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Sunday, 3 August 2014





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Mariinsky Ballet goes to London:

Excitement in the air

Think of Mariinsky and Royal Opera House, the ravishing summer snugs ll in her beauteous splendour. The balmy weather creates the atmosphere and mood for the grandeur of the visiting Mariinsky magic.

When Mariinsky comes to London, it is always sensational and on such several glorious events, I happened to be there. Romeo and Juliet was staged at the London Opera House. This much-awaited ballet was followed by several other classics drawing the excited Britons in their thousands to the Covent Garden along with other visitors to London who too were feeling the warmth of the summer season.

Where thou art, there will my spirit be'(GH) This quote is not from Romeo and Juliet but from this writer's work

The ballet company of the Mariinsky Theatre from St. Petersburg could not have been more realistic than its followers. Apart from the young students I saw from the Royal Ballet artistes aspiring to be tomorrow's choreographers. They may have wanted to see the real and live Russian works in addition to what they knew for the present. The rush, the body language of one and all made it obvious what was expected for the evening.

Classical dream

Not a seat left vacant except the murmer from each other as the curtains went up to reveal a classical dream from across the oceans we were eagerly waiting to see. At any stage, any moment, any day, the Mariinsky never lets down its classical repertoire in their leading classics that make Russia the citadel of classical dance.

The stage is set for this world's greatest love story where the star-crossed lovers begin their journey to a tragic end. Their families, the Capulets and Montagues who are deeply opposed to their union and who are engaged in a vicious feud lead them, step by step to horrifying consequences where Romeo and Juliet commit suicide.

Today's version, places an enhanced role on Tybalt, Julia's cousin to highlight the Shakespearean tragedy. The emphasis helps develop hatred for Romeo who has stolen Juliet's heart to leave Tybalt as the frustrated Capulet. Here the choreographer has been very indifferent to its original one, Leonide Lavrovsky.

No doubt Romeo and Juliet is the iconic 20th century ballet from Russia where Leoide Lavrvsky was a part of the original team that went on to develop Prokofiev's score which he especially wrote for the ballet and which became inseparable wherever or whenever the ballet was performed.

Romeo and Juliet is a speciality whenever Bolshoi decides to take this masterpiece out of Russia. Yet, it was not until 1940 that Prokofieve's score was heard in Russia and with Mariinsky dancing to Lavrovsky's choreography, the dream-ballet was produced and its premiere celebrated a new era in Soviet ballet and Lavrovsky became its pioneer. But it did not stop there.

There was more in store for Lavrovsky because he was determined to push Prokofiev's score to include mere innovative techniques that he drew from several dance styles with varying magnificent crowd scenes especially among the Montagues and the Capulets with soulful ‘pas de deux'. He was a great master at expressive mime that he used to introduce in greater realism and the ultimate result was to capture the agonising clarity evident in the emotions of the young lovers.

It is this improvised version which the Mariinsky Ballet Theatre upheld in its pure classical repertoire. It had maintained the Renaissance society that Framed tragedy.

The breathtaking versatality of Diana Vishneva with the exiting personality of her Romeo was a class by themselves. There was nothing lacking and left for imagination. The rest of the cast were equally equipped in their dancing prowess that has made this version of the ballet so perfect and immaculate. The gorgeous settings and iconic choreography could not have been better towards this spectacular marvel.

Diana Vishnova as Juliet in the Mariinsky Theatre production of Romeo and Juliet boarded at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Sergei Prokofiev is the only composer who maintained his musical ideals under Russian dictatorship. He was by no means interested in the affairs of the State. As a matter of coincidence, Stalin and he died on the same day. His apparent brilliance took him to St. Petersburg Conservatory when he was barely 13 years and there was no looking back as he rose to great scales. His scores ranged from symphony, orchestral, incidental, concerto, opera, ballet, choral, chamber, piano and vocal.

Throughout his musical career as composer all his scores were original; nothing borrowed but influenced by Stravinsky and the Russian School. He did step out of bounds once in a while when he composed the First Piano Concerto which turned out to be controversial with its violent keyboard and melodic twists. He remains one of the most performed composers even today.

His essential works among others were, Classical Symphony (917), The Love for Tree Oranges (1919), Violin Concerto No. 3 (1921), Violin Concerto No. 2 (1935), Peter and the Wolf (1936) with many Pianosonatas as well as Symphony No. 5 (1944). Among all these, Romeo and Juliet, Op. 65 (1935) stands out as his best contribution to ballet which is based on Shakespeare's play.

It became very popular after the appearance of three orchestral suites based on the score, followed by the strutting, Montagues and Capulets also known as The March of the Nobles.


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