The Sleeping Beauty at Minsk Opera is a real feast of bright colours. They certainly don’t spare funds on culture here.
I did not really mean to book ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ this time; the lovely fairy-tale came as sort of a bonus. No, they don’t give away tickets for free, though a good seat in the stalls for some 10 euro is indeed a ‘gift of the magi’ )). It’s just that I was specially flying into Minsk to catch their ‘Spartacus’ which for some reason doesn’t come on stage very often; and ‘the Beauty’ happened the same weekend. A very timely coincidence, they had really made my day!
Thank God, ballet is much more fortunate than opera. I had witnessed so many ‘modernized’ Aidas, Carmens, Rigolettos and Onegins, that a sound traditional production looks like a real blessing! Not that their long-serving chief choreographer Valentin Elizariev - he is the one who adopted this Marius Petipa’s ballet for the modern stage - is shy of new trends. Indeed, he is said to be the one to introduce certain ice-dancing elements into the classic ballet, I have noticed quite a few.
What you will see in the photos is just a bleak reflection. I can never get used to this theatre luxury in a country with a fairly modest GDP. They have a lot of very elaborate stage props; a special colourful backdrop accompanies each scene, lovely act drops fall after each act – to complement the majestic red main curtain.
The best fitting word here will be ‘bright’ – bright as clever, and bright as eye-catching. They certainly spare no money on velvet, silk and gold tissue! As you remember, the story goes throughout a century: Princess Aurora goes to sleep, and wakens up about 100 years later. That gave the costume designers a good way to show their skills – the first act is staged as the 17th century, sort of ‘Les Trois Mousquetaires‘ style - you know, plum hats, etc.; while the second act comes as the dainty 18th century with its heavily powdered wigs – Prince Désiré must have had it really hard to jump in such goods and chattels!
Princess Aurore – Irina Eromkina
She was very skilled and charming, as one can expect of the country’s ‘honoured artist’. Together with her husband (I guess) Oleg Eromkin they make a prominent ballet couple here.
Fée des Lilas – Anna Fokina
That was one of her first performances, as far as I can understand – came out quite up to the mark.
Fée Carabosse, the ‘bad lady’ – not much dancing, but very, very expressive. I guess the part was made specifically for the aged but still apt ballerinas. Forgot the name, sorry!
Les fées at large – there were five of them, the one in yellow was particularly lovely, I guess she was the ‘Canari qui chante’
There was a good deal of minor characters – but all of them with their own specialty; of these I mostly remember Konstantin Geronik as the Blue Bird
And the star of the night:
Prince Désiré - Egor Azurkevich
Folks, bookmark this name! looks like they’ve got sort of Hogwarts here - with this magic gift to hover in the air he will certainly go far. I’ve got to say that the Minsk Ballet College is famous for its graduates - male dancers, the one you may know is the Moscow Bolshoi étoile Ivan Vassiliev, celebrated for his powerful jumps.
P.S. For some reason the Minsk Opera has no just one common standard for the cast bills, which is probably for the better - you can keep these diverse little booklets sold fairly cheap at the entrance as lovely inexpensive souvenirs.