Blue Beard's Secret - Nov 16th, 2013
Wiener Staatsballet: Blue Beard's Secret (Volksoper, Nov. 16th, 2013)
Some days ago I realized once more how so very important (and nearly essential) it is to watch certain shows a long time after they have been performed for the first time. Performers, especially dancers, who have been present during the most of the run don’t have to care anymore about “technicalities” and can concentrate on what is really important. The character. They attain qualities and nuances that could not have been there before, when the show premiered. A simple matter of time –it can take some long time to fully discover the inner qualities of a part. Many tiny particles that compound the characters become alive – and nearly palpable.
During the performance of “Bluebeard’s Secret” at the “Volksoper” last week I was witness of another one of these special occasions that I am referring to during the run of a Ballet: Kirill Kourlaev’s daring performance after nearly one year performing the part, has achieved that certain point when the character is “simply there”, that turns his performance into a “visceral one”. Mr. Kourlaev’s very confident stage presence, his height, strength, especially jumping, turned his Bluebeard into someone of flesh and blood, a bit mental, bestial, desperately desiring his beautiful wife but not quite in the same wavelength like her…
Eszter Lédan presented us with a beautiful, very strong and determined Judith. Even though she did not have long rehearsals, the audience simply had not the impression that she may have been preoccupied with trivialities – like for example the music… she was at ease, in full command of the role and its technical challenges (light years afar from classical ballet) and in a complete symbiosis with the aggressive, controlled portrayal given by Mr. Kourlaev. Amazing.
I had seen this role before, danced by the exquisite Alice Firenze… Unforgettable… But I must say that also Miss Lédan’s performance was a revelation.
One of the Highlights of the evening was Rafaella Sant’Anna’s “Mother”. Total commitment on stage. Having seen Miss Sant’Anna on many other occasions I can definitely say that she happens to be a friendly, beautiful, sweet performer with lots of humour (Who can forget her on Roland Petit’s “Die Fledermaus”????).
But as “Mother” she turns herself into a dangerous, possessive, commanding, ugly woman. I was honestly afraid.
But that is exactly what I said at the beginning of this short review: if you are a Balletomane it is more than essential to watch performances during the run of the show… In fact much more important than at the Première!
Chapeau to Andrey Kaydanovskiy, who for the first time caught my full attention. And he did really caught it. Mr. Kaydanovskiy’s best dancing performance which I have seen up to now. Not a “classical dancer” to my way of thinking (a contemporary language seems to suit him better), I do believe he could have a good future in more contemporary roles – but is there a possibility for this at the “Wiener Staatsballet”? He should go to New York!
The rest of the cast should be mentioned. Great performances by talented dancers like Greig Matthews doing just bits, lovely Flavia Soares in full command of her two roles (Yes!) after just one rehearsal, Dumitru Taran, Alexandru Tcacenco and Clara Soley! Also Misha Sosnovschi in a role that I do not consider quite appropriate for him and his partner, beautiful Maria Alati (She partnered him in “La Sylpide”): not only a beautiful woman, also a beautiful dancer.
Stephan Thoss’ choreography is no piece of cake. Extremely difficult and tiring for the dancers without reaching visual effects and with a certain tendency to repetitiveness. One that does not really appeal completely to audiences. Added to the gloomy music of Henryk Górecki (other parts are from Philip Glass) its effect on one’s soul tends to be one of anguish, depression and emotional unbalance. By the end of the performance one could really feel that all efforts to milk applause were worthless – if the Russian fan club sitting on the box near to mine would not have been there, the applause would have died much sooner. One should not forget that Volksoper’s Audience is not an international one, used to Ballet as a language.
The costumes were simply awful. Cheap. Some boys, especially Mr. Sosnovschi, looked like they were wearing evening pajamas!
At last I am going to mention something that so many people think – and never dare to utter: I have the feeling that the first and second acts of the piece that we (nowadays) watch as “Bluebeard’s Secret” were choreographed separately. Perhaps the fact of having a “full evening credit” made both become one piece…
I left the theatre tired and sort of worn out… once again that was the impact that this Ballet had left on me. I even thought of taking some vitamin D, thanks to Mr. Thoss’ work. I had forgotten all about his constant use of turned-in developés, his use of the floor and other clichés… they did not matter anymore.
All of a sudden on the way home I realized what had been bothering me all the time…
It came to me as clear as water: What does Mr. Thoss think about human relationships? A game about Dominance and Submission? What a sad, pathetic, complicated way of looking at things… I do not share such feelings with him.