The legendary Bolshoi Ballet returns to The Center's Segerstrom Hall with the West Coast premiere of Shostakovich's banned ballet The Bright Stream and a dramatic production of Aram Khachaturian's Spartacus.
The Bright Stream
Created in 1935 by Dmitri Shostakovich, The Bright Stream features choreography by Fyodor Lopukhov. Almost immediately the work became part of Russian ballet lore: after its opening Stalin himself banned further performances. The dictator was not a fan of Shostakovich, and appeared to have it in for him. Was rumored to have personally penned an editorial in Pravda criticizing the composer's 1932 opera Lady Macbeth of Mzensk as "muddle instead of Music."
The ballet went into the archives, soon forgotten, and Shostakovich never wrote another ballet. Lopukhov was fired as director of the Bolshoi, and the author of the scenario, Adrian Piotrovsky, disappeared or rather was killed in one of Stalin's purges.
The plot of this ballet stages what at the time of its conception was "modern Soviet life". Today contrary to its dramatic past, it seems a benign look at collective farm life during the time of harvest. During harvest time the farm workers are paid a visit by a ballet troupe in the city. Enthusiastically met this visit causes a bit of chaos as people fall in love, and betray their loved ones. Secret alliances are formed which result in masquerading, cross dressing, and even a dog on a bicycle.
The autumnal colors are beautiful. The sets are decorated in 1930's style Soviet art. Though beautiful I found the costumes and sets in the first act to be so busy they kept pulling my focus of the dancing. This irritation resolved itself in the subsequent acts.
The Bolshoi seems to be a stronger company on this tour. The lead dancers had many stand out performances, like that of Maria Alexandrova (the Ballerina). Alexandrova was precise and has a lovely ability for jumps. Whose leaps were quite breathtaking. Her partner Yan Godovsky also proved his excellence in comedy as he danced on Pointe dressed like a Ballerina from La Slyphide. One of my favorite performance came from Ksenia Pchelkina (Schoolgirl Galya) an accomplished dancer as well as exquisite comedic actress and Anastasia Yatsenko was lovely as (Zina).
The Bright Stream is a comedic ballet, which is frothy fun, full of love triangles, mistaken identities, mischief and capricousness.
Tonight will be the opening of Aram Kachaturian's dramatic production of Spartacus. It choreographed by Yuri Grigorovich for the company in 1968, to The Center for the first time. This epic ballet is based on the Roman slave rebellion led by Spartacus and its suppression by troops under Crassus in the first century BCE.
Kachaturian's music is one of the great symphonic works often performed by itself in concert. Yuri Grigorovich is one of the most outstanding Russian choreographers of the 20th century. He was the soloist of the Maryinsky Theatre for 18 years and for a short time headed its Kirov Ballet. His first productions at the Kirov were The Stone Flower and The Legend of Love, which marked the birth of a new trend that many years determined the development of ballet in Russia.
The Bright Stream
West Coast Premiere
Choreography: Aleksei Ratmansky
Music: Dimitri Shostakovich
Designer: Boris Messerer
Tuesday-Thursday - August 9-11 at 8 p.m.
Choreography: Yuri Grigorovich
Music: Aram Khatchaturian
Designer: Simon Virsaladze
Friday - August 12 at 8 p.m.
Saturday - August 13 at 2 & 8 p.m.
Sunday - August 14 at 2 p.m.
The Bolshoi Ballet's orchestra will perform the scores under the baton of Pavel Sorokin.
Costa Mesa is the only Southern California venue to present the Bolshoi Ballet during its three-city U.S. tour.
Single tickets for The Bolshoi Ballet are $25-$110 and are on sale now at The Center's Box Office located at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa, by calling CenterTix at (714) 556-2787, or online at www.ocpac.org.
For inquiries about group ticket discounts, call The Center's Group Sales office at (714) 755-0236. The Center's TTY number is (714) 556-2746.
A PreView lecture will be presented one hour prior to each performance. The Friday, August 12 PreView will be sign language interpreted.
Theater: Orange County Performing Arts Center - Segerstrom Hall 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Tickets: $25, $45, $65, $85 & $110
In Person - The Center Box Office
Online - www.ocpac.org
Phone - CenterTix (714) 556-2787
TTY number - (714) 556-2746.
Groups - Group Sales office at (714) 755-0236
For more information about these or any other Center events, please call (714) 556-2787 or visit The Center's Web page at www.ocpac.org. Artists and programs are subject to change. The Orange County Performing Arts Center is a private, non-profit organization. "Orange County Performing Arts Center" is a California registered trademark.
Photos by Damir Yusupov