Posts Tagged ‘Bolshoi Ballet’

A diverting ticket offer for the Bolshoi

August 3, 2019


So I got this email inviting me to open the attachment for an exciting ticket offer.  That definitely looked like a scam at first glance–why have an attachment in the first place?  Then I thought you would tend to have a hyperlink or a pdf for a scam and the ballet was somewhat of a minority interest.


And when I opened the document the relevant information was presented:


However, (upon several attempts) the link didn’t work:


So I rang the ROH box office, who were very helpful.  They had heard of the offer but thought it was operative from Saturday.  Then they found it on their system.  They agreed that the link didn’t work but didn’t know the right one offhand.

So in the end I managed to book a ticket..I think…

But what a lot of learning points there are here:

  1. Don’t use a % sign in a link–HTTP will be upset
  2. Put stuff in the email body rather than an attachment if at all possible
  3. Don’t send stuff out outside of office hours–it’s difficult to fix if things go wrong.

Le corsaire (Bolshoi Ballet/Covent Garden) 5 August

August 6, 2010


A lot of white floweriness in the second act

I had an idea that this had something to do with the poem by Lord Byron

Long mourned his band whom none could mourn beside;
And fair the monument they gave his Bride
For him they raise not the recording stone—
His death yet dubious, deeds too widely known;
He left a Corsair’s name to other times,
Linked with one virtue, and a thousand crimes.

Well, some of the characters had the same names according to the programme–this was really a cartoon with lots of gratuitous dancing, girls, spectacle, shipwreck, costumes, turquoise Turks, pirates who should have spent more time pirating and less time dancing, comedy fights,  a garden in appearing in a palace….My companion complained about the third-rate music and the harps heralding anything ‘touching’, but I thought it was the thought of stuff you could buy by the yard in any decent haberdasher’s, or get a programmable loom or a tame crow to turn out.

At the end of the second act, my companion announced she was going to go home and iron the cat.  In fact, the third act was the most interesting and would have captivated me as a ten-year-old boy if by some miracle I had survived the preceding two hours:  the dancers did a surprisingly lucid job of putting over the plotty bit about Said Pasha saying he would execute Conrad unless Medora she married him, after which Medora danced away with his weapons and Gulnare appeared to make clear it was in fact her that he had married under a veil, silly old Pasha.

And the scene of the shipwreck was highly effective, with the stormy waves projected on a scrim in front of the ship and with the help of some special-effect thunder the storm by Adophe Adam or Pugni or whoever coming off a great deal better than my experience of Mozart (Idomeneo) or Thomas Ades (The Tempest).

A ship behind a scrim

At the end of the ballet Medora and Conrad came out to the front of the stage to show that they had survived, and after it had ended I saw the orchestral players shaking each others’ hands all round, glad that they had survived as well I guess.

Of the dancers, Anastasia Yatsenko as Gulnare made the greatest impression on me, but I did sometimes get confused between her and the Medora of Maria Alexandrova.

Petrushka etc (Bolshoi Ballet/Covent Garden) 29 July

August 1, 2010


Petrushka/Russian Seasons/Grand Pas from Paquita

This time we had even invested £45 (each!) in seats in a slightly less remote part of the Upper Amphitheatre.  I was interested in seeing Petrushka the ballet, since I was familiar with the music and I remembered the story from some ‘music and movement’ thing when I was in primary school a very long time ago (but all the same, some time after the invention of radio).

Well the music was certainly well-played, and Nina Kaptsova was impressively precise as the Ballerina, but otherwise it didn’t really do what I wanted from a ballet.  There were two scenes with too many characters bracketing three scenes with too few, and there was too much static display of elaborate sets and costumes–in fact the lighting left the no doubt fearfully expensive costumes in darkness for quite a lot of the time.  We couldn’t see Petrushka’s ghost  at the end from where we were sitting either…

You *can* see the costumes (and indeed Nina Kaptsova) here

We had no idea what to expect from Russian Seasons (music by Leonid Desyatnikov, choreography by Alexei Ratmansky) and we were well impressed.  The groups of dancers forming and reforming, the soulful melancholy of the solo violin, the simply-set songs, the music that encompassed romantic minimalism without lapsing into drivelling idiocy, the transfiguration of  the yellow-clad characters into white at the end…I was transported t0 another  world of feeling, except that I wanted to know what the words were.  Some of them sounded like the refrain from a folk song, others like заумь (nonsense words resembling Russian), the one at the end was presumably Church Slavonic…In fact I’ve now largely worked the words out here (they were in Russian dialect!)

Dancers dancing in unobstructed space, that’s what we want–when the ballerinas had their caps on, their costumes did rather resemble Aeroflot air hostess uniforms of a certain era (especially the acidic orange and green ones), but never mind.  My companion said that she kept on being afraid of missing something through not looking at the right part of the action, but we agreed that this was part of the excitement of seeing something new, for the first time, without the encrusted layers of memory and expectation.

Then the Grand Pas from Paquita, which the very well-informed lady sitting next to us said she’d never seen before.  It was like being force-fed several boxes of chocolates, all of them strawberry cremes, or like an end-of-term show where everyone does their party piece, but with far too much padding as well.  45 minutes of going nowhere musically, dramatically or choreographically…

Still, the middle item was worth the price of admission on its own, and we set off home well pleased with our evening’s entertainment.  Once again, the orchestra (conducted by Igor Dronov this time) played very well, and Irina Blank’s solo violin contribution to Russian Seasons was exquisite.

Another friend writes:   So agree – loved Russian Seasons, was concerned that parts of Petrushka were in danger of verging on having what I dread most : celebratory rustics dancing (even of they had been displaced to an urban context). Almost fell asleep in Paquita.

Spartacus (Bolshoi Ballet/Covent Garden) 21 July

August 1, 2010


Ivan Vasiliev and Nina Kaptsova--they were jolly good

We certainly enjoyed our visit to ‘Spartacus’, with some extremely impressive, energetic and manly dancing from Ivan Vasiliev as Spartacus and some extremely camp Roman soldiers as well.  Nina Kaptsova was also very touching as Phrygia, but in expectation of extended passages of manly dancing from er, men, the hall was about 80% occupied by women, and quite young ones at that–the girls in the row behind us even got interested enough to give over their conversation after a while in favour of following the action.

We got to hear Khachaturian’s big tune quite enough times to have it firmly imprinted on our memory, while my companion wanted to know why the evil music for the evil Romans was vaguely Oriental in character.  I suppose that for an Armenian ‘evil’ must have suggested ‘Turkish’.  The orchestra (conductor Pavel Sorokin) played very well and, most importantly, as though they believed in the music.

This performance certainly impressed me a great deal more than the only other time I’d seen the ballet, which must have been on a previous Bolshoi appearance in London–I think that Vasiliev was a great deal more impressive than whoever was Spartacus then, and also rather less encumbered by clothing.

Afterwards I heard from a friend who had also been at this performance, and she thought it had been ‘rather long (3 x 45 min)’–can’t say that I agree, but then I wasn’t standing!