Le Corsaire - revisted - Oct 17th, 2016
Wiener Staatsballet: October 17th, 2016. “Le Corsaire” revisited
Somehow I remember a song from the rock-opera „Evita“ in which the main character says to Perón something like “we were just at the right time, at the right place”.
I was yesterday at the right time time, at the right place:“Le Corsaire” at the State Opera Vienna with Liudmila Konovalova and – giving his debút in Vienna – the world famous Star Vadim Muntagirov (Royal Ballet).
What an evening…
I had not seen Manuel Legris’ “Le Corsaire” since its premiére, last March. I remember writing these “thoughts” also last march in a critic:At this point, and to finish this long review, I would like to quote Dame Margot Fonteyn’s, a person whose thoughts about art I much admire: “the first night is the worst time to make a hard and fast criticism: a baby never looks its best on the day it is born”.
Thinking earnestly about it, I added:
“If this baby is already looking like this on its first night, so good, it is surely going to be a beauty, a star of first magnitude”. And it turned to be one!
The work, the cast, everything “matured” so beautifully during the last months. Even though this Season is proving to be a difficult and hard one for some members of the company – due to many illnesses and even pregnancies , there is a certain “shortage” of dancers.
Five Médoras in a row for Liudmila Konovalova are surely a difficult task to manage. But her yesterday’s performance was a pure dream. It paid for all the struggle: technically in top form, combining her talents as an actress in full unison with her partner – she filled the stage with so much emotion that sometimes it was quite hard for me to retain some tears. I cherish these sublime moments. She is one the few dancers to be at ease dancing both Médora and Gulnare. In perfect, full command of both parts. What else can a choreographer wish for?
(Ashley Taylor many Thanks for the gorgeous pictures!)
Her sureness yesterday was a work of perfection. Even though I found the orchestra sometimes extremely quick (especially during the fouettés in the coda). But she mastered them with such an ease and joy and sense of perfectionism – never falling out of character or giving the impression of being preoccupied with “technicalities”.
A great, unforgettable performance, that I was lucky enough to witness.
Vadim Muntagirov’s entrance was filled with so much enthusiasm that I wanted to applaud. But this is not costume within Viennese “ballet-goers”… he must have missed it: especially coming now from Covent Garden where this use of giving back emotion is very normal. From the moment of his first entrance he dominated the stage – sometimes even when he was not in it. Apart from his technical qualities (his jumps are amazing: the “image” that haunted me until today was of him in the air – as if he would go up and stay there the double of time that a normal dancer does. I admired much his gifts for partnership. A dancer that gives confidence to everyone.
But not only to his partner, also to the audience. Not for one second I feared that he might not finish his pirouettes or fall out of his tours en l’air or miss his tempo… never. But – going back to his qualities as a partner: much more that being a strong partner, one could feel his complete dedication to Miss Konovalova. He was the whole time WITH her – Conrad was in love with Médora and both made the roles so “believable”. Something that, I must add, nearly the whole cast performing yesterday gave to the audience: this sense of not only watching beautiful dance but also of witnessing a beautiful, very dramatic story.
I love to have stories told to me...
Natascha Mair – one of the most extremely frail-looking, delicate ballerinas I have ever seen. And she combines strength and even mathematical precision to these gifts. Such an intelligent dancer… I just feel a slightly worried about a tendency to “over extension” – “une maladie” of our present dancing times that would not suit quite well the precious, quick, clean, ELEGANT technique of Miss Mair. Especially during the first act, her partnership with Francesco Costa was absolutely amazing: both, Gulnare and Lanquedem, must be in the middle of the first act already “as warm” as many other performers much later on performance.
Bravura very early in a ballet evening may be very demanding - and treacherous! They gave us impeccable and exciting performances. Mr. Costa, a very masculine an strong dancer, was superb – his first lift of Miss Mayr even scared me: I thought she’d not return “on time” to the floor. He has been growing up very quickly as a dancer and is in full command of his jumps, pirouettes and tours en l’air (even though there is a tendency to drop a bit to the left while on air – which makes his “landings” more difficult).
Alice Firenze , a perfect Zulméa and Davide Dato, a perfect Birbanto filled the stage – and the audience with sense of dynamic that is hard to match. Fire in the air! That is the only thing I could think of while watching both. These two dancers are marvelous soloists. Ever since I have been following their careers they have been going on, maturing so fast as performers. Birbanto’s dance is very praised by the audiences - and wonderful Davide Dato deserves every single applause... such a talented and dedicated dancer! But I have a certain feeling that the viennese audiences do not quite “understand” Zulméa as a role in which quality and “temperament” have nothing to do with dancing on your toes. This is about not giving the right value, understanding to the dancing they are watching/witnessing.
About a certain lack of knowledge...
But Viennese audiences were never known to master a full-comprehension of ballet like English, French (and American) audiences do... This is such a shame because this is a beautiful role danced by a marvelous, unique and expressive ballerina.
Last but not least I would like to mention Nina Tonoli, Anita Manolova and Eszter Ledán as the three odalisques: Miss Tonoli and her clean technique are always a joy to watch (I feel sorry that I have missed her Gulnare during some of the last performances), Miss Manolova has an exquisite poise and very singular posture. Both gave very nice, very soft and musical interpretations of”steps & emotions”. But something that I had not understood until now became as clear as crystal as I watched Miss Ledán perform yesterday: she has that – very rare – "quoi" of an “upper body quality” that, for example, made Margot Fonteyn a “star”.
With Fonteyn it was all about the "royal use" of the upper body (as her technique left very much to wish for). This was her “magic”. Miss Ledán combines this fact with a very beautiful, clean technique and a special poise (and beauty). This is her “magic” that so fascinates spectators. And I like, especially in connection to Miss Ledán, to use the word MAGIC. A word so needed nowadays in the world of Ballet!
A wonderful evening. An unforgettable one, in fact. During which, everything came together beautifully.