Alastair Macaulay: Tamara Rojo does violence to Raymonda – Slipped DiscSlipped Disc

Norman Lebrecht

Jan 19 2022

The head of the English National Ballet Tamara Rojo is on her way out, and moves to San Franceso. Not a huge loss judging by last night’s opening, says former New York Times dance critic Alistair Macaulay, who now reviews

Raymonda, first produced in 1898, is a three-act classical ballet about a hugely negative but ultimately lucky medieval Provençal girl with a brilliant score composed by Alexander Glazunov and choreography by Marius Petipa. Or is he?

A new production of the English National Ballet, by Company Artistic Director Tamara Rojo (soon to change jobs in taking the same job at the San Francisco Ballet) takes the story to England and Sevastopol, updating the procedure to the 1853-1856 Crimean War, making Raymonda an English heroine of the Trollope family , while being courted by the English officer John de Brien, she takes up nursing in the Sevastopol campaign. There, she meets an Ottoman admirer (and British ally), Abd al-Rahman. Although she eventually married John, she realizes that she loves Abder. After she walks out of her wedding, she works to escalate her frustration by giving her life to nursing. This involves a radical rearrangement and rearrangement of Glazunov degrees; And he alters or interrupts most of Petipa’s choreography (although with careful research), especially in the first and second act.

If you’re not in pure frame of mind, Rojo Raymonda has many points of interest along the way. Where Petipa and Glazunov give their heroine a dream in Act One where she reunites with her absent crusader lover Jean de Brienne, Rojo gives her a Tennyson sub-vision of tormented soldiers and noble nurses. One of Petipa’s most classic creations is the slow entry of the female Shades down a cliff in La Bayadère’s Dream of the Hero (19877). Here, Rojo denotes it subversively, as Raymonda’s dream begins of a series of male soldiers slowly descending down a slope. Their steps are close to those of Bayader’s shadows, but they heighten the suffering more than the emphasis on transcendence. Amid this agonizing fantasy, Raymonda’s own doubts about the right husband are surfacing.

Petipa’s original book was ridiculous (occasional of Islamophobia) about the Crusades and ridiculous about European history. Raymonda, while her fiancé is away, finds herself courted by Muslim Abd al-Rahman. When he fails to win it by just means, he resorts to the violence of the rapist. These brutal Muslims! But my brother! In time, it so happened that her fiancé, Jan de Brien, returned from the Holy Land with his uncle Andrew II of Hungary, just in time to kill Abd al-Rahman. So the happy couple immediately paid homage to royal benefactor Andrew by dancing their wedding celebration in full Hungarian style, always happy with no one thinking about the late suitor Sarasin.

But Petipa (who was in his 80s shortly after Raymonda’s premiere) was the major anomaly among the artists of the late 19th century. On the one hand, while Ibsen and Dostoevsky were taking female psychology in new directions, he was stuck in Walter Scott’s frame of mind regarding drama. Serious about classical dance, on the other hand, he created Raymonda as a series of carefully choreographed choreographed suites, in which the refinement of ballet like a sublime platonic form rises above all other types of movement—and Glazunov, often flabby rhythmically in other compositions, has inspired many One of his most fascinating (and rhythmically stressed) writings in this work.

By contrast, while Rojo sorts out Raymonda’s other problems, she exerts considerable violence on both Petipa and Glazunov. She and fellow musicians Gavin Sutherland and Lars Payne ignore structure and style, shift single numbers from one verb to another, put busy dance steps to non-dance music, and reallocate the music to different characters. In the first scene, for example, Petipa and Glazunov put together a waltz for Raymonda’s Name Day which pauses to give the heroine a great solo. But Rojo interjects a mix of other numbers before the pizzicato – which she gave to a different group rather than the heroine. Sutherland and Payne: Sometimes they make the voice of poor Glazunov like Korngold in Hollywood.

Beautiful Anthony McDonald’s fashion and decor. The lighting made them and Mark Henderson many beautiful impressions; I kept starting to like or admire Raymonda’s alternative Tennyson/Trollope version. On opening night on Tuesday, Jeffrey Sirio Abder danced so skillfully that anyone could see why Shiori Kase’s Raymonda would have chosen him. There were live performances everywhere.

However, Rojo downplays one of ballet’s great chariots by forcing the classic Petipa-Glazunov to be something it isn’t. Her story of Raymonda’s emotional bewilderment is less like a good novel or poem than an old Hollywood movie – in fact, like the 1936 movie Charge of the Light Brigade, in which Errol Flynn sacrifices his life and the lives of countless others because he wants his fiancée Olivia de Havilland to marry Her true love, brother. Don’t ask about the moon, Abder – we are already the stars.

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