetisova“Giselle” is in the core repertory of almost every ballet company, whether in a modern interpretation or a traditional one. The Bolshoi even holds two traditional versions, one by Yuri Grigorovich, the other by Vladimir Vasiliev. Vasiliev’s 1997 “Giselle” follows the earlier versions of Leonid Lavrovsky and Alexander Gorsky. Earlier in 1987 Grigorovich had instead traced the choreographic lineage directly via Marius Petipa to Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli’s 1841 original. In honor of the 90th anniversary of Grigorovich’s birth, the Bolshoi presented three performances of his “Giselle” as part of the Grigorovich ballet festival, of which I saw two matinées with different casts. (more…)

Olga Smirnova on “The Sleeping Beauty”

“The Sleeping Beauty”
Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Theatre
Moscow, Russia
January 17, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. I.Alexeyev, O.Smirnova, A.Belyakov and ensemble, “The Sleeping Beauty” by Y.Grigorovich after M.Petipa, Bolshoi Ballet © D.Yusupov 2017This Sunday, on January 22nd, the Bolshoi Ballet will stream “The Sleeping Beauty” live to cinemas all over the world. It is the Petipa-based version that Yuri Grigorovich created in 2011 for the re-opening of the Bolshoi’s historic stage which has lavish set designs by Ezio Frigerio and equally sumptuous costumes by Franca Squarciapino. Sunday’s cast includes Olga Smirnova as Princess Aurora alongside Semyon Chudin as her Prince. As the Lilac Fairy, Yulia Stepanova will counter Alexei Loparevich’s Carabosse.
I skyped with Olga Smirnova a few days prior to the cinema broadcast to talk about the piece and her role. Katerina Novikova, head of the Bolshoi’s press office, kindly interpreted from the Russian. Smirnova’s responses are in italics. (more…)

Maillot Revives His Beauty

“La Belle”
Les Ballets de Monte Carlo
Salle des Princes Grimaldi Forum
Monte Carlo, Monaco
December 30, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. S.Chudin and O.Smirnova, “La Belle” by J.-C.Maillot, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo © A.Blangero 2017Shortly after Christmas Les Ballets de Monte Carlo revived “La Belle”, Jean-Christophe Maillot’s version of “La belle au bois dormant”, written by Charles Perrault in 1697. Maillot kept his original choreography from 2001 as well as Ernest Pignon-Ernest’s set design, but commissioned Jérôme Kaplan for new costumes most of which comically quote details of 16th century fashion. The music is Tchaikovsky’s but trimmed to around two hours.

Perrault took his inspiration from “Sun, Moon and Talia”, a fairytale written by Giambattista Basile in 1834, to which Maillot included some references. (more…)

“I feel like Lensky”

Semyon Chudin, Bolshoi Ballet
Royal Opera House
London, Great Britain
August, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. S.Chudin © Bolshoi TheatreI first saw Semyon Chudin dance in Stuttgart Ballet’s end-of-the season gala this July. He had danced the Wedding Pas de Deux from “Sleeping Beauty” next to Anna Osadcenko and immediately caught my attention. Chudin has an aura, which only a great personality is able to radiate.

As it happens the Bolshoi toured London for three weeks during this summer. One and a half weeks after the Stuttgart gala I sat in the Royal Opera House, watching the company in Jean-Christophe Maillot’s “The Taming of the Shrew”. The following day I met Chudin in the Opera House’s cafeteria to talk about his career and his life offstage. We spoke twice, first in the afternoon, and, after rehearsals and with translation support by Sonia Serduk, a longstanding friend of Chudin from St. Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky Theatre, again in the evening. Chudin’s English is good but he feels more at ease when speaking Russian. I guess our group of three attracted attention as we had much fun.

Chudin is natural, kind and easy-going. He does not make the slightest attempt to cultivate a glossy image of himself or to feign a conformist mindset. Telling people what they want to hear isn’t his. The timbre of his voice simply reveals his true opinions. Centered in himself Chudin radiates calmness but at the same time is very self-critical. After the Stuttgart gala he asked Filip Baranciwicz and Mikhail Kaniskin to give him corrections. How many principals act in the same way? “One could always improve something. When you’re satisfied with yourself you should stop,” he later stated. (more…)

Maillot’s Idea of How to Tame

Taming of the Shrew”
Bolshoi Ballet
Royal Opera House
London, Great Britain
August 03, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. E.Krysanova and V.Lantratov, “The Taming of the Shrew” by J.-C.Maillot, Bolshoi Ballet © M.Logvinov/Bolshoi TheatreThe Bolshoi Ballet’s three-week tour to London draws crowds of ballet aficionados to the Royal Opera House. Every evening each of the five productions is sold out. Those include the much-loved classics, “Swan Lake”, “Don Quixote” and “Le Corsaire”, as well as “The Flames of Paris” by Alexei Ratmansky and Jean-Christophe Maillot’s “The Taming of the Shrew” which premiered two years ago at the Bolshoi. “Shrew” was scheduled only twice. I saw the first performance.

Similar to Kurt-Heinz Stolze’s Scarlatti-pastiche for John Cranko’s “Shrew”, Maillot also cobbled together the score. He assembled less well known film music and excerpts of symphonies by Dmitri Shostakovich which go along with the events on stage like lubricating oil. Whether swooshing or romantic, the Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre under Igor Dronov’s baton played with verve.

The story sets off at the estate of Baptista, a wealthy lord in Padua. But the two broad, curved outdoor stairs arching over the house’s entrance, designed by Ernest Pignon-Ernest, don’t relate to any specific town. Baptista is beset with two daughters, the prickly Katharina and her younger sister, the much-adored Bianca. But the latter will not be allowed to marry until Katharina first wears her wedding ring. (more…)