The Mariinsky Ballet are entering their last week of a three-week run at Turin's Teatro Regio, after a week of their Fokine programme, a week of Bayadères, and now they start on their twelve Swan Lakes.
The Regio's modern theatre was designed for opera and leaves the dancer, especially the male ballet dancer, shortchanged. Andrey Ermakov's huge leaps brought him dangerously near the orchestra pit on several occasions, but he easily dominated the stage with his bravura attitude and good ol' Russian chutzpah when his physical prowess had to be tamed for the Turin stage.
Anastasija Kolegova was an assured, and extraordinarily pretty, Gamzatti. As she approaches 30 she still has the face of a teenager. Strangely her turns with Ermakov seemed awkward, yet by herself she sailed through the technical difficulties with ease. Perhaps she lacks true star quality, but she graces the stage quite beautifully.
Ekaterina Kondaurova, as Nikija, has star quality in abundance and drew every eye in the packed house to her. Her second act, above all, was sensual and expressive, with her arms stretching so far away from her it seemed a miracle that they remained in their sockets. She gave the impression that nothing was too much of a challenge, and after every act she looked as though she could start again from the beginning with no problem.
Elena Baženova as the slave girl has an unbelievable amount of energy which left the audience breathless and rapturous with applause, and Aleksej Timofeev's Golden Idol was composed, technically assured and struck just the right tone.
Of course the female corps gets the most applause. The Mariinsky girls are always closer to perfection: real shadows of each other. Magnificent.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.