Kirov Ballet - Le Corsaire - Serenade - Natalia Sologub

On 23 June 2001, I saw Le Corsaire as part of the Kirov Ballet Season at ROH. It is a ballet in three acts with a prologue and epilogue; the music by Adolphe Adam, Cesare Pugni, Leo Delibes, Riccardo Drigo and Prince Oldenbourg with libretto by Jules-Henri de Saint-Georges and Joseph Mazilier in a version by Yuri Slonimsky and Pyotr Gusev. The ballet is based on a poem by Byron. The orchestra was that of the Mariinsky Theatre conducted by Boris Bruzin, leader Ludmila Tchaikovskaya.

Le Corsaire is Petipa's 19th Century swashbuckler about pirates and damsels in distress. Full of joie de vivre there are spectacular effects in the opening shipwreck, which deposits our three corsairs on Medora's Greek shore. Le Jardin Anime of Act III is enchanting an extravagant garden fantasy with dancers in Galina Solovyova's pastel pink costumes looking just like cake decorations that have come to life. There is also a fountain spouting water: Teimouraz Mourvanidze's sets are delightful! The Algerian and Arabian Dancers were beautifully danced.

On 2 July, I saw the Kirov's Homage to Balanchine a trio of three ballets Serenade, Apollo and Symphony in C. Apollo (1928) was Balanchine's first neo classic work and his first collaboration with Stravinsky. The Kirov danced it impeccably and they have been allowed to restore the original opening scene of the god's birth and the lovely climax of the ascent by a staircase to Parnassus. The original premiere was on 12 June 1928 by Diaghilev's Les Ballets Russes at the Theatre Sarah Bernardt in Paris. The premiere by the Kirov Ballet was at the Mariinsky Theatre in1991.

Serenade was based on Tchaikovsky's Serenade in C major for String Orchestra. The original premiere was on 1 March 1935 by the American Ballet and the Adelphi Theatre, New York. The premiere by the Kirov Ballet was at the Mariinsky Theatre on 30 April 1998. The famous waltz was danced by Svetlana Zakharova and Daniil Korsuntsev.

Symphony in C had music by Georges Bizet. The original premiere was by the Paris Opera Ballet in 1947. The premiere by the Kirov Ballet was at the Mariinsky Theatre in 1995.

The lovely Sofia Gumerova entered for the First Movement, Allegro Vivo, a vision of delicious youthful purity. The wonderfully long Adagio of the Second Movement is in marked contrast to the Third and Fourth Movements Both Allegro Vivace.

The Kirov Ballet Season actually opened with its newest young star, 21-year-old Natalia Sologub as Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty modelled on the original Mariinsky production of 1890. They hoped Sologub will make headlines for all the right reasons unlike 1961 when Nureyev came over with the Kirov but defected before the company arrived, jumping ship in Paris!! On a more down-to-earth note Sologub - in a press interview - said she earns a pittance when in St. Petersburg from the cash-strapped Mariinsky Theatre which barely covers her food costs and as she said (to the person she was lunching with) "I don't eat much". But on overseas tours she receives a comparative fortune in substantial dollar payments so she has treated herself to a mink coat. Almost apologetically she said "that mink coat was really just a practical buy. St. Petersburg can get awfully cold, you know". She lives in a tiny studio in St Petersburg belonging to the Mariinsky Theatre but is saving up for flat and will pay cash (no mortgage system in Russia!!) but when she gets it, it depends largely on the roles she is offered. Doubtless with a few leading performance in The Sleeping Beauty etc that won't be long!! Meanwhile, she wears two rings: one keeps the evil eye at bay, the other reads "help me God"!

Verinha Ottoni.

Verinha Ottoni
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