If you enjoyed yesterday's cinemacast of the Bolshoi Ballet's production of John Neumeier's masterpiece, The Lady of the Camillias, be sure to try to see the next Bolshoi cinema presentation on December 20 of Yuri Grigorovich's Nutcracker. It is the most magical Nutcracker that Haglund has ever seen - charming as can be. And very big. Big big big.
Neumeier's production hasn't been seen in New York for several seasons; so this Bolshoi cinemacast was an eagerly anticipated event.
Yesterday, Svetlana Zakharova gave a very worthwhile, uncharacteristically emotional performance of Marguerite, excelling foremost in Act II, the white dress act. Opening night nerves and concentration may have affected Act I which seemed more acted than lived. Act III found Marguerite more robust than sickly, but still convincing in many ways. While Svetlana quickly wiped off Marguerite's makeup at her dressing table prior to dying, she was far too made-up for Act III. What is it about these Russian and Ukrainian ladies that they cannot let go of their red lipstick (Zakharova, Vishneva, Dvorovenko) for a role of a lifetime?
Of course, Svetlana couldn't resist throwing her legs to the ceiling a lot more than was appreciated, but she also showed us a dramatic side of her artistry that we haven't seen before. In her moments of stillness, we knew precisely what Marguerite was feeling.
Edvin Revazov, a Ukranian from Neumeier's Hamburg Ballet, was a compelling Armand. Any time a dancer playing this role can stand at the edge of the stage and shed real tears, he gets an "A" in appeal, acting, and authenticity. A tall man of haunting good looks, Revazov's dancing was so secure that one did not consider that he was dancing - just living.
Seymon Chudin and Anna Tikhomirova contributed fine performances of the inner story of the theatrical production of Des Grieux and Manon. Andrei Merkuriev gave what may be the most perfectly dramatically weighted performance of Monsieur Duval that Haglund has ever seen, but he simply looked too youthful to be believed.
Neumeier's lighting design did not, at times, translate well in the cinemacast, particularly when Revazov was dancing in his black costume. His legs and feet disappeared in much of his grand allegro because the cameras could not pick up the image on the dark stage. As in past cinemacast's, the insistence of the camera operators in closely following soloist dancers at the expense of the overall stage was annoying.
Neumeier's telling of this story is masterful. His choreography is as inventive and story-filled as his contemporary, Kenneth MacMillan's was in many of his narrative masterpieces. This probably accounts for why the Macaulay regime at the New York Times has sought to bash it over and over again even though it was admired originally by Anna Kisselgoff, the last NYT critic with any serious ballet training.
While it probably would have been more satisfying to have seen a different Bolshoi cast, such as Obraztsova and Lantratov, we know from the experience of the Bolshoi's Onegin just the kind of fuss that Zakharova will make if she doesn't get opening night cast of an important new production.
So onward to the Bolshoi's Nutcracker cinemacast encore presentation with Denis Rodkin and Anna Nikulina as Marie. December 20th. Check for local cinema presentations here.
John Neumeier was not in Moscow for last night's premiere because he was in Hamburg supervising the premiere of Alessandra Ferri in his latest creation Duse, inspired by the great Italian actress Eleonora Duse. The music of Benjamin Britten and Arvo Pärt propelling the genius and artistry of Neumeier and Ferri is almost overwhelming to imagine. Here is a clip: