Libretto: Rafael G Avnikjan and Bachram M Juldašev, loosely based on the poem of the same name by Lord Byron, adapted from the original libretto by H Vernoy de Saint-Georges
Music: Adolph Charles Adam
Choreography: Rafael G Avnikjan and Bachram M Juldašev, after Marius Petipa
Where: Slovak National Theatre (SND), Hviezdoslavovo nám., Bratislava
Next performance: March 12 at 19:00
Performed: Grand Classical ballet in two acts with prologue and epilogue
Rating: 7 of 10
CHOREOGRAPHERS Rafael G Avnikjan and Bachram M Juldašev, acclaimed experts in classical Russian ballet, presented their interpretation of Le Corsaire at the SND the weekend of January 28.
A classical ballet that gained international fame with the courtly choreography of Marius Petipa, Avnikjan and Juldašev restructured it into slow-paced dances that emphasized strength and athleticism in the male corps de ballet and grace and elegance in the women. Truly impressive visual effects and costume and set designs made the performance all the more memorable.
The story is a visualization of stereotypical male and female fantasies, based on a poem by the English Romantic poet, Lord Byron. Corsaire Conrad, a swashbuckling pirate of the Aegean Sea, overcomes shipwreck, powerful slave traders, and betrayal to win the beautiful but naive Medora, who has been captured by Turks and sold into white slavery. Both are aided by faithful companions Ali and Gulnara.
Set designer Juraj Fábry made the story's world come to life. His vivid, shimmering images of pirate ships and stormy seas, projected onto a scrim, completely transported the audience. In the Slave Market scene, the scenery was designed like intricate hand-threaded Persian carpets.
The slave women glided gracefully in golden-brown fabrics, designed by Ľudmila Várossová, that epitomized shrouded sexuality. Adrian Durcin (Lankedem) was playful and communicative, but his pantomime in the background eventually distracted from the other performers, such as Terezia Zemanová (Gulnara), whose precocious confidence deserved a share of the spotlight.
The ballet's most stirring moments came in Act I's famous pas de trois. The audience clapped along in rhythm as Nina Poláková (Medora) displayed excellent fouettés, with exceptional balance and control, and enough speed that she stepped out of them a little dizzy.
Andrej Kremz (Ali) was energetic and exciting with great musicality and devotion. Jozef Dolinský, Jr (Conrad) was enjoyable during his falling asleep scene in Act I, but otherwise continued his history of uninspired technique.
Conductor Dušan Štefánek carefully stretched out each detail of Adolph Charles Adam's narrative score. Slow, rippling harp chords symbolized water and when the dancers sat, they were accompanied by pinpoint plucks from the string section.
The ballet reached a climax in Act II's Animated Garden divertissement, a fantasy in which a large group of young girls celebrate beauty and femininity. Set designer Fábry's projection of crimson roses complemented the imagery, as did the dancers' tutus, which stuck straight out like flower petals.
The charming young students of the Eva Jaczová Dance School lacked refinement, but this was accurate for the role they were intended to fill. Their earnest expression and joy in being onstage was infectious and delightful, as they celebrated their approaching womanhood and paid homage to their idols, Medora and Gulnara.
In the end, though, one remained puzzled at the absence of a passionate pas de deux between Conrad and Medora. Such a romantic ballet seemed empty without it, especially after witnessing such warmth between the male friends and female friends. Perhaps Avnikjan and Juldašev's choreography meant to suggest that we share our strongest bonds with those of our own gender.
7. Feb 2005 at 0:00 | Stefan M Hogan