ANDRIS LIEPA and company made a triumphant return to the London Coliseum in July with an ambitious, exciting and entertaining programme of ballet dedicated to the great ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev.
The Coliseum programme included the UK premiere of Rimsky-Korsakov’s
Le Coq d’Or or The Golden Cockerel co-directed and staged by Liepa and Georgiy Isaakyan, Artistic Director of the Moscow State Opera which featured opera singers, an onstage choir and a 65-piece orchestra in addition to a performance cast of more than 50.
The season featured an outstandingly performed Petrushka, the hugely popular and beautifully staged ballet-blanc, Chopiniana, and the thrilling Polovtsian Dances and Scheherezade. There was a wonderful surprise for audiences attending the company’s last performance on Sunday July 13th when the fabulous Mariinsky ballerina Julia Makhalina performed the most beautiful version of the famous Mikhail Fokine solo, The Swan which was made in 1905 for the legendary ballerina Anna Pavlova.
July’s programme at the Coliseum was performed by the orchestra, chorus, ballet and soloists from the Natalia Sats Moscow State Opera and Ballet Theatre conducted by Alevtina Ioffe.
“The triumph of the triple bill was a rip-roaring account of The Polovtsian Dances, with the choir exulting from boxes at the side of the Coliseum stage. The company’s luscious soprano, Elena Chesnokova, was onstage with other captive Polovtsian lovelies at the start, before hordes of warriors took over led by the indefatigable Pavel Okunev…the performance was thunderous fun.” (Dancetabs).
“Scheherezade’s principal ballerina, Julia Makhalina, is stunning to watch and the chemistry between her and Artem Yachmennikov’s Golden Slave was potentially a little bit too naughty for the children in the audience…they moved with intense longing and togetherness, drawing all attention from the colourful ensemble. Makhalina’s turn as a dying swan in the (surprise) penultimate segment was quite possibly the highlight of the entire afternoon; brief but emotionally catastrophic, her talent and awareness were just something else entirely. The stripped down, almost vacant set contributed hugely to the intended feeling of this piece.” (A Younger Theatre.com)
“Musically this (Golden Cockerel) was a very fine performance. The orchestra played Rimsky’s kaleidoscopic score rather wonderfully, purposefully conducted by the Moscow State Music Theatre’s chief conductor, Alevtina Ioffe, who never allowed the pace to slacken…Alexander Tsilinko’s Dodon was seriously impressive…Zarina Samadova’s golden cockerel crowed effectively. Melentiev’s Astrologer was remarkable…” (Bachtrack.com)
“Step forward the Moscow State Music Theatre for Young Audiences named after Natalia Sats, a full-time opera and ballet company for children and families. As part of the current Diaghilev Festival at the London Coliseum, we are invited to be transported back to 1914 to when the impresario presented The Golden Cockerel as an extravagant opera-ballet even to recreating the super sets – kaleidoscopic and flowery art nouveau that with excellent lighting creates rainbow effects.” ( Classical Music.com)
“Pushkin’s tale springs to life, every word as clear as a bell, the richness of the Russian resonating and seemingly animating the dancers. Dimitry Pochapsky could have been Chaliapin resurrected. Petyr Melentiev’s Astrologer soared to the heights of an alto with perfect intonation. But the superstar in this firmament was undoubtedly Olyesa Titenko as the Queen of Shamakha…Oleg Fumin’s Dodon is a masterpiece…well matched by the lithe Maksim Podshivalenko as the Astrologer.” (Critical Dance.com)
“Masterminded by the irrepressible Andris Liepa…who broke new ground with Petrushka, depicting real people and emotions for the first time and exchanging mime for narrative dance making… The concluding Polovtsian Dances from Borodin’s dance/opera Prince Igor features a huge choir. The orchestra under the inspired baton of Alevtina Ioffe delivers Borodin’s juggernaut score as Okunev leaps skywards and camp followers cavort in an ensemble frenzy of steps. the whole thing packs a wallop that might be subtitled ‘Steppe-ing Out.” (Daily Express)
“The production is indeed fabulous, resembling illustrations of Goncharova’s splendiferous designs…Pavel Okunev’s Golden Cockerel is impressively magical, small and discreet until he flares into life, golden wings flailing.” (Dancetabs)
“…a hugely entertaining gala…a visually spectacular show, full of energy and life.” (Dancing Review).
“Lovingly and expertly performed, the ballet compliments the opera perfectly.” (Everything Theatre).
“This is a colourful slice of family entertainment.” (Financial Times).
“…the brightly coloured pantomime and sparkling, energetic music make for a delightful evening.” (Guardian)
“More than 200 people came from Moscow to put on this show…well done to Liepa and Co – not to mention their sponsors – for making it happen again.” (londondance.com)
“…humming with wit and fun. All execute their roles with grand-scale comic precision as do the corresponding singers (the soprano Olesya Titenko is particularly spectacular as the Queen) while also honouring the score’s lyricism and subtle coloration.” (Observer)
“The list of things to praise is substantial and includes an amazing score (that you don’t get to hear every day), excellent conducting (courtesy of Alevtina Ioffe), fascinating sets and costumes, strong movement and outstanding individual performances.” (Music OMH)
“This fascinating evening – one of the most enthralling I have been to recently – celebrates the centenary of Rimsky-Korsakov’s much-neglected work Le Coq d’Or as an opera-ballet. Thanks to Les Saisons Russes’ former Bolshoi Ballet star dancer (now turned ballet entrepreneur, director and producer ) Andris Liepa it appears for just three nights at the London Coliseum performed by the ballet, orchestra and chorus from Moscow’s Natalia Sats Moscow State Opera and Ballet Theatre… This is the third time Andris Liepa has brought his Diaghilev exhumations to the London Coliseum and this is the finest show he has presented so far.” (Seen and Heard International)
“One hundred years following Diaghilev’s famous staging, the company revives it (Golden Cockerel) in style…the piece is full of light and colour…strong work from the orchestra and conductor Alevtina Ioffe, Dodon, Petr Melentiev’s high-flying Astrologer and Olesya Titenko’s stratospheric Queen of Shemakha all stand out.” (The Stage)
“Shifting between silent screen exaggeration and some very academic technique, both Markova and Kruglov caught between them the special quality of Russian dancers that raises hair on the back of your neck. Andris Liepa is already planning his 2015 visit and I can’t wait.” (Sunday Express)
“Andris Liepa’s latest production for his Diaghilev-inspired Les SaisonsRusses du XXIème Siècle, at the Coliseum, is a musical and visual thrill: Liepa has mounted this production on the Moscow State Music Theatre for Young Audience, a remarkable institution with opera and ballet troupes, and a full orchestra. Having a live band is a huge boost for this London visit, and they gave Rimsky-Korsakov’s gorgeous score a rich and exhilarating account under the baton of Alevtina Ioffe.” (Sunday Times)
“The house orchestra is stupendously good – supple strings, weighty trombones and penetrating trumpets, delicate woodwine and conducted with such authority by Alevtina Ioffe that a work which can sag moves forward handsomely at every stage.” (theartsdesk.com)