domingo, 11 de junho de 2017

Final / End

Caros amigos,

Obrigado pelos anos acompanhando meu trabalho mas...

... as "Tertúlias" chegaram ao final... o formato ficou antiqado, passée...
E como tudo na vida, uma mudanca é necessitada!

Acompanhem-me no futuro na plataforma internacional

www.attitude-devant.com

Tenho muitas estórias para contar para voce sobre ballet!

Ricardo

________________________________________________________________________

Dear Friends,

many Thanks for all the years following my work but...

... the "Tertúlias" are going to be finished... the format is outdated, passée...
And everything in life, a change is needed!

Follow me in the future on the international platform

www.attitude-devant.com

I have many stories to tell you about Ballet!

Ricardo



quarta-feira, 7 de junho de 2017

quinta-feira, 18 de maio de 2017

quarta-feira, 10 de maio de 2017

Wiener Staatsballet: May 09th, 2017, Season 2017/18, Press Conference.


Another season, another reason: Wiener Staatsballet, Season 2017/18


As the old song says: “Another season, another reason, for making Whoopee!”

Even if thousands of people have discussed this “Whoopee” (always “philosophizing” about its meaning), I am sure of a positive touch about it – and this sounds good, according to today’s press conference at the Opera that predicted a marvelous 2017/18 season – and a very carefully planned one too.

But before jumping into next year, here some “News” that are still going to take place during this season (that was not easy one due to the many pregnancies in the company – but on the other side, as reported, dancers like Liudmila Konovalova, Nina Polakova, Ioana Avraam and Maria Yakovleva got a chance to dance more):

The many casts for the upcoming “Swan Lake” are not only a logistic challenge but will also give some dancers the long awaited opportunity to make a debút on “Lake”. Robert Gabdullin, Jakob Feyferlik, Masayu Kimoto and Leonard Basílio will have their chance to play Prince Siegfried. On May 14th and 17th Semyon Chudin and Olga Smirnova (both from The Bolshoi) will play the leading roles. On June 4th other World Stars (this time from the Royal Ballet) will take over the roles of Siegfried and Odette/Odille: the gifted Vadim Muntagirov and magical Marianela Nuñez.


The Nureyev Gala on June 29th will be once more the “highlight” of the Season: a wonderful programme which includes, among many others, “Spartacus Pas de Deux” with Maria Shirinkina and Vladimir Shklyarov from the “Bayerisches Staatsbalet” (whom I recently had the opportunity to witness on stage in Munich), “Magnificat” (John Neumeier), that was in fact created for Sylvie Guillem and Manuel Legris, “Stars and Stripes” (Balanchine), “Solo” (Hans van Manen), “In the middle, somewhat elevated” (Forsythe) with the future principal of the “Ballet Zürich”, Elena Vostrotina and Vladimir Shishov, Balanchine’s “Tchaikovsky pas de deux” with Ludmilla Pagliero (Etoíle from National Opera de Paris) and Denys Cherevychko and “With a chance of rain” by Liam Scarlett (the same choreographer that did the “hit” “Frankenstein”).

Monsieur Legris talked about his participation as a member of the jury at the “Prix Benois de Danse” to which Wiener Staatsballet’s principal dancer Davide Dato was also nominated, the upcoming planed tounées to China and Japan as well the new DVD of “Don Quixote” that shall be released next autumn, about four new dancers joining the company: Andrés Garcia-Torres (up to now at the Volksoper) and three other (male) dancers, respectively from Italy, America and Belgium and about two Demi-Soloists leaving the company: Dagmar Kronberger that decided not to come back after getting her second baby and Greig Matthews that is joining the Joffrey Ballet.


Mrs. Mag. Simone Wohinz, commercial director of the Wiener Staatsballet, informed us about interesting facts and figures: The Ballet had 57 performances at the State Opera and 34 in the “Volksoper”. Around 150.000 viewers visited the performances (plus 7.150 in Madrid, during the Tournée at the Teatro Real, in which 5 sold-out performances of Legri’s “Le Corsaire” were shown to Spanish audiences).
At the moment (44 performances up to now) at State Opera, the average seat occupancy is by 97,39% - in fact a peak figure when compared to international standards.

Mrs. Simona Noja-Nebyla, Managing Director of the Ballet Academy from the Vienna State Opera, delighted us all with all her energy and enthusiasm about the school, its team and pupils. 130 students from 22 different countries that are willing to dance and will have performed in 167 pieces by the end of the season. This means that they perform an average of 16 pieces a month (in a ten month-period) and that is an enormous accomplishment!

Manuel Legris resumed the conference giving the “news” for the 2017/18 Season:

A very “British evening” with MacMillan’s “Concerto”, McGregor’s “Eden” and the very special, lovely, passionate and romantic piece “Marguerite and Armand” created in 1963 especially for Fonteyn and Nureyev by Sir Frederick Ashton. This was in fact the first Ballet ever to be created to both. And how fitting that Monsieur Legris decided to use in it, exactly in the year in which Nureyev, if he'd still be among us, would have turned 80 years old.

“Peer Gynt” by Edward Clug, a full length contemporary work will have its Première on January 21st. Back to the repertoire are “Giselle” (which has not been performed in the Opera since 2011), “Nutcracker”, the “very round” programme “Balanchine/Liang/Proietto”, “Raymonda” (“Hopefully also with Olga Esina this time”, concluded Mr. Legris) and “Balanchine/Neumeier/Robbins” which will bring back the “beloved” Robbins’ “The Concert” (or “The perils of everybody”) – Surely a special homage to Jeromme Robbins’ 100th Birthday.

At the Volksoper Davide Bombana’s “Roméo et Juliette” with Berlioz’ music that, if I am not mistaken, was just used by Maurice Béjart until now. Back, to audience’s delight: Jorma Elo’s “A Summernight’s dream”and Patrick de Bana’s “Marie Antoinette” among others.


And of course “The Nureyev Gala 2018” that – as Monsieur Legris emphatically put it - will have to “top” this year’s Gala in honour of Rudolf Nureyev’s 80th Birthday: something not so easy to do due to the already known very high standards with which he has been “pampering and coddling” Vienna’s audiences during the last seasons…

But I am positive that he’ll surpass himself, as usual!

Yes, an extremely promising year: “another season, another reason… for making Whoopee!”

domingo, 7 de maio de 2017

Wiener Staatsballet: May 5th, 2017, “Giselle Rouge” - revisited


This time I am not going to write about the piece itself and the ensemble, as I have done this twice before; the last time just on April 6th past (see my last review). I am going to write just about two dancers.

Yes, this “Giselle Rouge”, the last one of the season by the way, was for me “the icing on the cake” on a long run of different interpretations during the past two years.


Alexis Forabosco, one of the most expressive dancers in the Wiener Staatsballet, gave life to “The Comissioner”. I use the wording “gave life” on purpose because that is really what happened on stage last May 5th. Very far away from an interpretation that would only leave place to brutality, violence and meanness, Mr. Forabosco really gave life to a character that was far more calculating in a sort of Machiavellian way. And perhaps because of this psychological contemplation, much more frightening – and therefore human. Mr. Forabosco and his personality and great presence on stage – better put it this way: he “fills” the stage – supported by a great dynamic, great jumps, technical precision and very masculine identity – are simply what this role asks for. A dancer is his very best years. Maturity and youth at the same time. Definitely.


Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet/ Ashley Taylor

Ioanna Avraam was for me the perfect “Ballerina” (Olga Spessivtesva), tormented by her passions, destiny… not being quite able to cope with it.
Miss Avraam gave a very strong reading of this role and of the tragedy included in it. Not afraid of not “looking at her best”. Her Olga when compared in scenes in which she is thrown on the floor like a parcel to scenes in which she exceeds in elegance are simply amazing.

A very fine and gifted dancer, Miss Avraam is an incredibly precious asset to the ensemble of the Wiener Staatsballet.
Surely one of Manuel Legris’ best decisions ever was to turn her into a soloist.

Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet/ Ashley Taylor

Possessing an exquisite technique: beautiful extensions – but never “over extended” in a vulgar way- that turn into amazing Développés, magical pas-de-bourrés (YES!) and those wonderful, sensitive, fragile looking arms and hands (for me still THE factor in recognizing a great dancer) she, once more, made me aware of her talent. And how I enjoy witnessing real talent on stage. A dancer that really uses her technique as a TOOL on stage and not as the main “drive” to perform a part. All this added to her Mediterranean way of “feeling a tragedy” and portraying it in a very smooth, human, nearly touchable way made her interpretation an unique one. As Jane Fonda once said about Meryl Streep during a gala performance: She was right there. Yes, Miss Avraam was right there. Her emotions, her presence, her intelligence as a dancer.

Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet / Ashley Taylor

The chemistry between Mr. Forabosco and Miss Avraam was perfect. In a stage relation that might lead to overdoing the roles, they gave the audience just the right portion of feelings and emotions. And everything was there: the sexuality of the Comissioner and the sex dominance he exercised over Olga and her submission to him… and the mad Olga. So sad..

Great interpretations in this last “Giselle Rouge” of the season. I am glad I watched THIS show.

sexta-feira, 14 de abril de 2017

Happy Easter everyone: on the fifth Avenue with Judy and Fred!


In your easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You'll be the grandest fellow in the easter parade.
I'll be all in clover and when they look us over,
We'll be the proudest couple in the easter parade.
On the avenue, fifth avenue, the photographers will snap us,
And you'll find that you're in the rotogravure.
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your easter bonnet,
And of the guy I'm taking to the easter parade.

quinta-feira, 13 de abril de 2017

Wiener Staatsoper: a talk with Igor Zapravdin

A talk with Igor Zapravdin: April 5th, 2017



Astrologically speaking, what you make of yourself is a “10th house matter”.

The 10th house describes your career, your public reputation, your worldly status. It suggests your optimum contribution to society, the qualities for which you'd like to be admired and respected.

People who have their “sun” in the 10th house are blessed with so much awareness that when they enter a room every single person turns in their direction. This has to be the case with Igor Zapravdin.


At the precise moment when he entered the Café, in which our interview was going to take place, he became the center of attention, in an almost ferocious but natural, uncomplicated way at the same time.

After shaking hands and exchanging a warm embrace, we sat down to “talk”. Oh, I do love talking to genius. I do love talking to people with broad experience and deep knowledge of their “métier”. It has been a long time since I realized that in order to go further, one has to ask questions. Many questions. Even if you feel that may be “silly”. When I think back at all people I have met, I sometimes think: why didn't I ask more? Why didn't I ask them to dinner so we could talk more? It is really a long time since I stopped being shy about asking too much. And I am glad about that! As Jane Fonda once said “It is so much better to be interested than interesting... “.


Igor Zapravdin was born in Sevastopol (Crimea) and started his musical studies at the early age of 6. When I asked him if he had ever also been to ballet classes he answered immediately “Of course, during my times in music school I also went to ballet classes... for about 6 years!”
That made it all clear to me – this unique understanding of ballet and of the needs of the ballet teacher. This unique feeling for tempo. “There must be a total feeling for the person you are working with. Class is a holly place. Respect and understanding are required. Albert (Mirzoyan) knows what he needs. I give it to him – But this understanding comes with time... We have been working together for so many years!”.

Mr. Zapravdin has been working since 1992 at the Vienna State Opera.

“I am a ballet pianist – you see, a ballet pianist can be a concert pianist but a concert pianist is not a ballet pianist!” he continued, “ There are three extremely important things: the ballet repertoire – even of unimportant pieces, capacity of improvisation and the knowledge of ballet technique itself! Without these three vital things, you cannot be a ballet pianist!”

Talking to him and concentrating on writing down every single important information is not an easy thing. He is quick, pin-pointed to the last details about his work and “his soul overflows with excitement” while he is talking. Talking about the things he loves most!

“Mr. Zapravdin, you have done a great work with the musical arrangements of “Le Corsaire”... “ I started to say. “Yes, that had to be done... You see, the score from “Le Corsaire” has not the musical quality of a “Giselle”. There were so many pieces that were added to it through the years. Music from eleven composers! I have reduced them to 5!”

“Which is your favourite com... ?“ Before I could finish my sentence he answered “Riccardo Drigo”, his eyes shining with delight a the very mention of his favourite composer.

A man of great stamina, Mr. Zapravdin has been working on extra projects that include a Gala in Luxembourg on May 20th & 21st (with Vladimir Malakhov, Lucia Lacarra, Marlon Dino, Eno Peci & Natascha Kusch among others), which unfortunately I will not be able to attend and his own 25 year Jubilee at the State Opera which will take place on October 29th at the Volkstheater, which I will surely attend to.


But that is the thing about Mr. Zapravdin his total dedication and love to a profession that found him. Yes, I do believe that artists do not look for their profession. They are chosen by it! And this the fascinating thing. I could still be sitting there, listening to the wisdom of this learned gentlemen! I am looking forward to learning more from him and from his infinite cultural baggage!

Many thanks!

Some facts about Mr. Zapravdin:

After attending music and Ballet school, Mr. Zapravdin continued his studies and graduated for composition and classical piano from the Academic Music College under the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory and Moscow State Pedagogical University. In Moscow he worked as a repetiteur in many different theatres such as “Stanislavskiy”, “ Nemirovich Danchenko Musical Theatre”, “The Musical Theatre for children” (Natalija Sac) and the “Russian State Ballet Theatre” under the direction of V.Gordeev.

Since 1992 he has been working at the “Vienna State Opera” as a Soloist and Ballet pianist. He has been in many productions as a Concert Pianist for Ballet productions, accompanying the Vienna State Opera on tournées to Luxembourg, Tokyo and Monte Carlo. Zapravdin has played in Russia, Austria, Paris, Varna, Budapest, Tokyo, South Korea, Luxembourg and Brazil.
He is the music director of the Nureyev-Gala in Kazan (Russia) and of the Fanny Elssler gala which takes him to play at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. He also collaborated with the cellist and Orchestra Conductor Mstislav Rostropovich.



He has edited the musical arrangements of “La Bayadére”, “The Ice Queen” and from the “pas de six” from “Laurencia”. He has also published music CDs for Ballet lessons focused on the least known classical repertoire.

domingo, 9 de abril de 2017

Wiener Staatsballet: April 6th, 2017, "Giselle rouge" - revisited.


When I heard that Robert Gabdullin was in the revival of „Giselle rouge” as “the partner” (Serge Lifar), I felt very tempted to watch this show again.


Adding to my curiosity was the “new cast”: Nina Poláková as “the ballerina” (Olga Alexandrovna Spessivtseva), James Stephens as “the friend” (Serge Lifar’s lover) and the fact that on April 6th Vladimir Shishov would be playing the police inspector (Olga’s mad, sexual, insane love affair).

Copyright: Ashley Taylor/ Wiener Staatsballet.

But I had decided not to concentrate only on the main characters (like during the last times I was in the audience watching this wonderful piece) but on the corps-de-ballet. I always have the feeling that Boris Eifman’s work is constructed through “bridges” – those lead us from one “group scene” to the next letting the main characters play “in between” – but never letting us forget that the whole environment around those is the explanation of their behavior. Their “Alibi” to put it plainly. Think of hos “Ana Karenina” for example…


Copyright: Ashley Taylor / Wiener Staatsballet.

Of course I could not do “just” that – I mean, not concentrate on the main characters. There was a lot of emotion and art’s “finesse” going on the stage of the Volksoper last night.

First of all it must be said that Andreas Schüller conducting skills are much more than you can expect at this house. Brilliant. “Giselle rouge” covers a wide range from Tchaikowsky to Adam, from Schnittke to Bizet and than from popular music (Yes, sir that’s my baby) back to Tchaikowsky and Adam back again… amazing!

Kamil Pavelka gave us a god portrait of the “teacher” – not so dramatic like Peci’s portrayal but extremely human, believable, honest. I liked this understatement. Daring and very effectfull.

James Stephen’s “friend” was good and correct. Somehow a little bit tense for me. I admire this dancer’s clean technique and long arms and legs, which will surely be a kind of asset in his future life.

Copyright: Ashley Taylor / Wiener Staatsballet

Robert Gabdullin gave another “reading” of “Serge Lifar”: not so affected like the ones I had seen before. He made us believe in Serge’s “duality”, “ambiguity” and (in his way) “honest” feelings for Olga. He was also a man of flesh and blood. Needless to say that Mr. Gabdullin’s presence on stage is growing stronger and stronger every day. An artist. Sensibility is the key word.

Copyright: Ashley Taylor / Wiener Staatsballet

Vladimir Shishov feeling “at home” in his role as the “Inspector”. Impressive. This was the first time I have seen him in this role. And it was extremely threatening. I felt afraid sometimes… Just after a few seconds on stage – in his first intense “meeting” with Olga –he lifts her and holds her with one arm two and half meters above the stage. At this he showed her (and us) who was “the boss ‘round here”. Mr. Shishov’s presence on stage has always been a great one. He usually dominates the whole house. But this police inspector is surely a “notch above”. Not only a perfect partner but exploding within himself in a craze of feelings. Applause.

Copyright: Ashley Taylor / Wiener Staatsballet

Nina Poláková’s Olga is a very special creation. Miss Poláková, a prima ballerina at the height of her career, presented the audience with such a fine performance and this is not easy to put into words… I am not discussing technique – this “tool” she is in complete command of – but about the emotional aspects of an artist’s performance. In an awesome way she gave an extremely pin-pointed performance. Growing up, being abused, leaving her country and an abusive relationship, finding no love, falling into despair, becoming mad…

For the first time ever I was really touched when she was put into the straight jacket in order to leave the stage during “Giselle”. The once “beautiful Olga” turns into the “mad Olga”. An amazing performance. I like to honour talent.
Tonight, after the performance – I almost never do this anymore – I HAD to wait for Miss Poláková to salute her.
And congratulate her for waking so many emotions!
Such an emotional portrait!

But I do not wish to finish this critic before mentioning the corps-de-ballet. As I have written before – I have paid much more attention to those bridges and began more and fascinated by them. All group scenes are fantastic – and require sometimes quite quick costume changes. I congratulate the corps-de-ballet for such an exquisite, finely rehearsed, precise performance… Bravo Elena Bottaro, Gala Jovanovic, Eszter Ledán, Anita Manolova, Laura Nistor, Alaia Rogers, Francesco Costa, Marat Davletshin (great posture), Marian Furnica, Igor Milos, Dumitru Tiran, Jaimy van Overeem to name just a few…

Great evening!

quinta-feira, 23 de março de 2017

Wiener Staatsballet: March 22nd, 2017. "Onegin" revisited.


For me Onegin is and always will be one the most sensitive works ever made for ballet. It may sound ridiculous – due to the fact that it is based on Pushkin’s lyrical work – but it is pure poetry... Poetry perfectly translated into ballet by John Cranko, for me until today one of the great genius of last century’s ballet – his work will live forever: I always begin, all over again, to admire immensely his “pas de deux solutions” and group scenes, as if I had never seen them before. And his personal way of building the characters into dance and into the story-telling… more to that a little bit later.

Maria Yakovleva/Roman Lazik: Copyright Wiener Staatsoper/ Ashley Taylor

I was very pleased with the Corps-de-Ballet. Last time I had seen this production I thought that a lot of the precision Cranko put in his work was missing and lots of work should be done: directions, heads and – mostly – arms… that single precision that this South-African brought to life... But yesterday’s performance showed that the company has been working very hard on “style & precision”. And that made me glad! Very glad indeed! So many new faces in the company, which I am not able to distinguish from each other or, better put it this way, faces to which I cannot yet add a name to. I have to write about the ones nobody ever writes about – I have space enough, here on this online platform – and I do not have to reduce my reviews to a few sentences...

Wonderful work by Elena Bottaro (always a joy to look at!), Suzan Opperman, Céline Janou Weder (both such “pros”) and Alaia Rogers (who gave us a beautiful and precise “mirror reflection” of Tatjana – showing through her face all the thoughts, doubts and feelings of the main character! No an easy task). But we all agree that we would love to have a mirror reflection just like Miss Roger's face!

The same applies to the boys – growing very strongly as a group, in complete “unison” with each other.
I have the feeling that between male dancers there are not so many “new faces” and I’d like to mention the names on which an audience can always “rely on” (and put “their feet up and relax because of the good work): Marat Davletshin, Marcin Demp, Alexis Forabosco (that will dance Gremin soon… I guess I’ll have to return to the Opera sooner than I thought!), Igor Milos, Tristan Ridel, James Stephens, Dumitru Taran, Zsolt Törok, Jaimy van Overeem and Géraud Wielick. Dancers you can really rely on. I do not remember – in all years I have been in Vienna, well... decades in fact, following Ballet here in Vienna – to have witnessed a moment in which the male dancers from the Corps-de-Ballet (many half soloists within the names I have mentioned) were so strong together. I like that! Awesome!

Nikisha Fogo, giving her début as Olga, gave a good performance – even though she must have been a bit nervous. But just as the curtain opened I felt that she “had the role” under control: in the scene in which she is doing some embroidery with her mother and foster mother, she was not doing affected movements as a dancer but really putting her strength in the fun of the movement without “pretending”. Sawing... She really was doing her embroidery. Her pas de deux with Lenski was the first “catchy” moment of the evening. Still, there is still some work to be done on this couple's "chemistry". But I am sure they will find it!

Nikisha Fogo/Davide Dato: copyright Wiener Staatsoper/Ashley Taylor.

Davide Dato who hasn’t stopped to delight his audiences – since 6 years (I just found a review that I wrote 5 years ago, in which I said “I am sure that we will be hearing from Mr. Dato very much in the future – I could not have been more right!) is at top form. But I always say this and he always gives performances that are “a notch above” the last one. Always “surpassing” the last performance. A gifted dancer and a very good actor. His Lenski is complete – down to the last details!

Davide Dato/Roman Lazik. Copyright: Wiener Staatsoper/Ashley Taylor.

For me the biggest “gift” of the evening was Alexandru (Sascha) Tcacenco as Gremin. I had never seen a Gremin that possessed such firmness and determination like this portrayal of the role. Dogmatic. Strong. After “decades” of watching Onegin I, at last, understood why Tatjana was so determined, in the last scene, in her way of sending Onegin away from her chambers. At last I understood the “bridge” that Cranko has thought of… the country girl that became the wife of an aristocrat learned also to “command” – because of his army-like behaviour… That is what I meant aat the beginning of this review. The line of story-telling and the way Cranko built his characters. But this was only possible because of Mr. Tcacenco’s performance. A dancer not only with a great stage presence but also with a great “insight” about the characters he’s playing, understanding them completely.


Alexandru Tcacenco/Maria Yakovleva: Copyright Wiener Staatsoper/Ashley Taylor

Maria Yakovleva and Roman Lazik were on their element.

Miss Yakovleva, looking beautifully frail, perhaps in the best role I have ever seen her in, gave us a sensitive portrayal of “haunted” Tatjana – down to the last details. Average audiences will not pay much attention to that – because THESE are no moments of “bravura” (and circus) onstage but, for example, her first “soliloquy” (bedroom scene) was a moment of pure art. The way she lies and moves in bed and then pretends to sleep while her foster mother enters the room, just to stand up a bit later to write on her desk… her thoughts and doubts and wishes symbolized by the mirror and the entrance of Onegin himself, in her dream. Miss Yakovleva delighted the audience – made us sometimes laugh, wonder and then cry… Her interpretation reminded me a lot of the character study that Marcia Haydée (the original Tatjana) did for her work. Insight. As a dancer and actress…
In fact, technique is not all, and those moments, in which the audience is simply “hypnotized” by such a touching performance are more worth than a trunk filled with diamonds and pearls - think about Cunegonde in "Candide".

Maria Yakovleva/Roman Lazik: Copyright Wiener Staatsoper/Ashley Taylor

Mr. Lazik – in the role of his life… that was my impression. And what else could I add to that? Not much. He knows all the dark sides of this character – but also, like he showed in the first act, his “dandy”, bored side. In a very well mastered interpretation, he turned Onegin, who in Russian literature would influence so many other Russian literary characters, into a real person. Flesh and blood. Onegin is a ballet that is not only perfect for him as a character but that also emphasizes his technique and his physique – long legs and very special arms.
A pure joy for Balletomanes – although sad, very sad: think about this quote that Pushkin wrote about Onegin's character: ““..depression still kept guard on him, and chased after him like a shadow - or like a faithful wife.” 

Onegin is a very “round” piece – a form I simply love – precise and compact. There are no “wasted moments”. Thank you, John Cranko!

segunda-feira, 13 de março de 2017

Bayerisches Staatsballet, March 10th, 2017: Spartacus

Bayerisches Staatsballet, 2017, March 10th: Spartacus

To be very honest I was sort of skeptical about visiting a performance of „Spartacus“(a ballet 100% associated with the Russian culture and a very peculiar feeling for aesthetics ) at the Bayerische Oper in Munich… but I could not have been more delighted after watching it!


I arrived a bit earlier than I wanted and had the time to visit the Opera.
Such a difference from Vienna: 95% Germans in comparison to the many tourists that visit the Opera in Vienna. I liked that!

I had a lovely seat on the 10th row and then remembered that there is no central aisle (I had not been there for a long time) – a fact of which I am not fond of… you see, I suffer a bit from claustrophobia and “to know” that I can get out from anywhere quite quickly is ALWAYS important for me.
The performance started.

With the exception of the “schmaltzy” pas de deux in the second act, which was used on Britain’s TV series “The Onedin line” in the 70’s and became a “no go” for me, I love Khachaturian’s music!

It was masterly conducted by Karen Durgaryan (like Khachaturian also an Armenian) and the first notes drove me back to Vienna 1982, the last time I had seen this work with Vasiliev and Bessmertnova, while I recalled that this was “just” 35 years ago.

Copyright: W.Hösl / Bayerisches Staatsballet

The girls in the corps-de-ballet impressed me in a certain way. Not very homogenous in looks, height and style but very strong technically – and with lots of stage presence.

Unfortunately I cannot say the same for the boys. Somehow I had the feeling that they were still in need of more rehearsal and more vitamin injections to play these roles more strongly: heads, arms, leg’s elevations and even musicality… all a bit uncoordinated, and definitely not exact.
But there is potential there, within this group of young men.
One dancer impressed me, a very gifted young Italian man called Stefano Maggiolo. I would like to see more of him on stage in the future.

Copyright: W.Hösl / Bayerisches Staatsballet

Vladimir Shklyavov was a great Spartacus. Of course one cannot make comparisons to “both” Vasilievs in this role – which requires unbelievable precision, stamina and, pardon me the expression, the strength of a horse. Mr. Shklyarov, a strong dancer, had the audience all the time “under control”. A very sensible dancer and an actor.

Copyright: W.Hösl / Bayerisches Staatsballet

His wife, Maria Shirinkina, played the role of Phrygia, a role that is, quite honestly, dramatically and choreographically much inferior to Aegina’s. But she was in control of it. Correct. I like when, nowadays, dancers do not use any kind of over extension as Miss Shirinkina, a dancer with a beautiful, clean technique, never does. Unfortunately the hairdo of Phrygia (and the other “slave” girls) is something that should have been changed since decades… I have been saying this for years!
It still reminds me of “Bond Street” in the "swinging sixties" – which may have been surely considered very “daring” in 1968's Russia and in Grigorovich’s choreopgraphy….

Copyright: Charles Tandy / Bayerisches Staatsballet

Erik Murzagaliev gave us a great, strong Crassus: a wonderful and very sensual dancer in full control of the role (and with a very clever hairdo that made me think of British actor Nicholas Clay in “The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian”) he played this half part of the couple that opposes Spartacus and Phrygia, with a certainness that is very rare on stage, especially on dancers that are so young. But I must say that his stamina left him a bit during the third act. I found out lately that Mr. Murzagaliev took the role of Crassus a while ago – his picture is not even printed in the program.
I think that Mr. Murzagaliev is a dancer from whom we might hear a lot of in the near future.

Copyright: Charles Tandy / Bayerisches Staatsballet

The Star of the night was Prisca Zeisel. And the audience also thought so (Well, Miss Shirinkina had the first bow, Miss Zeisel the second... that showed the audience how much more important her performance was...). She gave us a wonderful portrait of Aegina. All the very direct ways and reasons of this quite complicated (not only emotionally but also technically) character were given to us on a “silver plate”. Miss Zeisel and her eyes “that tell us much more than she wants to reveal” (like Bette Davis’) was turned into a mad courtesan, possessed by power, lust and the flesh. This is for me the most difficult role of the show – emotionally and technically…

I won't go into pirouettes, jumps, details... she has it all... just the tool for her arstistry...

Prisca Zeisel has turned into another “persona” on stage - and that is the important point about this very young lady– dominating it, in full command of a beautiful technique and chemistry, being in full charge of her role and controlling the audience.
Giving us just what she wanted to give us "right now", playing with artistry, nearly flirting with us.
Just that.
Just simple as that.
That "simple thing" that Jane Fonda once reffered to as "to make love to the audience".
But you have to be a talent to do “just that”!
Her eye contact with the public has much to do with it.
Enchanting.

By the way, Miss Zeisel was promoted to the rank of first soloists.
This is what I call a very well-deserved promotion!

Yes, I was very skeptical about this performance. But it was wonderful!
For me a production that is highly recommended!