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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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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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