Sunday, 8 May 2016

Swan Lake from Tatarstan

Last Monday I mentioned Jakop Ahlbom's Swan Lake at the Meervaart Theatre in Amsterdam (see Jakop Ahlbom's Swan Lake 2 May 2016). On 24 Jan 2017 the same theatre will stage a more conventional Swan Lake by the Ballet of the State Opera of Tatarstan. The video of the cygnets land pas de deux from the white act ooks good so I thought I would find out something about this company and its homeland.

I regret to say that my only thing I knew about Tatars up to now had been that were once known for the swiftness of their arrows. When I was a small child my father's reply to my mother complained of procrastination whether it was visiting in-laws, home improvements or anything else he did not enjoy doing was:
"I go, I go; look how I go,
Swifter than arrow from the Tartar's bow."
 A quotation from Puck in Midsummer Night's Dream.  However there is a great deal more to Tatarstan than that.

The first thing to note is that they do have a State Opera House with a ballet company that looks pretty good judging by its soloists and repertoire. They seem to have all the 19th century classics and Soviet staples and a few of their own one of which is Carmina Burana  that may or may not have anything to do with David Bintley's.

So what and where is Tatarstan? According to Wikipedia it is a landlocked republic in South West Russia. Its map bears a remarkable similarity to that of Switzerland though its land area is somewhat larger (26,000 square miles compared to Switzerland's 15,940 square miles) and its population is very much smaller (3.8 million compared to Switzerland's 8.2 million). Unlike Switzerland it is relatively flat. Its highest point is only 1,125 feet compared to mighty Mt Rosa's 15,203. It also has lakes (though the biggest, Lake Kubyshew and Lower Kama, appear to be reservoirs) and rivers that are as great as the Rhine and the Rhone. It has a splendid red and green flag and its motto is  Bez Buldırabız! which means "Yes we can".

Turning back to ballet the State Opera House holds an International Festival of Classic Ballet named after Rudolf Nureyev from time to time. According to its website:
"The "Nutcracker" ballet, performed on May 21, 1992 was not only the highlight of the program, but also a sensation, as legendary Rudolf Nuriyev conducted the orchestra. After the performance, which was a great success, outstanding ballet dancer agreed to give his name to the festival."
Last year the festival attracted Matthew Golding as well as principals from other companies (see Nureyev International Ballet Festival in Kazan to conclude with two galas 28 May 2015). So in my view the Tatarstan State Opera dancers are definitely worth a dekko.

If anybody wants to see the Tatar ballet in Amsterdam tickets cost between 12.50 and 35 euros and can be bought on-line.

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