martes, julio 12, 2011

Two “Sleeping Beauties” worth awakening

            Tchaikovsky´s "The Sleeping Beauty" as choreographed by Marius Petipa is surely the finest large-scale ballet of the so-called Classical Era. This adaptation of Charles Perrault´s tale is the epitome of a "féérie", as were called the fairy tales combined with abundant divertimenti for the display of solo dancers. The marvelous symphonic music stands even above the admittedly much more dramatic "Swan Lake" or the  charm of "The Nutcracker". Written in 1890, late in his life, it is a resplendent example of the composer´s inexhaustible imagination and fine orchestration. And Petipa, the old master, gives us the acme of his blend of French and Russian school in this court ballet .
            This is an expensive ballet that can only make its full effect with a big company in a majestic building. And indeed both the Teatro Argentino of La Plata and the Colón demonstrated that they are able to cope with this major challenge. The former showed the well-known version of Mario Galizzi, currently the Ballet Director of the "platense" theatre. The Colón presented a new  interpretation of the original by Karl Burnett. In both cases, apart from some minor misadjustments and some arguable changes, they did this ballet proud: indeed this "sleeping beauty" deserved to be reawakened. And although I generally don´t like duplications, in this case it provided an interesting comparison of both major companies.
            This ballet is long ( 2 hours 20 minutes in its complete version) and the temptation to lighten it is understandable, although we lose some valuable music. In both cases, Teatro Argentino (TA) and Colón (TC), the pruning was discreet and acceptable. In "Sleeping Beauty" not only is there plenty of virtuosic dancing, but also a great deal of miming. I confess that I find it rather tiring and undramatic.
            Another matter to be considered is the spectacularity of stage and costume design. I was astounded by the refinement that met my eyes in these shows. At the TA the stage designs by Andrés Tatavitto were quite royal, very handsome and adequate in greating the right ambience; but Christian Prego´s at the TC though very different were  gorgeous and fully in accord with the plot, enhanced by the lovely projections provided by Roberto Oswald. The costumes were wonderful in both cases: Mariana Cappelli chose very well from the vast array at her disposal at the TA  and Aníbal Lápiz gave us one of his best jobs at the TA. Lighting was cunning and intelligent in either theatre: by Oswald at the TC and by Alberto Lemme at the TA.
            There were differences in certain matters: the fairies of the Prologue were named differently from the Petipa original by both Galizzi and Burnett; and the Jewels of the Third Act also change their names. Some fairy tale guests in the same act were suppressed by Galizzi (I was especially sorry that he omitted the "pas de caractère" of Puss-in-boots and the White Kitten, included by Burnett), but he included Tom Thumb in his humoristic "pas berrichon".
            A special paragraph on the Colón: for the first time in nine months we saw the complete ballet dancing in the new floor, finally bought by Director Pedro Pablo García Caffi after his absurd and defeatist tug-and-pull with the Ballet last year, which resulted in the cancellation of most of the season. Now they are apparently happy with the new floor and they all gave of their best, raring to go after such a frustrating delay.
            In the big ensembles in both theatres the ladies showed better discipline and physique than the men, but they had obviously worked hard in both instances and their work was generally up to standard.
            At the TA I was stunned by the debut of the Argentine dancer of the Paris Opera Ludmila Pagliero as Aurora; she has everything going for her: a consummate technique, beauty, charisma, star quality. At the TC the debut of Karina González, a Venezuelan from the Houston Ballet, was certainly accomplished, but with less charm and personality. Their Princes were in both cases pleasant and well-routined, without leaving that extra imprint of the great dancers: Yann Chailloux from Paris (TA) and Connor Walsh from Houston (TC), both debuts.
            I was quite happy with the dancers of that marvelous "pas de deux" of the Blue Prince and the Princess Florisse, certainly a high point of the Third Act. Both Paula Elizondo and Lisandro Casco (TA) and Karina Olmedo and Juan Pablo Ledo (TC) executed the airy steps with fine technique and physical charm. Carabosse, the "bad fairy", was played within traditional parameters by Virginia Licitra (TC) but Larisa Hominal (TA), a stunning blonde, gave another appearance to this character. The Lilac Fairy (the "good one"that counteracts Carabosse´s evilness) was nicely done by Cecilia Mattioli (TA) and Marta Desperés (TC). I especially liked for agility and sense of fun  Edgardo Trabalón and Silvia Grün as the cats. The Jewels were good in both cases, but the Prologue Fairies seemed better rehearsed at the TC than at the TA.   
            The music is difficult to play, and neither orchestra  (the TA´s and the Buenos Aires Philharmonic) was all that one could ask, but there were some fine solos, a promising debut by Diego Censabella (TA) and a proficient one (though with little regard to the finer points) by Javier Logioia Orbe (TC).
For Buenos Aires Herald

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