wed 16/04/2014

Bolshoi tour - confirmation at last | Dance reviews, news & interviews

Bolshoi tour - confirmation at last

Ticketbuyers won't see stars they bought for as Moscow changes the team

The Royal Opera House ticketline is taking a while to catch up - last Friday's Moscow castings are now confirmed in London - but various inconsistencies are cropping up. The full confirmed casting list is below.

While it is a fact of life that dancer injury causes unavoidable cast changes, and Zakharova had suffered a hip injury earlier in the year as well, the scale of this last-minute remake of the tour is likely to cause fury among London ticket-buyers, who were booking up until this week for specific casts that the Bolshoi management at least knew last Friday were not appearing. Few of the dates will now field the names originally announced, and several of the changes have little apparently to do with Zakharova's withdrawal.

The changes bring much larger exposure to the scintillating young star Natalia Osipova, who is listed for the cream of first nights, including her much anticipated London debut in Giselle. She also now opens Coppelia and Don Quixote, partnered in the latter by her sensational young partner Ivan Vasiliev, 21, whose performances of the Bolshoi's signature work Spartacus are sold out. The couple are a trump card for the Bolshoi overseas, marketed as the face of the new Bolshoi, though back home they rank below Zakharova and Tsiskaridze, who are very much regarded as the company's stars, and have powerful voices inside the theatre.

Still, the loss of Zakharova, 31, who is said to be one of the three most expensive guest ballerinas in the world, alongside Sylvie Guillem and Diana Vishneva, is a severe blow. Her undeniable beauty and elasticity is not thought by several British critics entirely to be equalled by her musical and interpretative gifts, but she is a star of world renown and had most of the premieres, and few seats remain available for her advertised performances with the colourful Tsiskaridze, 36.

Her absence from London means that she will now not be seen in a role she loves, the courtesan Aegina in Spartacus, nor in Giselle or Don Quixote, two of her best parts, both of famously demanding physicality. The withdrawal of Tsiskaridze from Giselle will be much rued by the sell-out house for his and Zakharova's scheduled performances, though he continues to be cast in Le Corsaire and Paquita.

These changes will bring more London exposure not only to Osipova, 24, but to Ekaterina Krysanova, Anna Nikulina, Anastasia Stashkevich and Vyacheslav Lopatin, all in their twenties. But seasoned watchers will welcome that the rewarding and often unsung senior soloist Anastasia Yatsenko (who has appeared with Christopher Wheeldon's company in London in the past) has prominent appearances in the 19th-century classics Le Corsaire and Don Quixote and (particularly) Balanchine's Serenade.

Below: Yatsenko dances a variation from the Bolshoi's reconstruction of Petipa's The Awakening of Flora in 2009

The net result of the cast changes would certainly be a high-profile refocusing of the Bolshoi tour in favour of youth - a tactic not unfamiliar when the big Russian companies come over here. While those who expected Zakharova may not be too devastated to find Osipova instead, the losers will be those who bought tickets specifically for the previously advertised Osipova performances now fielding less stellar casts. The reduction of the captivating Alexandrova will also cause upset among connoisseurs.

What is unclear at this stage is why the Bolshoi Theatre announced its casting changes only in Russian and without apparently confirming these with its longstanding London promoters, Victor and Lilian Hochhauser for four days, while the public were left to buy tickets for casts whom it was known would not be appearing.

Confirmed new castings:

Spartacus
19, 21, 31 Ivan Vasiliev, Nina Kaptsova, Aleksandr Volchkov, Maria Allash
20, 31m  Pavel Dmitrichenko, Anna Nikulina, Yuri Baranov, Ekaterina Krysanova

Coppelia
22, 24e Natalia Osipova, Ruslan Skvortsov, Gennady Yanin
23, 24m Anastasia Stashkevich, Vyacheslav Lopatin, Yanin

Serenade/Giselle
26, 28 Serenade: Krysanova, Yatsenko, Khromushin / 26 Giselle: Osipova, Skvortsov, Allash or 28 Kaptsova, Skvortsov, Leonova
27 Serenade: Krysanova, Stashkevich, Khromushin / Giselle: Nikulina, Volchkov, Allash

Petrushka, Russian Seasons, Paquita grand pas
29 Petrushka: Mikhail Lobukhin, Kaptsova, Savin / RS: Osipova, Krysanova, Merkuriev, Savin / Paquita: Maria Alexandrova, Nikolai Tsiskaridze
30  Petrushka: Vasiliev, Stashkevich, Tsvirko / RS: Krysanova, Merkuriev, Meskova, Savin / Paquita: Alexandrova, Tsiskaridze

Le Corsaire
2 Alexandrova, Tsiskaridze, Ryzhkina
3 Osipova, Vasiliev, Kaptsova
4 Krysanova, Skvortsov, Ryshkina
5 Alexandrova, Volchkov, Yatsenko

Don Quixote
6 Osipova, Vasiliev,
7m Ekaterina Krysanova
7e Marianna Ryzhkina
8 Osipova, Vasiliev

The casting for the Bolshoi Opera production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin from 11 to 14 August, under conductor Dmitri Yurovskii, remains unchanged:

Onegin: Mariusz Kwieczen (11, 13), Vasilii Ladyuk (12, 14)
Tatyana: Tatyana Monogarova (11, 13), Ekaterina Shcherbachenko (12, 14)
Lensky: Roman Shulakov (11, 13), Aleksei Dolgov (12, 14)
Olga: Margarita Mamsirova (11, 13), Oksana Volkova (12, 14)

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Comments

Advance casting information is always a very thorny question if one is booking to see specific stars. I booked (on-line) to see several Osipova/Vasiliev performances and was delighted to receive the tickets I wanted. On deciding to change them for revised casting (all praise to the very helpful ROH Box Office staff) I eventually (unfortunately) swapped my Sunday matinee Don Q - with what turned out to be the golden pair - for another, less preferred partnering. And a dull Saturday evening performance that proved very humdrum. We all have to bear the vicissitudes of cast changes, but at £100 a pop in the circumstances outlined by the article, sometimes it can feel that a less than open information policy is being operated by some ballet companies
Thanks for bringing this to our attention. The announcement might now have been made by the Royal Opera House, but we the ticket holders haven't been emailed, so we'd be none the wiser without your story. Thank you. It matters enormously to me which dancers I see at a particular performance.
You complain on behalf of fans of particular stars here but can I refer you to the Japanese fans of Ivan Putrov who had paid a great deal to see him in Fille mal gardée in Tokyo only to learn on getting to the theatre that he was not appearing - despite the Royal Ballet knowing well before the tour that he would not do so. He is still advertised at the box office for performances as Lensky in the autumn although no longer in the company. Before casting stones at the Hochhausers, look to the practices of the Royal Opera House on your own doorstep

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