terça-feira, 15 de abril de 2014

Primavera: Happy Harmonies e o Danúbio azul...


Chove e faz frio...

A gloriosa primavera que já nos visitava em princípios de março foi embora, nos deixando com esta “sopa cinzenta”; mistura de céu escuro, frio e chuva…


Encontrei esta rara “jóiazinha”, uma das «Happy Harmonies» da MGM do início dos anos 30…

Aguma vez eu a tinha assistido mas fiquei desta vez tão fascinado com a naïveté dos desenhos em si, com a simples magia de imaginação colocada em 24 fotogramas por segundo (à mão!), do uso (e técnica) da bailarina que deu vida ao personagem da "fadinha" para os animadores desenharem, do roteiro ("eles" são os quem fazem o Danúbio ficar azul!), do uso da música...

E então parei, deixei tudo de lado, sentei-me e fiquei quietinho assistindo; como se tivesse só 5 anos de idade e pensei: Sim, estou vendo...

Claro que o uso do “O Danúbio Azul” de Strauß é mais do que precioso – apesar de questionável orquestração e cantoria, mas quem se importa? – e, ainda por cima, tem tudo que ver com minha melancolia primaveril...

Ó Sol, quando retornas????

quinta-feira, 10 de abril de 2014

(I'm always) chasing Rainbows...


Encontrei esta ceninha de „Ziegfeld Girl“ (MGM, 1941). Sim, encontrei pois nunca havia assistido-a.
Judy (e sua transbordande sinceridade), Lana Turner e até Hedy Lamarr (linda!) me deram prazer…

Estranho como coisas certas aparecem na hora certa na nossa vida… Mas sempre repitimos: “Não existem coincidencias”, não é? Mais uma vez Judy e um „rainbow“ na minha vida…

Apesar de conhecer a música por "toda uma vida", a realmente "ouvi" ontem... aqueles fenomenos (lindos) de sensibilidade que a vida, o tempo e a idade trazem consigo...


Me dar realmente conta que eu também estou sempre «chasing rainbows» (apesar de não lutar ativamente para faze-lo), fez-me ontem bem, muito bem… e eu estava precisando!

De certa forma ainda acredito infantilmente que todos deveríamos ter o direito de ser felizes… Mas existem, infelizmente, tantas pessoas que adoram atacar os outros, transformar bons momentos em momentos negativos e tudo isso até «dando a bandeira» que estão apreciando suas “patifarias”.


Mas, pensando bem e "invertendo o jogo" (no sentido positivo da expressão): não deveríamos, na realidade, dar «Graças a Deus» por estas «criaturas» existirem? Sem sua «existencia», sem sua presença não daríamos o devido valor, não nos daríamos conta dos tantos amigos, das pessoas boas, honestas, carinhosas, sinceras que enchem nossa vida…

e "daquele" amigo que temos no nosso interior, dentro da nossa alma… nós mesmos!

Chasing Rainbows… always…

segunda-feira, 7 de abril de 2014

Swan Lake, Wiener Staatsoper, April 6th: Svetlana Zakharova & Vladimir Shishov



There is always a certain feeling of expectation at a première…
But yesterday’s “Swan Lake” was not a “première” in the real sense of the word.
It was “just” Svetlana Zakharova’s first show in Vienna, ever,
and a great chance to many persons to watch her for the first time on stage, including me!


Having already written about another performance of SL, I will not repeat all that I have already put here… just read my other critic (from March 19th).

Oh, well, only perhaps to remind you of the incredible synchronity, timing and chemistry between Greig Matthews and Dumitru Taran. Both did not dance in the pas de cinq yesterday.
But I must say that Alexandru Tcacenco did a great job.
A wonderful stage presence and such a "clean" technique. A dancer we should look more carefully at.


I could not wait for the first act to finish even tough I was caught by Vladimir Shishov’s incredible sensibility at the last variation of it – we are, of course, talking about Nureyev’s version of which I have written on last March 18th. This slow variation is a very difficult piece of magic: but perhaps due to Rudi’s egocentrism, focusing the ballet around the male dancer, I had never enjoyed it. At yesterday’s performance Mr. Shishov gave us a new “reading” of this role. He was full of despair, questions, hopes, emotion… He was not “showing off” technically like Nureyev tried to do. He was simply completely inside his role. Simply being Siegfried! And with such precise technique: a marvelous, special moment, indeed!

The second act… Well, it started (at last) and I could not wait to see Miss Zakharova’s entrance as the white Swan.

She came in and just after three or four seconds of her presence on stage, just after her first grand-jéte, I felt the first tear (of many) rolls down my cheek. There she was. A Swan…

Nobody should make the mistake of comparing one dancer to another. So many Odettes and Odilles left such an impression inside me: Makarova, Park, Martinelli just to mention a few. But each one was a single Odette, a single Odille. Some were stronger as the white swan, some were the black one personified. Some were both. Few were none...

Miss Zakharova was definitely Odette. The use of her arms are pure poetry. They are so fascinating that you forget to look at those wonderful legs, gorgeous feet and glorious neck.
I felt simply connected to that torsothat was simply framed by those expressive arms, “broken” wrists, fingers: bird-like ones…


The third act: Flavia Soares gave us a beautiful, impressive performance in the Spanish Dance. And such Cambrés!!!!!!! Simply amazing.
Her “Muchacha” (very becoming, in red, with a lovely hairdo) was not the cliché spanish “chica”, so often misunderstood.
She was just a latin girl, filled with hot blood, chillies, temperament and charm. Great!

Zakharova’s Odille was a bit too friendly like.
I missed somehow the evilness of this black, dangerous bird.
Amazing was the use (again) of her arms while doing the Piqués en tournant: Placing them a bit backwards than her torso (a challenging thing because of the sense of balance) she created, to the front audience, the most pure impression of “wings”. What an effect!


While all this was happening, I was amazed by Mr. Shishov’s performance!
The chemistry between Miss Zakharova and him could not be missed by anyone – and it is 100 percent right to affirm that it is so important to have both principals in the same “state of mind” while on stage.
Makarova would never have been “that” swan without Anthony Dowell and Ivan Nagy.
Mr. Shishov and Miss Zakharova would not have been Siegfried and Odette/Odille last evening without each other.

Many, many curtain calls, incredible applause from an excited "ballet audience" (so many people from all over Europe and abroad simply flew to Vienna to watch that performance last night) and lots of talk with a friend sitting next to me: Davide Dato – “Liebling” with a broken foot - made this evening an unforgettable one.

I am so glad to have been able to watch last evening's performance.

ALL PICTURES: copyright Thomas Schulz (Thank you for your kind permission, perception and incredible sensibility!)

domingo, 23 de março de 2014

Uma cena, um beijo...


São alguns destes poucos e arrebatadores momentos nas telas os que deram ao Cinema o nome de “A sétima Arte”.


Hitchcock, nos deixa aqui boquiabertos: está tudo aí… a maravilhosa camera, as cores difusas, a transformação da vulgar Judy (Kim Novak) na cultivada Madeleine (Kim Novak), a música que nos dá uma “surra” de tanta emoção, o olhar de loucura de Jimmy Stewart (não é suprema loucura uma pessoa querer transformar uma pessoa numa outra?), o cenário – que durante o beijo transforma-se nas cavalariças onde ele uma vez beijou Madeleine… ou Judy… Mas ele não sabe disso…

"Vertigo" descaradamente baseado em "As you desire me" (com Garbo, Melvyn Douglas & Erich von Stroheim) que por sua vez foi inspirado por uma peça teatral de Pirandello

Mas isto realmente importa? Não estou hoje aqui para discutir “Vertigo” como filme… queria só avaliar e reavaliar esta cena, para mim, magnífica, inesquecível, uma obra de arte!

Um daqueles momentos que nos arrebata completamente, que tira nossa respiração, que nos mostra uma "paixão" possessiva e descabida e que, no escuro do cinema, nos faz sonhar, voar longe com atores, atrizes, cores, trilhas musicais, luzes, truques… como eu gosto de deixar “me levar assim” por estes diretores que tão bem entendiam do seu ofício…

Thanks, Hitch!

Sentem-se, relaxem, put your feet up e enjoy! CINEMA no puro sentido da palavra…

quarta-feira, 19 de março de 2014

Swan Lake’s second show of the Season: March 18th 2014



What to expect? Nureyev’s 1964 Version of Lake is not one of my favorites… even though it was modified in 1984 into a new Version for the Paris Opera, it was never changed for the State Opera in Vienna, the very city in which it had its world premiere in 1964 (with Fonteyn and Nureyev getting a record of 89 curtain calls).
Tradition plays a big role in this country even when it is questionable and prevents improvements…


In 1964, having danced already in different versions of “Lake” (including Royal Ballet’s , masterly done by Ashton) Nureyev decided to move the main focus of the story from the Swan(s) to Siegfried. Also a very questionable decision…

To my opinion, Nureyev’s ego was so big that he committed the mistake of turning a “woman’s ballet” into one in which the danseur is the center of attractions… a very egocentric reaction.

For instance, one of the most beautiful and lyrical moments in ballet history is the very end of the 2nd act-pas de deux (in which Odette slowly turns one pirouette, makes a developée, turns then two pirouettes to make another developée and finish her 3 or 4 turns, falling to the side into the arms of Siegfried - take a look at the programme's cover, it's there - and then “falls” into an arabesque penchée in which her hand falls slowly at the very last note of music). But this does not exist for Nureyev… He simply moved the limelight away from the ballerina in one of her most significative moments and made Siegfried perform a short solo instead – to some other music! Ghastly!

On the following video you can see exactly what I mean, about the End of the 2nd act-pas de deux:
Vladimir Shishov & Liudmila Kononalova in a Gala, last year! And the end of the Adagio just like I described above...



But back to March 18th... Nureyev's use of music is also very questionable – we are not accustomed to it especially in the Black Swan’s pas de Deux. I have read once that this was supposedly so in the original score by Tchaikowsky. But I could never found real evidence of that…

It is definitely interesting to compare yesterday’s performance with the 1966 video… How technique and physical ideals have changed… strange: I don’t remember Fonteyn doing the 32 Fouettés EVER in the third act – I believe she never could do them… I’ll have to watch that video again

Yesterday the curtain went up and nothing really happened. Not at first. Even if the stage was full of people. The same way it would later happen during the Opening of the third act. There was some walking around but no acting, no energy, no feeling. As in many parts of the show yesterday, it seemed to take quite a long time before dancers could “enter” their roles, “warm-up” inside them. But there were exceptions.

One of the greatest exceptions of the above mentioned phenomenon is Vladimir Shishov. Really feeling “at home” within Siegfried’s soul, he showed us that this is HIS role.

No question about it.

A grown-up man performing a grown-up man. In complete command of the character, Mr. Shishov showed to us how right he is for this role. Without any phoney sentimentality or pretense he didn’t attitudinized the character. Much on the contrary: in certain moments (known to me from the 1966 film that was made in Vienna) even Nureyev exaggerates in his right to be a central figure. He is simply too often on stage (in comparison to other versions). Mr. Shishov’s more human incarnation of the Siegfried-persona turns him into a more believable character.


One of the fine things about this role is also his very supportive ways concerning Odette/Odille. The Danseur has also to be a great partner and Mr. Shishov is definitely one (and of course exactly the same way like he is a "danseur noble")!
Just the kind of dancer that leaves us calm and relaxed while he is partnering because we know that the ballerina is in very good hands.

After some months of sick leave Liudmila Konovalova (Elle est mignon!!!!) had to jump into yesterday’s performance because Olga Esina unfortunately hurt herself during the premiere on the 16th: after not having seen her on stage for a long while I felt unease during her first moments as Odette.

Wasn’t she, Odette, supposed to feel afraid during her first meeting with Siegfried?
She wasn’t so… but I had just forgotten that Miss Kononalova is NOT the fearful type of dancer. Her interpretation was cleverly adapted by her to her own personality without losing any of its assets.


During the second act I felt that she sometimes hurried a bit, that she was a bit ahead of the music and that small nuances of the role were not being completely used to the end. This feeling passed with time… perhaps it was due to some nervousness after being for so long away from the stage. But fact is that she gave us a marvelous portrayal of Odette and especially Odille. The audience was static.

At the End of the performance Miss Kononalova and Mr. Shishov received a long, standing ovation.
Very well-deserved indeed.

The Corps de Ballet disappointed me a bit during the second act. Especially during the crucial long parts in which the dancers have to stay still, not looking stiff, for a long time one could see that there is still a lot of work to be done: different head positions, arms that were too much high bent. But most of all I missed the lack of discipline during those long moments: many dancers were following the principals with their eyes and some even with their heads.

This should have been noticed during rehearsals, but… were there enough rehearsals?

Paying long attention to lovely Swan, Miss Flavia Soares, I caught myself wishing that there would be more discipline, like hers. She shows insight, beauty in her performance... but of course she is much more experienced than some of the teen-agers that are having their first season with the ballet. Experience cannot be replaced.


Siegfried’s “friends” Ioanna Avraam, Kiyoka Hashimoto, Greig Matthews and Dumitru Taran were the next thing closer to perfection - Synchrony, clean techniques, joy, personality, interpretation. Dancers that entered the stage and had no need to warm-up into their characters! Beautiful!

The little swans (even if for some there should be a "pas de chat urgent rehearsal") brought down the house: Maria Alati, Ioanna Avraam, Rui Tamai and lovely Eszter Ledán performed beautifully. Miss Ledán’s stage presence with her charm and lovely looks that are combined with a strong technique becomes clearer every day. She was also a delight as one of the noble young ladies that are presented to the prince: contrary to others she never left her role, even during the long “waiting” while The Black Swan and the Prince are performing.

The big Swans were beautifully performed, especially by Prisca Zeisel, a talented and very versatile young Ballerina who not only represents all the sweetness of a swan but also gave to the audience a very spirited performance as the Spanish Dancer (bellow) on Act III.


The hungarian dance was a delight – like a firework. But what else could you expect from the lively combination between Alice Firenze and Mihail Sosnovschi? (above) Both remind me somehow of tigers ... feline, strong, elegant… One can feel the joy and fun that both are having while performing. But wasn’t Callas, with all her strength, also called “La Tigresa”?
Oh, by the way; there is another expression that was once said by Fred Astaire about Cyd Charisse that would apply very well to Miss Firenze and Mr. Sosnovschi: beautiful dynamite!!!!!!!!

The polish dance was masterly performed by athletic Alexis Forabosco (bellow), using his legs to the very best even though the choreography is a bit boring – but definitely not so tedious like the neapolitan dance.
But what could one expect? The music belongs to the more tediously uninteresting pieces that Tchaikowsky ever composed! And so is the choreography: not worth mentioning.


Costumes by Luisa Spinatelli have not caused such an impact on me. In fact I think that the tutus in the second act could have been a bit fuller – and the tops more harmonically cut. Also Odette’s Headdress left much to be desired – it simply did not “caress” enough Miss Konovalova’s face.

Except perhaps for The Queen Mother’s (Dagmar Kronberger) exquisite headdresses on both the 1st and the 3rd Acts.

Rotbart’s (Eno Peci) costume that was so often mentioned was OK (but the headdress made him look more like a cock). Unfortunately Rotbart’s performance is resumed to a bit more than running around in a sort of frenzy… but let us be honest: would Nureyev create rivalry for himself on stage? He was much more preoccupied in creating his Siegfried than choreographing many parts and other roles of “Swan Lake”…

Resuming last evening: it was a very rewarding experience… experiencing so many talents that at the same time made me try to analyze more and more the complexity if this work and Nureyev’s motives.

But there was one most disturbing fact that was quite clear to me: Dancers are looking tired… and it is still too early in the Season for that. What is happening? Olga Esina injured herself, Davide Dato broke his foot... This is something to think about...

P.S. all pictures except Miss Soares' taken from the Wiener Staatsballet's programme.
Miss Soares' picture kindly permmited by Mr.Thomas Schulz. Thank you!


P.S.2 and just now, kindly sent by Davide Dato, this lovely picture. When Mr. Shishov went on his knees to give Miss Konovalova these flowers, the audience went mad!!!!!!!