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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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Expocenter Eurasia at 13 Ulitsa Kapitan Voronin is the sight of Goods on the Way, a five-day event starting today showcasing the latest in the industrial products industry. Bags, backpacks, swimsuits and much, much more will be available to attendees hoping to update not only their style but their accessories for the upcoming summer.


Friday, Apr. 18


Teachers and students alike shouldnt miss the opportunity to establish lasting contacts with Russian and foreign institutions during the 21st Education and Career Fair at LenExpo, beginning today and finishing tomorrow. Learn more about education in Russia and connect with your fellow scholars.


The Tromso International Film Festival, Norways largest, brings a short festival to St. Petersburg for one day only during Scandinavian Oddities, starting at 7 p.m. today at Rodina Cinema Center. Tickets for the event are 100 rubles ($2.80).


Sunday, Apr. 20


Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianitys holiest day.


Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the deserts most iconic plant.


Monday, Apr. 21


Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDAs Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.


Tuesday, Apr. 22


SPIBAs Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.


The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.