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

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!

segunda-feira, 20 de fevereiro de 2017

Wiener Staatsballet: February 19th, Premiére "Le Pavillon d'Armide" & "Le Sacre"

A première is always exciting.

This one was not supposed to be really very exciting for me:
I am not really a great fan of Neumeier’s work and I had the seen the general rehearsal last Friday.
But still…
I was very surprised.


Le Pavillon d’Armide

Before I start writing about what I have witnessed last night, I will break a rule.
Well, rules are made to be broken, at least mine are… by me: I always write about the main roles at the very end of a review but this time I must start with the words MIHAIL SOSNOVSCHI BRILLIANT!

Yes and even this adjective is still not really expressing what we witnessed yesterday with his interpretation of the tortured Nijinsky's soul.
This evening will be remembered because of him.

We all know dancers that are good actors but Mr. Sosnovschi’s performance was just “a notch above that”.


All of a sudden I realized that tears were running down my face with his interpretation.
Emotions… who could ask for anything more?
At a sort of career “top moment” (the moment in which a person reaches maturity but is still young enough to perform) he gave us a very sensible portrait of a tortured soul. Mr. Sosnovschi, an intelligent dancer that uses technique just as a tool for his artistry, he faced without fears the technical difficulties of the role (am I right that I witnessed twice triple tour-en-lairs?) and concentrated more in the character, telling the audience a “story”, making us eager to learn more about it.
A very intelligent reading of Nijinky's personality and character. The highest peak of this evening.
I dedicate this review to this most touching performance. I am glad that I could take part on it! Thank you.

Viennese audiences may be a bit over challenged by a piece that requires so much information and knowledge about ballet:
in the mad scenes there are many references to the original Nijinsky’s choreographies of “Faun”, “Petrouschka” and “Sacre”. But does the audience realize this?
If someone does not understand which roles Romola and Sergey Diaghilew (strangely mentioned in the programme as “Serge”) played in Nijinsky’s life, they'll miss a lot of the plot.
If someone does not know who Tamara Karsavina and Alexandra Baldina were and what “la danse siamoise”, the one movement from the Ballet Suite “Les orientales” represented for Nijinsky’s own sexuality, they are in troube.
If someone is not informed about his bipolarity. Then they’ll have a problem watching this show.

Neumeier’s language in Pavillon (which I had never seen before) reminded me of the same “formula” that he used in his “Dame aux Camelias”.
In “Dame” he uses fictional characters (Manon and Des Grieux) in pas de trois (with Marguerite) and even pas de quatres (including Des Grieux).




In “Pavillon” he does not use only fictional characters like the dancer from “dance siamoise”
(majestically played by Davide Dato – a dancer that never stops to surprise me… the thrill of the sensuality of this dance shivered the whole audience. I had to be sure about that, so I looked up in the dictionary: Shiver: a shudder felt down one's back, due to either fear, anticipation, nervousness, or excitement)
and Armide, played very securely by Nina Polakova.


But also Nijinsky himself as a dancer (Denny Cherevychlo’s first entrance is a moment of pure poetry. Later he once more amazed the audience with his technique and stamina),
Tamara Karsavina (very well played “in the character” by Maria Yakovleva although a bit insecure technically),
Alexandra Baldina (danced with a certain emotional aloofness but with great technical certainty by Nina Tonoli),
Sergey Diaghliew (wonderfully danced and well interpreted by Roman Lazik, that also played the doctor - a fact that seems to have confused many people. A very sensible dancer).


Nijinky and Diaghilew the PDD: Perhaps the most beautiful and openly homoreotic pas de deux in Neumeier’s repertoire. The kiss that Diaghlew places in his hand and puts on Nijinsky’s lips is a moment of pure emotion.


In the “present” Nijinsky is in company oh his wife Romola, very dramatically played by the very sensible and talented Nina Polakova that not only wore the most elegant gown of the evening but displayed emotions on stage that are not so usual in dancing. A beautiful, touching performance!

Choreographically speaking I found the connections from Nijinsky at the present to Nijinsky as a dance pupil quite difficult to follow.
If you’d not know that this dancer (Richard Szabó) was supposed to be Nijinsky as a young boy, you would not understand it. Perhaps the very different looks of Mr. Szabó compared to the classical fairness of Mr. Sosnovschi don’t give us the hint. A matter of wrong casting. A younger dancer like Mr. Wielick, that looks much more alike to Mr. Sosnovchi, would have suited the role much better.

Another interesting point that reminded me extremely of “La dame aux camelias”: the walkers in the park… It is so interesting to follow the phases in a choreographer’s career and find the similarities in works that they have done within the same period of creativy.
More to that later.

Le Sacre,
is not one my favourite pieces. Having been choreographed in 1972 it has become “dated” with all those endless repetitions of queues and rows and endless “passing through” back and forth, between each other’s legs. Over and under each other. It is so “dated” in its resolutions (unlike Cranko’s pas de deux, for example) and not an easy piece to dance.
And I am glad that I had never to learn how to “count” the music (although I love it!).
It is really not a very comfortable piece for the dancers. Especially for the corps de Ballet. That is why I start this piece of my review (again breaking an own rule) by writing of my biggest admiration and respect to dancers like Suzan Oppermann, Alaia Rogers, Céline Janou Weder, Laura Nistor, Leonardo Basilio, Marcin Dempc, Marian Furnica, Greig Matthews, Tristan Ridel, Dumitru Taran, Alexandru Tcacenco, Zsolt Törok, Géraud Wielick and other members of the cast. This piece is harder to play than to do a “Jane Fonda’s aerobic class” of the 80’s!

For me personally there are no “main roles” in “Sacre”. Sometimes I think that the last solo (danced, by the way, beautifully and with the stamina of a bull by Rebecca Horner) was just an excuse to pick “a name” as a “marquee name” to attract audiences back in the 70's. I am glad that Miss Horner is getting such roles - not an easy dancer to cast - she is neither the lyrical nor the classical "on you toe type" Ballerina. Quite difficult to imagine her in more "formal" productions but she seems to exceed in such productions, like the two Neumeier's choreographies in which she has been casted in the last two last years. But they are, unfortunately, very selden in the Opera's repertoire.


Back to the solo (is she going to be sacrificed or is she killing herself? That was never, since the 70's, clear to me!): We cannot forget that we are talking about 1972 and Neumeier was not so known at those times (later that solo would even be played by a dancer that was complete naked, I think her name was Beatriz Cordua).
But, also here, these are athe similarities during a choreographer’s period, which I wrote about while commenting on “Pavillon” and “La Dame aux Camelias”. This endless display of “power”, the repetitious hard movement solutions, the constant strength required for this last solo (that amazes audiences) reminds me of the last “Wife’s solo” in "Joseph’s legend".
It has the same language line, except for the endless running.
Funny how choreographer’s stick to something for such a long while.
Although I sometimes thing that the “young choreographer’s vocabulary” (he was young at the time) was perhaps too short.
And this brings a sort of inarticulateness at the end of the creative process.


Nevertheless it was wonderful to witness once more the versatility of dancers that can do anything: Ioana Avraam, Alice Firenze and Eszter Ledan – wild, ferocious in fact, with their hair open, as well as the strength of Masayu Kimoto, Eno Peci and especially Francesco Costa, a young dancer that is turning into a very fine dancer – in such a short time.
A dancer with an extremely masculine presence and charisma on stage.

To add to all that we cannot leave unmentioned Michael Boder’s conducting. Always a pleasure.
A very enjoyable night.

All pictures, except Nijinsky's "Dance Siamoise": Copyright Ashley Taylor / Wiener Staatsballet. With my kindest Thanks.

quinta-feira, 26 de janeiro de 2017

Julie, Twiggy, Sandy Wilson and Ken: The Boyfriend...


Julie Andrews's first Broadway musical was Sandy Wilson's "The boyfriend" (1954), a simple love-story full of the clichés of the 20's. Lovely and endearing. But very simple indeed. And audience's needs were changing fast.


Julie conquered New York's audiences and went on to star on "My fair Lady"; Loew's und Lerner's musical adaptation of Bernard Shaw's masterpiece about classes and prejudice. But that is another story.

The Boyfriend's rights were "bought" by MGM but nothing ever came out of that. The story-line was too simple, to naíve... "The boyfriend" was forgotten in some dusty shelf between hundreds of scripts and screenplays.



Then, one day in 1969 (times in which "Hair" and "Easy Rider" were successes and the "flower-power" was at its best), "rageous mad", daring British Movie maker Ken Russell decided to film it - and how clever he was: he staged it as a theatre play in a terrible and cheap West-End theatre (on the wrong side of the tracks), added a whole back-stage story to it and even a Hollywood producer that "had visions" about the silly numbers that were being played on stage, turning them in his mind into greatly produced "Hollywood Musical numbers" (From "Flying down to Rio" till "The Wizard of Oz). Russell transformed it into a classic and cult film... Unforgettable!

A nameless cameo by Glenda Jackson can simply never be forgotten.

A marvelous professional cast (including Royal Ballet's Christopher Gable) headed by a disarmingly amateurisch "Twiggy" (just trying a new step in her career after being the fashionable "Bond Street's and Mary Quant's darling" of the "swinging 60's").

The result? Marvelous, outrageously "mad"... And I love it. Still.



My favourite number: Poor little Pierrette...



and...

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.
Dance.
Simplicity.
Unassumed.

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