Composer: Adolphe Adam
Artistic Director: Lyudmila Nerubaschenko
Reviewer: Bill Avenell
Chichester Festival Theatre even with its revamp may not be quite the Royal Opera House and Liliya Orekhova and Talgat Kozhabaev not quite in the league of Fonteyn and Nuryev but in their current tour The Moscow City Ballet and two of its established principals give a lovely interpretation of Adolphe Adam’s famous ballet in the classical Russian style true to the values of their late founder and director Victor Smirnov-Golovanov.
Adam is probably the least well known composer in the Moscow City Ballet repertoire when measured alongside Tschaikovsky, Delibes and Prokoviev but in Giselle he constructs some of the most lively and haunting musical themes in the genre. This allows the principals to strut their stuff to good effect in this tale of the peasant girl wooed by the gamekeeper and then the, already betrothed, prince for whom she falls. Turned mad and finally dying of grief at her betrayal she becomes one of the Wilis spirits enticing men to their grave. The Game keeper succumbs but not the Prince, protected from the Wilis’ Queen by Giselle’s true love.
It sounds a harrowing plot but is not a harrowing performance. For grace and athleticism Orekhova, as the eponymous Giselle and Kozhabaev, as Prince Albrecht can hold their own in any company but in this production they are well supported by two soloists in particular. Ekaterina Tokareva dances Myrtha the Queen of the Wilis with truly evil presence and her bouree entry is a highlight of the evening. It is hard not to feel sympathy for both Hilarion the gamekeeper who seems to have the worst of the deal all the way through just for being in love but also for Artem Minakov who dances the rôle, a very subdued part in the first act, but who shows in his brief but emotional struggle with the Wilis in act two what a really good dancer he is.
To be ‘picky’ the music from Igor Shavruk’s orchestra sometimes sounds a bit thin although this may be partly because the orchestra is stuck right under the stage: the Corps de Ballet are definitely stronger in the second half than the first, perhaps because there is a bit of a discrepancy between men and women in the company (principals excepted).
But, that said, their performance as the Wilis in the second act is a delight and their mixture of good acting and dancing sums up the Company’s overall performance which a largely middle aged audience, but one including a refreshing number of young faces, obviously enjoyed last night.
Tour Photo ¦ Giselle and Nutcracker run at Chichester Festival Theatre until11th January.