Highlights of the 231st season may be found in the summary press-release
Results of the season in figures:
• 50 weeks was the length of the 231st season over the course of 2013-14
• 3 venues: the Mariinsky Theatre, the Mariinsky-II and the Concert Hall. 4 chamber venues at the Mariinsky-II
• 1036 concerts and ballet and opera performances as well as events in chamber venues at the Mariinsky-II
• 9 premieres: 5 operas and 4 ballets, one of which was an evening of four one-act ballets by Hans van Manen
• 6 festivals in St Petersburg plus the XIII Moscow Easter Festival, taking in 56 Russian towns and cities from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok
• 18230 school pupils from 25 Russian regions, including the Far East, attended the Mariinsky Theatre as part of the programme The Mariinsky Theatre – the Soul of St Petersburg
• 13079 year-ten pupils from St Petersburg schools took part in the educational project A Theatre Lesson at the Mariinsky
Premieres of the 231st season. The first operatic premiere of the outgoing season was a premiere of a new stage version of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Otello (Stage Director – Vasily Barkhatov). At the very end of December 2013 came a premiere of Verdi’s opera Il trovatore (Stage Director – Pierre Luigi Pizzi) in which the lead female roles were sung by Anna Netrebko and Ekaterina Semenchuk. Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin was a co-production with the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing (Stage Director – Alexei Stepanyuk), and following the St Petersburg premiere the production was staged in Beijing with two casts – Russian and Chinese – while during the Stars of the White Nights festival soloists of the Beijing Opera took part in a performance at the Mariinsky-II. A production of Hector Berlioz’ grandiose operatic duologue Les Troyens was mounted by stage director and production designer Yannis Kokkos. The influence of Les Troyens was felt almost throughout the entire 231st season – in October there was a concert performance of the opera in Vienna, in May it was staged at the Mariinsky-II and, in late August, the Mariinsky Theatre will be presenting this production under the baton of Valery Gergiev at the acclaimed Edinburgh International Festival. Sergei Prokofiev’s operatic epic War and Peace was staged by director Graham Vick and drew a huge response from critics and the public. This production has been seen by hundreds of thousands in towns and cities throughout Europe thanks to live broadcasts of a performance to cinemas.
Ballet premieres of the season: Infra with choreography by Wayne McGregor; the full-length ballet Sylvia by Frederick Ashton, staged during the MARIINSKY international ballet festival; his one-act romantic ballet Marguerite and Armand, premiered during the XXII Stars of the White Nights festival, was also performed in the choreographer’s native land – in the UK during a tour by the Mariinsky Ballet to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; and, lastly, another premiere at the Stars – an evening of four one-act ballets by Hans van Manen, coached in St Petersburg by the choreographer himself.
Significant events of the season – a concert featuring the thousand-member Children’s Chorus of Russia: on 7 January at the Mariinsky-II children from all eighty-three Russian regions comprising the Children’s Chorus of Russia performed with the Mariinsky Orchestra under Valery Gergiev. This event was broadcast throughout Russia by Kultura TV. In February the maestro conducted the chorus at the closing ceremony of the Sochi Olympic Games. The establishment of the Children’s Chorus of Russia is a major project of the All-Russian Choral Society which was established on the initiative of Valery Gergiev. This action by the maestro met with a hearty response in many towns throughout Russia, with numerous children’s choruses being set up today, several of which have already performed with the Mariinsky Orchestra under the baton of Valery Gergiev at concerts during the XIII Moscow Easter Festival.
Other no less significant events included a major concert by the Russo-Chinese Youth Orchestra under the baton of maestro Gergiev which opened a programme of years of youth exchange between China and Russia; a live broadcast to major European cinemas of one of the finest ballets in the theatre’s classical repertoire – Ludwig Minkus’ ballet La Bayadère with Viktoria Tereshkina and Vladimir Shklyarov in the lead roles; and the premiere of a new production of Sergei Prokofiev’s opera War and Peace in collaboration with Telmondis and More2Screen.
Festivals. The Mariinsky Theatre ran the I Organ Festival at the Concert Hall, featuring appearances by the greatest organists from Europe. The already traditional Mariinsky Theatre festivals were held – two rounds of the International Piano Festival at the Mariinsky-II and the Concert Hall, the first featuring an audience vote for the first time as well as the presentation of an “audience favourite” award to young pianist Behzod Abduraimov; the Maslenitsa festival; the MARIINSKY ballet festival, which this year ran the second Creative Workshop of Young Choreographers that allows the results of young choreographers’ artistic searches to be presented to audiences and new names to be discovered; and, finally, the XXII Stars of the White Nights international festival. The festival ran at all three of the theatre’s buildings – the historic theatre, the Mariinsky-II and the Concert Hall. For the first time, the programme featured concerts and lectures at the chamber venues of the Mariinsky-II – the Stravinsky Foyer, Shchedrin Hall, the Prokofiev Hall and the Musorgsky Hall. During this major music festival lasting sixty-five days – from 28 May to 31 July – there were over two hundred opera and ballet performances, eighty chamber and symphony music concerts featuring guest artists and soloists of the Mariinsky Opera, Ballet, Chorus and Orchestra. In advance of the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition, to be held in 2015, the festival playbill listed some of the finest musicians in the world, among them Denis Matsuev, Alexei Volodin, Christian Blackshaw, Daniil Trifonov, Boris Berezovsky, Rudolf Buchbinder, Mario Brunello, David Geringas, Janine Jansen, Leonidas Kavakos, Behzod Abduraimov and, of course, such stars of the Mariinsky Opera as Olga Borodina, Yevgeny Nikitin, Alexei Markov, Mikhail Petrenko, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Sergei Semishkur and Sergei Skorokhodov in addition to guest soloists including Ferruccio Furlanetto, Ekaterina Gubanova, Liudmyla Monastyrska, Marcelo Álvarez, Oksana Dyka, Maria Agresta, Daniela Barcellona, Fabio Sartori, Michele Pertusi, Maria Guleghina and Anita Rachvelishvili among others.
Yet another major project – the XIII Moscow Easter Festival – this year covered the whole of Russia, with programmes of symphony, choral, chamber and bell-ringing music performed in fifty-six towns and cities. The Mariinsky Orchestra, Brass Ensemble and Stradivarius Ensemble under Valery Gergiev and the theatre’s Wind Quintet performed over twenty-six days in twenty-six towns from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok and from Volgograd to Severomorsk. The regional programmes featured appearances by world-renowned performers including Pinchas Zukerman, Nelson Freire, Denis Matsuev, Daniil Trifonov and Amanda Forsythe in addition to younger soloists who represent the future of Russian music.
There were also several monograph festivals – one marking a century since the birth of Benjamin Britten, a second marking one hundred and seventy-five years since the birth of Modest Musorgsky and yet another commemorating two centuries since the birth of Giuseppe Verdi.
Over the course of the season the chamber venues of the Mariinsky-II began to function, each of them named after an outstanding Russian composer – Musorgsky, Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Shchedrin. These halls hosted the programme Music Hour, a series of concerts organised by the Academy of Young Opera Singers and lectures – a total of 103 events.
The Mariinsky theatre has become a major cultural and educational centre. In the 231st theatre season we began a series of educational programmes for children and young people from three to student age. Together with the children’s reading centre Piccolo the Mariinsky Theatre presented a series of chamber concerts and lessons entitled Musical Instruments in the Magical Land of Piccolo for children between the ages of three and six. For the youngest school pupils there was a series of interactive fairy-tale concerts and lessons entitled Music Told in Tales of Sand. For young pupils we continued the Young Theatre Goers’ Academy subscription which lasts two years. Pupils at middle school had the opportunity to attend the series of lectures and concerts Bead-Play: Inside Music and beyond Its Confines given by famous music historians, theatre historians and composers from St Petersburg. As part of the federally supported culture and education programme The Mariinsky Theatre – the Soul of St Petersburg the theatre was visited by 18230 pupils from twenty-five Russian regions including the Far East. A Theatre Lesson at the Mariinsky is a project, unique in terms of its scale, which was organised by the theatre with support from the City Government of St Petersburg and is targeted at year-ten pupils at all city and suburban schools; between January and May the project involved 13079 senior pupils. The theatre has begun to work actively with adult audiences, offering lecture programmes in the form of A Sunday Foreword – weekly lectures prior to the start of a performance or a concert at the Mariinsky-II that focus on adult musicians and performers of the Mariinsky Theatre.
Tours. Over the course of the 2013-14 season the Mariinsky Opera, Ballet, Chorus and Orchestra toured to twenty countries, with the theatre’s performances being seen by audiences in some forty towns outside Russia and fifty-six towns in Russia. An extremely important tour for the opera company included a performance of Berlioz’ Les Troyens at the Edinburgh Festival in late August, while the most important tour for the ballet company took them to London for a three-week season including twenty-one performances.
This season the Mariinsky label celebrated five years since its launch, releasing an anniversary compilation of highlights from its best recordings. The founding date of the label is considered to be the day the first audio recording went on sale – Dmitry Shostakovich’s opera The Nose performed by Mariinsky Opera soloists and the Chorus and Orchestra under the baton of Valery Gergiev. The last five years have seen the release of twenty-five discs (twenty audio and five video recordings). Recordings are issued in the contemporary formats SACD (audio) and DVD and Blu-ray (video) and include booklets containing information about the works and their performers. All audio recordings are also available in digital format from the iTunes music shop. Since it was established five years ago the Mariinsky label has won numerous prestigious awards and lofty praise from respected critics and music publications. This season the label released two discs of symphonies by Dmitry Shostakovich – the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth. There are two discs with Denis Matsuev – Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s First and Second Piano Concerti as well as Sergei Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto and Fifth Symphony. Wagner’s Ring cycle continues – an audio recording of Das Rheingold has been released. Available on DVD in Blu-ray format is Richard Strauss’ opera Die Frau ohne Schatten with Mlada Khudoley as the Empress and Avgust Amonov as the Emperor along with Edem Umerov (Barak) and Olga Sergeyeva (Barak’s Wife). This year a recording of Prokofiev’s opera The Gambler won an International Classical Music Award, a major classical music prize. A disc of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s First and Second Piano Concerti, released in February this year, was named “Recording of the Month” by Great Britain’s respected Gramophone magazine. A recording of works by Prokofiev (Piano Concerto No 3 and Symphony No 5) was also named “Disc of the Month” by the UK music portal Classical CD Choice. The last release of the current season – a recording of Shostakovich’s Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Symphonies performed by the Mariinsky Orchestra under maestro Gergiev – received the prestigious Choc du mois award from Classica magazine.
The 2014-15 season opens on 26 September with a performance of the ballet Swan Lake at the Mariinsky Theatre and Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Il trovatore at the Mariinsky-II with Valery Gergiev conducting the Mariinsky Orchestra and a stellar cast including Tatiana Serjan, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Alexei Markov and Hovannes Ayvazyan. The season at the Concert Hall opens with a recital by Alexei Volodin on 27 September. On 29 September there will be a performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem marking one century since the start of World War I. The soloists are Oksana Dyka, Alexander Timchenko and Vladislav Sulimsky along with the Mariinsky Chorus and Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev.
25 August sees the Mariinsky Orchestra under the baton of Valery Gergiev perform in Stockholm at the Baltic Sea Festival
25 August sees the Mariinsky Orchestra under the baton of Valery Gergiev perform in Stockholm at the Baltic Sea Festival. At the Berwaldhallen there will be a veritable marathon of works by Sergei Prokofiev; in the course of just one evening all five of his piano concerti will be performed. The soloists are to be musicians who regularly work with the Mariinsky Orchestra and maestro Gergiev – Olli Mustonen (First and Fifth Concerti), Alexei Volodin (Second and Fourth Concerti) and Behzod Abduraimov (Third Concerto). At the previous festival, Mariinsky Theatre musicians presented a marathon of concerti by Rodion Shchedrin.
The Baltic Sea Festival, founded in 2003 on a joint initiative of maestro Gergiev, Finnish conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and Director of Stockholm’s Berwaldhallen concert hall Michael Tydén, is being held this summer for the twelfth time. In line with the organisers’ concept, the project’s cultural focus is combined with drawing attention to the state of the environment; the festival programme will see seminars, a symposium and various exhibitions dedicated to the ecology of the Baltic region. This year the Baltic Sea Festival runs from 22 to 30 August.
Maestro Gergiev will be conducting the Mariinsky Orchestra in two concerts at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, an annual event since 1986 in the region of the same name in northern Germany which is one of the world’s greatest classical music forums
Maestro Gergiev will be conducting the Mariinsky Orchestra in two concerts at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, an annual event since 1986 in the region of the same name in northern Germany which is one of the world’s greatest classical music forums. This year the festival runs from 5 July to 31 August. The festival was initiated by the German pianist and conductor Justus Frantz, whose intention was not only to organise a celebration of music for the people of Schleswig-Holstein but also to introduce foreign visitors at the festival to the beauty of this region of northern Germany. This is why festival events take place throughout the region, with concerts being held in castles, mansions, churches and even wharves, stables and airport terminals. In addition to concerts of classical music, audiences are offered literary and music programmes, jazz evenings and special events for children.
This year the Mariinsky and Valery Gergiev will be giving two performances at the festival – in Hamburg on 21 August and in Lübeck on 22 August. The concert programmes include Dmitry Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto and symphonies by Johannes Brahms – the Fourth (in Hamburg) and the Third (in Lübeck). On both evenings the soloist will be Argentinean cellist Sol Gabetta, whose performances form a focal point of this year’s Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival (she is appearing in seventeen festival concerts).
The mid-September general release of a recording of Sergei Prokofiev’s legendary ballet is already available to preview on the website of the Mariinsky label.
The Mariinsky label’s twenty-sixth disc is a video recording of Romeo and Juliet featuring Leonid Lavrovsky’s choreography in HD format for the first time. Lavrovsky’s version, premiered at the Kirov (Mariinsky) Theatre in January 1940, was a de facto world premiere (the first performance of the piece in Brno in 1938 had been considered a failure). The main task the production team faced was to bring the work as close as possible to the Shakespearean play. Prokofiev’s score is generally recognised as a perfect musical epitome of Shakespeare’s tragedy. This is equally true of Lavrovsky’s version with regard to the dance embodiment of the drama in ballet theatre.
The recording of the ballet was made at the historic Mariinsky Theatre in February and March last year. The lead roles were performed by Diana Vishneva (Juliet), Vladimir Shklyarov (Romeo), Alexander Sergeyev (Mercutio) and Ilya Kuznetsov (Tybalt) with the Mariinsky Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev. It was this production that opened the Mariinsky Ballet’s recent three-week tour to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in London. British critics lavished praise on the performance, referring to Diana Vishneva and Vladimir Shklyarov’s appearances as “captivating” (The Telegraph).
The release forms part of a series of discs in DVD and Blu-ray formats.
The Mariinsky Ballet’s three-week tour to London has come to a close.
People are still talking of the St Petersburg productions and British critics are already eagerly awaiting the return of Mariinsky Theatre dancers. “Showing young stars, and old legends; ruffling feathers, and being predictable; winning new audiences, and helping old fans fall in love all over again – that was the Mariinsky in London in 2014. Now, when are they coming back?” wrote the internet portal The Arts Desk.
Stressing the significance of the recent tour, the portal referred to the fact that “the Mariinsky have to stand for the state of Russian cultural politics, the past, present and future of ballet, and their presence in town becomes as consuming as the Olympics to dance fans, who become temporarily conversant with the names of Mariinsky second soloists in the manner of football fans mugging up on Costa Rican goalkeepers during the World Cup.”
The final note of the tour programme came with Alexei Ratmansky’s Cinderella. The reviewer for The Arts Desk commented on the choice of this production to bring the tour to a conclusion, stating that “it was good to end the season with the Ratmansky – a vision of the new work (like it or loathe it) a company needs to go into the future.”
Most of all, the critic of The Telegraph was impressed by Diana Vishneva as Cinderella: “Vishneva, whose grave incandescence perfectly echoes Prokofiev and who communicates emotion without fear or restraint, is nothing short of a goddess.” The critic also wrote of how “Zverev has the pure lines of a dancer trained in the Vaganova Ballet Academy style.” Meanwhile, the reviewer for The Independent was impressed by the dancers’ duet – “Vishneva and Konstantin Zverev make an enchanting pair of lovers, both tender and vulnerable.”
The Arts Desk wrote of the “fabulous performances from Nadezhda Batoeva and Vladimir Shklyarov as Cinderella and the prince. Young Batoeva, still only a second soloist, is a quietly exciting dancer: she has a soubrette’s quickness in the feet, a pliant, graceful upper body in lyrical passages, and an expressive, likeable face. There’s not much character development over the course of the evening in her shy, eager, dreamy Cinderella, but she’s easily appealing and charismatic enough to get the audience rooting for her. Shklyarov has already won hearts on this tour, and with reason: he’s a fine dancer, a chivalrous partner and a versatile actor.” Summing up the results of the three-week marathon – which put the current potential of the Mariinsky Ballet on prominent display – the critic for The Telegraph stated that “Diana Vishneva, together with Uliana Lopatkina and the British dancer Xander Parish, were the stars of this season, embodying ballet at its timeless best.” The reviewer of The Arts Desk commented on “rising stars” Kimin Kim, Alexander Sergeyev and Vasily Tkachenko, advising that they are more of the “boys to watch.”
Such was The New York Times columnist’s response to yesterday’s London evening performance of a programme of one-act ballets including Michel Fokine’s The Firebird, Frederick Ashton’s Marguerite and Armand and Alexei Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH.
“Sold-out houses, lines of people waiting for returned tickets, and palpable audience buzz,” commented the journalist of The New York Times on the atmosphere prior to the performances at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, stating that “Why this program, and the Balanchine double bill that preceded it, were only offered for two or three performances is a mystery, since it suggested that they were among the most eagerly anticipated of the season. That’s partly because mixed bills offer a number of opportunities to showcase principal roles and the Mariinsky has plenty of stars to show off.”
The New York critic named Alexei Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH the highlight of the programme. Familiar with the choreography of the production since its premiere with the New York City Ballet, the reviewer asked somewhat rhetorically “Is Alexei Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH the best ballet to date of the 21st century?” And, inspired by the performance by Mariinsky Ballet dancers, she answered her own question: “It certainly felt like the most exhilarating one.” The New York Times wrote how the “Russianness of the work – its evocation of Soviet optimism in its bounding athletes, its simultaneous comedy and pathos – feels touchingly alive.” “But the Mariinsky dancers were more than equal to its demands, with blazingly good performances from Kimin Kim, Filipp Stepin and Nadezhda Batoeva as the opening trio, and Viktoria Tereshkina and Mr Yermakov as the principal pair. The commentator of the Financial Times noted the countless cries of “Bravo!” to which “Nadezhda Batoeva relished her saucy pas de trois, flanked by Filipp Stepin and Korean boy wonder Kimin Kim, who played in the air like a starling.” According to The Telegraph, Ratmansky’s ballet “shows off the Mariinsky’s sharp strength in depth.” The performance, an impression of which the correspondent of The Telegraph compared to feelings about the last day of summer, filled with joy but also reminding one of impending autumn, also centred around the powerful technique and beautiful shapes of Viktoria Tereshkina and the ideal partnering qualities of Andrei Yermakov, “one of the discoveries of this London visit.”
“Best of all was the unexpected pleasure of Andrei Yermakov’s Tsarevich hero” in The Firebird, commented the internet portal The Arts Desk. Meanwhile, the Financial Times praised Andrei Yermakov for his combination of “elegant technique and manly manners with the looks of a young Steve McQueen.”
Praising the Mariinsky Ballet’s performance of The Firebird, the reviewer for The Guardian commented that “I must have seen dozens of Firebirds, and few match this for fairytale shock and awe. Even more powerful, though, is the playing of the Mariinsky Orchestra, who render Stravinsky’s score in magisterial Technicolor, and the dancers themselves, who bring an ardent storytelling energy to Michel Fokine's choreography.”
The Russian dancers’ performance of Frederick Ashton’s ballet drew well-expected interest among British audiences. The correspondent of The New York Times stated that “Diana Vishneva is perfect for the role” ... “and Ms Vishneva is certainly a ballerina to make the most of wild love, a tragic death and gorgeous dresses by Cecil Beaton.”
“The beauteous Vishneva looked sumptuous in Cecil Beaton’s dresses, giving the slender choreographic fabric the full prima swish,” noted The Arts Desk.
The respected ballet critic of The Telegraph Sarah Crompton, paying due tribute to every appearance by Ulyana Lopatkina in the performances, wrote that she “conveyed the profoundest emotion through the tiniest details as Marguerite The moment when she first sees him, and unfolds towards him in a kind of hazy slow motion, was utterly lovely. At 40, this may be her last appearance on a British stage – if so, it was a fitting farewell
Sarah Crompton’s opinion matches that of famous British critic Judith Mackrell, who wrote in The Guardian that “Uliana Lopatkina is a revelation. Her grand classical line makes Marguerite unquestionably queen of her own court, yet her body looks hollowed by illness, her happiness a fragile puff. Both exquisite and ravaged, this performance opens up fascinating views of Lopatkina's artistry in this late phase of her career.”
The Mariinsky Ballet and Orchestra’s three-week season continues at the Royal Opera House in London. The second week of the tour concluded with George Balanchine’s ballets Apollo and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the homeland of William Shakespeare marked four hundred and fifty years since the birth of the great dramatist. British audiences, more familiar with another interpretation of this Shakespearean play – a one-act ballet by Frederick Ashton – gave a warm welcome to Balanchine’s two-act production as performed by dancers of the Mariinsky Ballet. The correspondent of The Telegraph awarded A Midsummer Night’s Dream five stars. Meanwhile, The Times considered that Balanchine’s ballet after Shakespeare’s plot was “a gleaming showcase for elegant, aristocratic dancing, just the ticket for these St Petersburg dancers.” Among the performers of the lead roles, the British critic noted Viktoria Tereshkina as “an extra marvel as Titania” as well as Timur Askerov who was “noble and accomplished as Oberon” and Vasily Tkachenko’s “eye-catching Puck”; Anastasia Matvienko’s “dazzling pirouettes” and leaps as Hippolyta also drew the critic’s attention. London reviewers loved the “illumination of the stage with sensuous radiance” that filled the theatre in the Act II duet with Oxana Skorik and Konstantin Zverev in addition to stating that “Kimin Kim and Nadezhda Batoeva are radiant in the floating lifts and dreamy phrasing.”
Critics spoke of all three performers of the title role in Apollo; The Independent noted the “elegance of the dancing” and that “Parish has pure line and a high jump”, while the critic of The Times related how “Alexander Sergeyev had the stature and charisma I associate with the best Apollos” and the reviewer for The New York Times wrote how “Mr Shklyarov is an immediately engaging performer, technically powerful, alertly musical and tenderly responsive to Ms Shapran, Nadezhda Batoeva as Polyhymnia and Viktoria Krasnokutskaya as Calliope.”
Kristina Shapran who performed the role of Terpsichore was forecast a great future by The Financial Times. Clement Crisp, one of the most influential critics in Great Britain, spoke of how “Here is a very rare talent” with regard to the young soloist and referred to her appearance in Apollo as “dancing of astonishing promise”, going on to say that “She is young, has exquisite feet, an ideal physique, is musically alert and technically assured (...) But Shapran seems to give each step, each action, an inner life that is revealed to us as she moves.”
“Ulyana Lopatkina shows other ballerinas what it is all about” was the headline of a London review following the performance by the Mariinsky Theatre’s prima ballerina in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
London audiences will see a further two performances of Swan Lake by the Mariinsky Ballet, though the critic of The Telegraph has already made up her own mind, commenting that “Dance fans are unlikely to ever see an Odette as otherworldly and magical as Ulyana Lopatkina.” “She turns Petipa’s steps into a kind of liquid poetry,” the review went on to state, calling Ulyana Lopatkina’s performance as Odette in the “white” adagio with Yevgeny Ivanchenko as Prince Siegfried “a masterpiece within a masterpiece”, while as the black swan Odile Lopatkina has “exact shaping, exhibiting Lopatkina’s almost surreal ability to find space in the music to make different inflections, new sense.”
The internet portal The Arts Desk explains the unusual refinement of Lopatkina’s dance, stating that “the exquisite flow of her dancing has been produced by the physical intelligence of a girl built on grandly architectural lines, watered by her theatrical sense of musicality and awareness of the poetic space of ballet.” Commenting that “Her Swan Lake iconography is so extraordinarily potent that she has become embalmed in popular imagination in these classical otherworldly tutu roles,” the author of the publication comments on the dancer’s wit as Titania in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream – “But oh boy, can Lopatkina tickle, and her Titania gave Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream a laughing wit that – I don my tin hat here – is sorely needed in this ballet.” The critic goes on to say that as Titania, Queen of the Fairies, “She seemed to tread without weight, as if stepping on leaves on trees, or perhaps on the air. I suspect that it is that Lopatkina simply decided to be a fairy in a parallel world, and so she did the hard technical work to become this fantasy creature who cheats gravity.”
The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, has hosted the first performances of Swan Lake by the Mariinsky Ballet
The main focus of admiration of the London press was the Mariinsky Theatre’s corps de ballet. The “sublime magnificence of the Mariinsky corps de ballet” inspired the reviewer for The Times to write that “Their exquisite clockwork precision is worthy of Fabergé.” The “aristocratic assurance” of the corps de ballet was commented on by The Independent, while the London Evening Standard noted that “The famous corps of Mariinsky swans are perfectly aligned as ever.” Enchanted by the fact that “The corps de ballet is magnificent, the troupe of swans gliding on their aquamarine lake like the very essence of ballet,” The Telegraph’s reviewer did not stint in her praise, stating that “No performance of Swan Lake has ever been perfect, but the Mariinsky came close.”
In its first performances, the Mariinsky Theatre presented a new generation of dancers of the lead roles. Naturally, the British critics focussed their attention on the performance by “Russian Brit” Xander Parish. Numerous publications have related the story of the career of their compatriot who, after graduating from the Royal Ballet School and several years in the corps de ballet at the Royal Opera House, was invited to join the Mariinsky Theatre where he now performs lead roles in ballets in St Petersburg. Noting Xander Parish’s “graceful, male masculinity” and also his skills as an “exceptional partner” and his musicality, The Times considered the dancer worthy of the title of “danseur noble”.
The critic of The Guardian commented that as Siegfried “Timur Askerov is very watchable, with a handsome elevation and line.” The Financial Times gave a flattering appraisal of Oxana Skorik: “She possesses exquisite line – eloquent for Odette; dazzling for Odile – and an intriguing air of mystery, of an inner passion.”
The press also commented on the performers of other roles. The internet portal theartsdesk.com described Andrei Yermakov as “sinister and explosive, his fey, spiky jumps crackle with energy” as von Rothbart, while The Guardian commented on the “exceptionally expansive line” of the “mesmerising” Kimin Kim as the Prince’s Friends.
Please note the special working hours of box-offices from 22 July to 15 September 2014.
Mariinsky Theatre box-office in Bolshoi Gostiny Dvor
Corner of the Nevskaya and Perinnaya Lines, mezzanine floor
Daily from 25 August to 15 September the box-office is open from 11:00 to 19:00 (closed from 14:30 to 16:00).
From 16 September the box-office will return to normal working hours – daily from 11:00 to 21:00 (closed from 14:30 to 16:00).
The Mariinsky Theatre box-office at the service centre of the Central Railway Ticket Office will be closed from 22 July to 7 September.
Ticket sales reopen on 8 September.
Mariinsky Theatre box-offices will be closed from 25 August to 15 September.
Ticket sales reopen on 16 September.
Box-offices at the Mariinsky II will be closed from 11 to 24 August.
Ticket sales reopen on 25 August.
Box-offices at the Concert Hall will be closed from 1 August to 15 September.
Ticket sales reopen on 16 September.
From 16 September all box-offices will operate as usual.