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Femme fatale

The latest addition to the Mariinskys repertoire is a dramatic adaptation of Anna Karenina.

Published: April 23, 2010 (Issue # 1567)



  • Diana Vishneva, in the role of Anna Karenina, dances with Islom Baimuradov, in the role of her husband Alexei Karenin.
    Photo: Natasha Razina / For The St. Petersburg Times

  • Vishneva dances with Zverev.
    Photo: Natasha Razina / For The St. Petersburg Times

The prominent Russian choreographer Alexei Ratmansky premiered a new ballet loosely based on Leo Tolstoys novel Anna Karenina at the Mariinsky Theater last week, giving center stage to psychological drama.

Ratmanskys choreographic rendition of the celebrated 1877 literary work which recently topped the bestseller list in the U.S. after it was endorsed by TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey explores the drama of a sentimental yet profound woman overwhelmed by her feelings.

Composer Rodion Shchedrin originally created the score for Anna Karenina back in 1972 specifically for his wife, the legendary ballerina Maya Plisetskaya, who choreographed the ballet herself at the Bolshoi Theater and appeared in the title role.

Since then, a number of choreographers including Boris Eifman have turned their hand to the Russian literary classic.

Ratmanskys rendition of Anna Karenina, which saw its world premiere at the Danish Royal Ballet in Copenhagen in 2004 and has since been staged in Finland, Lithuania and Poland, presents the audience with a psychological account of the heroines passions. His ballet lacks nothing in depth, intensity and fervor. The productions short, dynamically changing scenes emerge as painful memories in the mind.

Ratmanskys representation of Annas drama is sweeping, capturing the evolution of her story in its spontaneity, and leaving no space for reflection or meditation. The ballet begins very deliberately with a static scene of Vronsky silently lamenting over Annas dead body laid out on a table, with a large video image of her projected onto the back of the stage, as if seen in his minds eye. Then the story jumps back to the beginning, with the heroine, tenderness personified, clinging ecstatically to her lover as she jumps off the train.

In this sense, it would be fair to say that the audience sees the story through the eyes of this handsome, passionate yet shallow officer, who is altogether incapable of reflection.

The otherwise minimalist sets feature a full-scale train carriage, which appears not only in the finale but also in Act One, when it revolves around itself, showing Anna on her way to see Vronsky.

Unfortunately, on the opening night, the train disaster happened far earlier than intended in the plot, when the carriage suddenly emitted a loud screech and stalled, ruining the stage carpeting. Much to the distress of all, both on and off-stage, the curtain came down and a lengthy interval ensued in which the surface was replaced. On the second night, all the train scenes thankfully went smoothly.

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Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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