terça-feira, 17 de janeiro de 2017

Wiener Staatsballet: "Cendrillon" revisited. January 16th, 2017.

Somehow yesterday I had a funny feeling of „Déjà-vu” as “Cendrillon” started… of all things that I could think of just one stuck to my mind: “Annie Hall” (Woody Allen, 1977) and the (fabulous) scene in which Woody’s semi-biographical character “Alvy Singer” reveals that he always fell in love with the wrong women and we, the audience, are soon transferred to a cartoon in which Alvy makes love to Snow White’s Stepmother!
I know: it is another fairy-tale!
But she was not exactly the "good girl" of the movie/story, if you can remember and know what I mean!

But we will come to that later again!

At the precise moment in which Lázlo Benedek, Samule Colomber and Keisuke Nejime entered the stage as the Stepmother, Javotte and Anastasie it was love at first sight. And I must tell you: I was not the only that felt that way!
I simply love those rare moments in which audiences “fall madly in love” and you feel a wave of feelings reaching the proscenium.
These moments are becoming so rare nowadays...

copyright: Ashley Taylor

The production is beautiful - with an incredble good taste all around (Something that I missed so much in the last production of "Josephs Legende").
Perhaps even more because of its simplicity that left so much more room for creativity. Thierry Malandain’s ideas and choreography are a joy. The choreography itself is much more “classical” than his previous “Don Juan” but I consider a great step in a beautiful direction. One that showed us that there’s no need about “lots of fuss” with sets, costumes, revolving stages, visual effects, videos and all the mad paraphernalia that some choreographers have been using to hide a certain lack of inventiveness.

And using Prokofiev’s music splendidly. A fact we must definitely mention.

copyrght: Wiener Staatsballet

Jorge Gallardo’s sets and costumes are perfect. Lovely details, like the mannequins (and the whole ensemble mastered a very good use of them), the wheel in which the Fairy Godmother brings Cendrillon to the ball (such a beautiful effect that represented the carriage marvelously), the high-heels… such lovely imaginative ideas! Intelligent ideas.

Even though there are many dancers that are ill at the moment – the Flu has also reached Vienna – I must congratulate the ensemble for such a good show and for such discipline.

copyright: Ashley Taylor

Andrés Garcia-Torres, in three roles, but especially as the ballet-Master gave a technically very clean, very beautiful performance!

Kristina Ermolenok, looking very delicate and thin, could have impressed the audience more with her presence and clean performance, had it not been for a certain tension on her upper back and neck. But this winter is hard and I do not know if she was also fighting some health troubles.

Tainá Ferreira Luiz delighted as the “Solo-Fairy” – always giving 100% of her strength and concentration on stage, she was immensely sure-of-herself and confident en pointe (the only dancer to dance on her toes in this piece) and mastering perfectly the Fouettés-en-tounant. A versatile dancer she brought me to some good laughs as “the dressmaker” and again as the Fairy while trying to show the way to the prince and his friends. I like humour.

Gleb Shilov. A prince. What else can I say? Great presence, clean technique, very gifted physique. His experience as a performer shows on stage. I wish the choreography could include some more “Bravura” for this prince. Mr. Shilov can handle it.

Unfortunately, the dullest part of the evening is Cendrillon herself. It is quite hard for a dancer to make something interesting out of the choreography. I cannot comment Miss Kovacs-Galavics’ performance because she had not the chance to show anything.
This Cendrillon is normal, well-adjusted, a good girl with no fire in her, boring in fact!
Other characters are so more much interesting, more challenging to play.
Could you imagine Bette Davis being "a good girl" in films her whole life?

copyright: Ashley Taylor

All this takes me fly back to where I started while writing this:
The Stepmother (Lázlo Benedek, fabulous with his walking sticks) and the Stepsisters (Samuel Colombet and Keisuke Nejime): these are really the great Stars of the evening.
Because they are fun. They are alive!

You see: like Woody I also do not care about falling in love with the wrong women.

A very pleasant evening at the Volksoper!

quarta-feira, 11 de janeiro de 2017

A tribute to Angela Lansbury and her date bread!

Somehow we all forgot that Angela Lansbury was also young one day...

Dear Angela, nice to remember you (also) like this...

P.S. I love your date bread...

Angela Lansbury's Walnut Date Bread

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 scant cup boiling water
1 cup chopped pitted dates
2/3 cup walnut pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Strawberry cream cheese, optional

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Generously oil a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and dust with flour.

Place butter, baking soda, boiling water and dates into a heatproof mixing bowl. Let cool. Mix in walnuts, sugar, egg yolk, flour and vanilla extract. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour.

Cool for 10 minutes and remove from pan onto rack to cool. Slice and serve with strawberry cream cheese and freshly brewed tea.

sábado, 31 de dezembro de 2016

Debbie Reynolds (1932 - 2016)

Dear Debbie,
rest in peace...
and thank you for all those unforgettable moments on screen
(and even on stage: I had the privilege to see your performance in the fabulous "Irene" in the 70's).

Many may think you just as the all-american 100% sweet girl... like in "Singing in the rain", "Tammy", "The pleasure of his company" and so many others...
But your talents were much bigger that that!

Just a few will remember your performance in the (camp) film "What's the matter with Hellen?
and practically no one remembers this crazy, marvelous sense of humour of yours... like in the following two next videos
("What's my Line? from 1954 & 1959).

Thank you dear.
I will never forget you! You joined your daughter Carrie just a day afetr her death.
Peace and harmony to both of you!

Ladies and Gentlemen: the one and only Miss Reynolds!

sexta-feira, 23 de dezembro de 2016

Wiener Staatsballet: December 22nd, 2016. "Raymonda" revisited.

It had been years since I had last seen „Raymonda“. In fact I guess it was in the 80’s with Makarova & Bujones…

Yesterday’s performance was part of a very well supervised production, with good sets (nothing breathtaking but very effective), lovely costumes (special note to the black & white tutus of Raymonda’s girlfriends), “pleasant” ballet music (even with the never ending repetitious Glasunow’s cordals) but, to be very honest, through the passing of the years I had completely forgotten how “Raymonda” simply bores and tires me… Immensely.

Rudolph Nureyev repeats – like in his “Nutcracker” – the unnecessary choreographic “complications” that are very “ungrateful” to dancers and just happen to “please” the half a dozen true Ballet Connoisseurs that may happen to be visiting the performance that day. Even in other metropolis, in which there is a stronger following to Ballet - and a bigger understanding of it than in Vienna - the general public does “not get” these tricky, irrelevant obstacles that are strategically disposed throughout the ballet.

But this is only my point of view…

However there is some praise to be made to yesterday’s cast.

Nina Tonoli and Natascha Mair, two (very different) dancers in perfect “unison”, yes, exactly like in music: two or more musical parts sounding the same pitch… It has been some years since I have first started to “follow” their careers. With such an infinite joy... and I can keep on saying that they still always surprise me.
One can nearly “touch” the immense progress they have been making.

Copyright: Wiener Staatsoper/Michael Pöhn

Masayu Kimoto and Richard Szabó: what a fortunate combination of talents. Mr. Kimoto is the kind of dancer that really makes us believe in the joy he is having while dancing. Mr. Szabó – with a very pleasant new “look” that is not only most becoming but gave him a very distinguished aspect: longer, straight hair, combed to the back. Both gave very strong performances – even though I missed a little bit more of demi-plié in Mr. Szabó’s performance in order to equalize his (already very good) jumps to Mr. Kimoto’s.

What a pleasure to witness again lovely Gloria Maass as “the white Lady”. Wearing not only the most beautiful costume of the evening but also that inimitable grace and poise that is so natural to her, she simply "enchants"!
I do salute Mr. Legris’ decision of using the unique talents of this beautiful dancer again in this production.

Jakob Feyferlik: how can he do it? Every time I presence him onstage he seems to have grown more as an artist. Sometimes in just a question of a few weeks. Clean technique, very comfortable with his own “persona” onstage, Mr. Feyferlik is capturing more and more the audience’s attention. A brilliant future lies ahead of him.

Copyright: Wiener Staatsoper/ Michael Pöhn

Davide Dato – one of the Opera’s biggest and most gifted talents – gave once more a performance (as Abderachman) so filled with magnetism and exactitude that the audience was ecstatic. From beginning to end, every time he entered the stage this “thing” called magic happened again… and the rapport that he creates with the audience belongs to those moments that are turning more and more rare to witness. Great technique as a tool to artistry. Not great technique for the sake of great technique.

Copyright: Wiener Staatsoper/ Michael Pöhn

Last but not least Miss Nina Poláková. After yesterday’s performance one could really understand why she may be the logic choice to portray Raymonda. Even with the “obstacles” created by Mr. Nureyev, she was at complete ease with herself and gave an electric performance filled with power and delicacy at the same time. Miss Poláková does not forget for a single moment the character she is playing. She becomes completely the role. An artist. Even if the choreography requires many times lots of unnecessary complications – but I have already written about that.

It would be too much to extend these "thoughts" and mention every single dance from the corps de Ballet - many of them very gifted demi-soloists - but this time I feel like thanking the whole cast for such a professional and special "delivery" onstage yesterday. Chapeau!

Copyright: Balázs Delbó

sexta-feira, 9 de dezembro de 2016

The Maids (Les Bonnes): Glenda Jackson e Susannah York, atrizes... duas sacerdotisas num templo...

Revi faz pouco um video muito antigo que imortalizei imediatamente como DVD.

As empregadas Solange e Claire constroem elaborados, loucos rituais sado-masoquistas enquanto sua patroa está fora de casa.

Elas colocam claramente para o público que se concentram no assassinado de “Madame”.
Elas se alternam, neste delirante jogo, nos papéis de empregada e “Madame”…

Brilhantemente interpretado por grandes atrizes “daquele momento” (1974) este filme foi lançado em 1975. A inteligente direção de Christopher Miles é algo único e singular: antes desta filmagem para o (“arquivo” do) American Film Theatre as tres atrizes principais (Vivien Merchant é “Madame”) trabalharam juntas no palco do Greenwich Theatre (Londres) dando vida aos mesmos personagens.

Mr. Miles coreografou e planejou minuciosamente esta versão: num curto período de 12 dias e com uma única camera que poderia entrar em qualquer parte dos cenários – e que as vezes ficava completamente estática – ele implementou muitas notas teatrais do próprio Genet ( que ainda estava vivo na época) à linguagem cinematográfica.

O resultado é magnífico.
Uma obra de arte quase “home-made”.
Fotogramas que fazem do Cinema um templo.
Arte de primeira qualidade.
Um tour-de-force, quase um duelo artístico entre duas dotadas Atrizes (o A maiúsculo não é pura casualidade), sacerdotisas da Arte.

Altamente recomendável!

The Maids (Les Bonnes) filme britanico de 1975 British.
Direção: Christopher Miles
Baseado na peça homonima de Jean Genet.
Com (as magníficas, maravilhosas, endiabradas) Glenda Jackson/Solange (que hoje em dia é política), Susannah York/Claire– uma de minhas atrizes preferidas que infelizmente já nos deixou (Alguém se lembra de York em “They shoot Horses, don’t they?), Vivien Merchant como Madame e Mark Burns como Monsieur.

P.S. Há poucos anos Cate Blanchett e Isabelle Huppert apareceram também nos palcos nova-yorkinos na mesma peça…
Imaginem só…
Um outro duelo artístico, com certeza.

quinta-feira, 3 de novembro de 2016

Wiener Staatsballet November 1st, 2016: „Balanchine / Liang / Proietto“ – Premiére

The evening started in a very positive way:

just before the performance started, there was a short conference in which Edwaard Liang and Daniel Proietto spoke not only about their works but also about their point of views on dance.
Mr. Liang finished this short introduction with very beautiful and touching words about dancers and choreographers and dance:
“We want to change things” as he mentioned how the beauty of art can change things within a human being…

These coud not have been more appropriate words to start an evening like this.

Excitement was in the air – I met some dear friends and we were in total rapport, feeling something in common: happiness and joy in being able to witness again something new.
Yes, excitement. Pure excitement.

The programme opened with Balanchine’s “Simphony in C”.
As I normally say: “Mr. B. is Mr. B.”. A commentary which may not make sense first but I am always reffering to his quick, tricky and unique style.
Coming from times in which dancers from the ABT not even dared to think about dancing what their colleagues at the NYC Ballet were doing,"just across the road",
I am still very impressed that so many companies around the world have included Balanchine’s works in their repertoire.
And quite well, I must say. Vienna is no exception.

It is not easy, as we used to say, not to look like a wire-hanger while staying still on stage – especially in the second and last movements.
Gala Jovanovic mastered this very tricky situation beautifully. Chapeau!

Natascha Mair. Copyright: Ashley Taylor

There were some “tempo problems”: specially during the lifts – the main soloists were slight out of synchronization with the “second couples” – but the music is so quick anyhow!
Natascha Mair and Jakob Feyrerlik are a beautiful pair on stage: she very much “on Mr. B's style”, he, growing so fast as an artist. A joy to watch this from performance to performance.

Liudmila Konovalova / Vladimir Shishov. Copyright: Ashley Taylor

Liudmila Konovalova and Vladimir Shishov, with the piece I consider the hardest in “Symphony”: very demanding but quite ungrateful. The sort of pas de deux which will not cause an standing ovation – except for connoisseurs. Both gave a wonderful portratit of what real artists are made of!

Nina Tonoli, charming and Denys Cherevychko – jumping better than ever.
Nina Tonoli / Denys Chrevychko. Copyright: Ashley Taylor

Last but not least: Alice Firenze – technically VERY exact and cofident. Beautiful. A fine dancer.
Robert Gabdulin showing as usual a beautiful presence on stage.
Notable members of the corps de ballet – good to watch closely dancers like Franziska Wallner-Hollinek, Suzan Oppermann and to welcome back lovely Céline Janou Weder.
This season is being quite difficult: injuries, pregnancies. “Chapeau” to the four very young girls – still at school – that jumped in!

Murmuration is a beautiful piece. Perhaps not for Ballet-only spectators. But a joy to watch…

Because of that the second intermission was extremely interesting: I followed many interesting discussions.

Exactly what Mr. Liang had said before the performance, started happening within the spectators: choreographers, dancers want to change things.

Many were taking a deep breath, trying either to understand or not to judge to hard or even willing to change their points of view.
This “discussing” art in a sensible way, this exchange of opinions and ideas has a very good name in Portuguese and Spanish: “Tertúlias”.
Perhaps you know this name from somewhere :-)
These are gatherings of different persons with different opinions that discuss and philosophize about art aspects, respecting each other - even when they do no share the same opinion.
I like that.

Even though at the very beginning I was not quite sure what to make out of it, this work conquered me and set me into a sort of dream.

The dancers were surely chosen with much care and accuracy: Ioanna Avraam, Mr. Feyferlik, Miss Ledán, Miss Firenze, Leonardo Basílio (that, all of a sudden is giving a new reading of his own persona – very confident on stage!).

Nina Poláková / Roman Lazik. Copyright: Ashley Taylor

The main pas de deux (Nina Poláková and Roman Lazik) is – to my point of view a bit too long and repetitious. I would like to point that Mr. Lazik surprised me in a very positive way yesterday.
A very good partner on whom his partners may really relly upon.
Miss Poláková – always “fire and emotions” on stage.
Especial distinction for Igor Milos and Zsolt Török in the “boys’ group”. Strong performances.

Blanc – the piece that everyone was waiting for…

I was thrilled by its conceptual complexity.
Apart from Daniel Proietto’s “relaunch” of a certain dance feeling (and way) that he considers somehow lost,
there is much more to this piece.

He said: Fokin’s “Les Sylphides” was an homage to “La Sylphide”. Therefore Blanc is an homage to the homage”.

Delicacy and, to quote Jane Austen, “sense and sensibility”.
Poetry… (I personally think that the use of the original English text would have been better – Mr. Rupp was sometime hard to understand…
and let’s be honest: how many vistors from abroad do we have at the Opera that do not understand a single word of german ?).
But the idea itself – to have “poetry” on stage, not only in the form of dancing, is beautiful.

Some people say that the "poet" was not necessary - appart from the fact that we must respect his concept, we must admit that not every Opera House has such dancers as Miss Papava and Mr.Peçi.

The scenery and lights were prodigiously good.

Most of all I was impressed, at the very end – when the poet meets his muse, now in reality, now as the woman she is.

As the “meadow’s set” appeared, or better said, as it was opend in fornt of us, I thought of some Hollywood magic from the 30’s…
It reminded me, somehow, the colours of “The wizard of Oz” - the flower fields in front of the Emerald City.

As if the piece was telling us that reality is even more magical and colourful than a dream... Beautiful!

Natascha Mair / Davide Dato. Copyright Ashley Taylor.

In fact, if you think about the “negatives” (which in fact on the very day of the premiére had to be changed from a quartet into a trio)
that coud make sense. Lots of sense.

The “negatives” – what a great metaphor, were danced exquisitely by Natascha Mair, Davide Dato and Masayu Kimoto.

My only, not very favorable, comment is to the use of the “negative film” in the background:
As long as landscapes, woods in fact, were being shown it was all right.
But the use of a man’s face (was this the poet?) was a little bit too much for me.
It gave me the feeling that the mise-en-scène was trying to explain itself.
Like saying: “See? The dancers are black and have white hair because they are “negatives”… “. Not really necessary.
Good sense and understanding are a "Conditio Sinequanon" for Ballet-goers
(Although I must admit that - from my seat - I could follow some reactions in the boxes and faces that made me quite sure that some people in the audience were not quite understanding what they were watching).

Ketevan Papava / Eno Peçi. Copyright Ashley Taylor

Ketevan Papava end Eno Peçi leaded the piece gracefully – both dancers are also extremely gifted in their acting skills – always portraying with a kaleidoscope of emotions the parts, roles they are involved with. Expressive, emotional, professional. Artists and stars of the first magnitude.

My congratulations – not only to Mr. Proietto for this intelliegnt piece but to the whole company for such an evening. Great job!

And once more to Mr. Legris for trying new things. New grounds, new challenges - and giving chances to a new generation of choreographers.

Merci, Manuel.

Copyright: Balázs Delbó / Wiener Staatsoper / Wiener Staatsballet

sábado, 29 de outubro de 2016

My Gheisha...

Uma curta „introdução“ `a esta Tertúlia…

Da Wikipedia:

Gueixa (芸者?), Geiko (芸子?) ou Gueigi (芸妓?) são mulheres japonesas que estudam a tradição milenar da arte, dança e canto, e se caracterizam distintamente pelos trajes e maquiagem tradicionais. Contrariamente à opinião popular, as gueixas não são um equivalente oriental da prostituta; esse é um equívoco, originado no Ocidente, principalmente pela vestimenta das prostitutas tradicionais ter traços similares aos da cultura gueixa.

No Japão, a condição de gueixa é cultural, simbólica e repleta de status, delicadeza e tradição. Ao longo dos séculos, esse contexto foi desenvolvido pelo aperfeiçoamento da técnica dessas artes e pela estrutura rígida necessária para se tornar uma gueixa e permanecer como tal.

Alguns dizem que as gueixas habitam uma realidade separada, que eles chamam de karyūkai ou "a flor e mundo de salgueiro".

Tradicionalmente, a gueixa começaria seu treinamento em uma idade muito jovem, as vezes aos 3 ou 5 anos, mas a idade média era aos nove anos de idade. Isso não era uma prática comum nos distritos respeitáveis e desapareceu na década de 1950 com a proibição do trabalho infantil. Algumas meninas estavam ligadas às casas de gueixas (okyia) como filhas. Essas meninas ficaram conhecidas como hangyoku. Filhas de gueixas eram frequentemente criadas como gueixa, normalmente como uma sucessora (atotori, que significa "herdeiro" ou "herdeira" nesta situação particular) ou tendo papel de filha (musume-bun) para a okiya.

Elas dão continuidade a seu estudo da música e dança ao longo de suas vidas. Elas podem trabalhar até seus oitenta e noventa anos e praticam todos os dias, mesmo após setenta anos de experiência. 

Algumas gueixas não só dançam e tocam música, mas também são escritoras, fazendo poemas melancólicos. E outras pintam imagens ou compõem música.

Revendo o filme “My gheisha” com Shirley MacLaine e me deliciando com um trabalho dela que foi praticamente esquecido, fiquei mais uma vez intrigado com sua “transformação” para às cameras… que deve ter sido muito desconfortável…

Atriz de uma versatilidade extrema, ela se encontrava num período muito frutífero de sua carreira…

Tinha feito há pouco, entre outros vários papéis, “Simone Pistache” em “Can-Can” (bailando desenfreiadamente), a ascensorista em “The Appartment” (“Se meu apartamento falasse”) e a trágica Martha, que se suicida em “The children’s hour” (“Infamia), assumindo em “My Gheisha” o papel duplo de Lucy Dell / Yoko Mori como mais um desafio…

Maravilhosa MacLaine…

P.S. All pictures found in the internet. I owe no copyrights to these pictures.

sábado, 22 de outubro de 2016

Duška Sifnios (1934 - 2016)

Duška Sifnios

(Skopje, October 15th 1934, Brussels October 14th 2016)

My admiration and respect – FOREVER – to this beautiful Lady that created with Bejárt the “table role” of his “Boléro”.

An amazing dancer!

During the seventies I remember watching the whole "Boléro", with her and the Ballet de XXiéme Siécle, at a film exhibition promoted by the culture departmment of the belgium Consulate in Rio de Janeiro.

Her husband, André Vandernoot, conducted this beautiful live performance from 1961!

Does anyone know where a copy of this masterpiece could be found?
Such a lost treasure...

P.S. October 24th...
Her son, Patrick Vandernoot, has just sent the Bolero-video to me... such kindness!