HomeMagazineListingsUpdateLinksContexts

 


 Ballet.co Postings Pages

 Some Special Threads:
  GPDTalk about George Piper Dances ! NEW !
  NBTTalk about Northern Ballet Theatre
  SBTalk about Scottish Ballet
  ENBTalk about English National Ballet
  BRBTalk about Birmingham Royal Ballet
  TodaysLinks - worldwide daily dance links
  Ballet.co GetTogethers - meetings and drinks...

  Help on New Postings


Subject: "Stanslavsky Swan Lake - length warning" Archived thread - Read only
 
  Previous Topic | Next Topic
Printer-friendly copy     Email this topic to a friend    
Conferences What's Happening Topic #2397
Reading Topic #2397
alison

05-01-02, 11:08 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail alison Click to send private message to alison Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
"Stanslavsky Swan Lake - length warning"
 
   Just in case anyone who's going needs to know, this ran to 3 hours 25 minutes (some very long intervals) on the first night. Be warned if you need to make travel arrangements accordingly.


  Printer-friendly page | Top

  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Stanslavsky Swan Lake - length warning Mike 05-01-02 1
     RE: Stanslavsky Swan Lake - length warning Richard Jones 05-01-02 2
         RE: Stanslavsky Swan Lake - length warning Tomoko.A 05-01-02 3
             RE: Stanslavsky Swan Lake - length warning Richard Jones 06-01-02 4
     RE: Stanslavsky Swan Lake - length warning alison 07-01-02 5
         RE: Stanslavsky Swan Lake - length warning Jane S 07-01-02 6
             RE: Stanslavsky Swan Lake - length warning Richard Jones 08-01-02 7
                 RE: Stanslavsky Swan Lake - length warning alison 08-01-02 8
                     RE: Stanslavsky Swan Lake - length warning Helen 12-01-02 9

Conferences | Topics | Previous Topic | Next Topic
Mike

05-01-02, 07:27 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Mike Click to send private message to Mike Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
1. "RE: Stanslavsky Swan Lake - length warning"
In response to message #0
 
   Alison,

Presumably you attended? Any comments, as I'm thinking of trying to get down to London in the week to see it

Thanks

Mike


  Printer-friendly page | Top
Richard Jones

05-01-02, 10:41 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Richard%20Jones Click to send private message to Richard%20Jones Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
2. "RE: Stanslavsky Swan Lake - length warning"
In response to message #1
 
   I've just returned from the Saturday matinée (5/1). I had asked in advance about the length, and was told "two-and-a-half hours plus intervals". They seem to go in for long intervals at the RFH; about 25 minutes for each. There is a prologue (with Odette being turned into a swan), then a scene change before Act 1. The scene change (after a prologue of about two minutes!) took ages, with much clunking accompanied by audible voices from backstage about what was or was not happening. During this time latecomers were let in, so the whole effect was of a false start. The two intervals are after Acts 3 and 4. I think that, overall, there was an improvement on three hours 25 minutes for this performance.

Although something of a marathon (especially if seeing it entails a long journey) the production has some unique features. However, after contending with a lengthy Swan Lake as well as a 250 mile road journey, any considered opinion will have to wait till I've had some sleep!


  Printer-friendly page | Top
Tomoko.A

05-01-02, 11:53 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Tomoko.A Click to send private message to Tomoko.A Click to add this user to your buddy list  
3. "RE: Stanslavsky Swan Lake - length warning"
In response to message #2
 
   I was at the matinee. So was Ann. I found the intervals too long and they didn't tell us how long they would be. Apart from that I enjoyed their dancing. The corps de ballet in the Lake scene was really beautiful. I thoguht they were better than the Kirov's corps. It was my first time to see this version by Bourmeister (although I've got a video of the POB's Swan Lake with different set and costumes) and I found it very enjoyable.


  Printer-friendly page | Top
Richard Jones

06-01-02, 07:35 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Richard%20Jones Click to send private message to Richard%20Jones Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
4. "RE: Stanslavsky Swan Lake - length warning"
In response to message #3
 
   After The Snow Maiden – like a brief snow flurry, not to be taken too seriously – the Stanislavsky Ballet launches into sterner stuff with its Swan Lake of heroic length. No stone in the story-telling is left unturned, and Bourmeister therefore gratefully laps up the expansive sections of music that Tchaikovsky wrote for the business of developing the plot between the set dances. The starting point for this production was Lopokov’s 1945 version for the Kirov, which is itself a descendant of the 1895 Petipa/Ivanov text. Bourmeister then proceeded to develop his own choreography for Acts 1, 3 and 4, adding a prologue and epilogue to complete his literal re-telling of a story that comes full circle in the end. This production was first seen in 1953, so the Soviet strictures against beatific visions as in the usual apotheosis no doubt applied, but I can’t imagine that Bourmeister would have wanted that sort of ending in any case. He solves the problem of breaking the spell in another way (I won’t divulge exactly how it ends!).

Ivanov’s poetic choreography for Act 2 is, of course, retained, so the music for this act keeps the shape it acquired for the 1895 production. Otherwise, there is a general effort to respect Tchaikovsky’s original intentions, and much that has been altered or cut over the years is restored to its former state. This means, for instance, that when Odile does eventually launch into a series of fouttées in Act 3, she is not accompanied by the music we have grown accustomed to hearing at this point (that passage originally appeared in Act1). Fortunately, we had none of the nonsense of the Kirov performance where the orchestra is stopped in its tracks and Odile comes downstage to milk the applause. The essence of this production is to get on with the drama, though the company is hampered by the limitations of the RFH; I’d like to see them in a proper theatre.

As is common with Russian productions there is a jester – not just one, in fact, because in Act 3 he is joined by four junior jesters! Normally my heart sinks when I see a jester on the cast list, but I have to say that this one I thought to be not nearly so irritating as most. In fact, he is well integrated into the scene, if verging on being a bit camp at times (there were occasions when I could have imagined this performer uttering a few Julian Clary one-liners!). There are long passages of gentle choreography in Act 1 for those at court (e.g. when the Queen provides a whole galaxy of Watteau-esque girls for her son to chose his bride), and the jester’s flash fireworks do provide the necessary contrast. There is no silly old drunken tutor, and no Benno, but there are two leading lads at court who take part in the pas de quatre (and later give us the message that they are keen to get on with using their crossbows).

Rothbart is described in the programme as Knight Rothbart, evil genius. At least he turns up in Act 3 looking as if he fits into the courtly scene (not like Batman). He doesn’t get into the dance action with Odile in the same way as Rothbart does in the Kirov production, but he is in obvious control of events. The flashing red capes that accompany the Spanish dance are under his rule, and when Odile appears for a brief tantalising moment she disappears as she is enfolded amongst them. The whole sequence of national dances is organised to lead inevitably to Siegfried’s infatuation for Odile.

This is a well rehearsed company, with some fine dancers and an excellent corps. The opulent designs were deservedly applauded at the beginning of Act 3, and the orchestra also received due applause for its part in this stamina-sapping run. It's good to hear Russian music played by Russian musicians, and nowhere more so than in one of the most 'Russian sounding' parts of the score; the simple but wistful melody that is used for the dance near the beginning of Act four - a haunting memory.



  Printer-friendly page | Top
alison

07-01-02, 05:42 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail alison Click to send private message to alison Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
5. "RE: Stanslavsky Swan Lake - length warning"
In response to message #1
 
   LAST EDITED ON 07-01-02 AT 05:42 PM (GMT)

Yes - I think I was just trying to fit something in quickly before catching a train at the time. The designs are very attractive, and apart from its length (and the fact that it's really rather a squeeze on the RFH stage) I'd say it's probably quite a good first-time Swan Lake. Whether those who are really keen on the ballet would be so impressed, I don't know. Certainly, although possibly I was biased by having already found the choreography for the Snow Maiden very unimpressive, I thought I'd seen the bits which Bourmeister rechoreographed done rather better in other productions - some seemed very unmusical to me.

I did like the second half of it better than the first half, though: I've always liked the way he wove the national dances into the narrative, using the dancers to confuse Siegfried and to separate him from Odile so that he can never get his thoughts together enough to be suspicious, and I'm quite happy with having a prologue (I remember that some of the critics were a bit sniffy when ENB did the same last year, but have yet to notice any adverse comments this year). I also found the way he moved the swans around in the final act very effective (you need to be back of terrace or upstairs to appreciate this), and thought the ending was generally rather more effective for a happy ending than the traditional Soviet battle where Rothbart dies of a twisted/amputated wing, although there was a very long blackout which rather ruined the effect. I also didn't think that having Rothbart perched on a high rock and having very long wings during the lakeside was a good idea - it just hampered him and meant that it was very difficult for the dancer playing him to build up any sense of power.

Oh, and that last bit reminds me - I can't credit any of the dancers - Raymond Gubbay doing his usual "no cast sheets without programmes" business. Does anyone else get really annoyed about this? Anyone been to see more than one performance and found that getting blood out of a stone is easier than finding out who's dancing? If so, perhaps we should write to him .


  Printer-friendly page | Top
Jane S

07-01-02, 06:16 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Jane%20S Click to send private message to Jane%20S Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
6. "RE: Stanslavsky Swan Lake - length warning"
In response to message #5
 
   Alison, I have to say I had no trouble getting a cast sheet the second time I went to the Snow Maiden - I did have my original programme with me but I don't remember that I had to show it.


  Printer-friendly page | Top
Richard Jones

08-01-02, 06:58 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail Richard%20Jones Click to send private message to Richard%20Jones Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
7. "RE: Stanslavsky Swan Lake - length warning"
In response to message #6
 
   At the matinee on 5/1 cast lists were being given out separately, but fresh stocks had to be collected by the programme sellers - shouldn't they expect some people to request only a cast list?


  Printer-friendly page | Top
alison

08-01-02, 01:15 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail alison Click to send private message to alison Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
8. "RE: Stanslavsky Swan Lake - length warning"
In response to message #7
 
   Well, I wish they'd apply that policy to ENB at the Albert Hall as well, then. It really puts a damper on the whole performance having to fight to get a cast sheet. In fact, for the last Romeo I went to last year I think I had to get a friend to photocopy hers for me because nobody would give me one! And those RAH programmes are rather bulky to carry around with you just in case.


  Printer-friendly page | Top
Helen

12-01-02, 10:26 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail Helen Click to send private message to Helen Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
9. "RE: Stanslavsky Swan Lake - length warning"
In response to message #8
 
   I was in London to see The Turn of the Screw (which was superb, but I suppose I'm not allowed to discuss it here) and I managed to fit a visit to Swan Lake in as well. I saw Wednesday's matinee. It struck me as being a lot more enjoyable than Snow Maiden - or maybe it's just that the music is better. Odette/Odile was Oxana Kuzmenko, who moves beautifully and was a very good Odile - not too obvious - but, I thought, lacked the tragic line needed in the white acts. Victor Dik was Siegfried. I saw him as Mizgir in Snow Maiden, and was astonished to see how good-looking he was when not afflicted with a fake beard and baggy trousers. With his carefully shaded cheekbones he looked quite Nureyev-ish. He acted well, especially at the end, but his dancing, though adequate, still seemed to me a bit heavy. Some nice tours en l'air, though.

As with Snow Maiden, the best part of this production was the design, traditional but very much as Swan Lake ought to look - I agree it would make a good first Swan Lake. The third act, with its dim, rich glow like a Russian icon, was applauded, and the blood red lighting that echoed the shades of red in many of the costumes, including some crimson sequins on Odile's black tutu, gave a genuine theatrical thrill.

The orchestra deserves an award for its consistently high standard. The violin and woodwind solos were stunning. Unfortunately, I had the bad luck to be sitting next to a "hummer". Why is it that people who think they know the music never do? I dreaded the next "big tune". In cowardly fashion I didn't say anything to her, although "You are at least a semitone flat" was on the tip of my tongue. But she was so carried away by the whole thing that I actually felt quite indulgent to her by the end. It's good to see people really enjoying ballet, after all, and she certainly did, as did most of the audience.

It's the last day of this ballet's London performances today, and one has to admire their sheer stamina. This production is worth catching, I think. Oh, and thanks for the length warning - the matinee finished at about twenty to six.


  Printer-friendly page | Top

Conferences | Topics | Previous Topic | Next Topic

 
Questions or problems regarding this bulletin board should be directed to Bruce Marriott