Monday, 25 January 2016

Competition for Cranko: The Bolshoi's Taming of the Shrew streamed from Moscow

Standard YouTube Licence

Even before the housekeeper ambled on to the stage I could tell from the photos that we were in for a treat. They depicted Petruchio's loucheness in the way he wore his hat, the simple set and the timeless costumes. The housekeeper was first on stage well before the maestro. She was elegant, wearing heels, immaculately coiffed.  She sat down on stage to check her make up. She donned a pair of pointe shoes and filed her nails. Then when she was good and ready she ushered in the conductor.

The ballet was very short. It consisted of two acts.   The screening started at 15:00 GMT and we were out by 17:00 but it packed so much in. The dancing was magnificent, particularly the duet between Katherina and Petrtuchio in act II. There were some lifts movements I have never seen before. The most extraordinary was where Petruchio seemed to raise Katherina with his arm stretched like a piston as though she were riding a horse. It must have required enormous strength from him and I guess remarkably uncomfortable for her.

The score was by Dimitri Shostakovich and the choice was inspired. One of the greatest composers for the ballet ever.  Glorious soaring crescendos and humour with his orchestration of Tea for Two for the harmony of the last scene.  Of equal genius was the choreographer, Jean-Christophe Maillot, and his muse, Bernice Copieters who translated it into dance.  So too was Ernest Pignon-Ernest who designed the set and the choreographer's son, Augustin, who designed the costumes.  One of the highlights of yesterday's transmission was Katerina Novikova's interview with Jean-Christopher Maillot and Sergei Filin in the interval and it was there that Maillot acknowledged the contributions of his creative team.

The story kept pretty faithfully to the play with a little lot more prominence to the widow.  Bianco was all sweetness and  grace while Katherina was Scotch bonnet pepper - until she was bedded towards the end of the second act.  Katherina is the star. Hers is the title role and it required a dancer with exceptional technique who was also a remarkable actor. Yesterday that role was danced by Ekaterina Krysanova.  Her Petruchio had to be at least as strong and his role was danced by Vladislaw Lantratov. Olga Smirnova was a gorgeous Bianca. Anna Tikhomirova, .as the housekeeper was in many ways the anchor of the show from the prologue when she patronizingly clapped the entry of the conductor.  I must say a special work for Vyacheslav Lopatin, one of the best character dancers ever, who played Petruchio's groom. His eyes were a picture as he tossed a sheet over his master and bride.

I have often said that Pathe Live had the edge over the Royal Opera House's transmissions though the House has recently raised its game.  Yesterday's transmission from Moscow reached new heights with the interview with Filin and Maillot. It will be interesting to see how Covent Garden responds to the challenge.

The Bolshoi are bringing the Taming of the Shrew to London on 3 and 4 Aug 2016.   Here is a little clip on their YouTube channel. I can't wait to see them live on stage in that show.

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