One of the joys of going to the cinema to see the Bolshoi Live from Moscow cinema simulcasts, and any other ballet production from anywhere for that matter (same with opera), is how authentic the experience always feels despite the price being much cheaper and the location more accessible than when you are actually there in the house. Speaking as someone who has loved ballet for over twenty years now, will continue to love it and never will stop loving it.
'La Esmeralda' will never be one of my favourite ballets and actually prior to seeing this it was a new discovery for me. Anybody though who wants to get to know a ballet that is not part of the standard ballet repertoire and not as well known will find themselves a treat in 'La Esmeralda'. There was the worry as to whether such a dark and complex story like 'Notre Dame De Paris' (or 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame') would loosely fare in ballet form, personally didn't think initially it would work myself, but actually the story has the atmosphere and emotion just right even if some of it is convoluted and the early stages feel like padding. And the music, while not timeless, has the right amount of energy, pathos and darkness, violinists especially will find themselves in heaven. This Bolshoi production is excellent and a great way to introduce one to the ballet.
The production values are neither too simple or over-elaborate, there is a good deal of colour and detail, making for a quite evocative rendering of medieval Paris, so the atmosphere really shines through and the choreography and drama is never swamped. The choreography has the graceful elegance and the right amount of complexity one expects in ballet, but also the intensity needed for the story. Especially in Act 2 when the drama properly kicks in. Everything makes sense and nothing distracts.
Cannot fault the production musically either. The orchestral playing has energy and nuances while also the right amount of dramatic depth. The conducting is alert to the lively yet slightly more multi-layered to usual storytelling while being accomodating to the needs of the dancers and players.
Maria Alexandrova portrays Esmeralda's sensuality, fire, delicacy and intensity with great dramatic comittment and her dancing is graceful yet characterful and never overthought. This is especially apparent at the bridal party, enhanced by the camera work (which is great throughout but this is one of the finer examples). Denis Savin captures the hapless poet characteristic of Gringoire with youthful energy and charisma with telling facial expressions. Frollon's role is not massive but Alexei Loparevich relishes it menacingly. Ruslan Skvortsov is a virile Phoebus.
In conclusion, great. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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