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The Moiseev Ballet once again thrills Boston audiences with two classics done with style and enchantment
The Moiseev Russian Classic Ballet
Cutler Majestic Theater, Boston
April 4,5, 2009
A production worthy of strong attendance from those who enjoy ballet and for those who want to experience it for the first time.
By Paul Joseph Walkowski
The Cutler Majestic Theater in Boston came alive with glorious music and graceful dance this weekend as the Moiseev Russian Classic Ballet, which is conducting its fourth U.S. tour, charmed the audiences with three beloved productions, only two of which I was able to attend and review: Adolphe Adam’s “Giselle” and Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty.” I missed Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” which I have reviewed before on this site.
Giselle is the story of a peasant girl who falls in love with a disguised Count, already betrothed, unbeknownst to her. Count Albrecht soon runs into her original suitor, Hilarion, who makes the Count’s deceit public. Giselle, dies of a broken heart and is buried in the forest, where other young maidens have been similarly buried, and who also have died before marriage. They are the spirits of the deal, led by an unforgiving Mirta, Queen of the Wilis (the dead). The spirit virgins lure the deceitful Count into the forest and he is dispatched of quickly with dance. Hilarion, however, finds in the spirit Giselle a strong defender and she intervenes with the Queen to spare him his life. Alas, that is not to be the case. But, at least, the two are united again in the afterworld.
The story told through music and body movement (classic Russian ballet) was danced beautifully and expressively by a strong cast headed by Guzel Suleymanova (Giselle), Dimitry Marasanova (the Count) and Andrei Shallin (Hilarion). Although she danced little, kudos to Tatyana Panteleeva (the Queen) for her commanding presence and regal appearance.
The costumes where striking and the music was magnificent, especially the more emotional and serious second act, and while the Cutler stage is small, the corps de ballet ensemble handled it well and was a major plus for this production adding fluidity, grace and emotional depth to the story. If there was one drawback, it would be the lighting in the first act which was glaringly bright -- almost too much so. In the second act, it was toned down and much more pleasant to watch, since the production used spots very effectively. The orchestration was pre-recorded in both shows and was provided by the Bolshoi Orchestra using 25 microphones in a special set-up. The conductor was Algys Juraitis.
Still, this is a production worthy of strong attendance from those who enjoy ballet and for those who want to experience it for the first time. The Moiseev Russian Classic Ballet is making quite a name for itself and its productions are always eagerly anticipated, well-attended, and thoroughly enjoyed. This looks to be a very successful tour, indeed.
Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty” was an equally impressive effort, filled with color, smart costuming, and some pretty remarkable performances. In this production, the lighting was used very effectively throughout and was easy on the eyes.
Attesting to the strength of this organization, many of the lead dancers that appeared in Saturday evening’s performance of “Gisele” appeared again Sunday afternoon in “Sleeping Beauty,” most notably, Guzel Suleymanova, dancing the role of Princess Aurora and Dimitry Marasanova, dancing the role of Prince Desire. As with most performances there is usually one dancer who stands out, and in this show the audience took particular pleasure in the skill, fluid body movements and superb acting of Mr. Almaz Akhmetzyanov who, while he was always draped in a floor-length cape, danced the role of the wicked, spell-casting fairy Carabosse with panache and great success. The children who did attend this performance had to be mesmerized.
One drawback to this particular ballet, not the company performing it, is that this ballet needs to be shortened. Yes, I understand, it’s Tchaikovsky and all that, but the truth is, even he needs some editing. Everyone I talk with says the entire second scene in Act Two, the wedding celebration, can be shortened or eliminated entirely, and greater dramatic emphasis can and should be given scene one of Act Two, especially the opportunity to emphasize the tension between the wicked Carabosse, who struggles to keep the Kingdom in a state of sleep, and the Lilac Fairy who leads the Prince to find the Princess and bestow upon her the magic kiss.
Having said that, “Sleeping Beauty” is a classic, and it will unlikely be changed because this writer believe it to contain an ending that everyone knows is a drag on the rest of the show. As I hope to have made clear in this review, though, even a drag can be performed with style and grace, and in this regard, the entire corps de ballet of Vladimir Moiseev meets and exceeds all expectations. As noted earlier, this should be a very successful tour.