Thu, Jul 18, 2019 - Page 14 News List

The costliest swans around, but they are worth it

Russia’s famed Mariinsky Theatre Ballet Company returns to Taipei for four shows with the ballet it continues to set the standard for

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

Mariinsky Theatre Ballet principals Ekaterina Kondaurova, right, and Timur Askerov will dance the leads in Swan Lake at the National Theater in Taipei tomorrow night.

Photo courtesy of Natasha Razina / State Academic Mariinsky Theatre

The Mariinsky Theatre Ballet Company has returned to Taipei, seven years after their last tour, to perform “their” ballet, Swan Lake, at the National Theater, starting what will be a packed calendar of shows for ballet fans over the next few months.

Unlike the Mariinsky’s previous four visits, this trip is shorter and restricted to just one ballet, but it is the one fabled troupe is most famous for, and which was created for it in 1895 by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov — and tweaked by Konstantin Sergeyev in 1950.

While Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s composition was first used by Julius Reisinger for a production for the Bolshoi Ballet in 1877, it is the Petipa/Ivanov revival — with some changes to the score by the St Petersburg Imperial Theatre’s conductor — that is the best known and has been the basis for productions by other companies in Russia and the West ever since.

TECHNICAL PRECISION

The Mariinsky’s production has been renowned for generations for the flawless unison of its corps de ballet flock of swans in Act II, with not a leg, arm, or hair out of place.

The company’s version of the tale of a princess turned into a swan by an evil magician has the usual Russian elements — a key role for the court jester and a happy ending with the defeat of the magician Rothbart and Odette and her beloved Prince Siegfried triumphant and ready to live happily ever after.

The Mariinsky has sometimes been criticized for being too efficient and technical, favoring precision over heart, but the company remains the epitome of the famed Russian technique, and that is what people pay to see.

However, unlike the smaller touring Russian companies that make frequent appearances at the National and other stages around Taiwan – such as the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre, which will start its next tour at the National the first weekend of next month, the Mariinsky is not reliant on one prima ballerina dancing the lead in every performance.

Performance Notes

WHAT: Swan Lake

WHEN: Tonight, tomorrow and Saturday at 7:30pm, Saturday afternoon at 2pm

WHERE: National Theater, 21-1 Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei City (台北市中山南路21-1號)

ADMISSION: Remaining tickets range from NT$5,800 to NT$8,800, available online via members@mna.com.tw and www.ticket.com.tw and at convenience store ticket kiosks


The company is big enough and packed with so much talent that is offering three different leading couples, all of whom will be new faces for Taipei audiences, while half the troupe remain at home to perform Romeo and Juliet and La Sylphide this weekend.

First soloist Nadezhda Batoeva and principal Vladimir Shklyarov will open and close the run, tonight and Saturday night, dancing Odette/Odile and Prince Siegfried respectively.

Tomorrow night will be the turn of principals Ekaterina Kondaurova and Timur Askerov, while solists Yekaterina Osmolkina and Alexander Sergeev will headline Saturday’s matinee.

One of the great joys of seeing the Mariinsky dancers perform, besides their exceptionally high level of dancing and the full costumes and sets, is that the troupe is accompanied by the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Alexei Repnikov.

It is one of the reasons that the ticket prices are so high. The NT$2,800 to NT$4,800 seats sold out long ago, and the remaining tickets run from NT$5,800 to NT$8,800. It costs a lot to transport, house and feed all those dancers, musicians and crew, not to mention the three container loads of sets, costumes and the company’s own ballet floors.

The running time of the three-act Swan Lake is three hours and 15 minutes, including two intermissions.

MORE TO COME

As mentioned above, there are a lot of ballets on the calendar for the next few months by local companies and foreign troupes nationwide.

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