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Bolshoi’s Swan Lake conquers British audiences

August 02, 17:52 UTC+3 LONDON
The Bolshoi Ballet’s London tour will last until August 13
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© Ruslan Shamukov/TASS

LONDON, August 2 /TASS/. The Bolshoi Ballet’s triumphant "diamond" guest tour has been under way at London’s Royal Opera House since July 25. This year it is devoted to the 60th anniversary of the Bolshoi’s first foreign trip to London held on the Covent Garden stage in 1956.

"The forthcoming guest tour is special. It is devoted to the 60th anniversary of the Bolshoi Theatre’s first foreign guest tour at the Royal Opera House. Sixty years on the Bolshoi ballet will mark the ‘diamond’ jubilee of its first foreign trip on the same stage. The receiving party’s website calls the forthcoming tour "Bolshoi Ballet Diamond Jubilee," Urin said prior the troupe’s departure to Britain.

Urin recalled that the Bolshoi had given its first ballet performance in London exactly 60 years ago in 1956. The British press wrote in those days that each Bolshoi performance had been played to full houses and was accompanied by storm of applause.

"That legendary tour opened the art of Russian ballet dancers, the great Russian dancer Galina Ulanova in particular, to the British audience. It was then that the Bolshoi ballet troupe became world famous and firmly established itself as the Bolshoi Ballet," Urin said.

This year’s "diamond" program includes Don Quixote by Minkus; Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s "Swan Lake"; the Corsair (reconstructed by Alexei Ratmansky and Yuri Burlaka in 2007) and a Soviet-era hit called "The Flame of Paris", which Alexey Ratmansky recreated in 2008.

"Taming of the Shrew" staged by Jean Christophe Maillot for the Bolshoi will end the "diamond" program. This production has made only one foreign voyage so far - the Principality of Monaco where the choreographer lives. The British public will see "Taming of the Shrew" for the first time.

The Bolshoi Ballet’s "diamond season" opened with Don Quixote, which the troupe showed four times.

Tchaikovsky’s legendary Swan Lake has been on the stage since July 29.

"Yury Grigorovich’s Swan Lake, now arrived in the Bolshoi’s London repertory, reshapes the traditional narrative, reorders parts of the score, revises the old choreography and provides extensive new dances. It has survived Soviet-era intervention and offers a staging - in two acts and four scenes - that represents the ultimate views of an eminent Russian choreographer about this most popular, most traduced and, I venture, most Russian of ballets. Grigorovich’s vision is compelling," ballet critic Clement Crisp wrote in his article in "The Financial Times".

He remembers the drama that surrounded the Bolshoi’s first foreign trip to London 60 years ago.

"The orchestral playing is magnificent under Pavel Sorokin’s baton, and no less so the performances of Olga Smirnova as Odette/Odile and of Denis Rodkin as Siegfried," Crisp wrote.

"I much admired the Evil Genius - known to the police as von Rothbart - in Artemy Belyakov’s boldly scaled reading," he added.

"And, at curtain-fall, you salute the Bolshoi’s ensemble, the academic rectitude of a superb corps de ballet, the sense of inevitability about its dancing - thus, and not otherwise - and the heart-whole playing by Sorokin’s musicians. Swan Lake is maltreated and misunderstood by ballet troupes across the world; with Smirnova and Rodkin and the tremendous integrity of the Bolshoi ensemble it is very fine," the ballet critic said.

"The Swan Lake" will run for eight nights. Apart from Olga Smirnova and Denis Rodkin, the cast also includes Svetlana Zakharova, Anna Nikulina, Yekaterina Krysanova, Vladislav Lantratov, Semyon Chudin and Ruslan Skvortsov. Yulia Stepanova, one of the dancers who plays the parts of Odette/Odile, will make her debut on the Convent Garden stage together with her partner Artyom Ovcharenko who dances the part of Siegfried.

The Bolshoi Ballet’s London tour will last until August 13.

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