Midsummer Night's Dream - revisited - Vienna State Ballet, April 20th, 2018
I had been looking forward to this “reprise” and I could not have been more delighted about yesterday’s performance. Pure joy.
Having interviewed Mr. Jorma Elo just two days before, somehow I still had an “echo” on my mind of his thoughts and “attitude” towards Ballet, Dancers, Music, Movements, Ideology... (more about that in June, by the time our interview will be published!). These are the “perfect moments” in which I am so thankful for my job while researching about "things": not only do I get the chance to share so many things with my readers but also to LEARN so much from "handcrafted" artists, that love what they do. And this is the fascinating thing about it.
Because the process never ends.
Hasn’t somebody once said, “Knowledge, like air, is vital to life. Like air, no one should be denied it” ?
Some years ago, I have already reviewed this delightful work so I will not go into details (and shall not recite a long soliloquy about technical issues as pirouettes, tours en l'air, batteries, point work, extensiony etc. NO WAY!) but just say that Mr. Elo’s language is witty and unique.
“Willy” would have liked it… Why? Because this piece captures sensibly all that fascinating humour that is so well defined in Shakespeare’s comedy Masterpiece. Regarding yesterday's performance: Just think of Hermia and Lysander’s “Night in the forest”. And of Titania and Nick Bottom’s (in German “Niklaus Zettel”!?!?) falling in love/desire for each other… The audience enjoyed it so much!
Top quality – beautifully rehearsed dancers that seemed to be very in love with their tasks and commissions and enjoying themselves. Yes, it is as simple as that. Mr. Elo also gives the Corps de Ballet lots to dance – it was, by the way, a pleasure to see Flavia Soares back on stage after her “baby break”. Reliable professionals as Céline Janou Weder (as wonderful on her toes as she is in more contemporary works, a true versatile performer!), Zsolt Török, Leonardo Basílio, András Lukács and many others are the stones over which this “construction” is built upon. I have but to add that some care should be taken about arms’ levels. Even having given an exquisite performance, Miss Kiyaneko’s arms were sometimes too high in comparison to her fellow dancers in the Corps de Ballet.
Kamil Pavelka and Gala Jovanovic: uninterrupted, perfect poise and sovereignty. Two beautiful performers.
Natascha Mair (looking lovelier everyday) and Scott McKenzie: especially charming as Hermia and Lysander (great debùt for Mr. McKenzie, that gave a grand performance filled with his boyish charm, so suitable for this role). I also think of him as Puck someday...
Vladimir Shishov, in great shape, and enchanting Ketevan Papava as Oberon & Titania gave solid, strong performances. Mr. Shishov and his well-known stage presence made me think again of “Dream” back in the Vienna State Opera stage – to which it was originally conceived instead of the (much smaller) Volksoper’s one. The stage seemed too small for him - as also the wings into which he (and Mr. Sosnovschi), sometimes, did not quite disappear. Just a thought.
Alice Firenze, the dream of any playwright, dramaturgically speaking, gave real life to her Helena. Here we are also talking about a dancer with an extremely strong sense of “projection” into the audience. Her characters do not remain “in her head and concept” but explode throughout the audience. She sort of “knocks you out”. A gifted dancer!
Special mention to her partner, wonderfully talented, musical, quick footed and beautifully lined, Dumitru Taran as Demetrius. Such a clean, formed performance.
One begins to wonder why this dancer is not more often seen in leading roles. Defined lines, clean technique and looks, strong as a partner and dramatically fit to play any role. Just another thought.
Gabor Oberegger nearly stole the show (again) as Nick Bottom. A beautiful, well founded performance – one coming from a dancer with experience and stage maturity. Again just one word: joy!
And, of course, we cannot leave unmentioned Igor Milo's (unrecognizable) portray of Egeus. Pure Art!
Puck, in fact the “narrator”, the "Conférencier" , the "Emcee" (Master of Ceremonies) of the play, was once more vibrantly played by Mr. Sosnovschi, in a role that is custom-tailored for him. Volksoper’s audiences seem to love him. Even though Puck is considered the “main role” of “Dream”, I tend to think of it as an ensemble piece in which every chess piece plays a distinctive and irreplaceable role – from the corps de ballet to the soloists and singers and musicians.
An “asset” for Puck is definitely the fact that he is surrounded by children, beautifully and professionally coached by ex-dancer Rafaella Sant’Anna, who has been doing a great job with these “young ones”. I am not a big fan of children on stage but one should never underestimate how difficult it can be sometimes to work with children in that young age, how much psychology, care and patience are needed therefore. “attitude” respectfully congratulates Miss Sant’Anna’s work and talent for such an achievement.
Singers Anita Götz and Manuela Leonhartsberger excelled in their solos and voices – very suitable for this piece - as well as Vesna Stankovič with her violin solo. Andreas Schüller’s conducting was somehow a bit “too quick” for my sense of timing in emphasizing Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s precious work.
But before leaving you, I would like to tell you a story that I have just remembered while interviewing Mr. Elo:
I heard it on the radio a while ago in a programme called “Pasticcio” and there was the talk about the music from Mendelssohn Bartholdy and how it was forbidden in Germany and Austria during the so-called “regime” from 1938 to 1945.
A concert pianist in Vienna (her name skips me completely), the mother of an Austrian Bankier in the district of “Hietzing”, asked her maids to open all windows of her Villa on the day that the Allies marched into Vienna. There was no danger anymore in the air.
And then she sat down and played Mendelssohn Bartholdy on her grand piano.
I could not stop thinking about that during yesterday’s performance – and the freedom that Mr. Elo displays in his unique Ballet-language. Such a pleasure!
Coincidence? They say that coincidences do not exist…