The Bolshoi Ballet returns to London and the Royal Opera House this Summer, with four full-length productions and three one-act ballets running (or should that be courant) between 29th July and 17th August 2013 to celebrate its 50th anniversary of its first Covent Garden performance. Their annual visit is always an event to be cherished and this year I am especially looking forward to the UK premiere of Balanchine’s Jewels which promises to embody the very essence of the company in three one-act ballets.
The season starts off, however with a classic: Swan Lake. It has come a long way since its opening night slating in 1877… modern day critics should remember that Tchaikovsky and Petipa are the names we remember, not the critics’ who no doubt revelled in their mis-guided dissection just as they do today.
I understand that choreographer Yuri Grigorovich will give us his 2001 version of the ballet rather than his infamous “happy ending” 1984 version! Pity really!
29th, 30th, 31st July 7.30pm
1st, 10th, 14th, 15th August 7.30pm
10th August 2pm
The same year that first gave us Swan Lake, also gave us La Bayadère. This is the Bolshoi Ballet’s fabulous production of Petipa’s production of the tragic story of a temple dancer doomed love for a warrior: the richness of the production is matched by the dazzling designs of Nikolai Sharonov – Bolshoi at it best! Although I wish they wouldn’t walk to the front every two minutes and demand applause, however many fouettes they’ve done. I know it is the Russian way, but PLEASE!
By the way, does anyone know how long 32 fouettes take? I bet there is a Chinese dancer who can do them in less than 10 seconds – there always is.
2nd, 3rd August 7.30pm
3rd August 2pm
The Sleeping Beauty
The third classic offering this summer comes in the form of Perrault’s beloved fairytale: The Sleeping Beauty. Everything that a ballet should be: more Tchaikovsky and Petipa. If you can take your eyes off of the dancers do glance at the sets everyonce in a while.
I won’t insult you with the story!
5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th August 7.30pm
The Flames of Paris
So to add a little balance to the season, the aforementioned classics are topped off with the UK premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s highly acclaimed full length ballet, The Flames of Paris.
Set to Boris Asafiev’s powerfully evocative music, the ballet, adapted from Vasily Vainonen’s 1932 version of the same name, depicts the tumultuous era of the French Revolution and apparantly boasts one of the most exciting pas de deux in the whole of ballet history ever! Now that may be worth a little applause!
16th, 17th August 7.30pm
17th August 2pm
Just as the Australians will have the ODIs sandwiched between the test matches this summer, Bolshoi Ballet’s season will also feature a mixed programme of one act ballets featuring the UK premiere of George Balanchine’s Jewels. And just like the ODIs they threaten to be the most exciting!
Jewels is inspired by the brilliance and colour of three gemstones: Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds. Fauré’s music perfectly complements the romantic elegance of Emeralds, followed by the jazzy, witty Rubies set to Stravinsky’s vibrant score; Diamonds, a glittering evocation of Russian imperialism to Tchaikovsky’s sublime music, ends the ballet in a spectacular tribute to the great Russian ballet tradition. I can’t wait!
12th, 13th August 7.30pm
Booking for the Bolshoi Ballet season 2013 at the Royal Opera House, London is now open.
Simon Harding is Editor at Theatre Breaks.