domingo, 28 de fevereiro de 2016

Wiener Staatsballet: Onegin (Wiener Staatsoper/ Vienna State Opera), 2016, February 27th

I did not go into "technical details" during this review.
The importance of the piece, its soloists and the story line are the central subjects and relevant aspects this time.
Ricardo Leitner

It is quite odd that I had never before seen „Onegin“. I mean live on stage. Of course I know this ballet nearly inside out from different videos and films but by strange coincidences I had never experienced it sitting in an audience. Amazing thing for someone who’s been “in touch” with Ballet for so many years.

Once, in Stuttgart, I had a ticket but in the last minute there was a cast change and I refused to watch it. As a very silly young boy I did not like Birgit Keil because of her neckline (or absence of it) and refused to go to the theater, wanting only to experience a live performance with Haydée. Well, this opportunity never came up againn and because of many other reasons and circumstances, which I cannot even recall, I never saw it “live”.

Well, there I was, sitting in a lovely box, while it occurred to me that I was witnessing live at last a piece that was merciless criticized after its premiere in 1965: “Solitary introverts are difficult to depict in dancing” – but isn’t that exactly what John Cranko does in the most marvelous way? Great John Cranko… if you’d only have lived longer.

Being a lifetime follower of Cranko’s work I do not only admire his choreographies (are there better pas de deux “solutions” than his?) and the way in which the characters are built (and slowly and very analytically reveal themselves to the audiences) but also the way in which his unique “power of synthesis” feeds the storyline without altering in any way what the story was meant to be.
Not being in mastery of the Russian language I do have to admit that my “knowledge” of the complex Pushkin’s lyric poetry comes only from two Onegin’s translations which I have read respectively in English and in German.
It is obvious for me that, without understanding Russian, one shall never be able to full understand/feel what Pushkin meant.
Even so there is the story line that Cranko composed – and the Russian “soul”: Eugene Onegin… and how this character influenced the creation of so many Russian male characters in Russian Literature...
This is more than a “personification” of a man - one that carries within his soul so many points that were (and are) identified with by its readers.
I ask: where does Eugene Onegin stop and where does the Russian man begin?
Where is all that melancholy hidden within a soul?
Perhaps in the music?
Drowned inside a Vodka’s bottle?
The thing is: Pushkin made this dark quality take a tangible form.

The whole cast was magnificently rehearsed.

The story is in perfect balance – as are Cranko’s “Taming of the Shrew” and “Romeo and Juliet” – with the corps de Ballet’s and the soloists’ appearances – which change, “grow up”, “ripen” in front of our own eyes.

Papava / Kourlaev Photo Copyrights: Wiener Staatsoper

Kirill Kourlaev, had the “supporting role” of Gremin. And he made the best of it. Stage presence is something that Mr. Kourlaev has more than enough to offer. Another “gift” for his partners is the total self-abandon he shows while partnering.
An example for many dancers of the youngest generation.

Natasha Mair, for me one of the most promising young talents of the “Wiener Staatsballet”, gave us a performance that was not only technically flawless but also filled with emotion. Her “Olga” changes from a happy but very shallow character into someone that is confronted with pain at a very early age. Miss Mair, possesses a rare quality, which is simply described as “full understanding” of the role. She “feels” her step and does not only execute them beautifully. Something that is very rare in her early age.
Some four years ago I witnessed just this as I “really noticed” her for the first time as “Amor” (Don Q.) and ever since then, this very disciplined dancer, is growing as a performer in front of delighted Viennese audiences.

Mair/Dato - Photo Copyrights: Wiener Staatsoper

Davide Dato was the perfect impersonation of poor, tragic Lenski. Even though his variations are far from being called “easy” – one cannot forget that they were choreographed for a very special dancer, Egon Madsen, whose very strong points were not points that are usually typical for most dancers (if you do not know what I mean, think of Nureyev’s variations for HIS own male characters: they included everything that was “natural” to Rudolph – not especially for other dancers).

Dato - Photo Copyrights: Wiener Staatsoper

Mr. Dato gave a wonderful performance – also technically “top”. Not an easy thing to be so "clean" in those variations.

Ketevan Papava – in fact after yesterday’s performance I’d rather call her “La Papava” – was Tatjana in her essence. Shy – a solitary introvert (as mentioned above, according to the 1965 premiére’s critic) but an enormous fighter she also transforms herself during the run of the Ballet. Miss Papava, a great performer and always giving her best, filled the Opera with fine emotions. Every single movement, even the most subtle ones on her face, was in total command. There may be other dancers that are technically stronger or more “actress-like”, but you shall seldom find one in which all the “right ingredients” that make a grand stage persona are so combined, so balanced, so harmonic. Miss Papava was emotional but never over-dramatic… Her absolute perfect interpretation of Tatjana made me think about Marcia Haydée – even though they are completely different dancers, the “character” was there…

Papava/ Shishov - Photo Copyrights: Wiener Staatsoper

I wonder how she’d perform if the last scene, if the original version should still be staged, was the one in which after sending Onegin away, she’d go to her children to kiss them goodnight. She could make it. Instead of bringing down the house with her last cry, I am sure she’d be as touching in a low-profiled scene.

Vladimir Shishov on top form, in full command of his technique and stage presence. I was impressed by a change that took place in the first act: the “bored” Onegin, a character that is so very “blasé” that he is able to annoy us, was wonderfully played in a sort of cynical way. One could really dislike him. All of a sudden, in the scene at Tatjana’s bedroom, he turned into HER image of his character, the man that SHE idealizes. Amazing how Mr. Shishov jumped from one cliché to the other as if he was changing a pair of shoes – and never turning his interpretation into something sappy. Very controlled.

Papava/Shishov - Photo Copyrights: Wiener Staatsoper

The point for me is: I confessed that my “understanding” of “Onegin” (as a character, as a piece) is quite limited because of the non-understanding of the original text… But who needs that if such a performance is given by an artist that transports all the emotional profundities of Onegin’s soul into our hearts, making those depths nearly transparent?

In some way, I must thank my instinct for waiting a bit longer, having decided to assist this performance with the right male dancer.

A magnificent evening, I confess. One that will be kept in my memory for a long, long time…

segunda-feira, 22 de fevereiro de 2016

Wiener Staatsballet: The Snow Queen (Die Schneekönigin) - Volksoper - 2016, February 21st

Corder's "Snow Queen" is definitely not one of my favourite pieces.

The choreography neither follows nor contains an uniform line, a strong structure - it is sometimes "sprinkled" with a too obvious use of the music, sometimes too slow and all of a sudden - but lacking any stylish connection - too ferocious
(I am thinking about the gypsies at the third act's beginning - one of the few exciting and lively parts of the evening – but on its own!).

In fact, my chronic dislike to anything that is usually played at Christmas time – and specially targeted at families and children – is immense.
I dislike those "Season's spells" intensely.

Still “Snow Queen” offers good opportunity to young dancers.

Leonardo Basilio and Jakob Feyferlink were very secure and effective as the two wolves.

Basílio/Feyferlink/Ioanna Avraam - picture: copyright: State Opera

The same should be said about Tristan Ridel (making a good impression on stage) and Alexandru Tcacenco – both impressive, professional, melodic and very lyric as the two “roses”.
Not to be overlooked: Adele Fiocchi and Suzan Oppermann as the two polar foxes. Very, very effective.

The elves (or fairies) have quite dominated the stage and were splendidly danced by Natascha Mair, Eszter Ledán, Elena Bottaro (giving her debùt of this role) and Nikisha Fogo (unlike the others,focusing directly at the audience - and probably unintentionally "stealing" a bit of the show!).

Delightful Géraud Wielick made a good, secure impression as the reindeer.
He “wins the audience” on his first entrance: an obvious display of sympathy and good stage presence. One must say that Mr. Wielick seems changed everytime I see him on stage – he is developing fast, his stage persona is getting stronger with every single performance. A good thing.

Ketevan Papava and Eno Peçi, two great performers, were at ease, not being that much challenged as the gypsies. But their performances, as usual, were brilliant and precise – and always full of energy. Never dancers to “relax” on stage, they are – because of that quality – extremely appreciated by the audiences.

Nina Poláková, a dancer I have never – by coincidence – seen much of, gave a good, aggressive show of the (in fact) glacial character.
Unfortunately the choreography for the “Queen” tends to turn quite repetitive at the very end of the ballet, as if the choreographer’s vocabulary had vanished completely, finished.
The incessant, never ending lifts on jeté by the wolves are boring and make her look more like a drowning “Fliegende Holländer” than like a queen… also here Mr. Corder seems to have missed some more inventive ideas…
Miss Poláková seemed a bit tense around the mouth and jaw area - A fact that is not seen at the video close-ups!
(which, in fact, I detest: they remind me of the wicked witch of the East in the Wizard of Oz!).
I am looking forward to watching Miss Poláková next week in “Onegin” – so shortly after having seen her in “Queen”.

The evening belonged completely to the lovely couple Nina Tonoli/ Greig Matthews.

Tonoli/Matthews - picture: copyright State Opera

Both, still very young, gave confident performances and were rewarded with huge applause.
Mr. Matthews was a steady, strong partner and had his joy while dancing the young Kay. Also a very "clean dancer" Mr. Matthews pays lot of attention to "details" - always displaying his (marvelous) demi-pointe and an impecable turned-out passé relevé.
Miss Tonoli, a very modest dancer and a hard worker, was absolutely enchanting. Her technique is clean, seeming completely natural to her - as if she'd be a dancer who makes no efforts (that is an utopia!).
I consider Miss Tonli one of the few candidates for future 100% classic roles... and I could already imagine her in "Coppelia".

It should also be noted that their first pas-de-deux, in which they seem to be playing with each other and having lots of fun, is especially entertaining.
The use of the diagonals is extremely effective – and combines lot of fun with step precision.

All in all: a pleasant evening, very “Volksoper-like”.
Not a real challenge for an “every day, average ballet-goer” but still… colorful and “neat”!

domingo, 21 de fevereiro de 2016

Evelyn Hart: La mort du Cygne (2000)

Para que não seja mal entendido…

O video anterior à esta postagem (Raisa Gilko em “La mort du Cygne”) teve a única e exclusive função de mostrar um agradecimento do qual muito gostei.
Sua dança nada me emociona…

Um CISNE mesmo é a querida, eterna Evelyn Hart – que, aqui, não luta para parecer bonita e elegante todo o tempo (o que já é por sua elevada arte)
mas se concentra na execução e interpretação do único momento em que o cisne canta – em toda sua vida:

o momento de sua morte…

quinta-feira, 18 de fevereiro de 2016

La Mort du Cygne: Raisa Gilko

After watching this video I have never heard anymore from Raisa Gilko, a Bolshoi dancer.
I also had never heard of her before…
In fact her dance neither surprises nor touches me.
Her Swan is too affected.

But I’ll never be able to forget her bow to the public.
Still completely “in the character” and in full command of her arms. I like that.
It is mad but I like her bowing more than her dance.

Depois de assistir este video nunca mais ouvi falar de Raisa Gilko, bailarina do Bolshoi.
Também nunca havia ouvido falar dela antes…
Na verdade sua dança nem me surpreende nem me toca.
Seu Cisne é muito afetado.

Mas jamais poderei esquecer seu agradecimento, sua reverencia ao público.
Totalmente dentro do personagem e em complete commando dos seus braços. Gosto disso.
É loucura mas eu prefiro seu agradecimento à sua danÇa.

quinta-feira, 11 de fevereiro de 2016

Mr. B's "Tarantella" (English & Portuguese)

Mr. B’s „Tarantella“. This pas de deux has been haunting me for quite a while…

This version is very special and dear to me:
I taped it sometime during the 80’s (does anyone still remember a big thing called video2000?), then had it transferred to a VHS (also for younger generations quite difficult to remember) until, many years ago, I managed at last to make a home-made DVD out of it. It is still playing quite well but I could never save it as a MP4 file… The so-called “navigation Structure” turned out to be an invalid one… At long last I found someone who helped me save it “for posterity” (Thanks!) and I immediately posted it in my Youtube account. I am glad about that. Very glad.

This pyrotechnical pas de deux was at the time the perfect vehicle for Patricia McBride’s and Edward Villela’s virtuosity – Even if filmed in the early 70’s (The choreography was completed in 1964) it is interesting to notice how Miss McBride’s figure is still very “up-to-date” to our nowaday’s feelings towards aesthetic (in the Ballet).

“Tarantella” is definitely one “pièce de résistance” for two dancers.

The music was described by Balanchine in his “Complete Stories of the great Ballets” this way: “It is a dazzling display piece, full of speed and high spirits. So, I hope, is the dance, which is ‘Neopolitan’ if you like and ‘demi-caractère.’

Balanchine much admired, for some reason, Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s music. The audacity and wit of his works, along with his brilliance at the keyboard, made his compositions immensely popular — perhaps too popular…He fell out of favor after his death, considered old-fashioned and clichéd.

But this pas de deux still lives today…

A “Tarantella” de Mr.B. Este pas de deux pirotécnico tem me perseguido já por algum tempo…

Esta versão é muito especial e querida para mim: Eu a gravei em alguma época dos anos 80 (alguém ainda se lembra de um trambolho chamado video2000?), então o transferi para um VHS (para jovens gerações também muito difícil de lembrar) até que, há muitos anos, eu consegui finalmente trasformá-lo num DVD “home-made”. Ele ainda toca mas jamais consegui salvá-lo como um arquivo MP4… A chamada “estrutura de navegação” resultou em ser invalida e eu jamais consegui passar por cima desta falha. Finalmente encontrei alguém que me ajudou a salvá-lo para “a posteridade” (Obrigado!) e imediatamente publiquei-o na minha conta do Youtube. Feliz com isso. Muito feliz.

Este pas de deux pirotécnico foi na época o perfeito veículo para o virtuosismo de Patricia McBride e Edward Villela – mesmo que filmado no início dos anos 70 (a coreografia foi acabada em 1964) é interessante notar-se como a figura de Miss McBride é ainda “moderna” para nossas percepções atuais em termos de estética (no Ballet).

“Tarantella” é definitivamente uma “pièce de résistance” para dois bailarinos.

A música foi descrita por Balanchine no seu livro ““Complete Stories of the great Ballets” desta forma:
“uma deslumbrante exibição , repleta de velocidade e de espírito leve. Da mesma, espero, é a dança, que é se voce quiser “napolitana” e “demi-caractère”.

Balanchine muito admirava, por alguma razão, a música de Louis Moreau Gottschalk. A audácia e sagacidade, junto com seu brilho no teclado, fizeram suas composições imensamente populares – talvez até demasiadamente populares… Ele saiu de moda depois de sua morte, sendo considerado antiquado e “cliché”.

Mas este pas de deux ainda vive hoje…

terça-feira, 2 de fevereiro de 2016

Leslie Caron e "The doctor's dilemma": de Mrs. Dubedat à Gigi...

Em nenhum outro filme a beleza nada convencional de Leslie Caron foi tão be usada pelas cameras como em „The doctor’s dilemma“, filme que foi feito em 1958 (nos estúdios da MGM britanica) no princípio da fase em que viveu na Inglaterra casada com o diretor de teatro Peter Hall.

Sua “Mrs. Dubedat” pula um universo ao se transformar numa mulher sofisticada depois de ter sido a “hippie” (termo que não existia no século XIX mas que descreve muito bem a vida dela com seu marido, o pintor Dubedat, estupendamente criado por Dirk Bogarde).

Leslie me surpreende muito como atriz neste filme.

Sua “linha “was that death? (ou “was that THE death?”, não estou certo) me surpreende e me emociona.
Me surpreende já que vinda da “menina” que bailava ao lado de Gene Kelly e Fred Astaire, da menina que se transformava numa “fine actress” (o que já havia provado em “Lili” de 1953 e culminaria no sensível filme ingles “The L-shaped room” pelo qual foi mais uma vez nominada ao Oscar e ganhou o premio da BAFTA) e que neste ano de 1958 passaria d’uma adulta Mrs. Dubedat para o personagem adolescente de “Gigi” no filme homonimo sob direção de Minnelli.

“Gigi” é uma delícia de filme mas “Dilemma” é sem dúvida superior: de muita sensibilidade e extrema artesania, extremamente "G.B.Shaw", tarefa e façanha incrívelmente difíceis para um diretor... principalmente se pensarmos nas quantas filmagens bem-sucedidas do trabalho de Shaw que existem...

Para quem tiver tempo e disposição para um dia assistir “The Doctor’s Dilemma” de G.B.Shaw (recomendo) um fato interessante:
em algumas cenas no final do filme Leslie já está tão óbviamente grávida que esconde-se todo o tempo atrás d’uma capa – o que nem sempre é bem sucedido…

Este “bebe” iria visitá-la meses depois no “set” de “Gigi”, no qual parecia uma menina, quinze anos mais jovem que Jennie (Mrs.Dubedat).

Aqui tres vídeos que baixei para o "youtube" (de um DVD meu que havia feito de um Videocassete que gravei nos anos 80 na extinta "TNT").
Nada melhor do que uns pedaços de filme para mostrar o que quero dizer.

E como disse: que filme sensível!

e o final...

Dedico esta postagem à amiga cinéfila Carla Marinho!