Accessibility links


Sign In
  • Home
  • News
  • Your Reaction: The Mariinsky Ballet's Apollo/A Midsummer Night's Dream 2014

Your Reaction: The Mariinsky Ballet's Apollo/A Midsummer Night's Dream 2014

What did you think of the Mariinsky's performance of Balanchine's double bill?

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

9 August 2014 at 7.52am | 7 Comments

What did you think of Apollo/A Midsummer Night's Dream?

The Mariinsky Ballet's Summer 2014 performances at the Royal Opera House are presented by Victor Hochhauser.

This article has 7 comments

  1. Bruce Wall responded on 9 August 2014 at 9:38am Reply

    The Mariinsky's Balanchine evening was the Company's finest outing thus far in their 2014 London season IMHO. This is I think entirely understandable given the embracing magic woven inside both pieces selected as created by the master dance maker of the 20th Century.

    While not yet scaling the heights of, say, (Peter) Martins, Boal, Hubbe, Finlay or Carreno as Apollo, the exemplary Vladimir Shklyarov was impetuously incisive in his depiction of a young God finding his way in the world. (Is there a one act ballet with a more inviting narrative that Balanchine and Stravinsky's APOLLO? I think not. I only wish that the music had been better played on this occasion. Methinks that Maestro Gergiev has kept all the best Mariinsky instrumentalists at home under his own baton.) After attending more than a few of the performances by the Mariinsky team of balletic performers fielded for this particular London sojourn, I have come to believe that Shklyarov and the incandescently gleaming Viktoria Tereshkina (whose Titania in Balanchine's MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM brought to rapid mind the glories of Krya Nichols in the same role - from the warmth of her glittering smile down) are by some distance the strongest on show. Both did nothing but build on the incisive radiance of their truly outstanding SL performances. One sees well why Kevin McKenzie has selected them as ABT's 'exchange artists'. The enormity of their skill reaches engagingly beyond time; beyond any geographical boundary. Both understand and precisely relate the application of their artistry as embellished both off (as well as on) balance as well as adorn their virtuosity by moving 'through rather than 'on' music much as Balanchine dictated. Sadly a goodly number of their peers do not and struggle to render the 'Balanchinian' magic routine. Balanchine happily sees that they fail. Still there is NO question but that Shklyarov and Tereshkina stand out from that crowd. Without hesitation Tereshkina's artistry is a far cry from the uncertain centre of Oxana Skorik, who almost (but not quite) managed to mangle the stunning glory of that masterful pas de deux which beats at the heart of the second act of Balanchine's DREAM, itself but a thrilling extended divertissement in celebration of the impending nuptials. I, myself, felt naught but sorry for the hard working Konstantin Zverev as her cavalier.

    Nancy Goldner in Balanchine Variations quotes the progenitor of ballet as we now understand it as writing: "It was in studying Apollo that I came first to understand how gestures, like tones in music and shades in painting, have certain family relations." These could well be appreciated in the rich sharing between Shklyarov and the finely animated Kristina Shapran in what may well be her (very fine) Mariinsky debut. (London audiences have previously appreciated her animated skill at the Coliseum in the title role of Coppelia with the Stanislavsky Ballet aside their current 'guest artist' Sergei Polunin, a former RB principal.) The stunning central Apollo pas de deux sang through Shapran's guiding limbs as Terpsichore. It was suffused with a much appreciated adroit finesse. I was also taken by the bouncing excitement of Nadexhda Batoeva's Polyhymnia and very much look forward to her Cinderella (again in the more than capable hands of Shklyarov) at the final performance of this particular Mariinsky season.

    I confess I prefer Ashton's DREAM to Balanchine's (even though the latter does more fulsomely address the Bard's work itself). That said, I MUCH prefer Balanchine's finely dramatic La Valse to our British master's take. Horses for courses and all that. Still it was wonderful to be able to revisit the Balanchine via the splendour of this far more than merely handsome physical production. I so appreciate that the Mariinsky design team never appear to clutter their stages with scenery, allowing the dance itself to set the scene. While never touching the diabolical glee of Damian Woetzel's resplendent performance, the talented Vasily Tkachenko rightly glorified in Balanchine's Puck. Xander Parish came into his own I felt as Demetrius and Anastasia Matvienko (an artist we have previously enjoyed in London with the Mikhailovsky) rendered her stealth - if not her smile - on Hypolita, a role that for me will FOREVER have the name of Monique Meunier emblazoned on its heart. (Sadly London - that 'mecca of world dance' according to Sadler's Well's Alistair Spalding - was never given an opportunity to sample Meunier's heady flair.) What came close to making me cry, however, was the approximations of Timur Askerov's Oberon in that MASTERFULLY extended variation created for Villella in 1962. How well I remember attending a free seminar at the NY Public Library (Lincoln Center Branch) where Villella himself choked up at watching a film of his performing the same and then spent an unforgettable hour relating details behind the alchemy of its creation. Last night's audience rightfully applauded Balanchine's genius in the construction of this devilishly difficult feat ... but, oh, that the virtuoso that was Peter Boal could have been been reawakened to show this deserving crowd just how those steps might dazzle in the full flight of their undisputed magic. Still, one must be grateful that a likeness was there at all I suppose ... and there was - as I said - much in the overall evening to admire throughout.

  2. Patrick Buckingham responded on 9 August 2014 at 7:47pm Reply

    Really enjoyable Balanchine double bill this afternoon. Apollo felt more modern than its age suggested and it was a real pleasure to watch Xander Parish take centre stage. A Midsummer Night's Dream was a complete delight - full of humour, visual spectacle and musical flare. I was so impressed by the Mariinksy corps de ballet who are the best I've seen.

  3. Marylyn Martin responded on 10 August 2014 at 12:01pm Reply

    Loved it all. A wonderful Midsummer Night's dream. The dancers, the costumes, the music, the setting, everything was perfect. Apollo too was technically excellent. A fabulous evening at ROH yesterday. спасибо Marinsky and thank you ROH!

  4. Bruce Wall responded on 10 August 2014 at 3:18pm Reply

    A follow-up ....

    Attended both of the performances of the Mariinsky's Balanchine programme on the second Saturday of their three week 2014 London Tour presented at the generous behest of the Hochhausers' commercial interests. All seats were - as far as I could see - filled. Sadly the two performances of APOLLO were stung by a collection of Russian instrumentalists and their slovenly leader - one Gavriel Heine - who insisted on homogenising the aliphatic musical mysteries of Stavinsky's glorious drama. Those sitting in front of the position in the upper ROH amphitheatre from which I stood shifted uncomfortably in their seats as the insistent sawing rendered their ears ever more leaden. Even Ms. Shapren who danced all three of the weekend's Terpsichores was not shielded from such effects. (I must confess given the lack of additional interpreters of that major role - [I, myself, would have loved to see the luminous Ms Tereshkina] - and in my own desperate need to find some/any respite from the barbarous musical massacre being wrought - I begun to wonder if this particular lack in notable casting variety might in some covert fashion be a signal as to the diminishing depth of strength in the current Mariinsky soloist and principal ranks on London show. Then suddenly another sour horror was struck from the pit and I was interrupted from even that contemplation. One of course prays that the combined Mariinsky forces will continue to wave and not drown. History happily shows that this will be the most likely course.) That said - and In all events pertaining to Stravinsky yesterday - as much as towards Balanchine's indomitable Apollo Musagete such as is danced by this Company, it proved hard - neigh, almost impossible at times - to 'hear the dance' when - at almost every (and frequently unsteady) turn - we were clouded in our efforts to emphatically 'see' the staggering score of the 20th Century's master music maker. T'was a shame.

    The matinee of Balanchine's MIDSUMMER'S NIGHT DREAM - much as had been the case with the previous Saturday's SWAN LAKE - proved to be but a rehearsal for an enhanced evening repast (short in this instance for the very delicate turn in the second act's vigorous adagio by the ever appealing Nadezhda Batoeva). Even Oxana Skorik, who had, herself, been a Ttiania of limited largess in the afternoon, found second breath in the evening's Divertessment (certainly when compared with her rather forced efforts in that role the evening before). During this last London performance of Balanchine's take on Shakespeare's insightful frivolities Skorik allowed an enhanced grace to flower in her stunningly elongated extensions. A renewed relaxation was to be found in her smile as it now began to consistently unfold in the the ever hardy hands of her industriously stolid - oh, sorry - solid cavalier, Konstantin Zverev. Uliana Lopatkina - although not perhaps a Balanchine dancer born - sprinkled the radiance of her glowing sincerity - a rarefied entity we have long been privileged to cherish - over all. She made the many happy faces of the talented British children beam within the girth of their second act circle's approbation. (Bless Balanchine for never being patronising in his choreography for these [or indeed any] youths.) Even the entirely endearing changeling child's enhanced grin (surely well worth the price of any familial feud) was wrought even more emphatically delicious as he did his level best to copy Lopatkina in her theatrical grace during the first act curtain call. (Strange as it may sound that, I think, may well prove for me to be one of the highlights of this particular Mariinsky run). Definitively - if proof was EVER needed - Lopatkina gave deafening lie to the song title: 'Nobody Loves a Fairy When She's Forty'. With abundant validity she was here adored by all. The female quotient of the Bard's lovers (again repeated here from the previous evening) were on particularly fine form as was Anastasia Matvienko's ever eviscerating stealth as Hippolyta. Happily she too now found her smile. Viktoria Krasnokutskaya's emotional variation as Hermia was most especially vivid and garnered enhanced and well warranted applause. ABOVE ALL, however, what set this performance apart from the other two sometimes saddened outings was the performance of Oberon. The misery of those previously missed opportunities suddenly evaporated as Filipp Stepin stepped - or should I say - leaped - into the role with refreshing conviction. While not approaching the informed majesty of Peter Boal, Stepin (in the pejorative) 'went for it' and gave more than joy in his elevating execution. Bless him. The audience was rightly buoyed and no one could I think have asked for more on that occasion. Yuri Smekalov's Puck rose to a happier place in the end.

  5. Sheila South responded on 11 August 2014 at 12:40pm Reply

    Loved the Apollo performance (I am studying Greek and Roman Mythology) and Midsummer Night's Dream was breathtaking. The dancing, costumes, music were brilliant. Xander Parish was a joy to watch. I have booked for all the Mariinsky Ballet's and am so glad that I have. I have now joined ROH as a friend.

  6. Jennifer Jones responded on 12 August 2014 at 1:51pm Reply

    Loved Midsummer Night's Dream. Costumes were like an Arthur Rackham illustration - very magical and beautiful. Child fairies were a real delight and Viktoria Tereshkina is a true ballerina. Was so relieved to actually genuinely enjoy watching something for once. Music was wonderful. Singers/choir enunciated every word and the orchestra evidently enjoyed playing this piece. Altogether an experience I would hate to have missed.

  7. - Apollo:
    Mr Shklyarov has such a charisma, grabs audiences’ hearts with an immediate and instantaneous gravity from his sincerity and expressiveness. As Apollo, he was, oh my God, on fire! Yes, of course, he was a Greek Sun God, what else should I have expected?
    Ms Shapran, joined the Mariinsky as a First Soloist this year, shortly after she was promoted to a Principal at the Mikhailovsky after only three years since her graduation from the Vaganova Academy. She was one of three companions in Mr Shklyrov’s Apollo, Terpsichore. What a marvellous young talent she was! She has such a solid technique and beautiful body line, and I cannot wait to see her again.
    - A Midsummer Night’s Dream:
    What a delightful production!!
    Ms Tereshkina was wonderfully delicious Titania in this delightful Balanchine production; I could totally believe she was genuinely in love with a donkey-faced “Mr Bottom.”
    Mr Askerov was Oberon. He is not the tallest in the Mariinsky, but makes an elegant and sincere prince while regal and eloquent when required.
    Mr Zverev, very tall noble looking man, totally shined in his princely roles.
    Together with Mr Zverev in Pas de deux in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Ms Skorik brought an air of grandeur in a scene of three weddings.
    Upon my first glance at her profile photo, Ms Matvienko’s extremely beautiful facial features suggested as if she were a fragile princess. Oh, no, her minds could be made of steel, though she was far too elegant for that. With her awesome technique, her Hippolyta was absolutely stunning.
    I was also very impressed with Mr Tkachenko, the wonderfully mischievous Puck; is he really “only” a Coryphee, for God’s sake!!?? He was a super busy boy during Mariinsky’s London tour this summer. I shall look forward to his next appearance.
    The most disturbing thing about Mr Parish’s story is that the same people, critics and audiences alike with such negligence and ignorance, who had shown no interest whatsoever in this young talented Yorkshire man while he was with the Royal Ballet, suddenly started talking about him as if he had been always their pride possession since they realised that he had been recognised by the Russians, the world’s very best Mariinsky!!
    His comic timing and acting skills he showed in his Demetrius were absolutely fantastic; they were in his blood, literally. He has certain gravity on stage. I shall look forward to seeing this tall young talent with great looks more the next time.

Comment on this article

Your email will not be published

Website URL is optional