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!