Première - Ein Reigen - Apr 29th, 2014
Wienerstaatsballet: "Ein Reigen" (Volksoper, April 29th, 2014) - Première and repetitiveness...
First, after watching yesterday’s performance and talking to many dancers, in and out of the cast, during the after-Première party, I thought of not writing a review about this Show. It seemed utterly unfair.
Today I have decided otherwise. My “dilemma” in relation to “Ein Reigen” lies not on the talent of so many young dancers but somewhere else… I will try to explain why.
“Der Reigen” was one of the biggest theatre scandals in the 20th Century and was, after the “Schnitzler’s Trial”, forbidden on Austrian stages until 1982 (even though Films and Records were produced).
“Ein Reigen”, loosely based on “Der Reigen” from Arthur Schnitzler, differs primarily from the original in the story-telling’s main line… In the play all characters “meet” in “pre- and post-coital” situations. In yesterday’s ballet all characters have obvious “love/sex” scenes – unfortunately most of them extremely repetitious. After the second there was no more “surprise” (nor thrill) for the audience.
Monsieur Manuel Legris said in his speech after the show that it is very hard to find someone who’d accept to stage a full-length Ballet. He is absolutely right.
To fill a whole evening’s programme one’s “choreographic vocabulary” must be extensive, huge in fact. Unfortunately this was not the case. Ashley Page’s choreography is not only repetitious but lacks completely the “ups and downs” that give a certain rhythm to a “script”. After a while the story-telling became boring… not inventive, not challenging, not dynamic. All this added to a very questionable music score: Surely wonderful works from Mahler, Zemlinsky, Korngold, Berg etc. ON THEIR OWN – but all of them - especially put together - extremely gloomy and nearly depressing. Once more very repetitious.
Perhaps the only “brilliant” use of music was Ravel’s La Valse at the very End of the Show. “La Valse” which, in fact, was never a success when used for a ballet – even though history shows us the many choreographers that envisioned this piece as “dance stuff”.
The concept of using “celebrities” makes it quite confusing and bothered me. I personally would have preferred the use of fictional characters (like played by Alice Firenze - see photo above) instead of Freud, Mahler, Kokoschka, Alma Mahler, Schönberg, Schiele etc… Here we are again into that English craze, apart from the big “cliché” which these characters bring along with, of trying to “use” Ballet as a platform for other forms of art, not using the language of dance but simply the “script form” of a play… MacMillan’s “Mayerling” is one of the best examples of how confusing this can be.
History books have their own language – so should Ballet (And do audiences and even the dancers really know all about who is being portrayed? Today's world pace is too quick to assimilate all that we should...)
One positive thing must be said about Mr. Page: His very pointed feeling for casting. Knowing the company, I enjoyed (nearly most) of his casting. But...
...I still have not revealed the main point about deciding so late about writing a review about yesterday’s show or not. It can be easily described in simple three words: Lack of Rehearsals.
Audience could feel that in many parts of the show the dancers were insecure (never “ending” movements) and very uncertain (especially musically). I was sitting beside an ex-dancer from the Opera and sometimes we’d look sadly at each other…
I am sure that with some more rehearsal this ballet may turn into a good one – even though I question why it was put on the stage of the Volksoper. Need of a financial magnet for tourists in having a ballet about “Vienna”?It could be… I wonder if it will survive this season.
Even so I could witness again the lovely stage presence of Suzan Oppermann (on whom I could concentrate a lot!), Clara Soley, Flavia Soares (elegance), Gala Aura Jovanovic (exceptionalin a “trouser’s role”), Ioana Avraam, Maria Alati (very daring! I like that), beautiful Denys Cherevychko (unfortunately dressed in a horrible costume) and Kirill Kourlaev.
Surprisingly enough for me was the fact that Mr. Roman Lazik, a dancer that I consider extremely “blasé” on stage, managed to show at last some emotion.
Eno Peçi and Dagmar Kronberger, great professionals who would never, for a single second, let the audience see a glimpse of discomfort or insecurity. I enjoyed especially to witness again their dancing together.
Ketevan Papava had the difficult (and notorious) Alma Mahler to portray. And she did a very good job out of the very ungrateful choreography that was given to her.But three dancers outshone completely the rest of the company:
Eszter Ledán (Emilie Flöge), that seemed to have arriveddirectly out of the past and looked like a reincarnation of the famous Klimt’s portrait (so sorry I do not have a picture of Miss Ledán in this role),
Alice Firenze (Mitzi, a prostitute), full of strength, power, interpretation’s understanding.
It is needless to write about both dancer’s splendid technique.
And Misha Sosnovschi (here with Maria Alati as Wally Neuzil), that gave life to Egon Schiele and had one of the best parts, choreographically and dramatically observed, of the show.
I can well imagine what a creative, constructive and committed “worker” Mr. Sosnovschi is.
Feeling “responsible” for his work (he is the one that has to go on stage and show to the audiences what the choreographer created) he is surely the dream for every choreographer to work with.
Participation. That's the secret of a real artist... Apart from his splendid technique and stage presence. I like that... The use of the revolving stage of the Volksoper was no surprise. Neither for the rest of the audience nor for me. Once again the factor “repetitiveness” playing a role.
Sceneries were good but the costumes were excellent – even though they could be described as too “Volksoper affine” (Both by Anthony McDonald)
...just one last question remains unanswered for me:
Hasn’t “Wien, Wien, nur Du allein” (Maurice Béjart) a much greater “insight” into the Viennese gloomy, very depressive moods? Prostitution, Betrayal, Prater, Tarot cards, Murder?
In 1990 I had the privilege to watch this (marvelous) show (Marcia Haydée, Rochard Cragun and the “Stuttgarter Ballet”) at the State Opera.
It received very mild applause…Yesterday’s applause was also lukewarm… Do Viennese really want to see themselves portrayed?
Copyrights: Pictures from the Volksoper's programme and Thomas Schulz (Many Thanks, dear Thomas).