A.On the website of the Bavarian State Opera you can have Mechthild Großmann read the literary version of the live streamed ballet premiere from the weekend: “The Snowstorm”, a story by Alexander Pushkin. In the shop you can buy snow globes, similar to the one with which Marja, the protagonist of Andrey Kaydanovskiy’s new narrative ballet, plays on stage.
In the program booklet it says: “Marja is holding a snow globe in which she lets it storm over and over again. This object has been in the family for generations and means a lot to Marja. ”So one learns, as it were, that the story is apparently no longer supposed to take place in the first half of the nineteenth century or earlier: Pushkin, born in 1799 and died in 1837, didn’t know any Snow globes, because the first were shown at the Paris World Exhibition in 1878.
Or maybe the team around the Russian choreographer Andrey Kaydanovskiy, who has lived in Vienna for ten years, sees this as a subtle allusion to the ironic sentence with which Pushkin introduces his young heroine on the first page: “Marja Gavrilovna was brought up with French novels and consequently in love. ”But ballet has far greater problems than the anachronistic use of props.
The missing storm
As such, there is nothing to prevent the director from taking the liberty of relocating the plot of a story to another time. But it then has to serve a dramaturgical purpose, it has to support a certain interpretation that would otherwise not be revealed. You can’t see that in this ballet. The actual protagonist of the story, the blizzard itself, can nowhere develop its violence. It is only the raging snowstorm in the darkness of the Russian winter afternoon that destroys all of the lovers’ plans.
In the storm, Marja’s lover Vladimir gets lost on the way to the church where they secretly want to get married. When he finally gets there, the church is deserted and Marja mistakenly gave her yes to Burmin, a man who happened to appear there and whom she had taken to be Vladimir. The storm raged at Pushkin, then it settled down again, but on stage it was just snippets of paper snowing. Pushkin’s short tale, staggering between irony and horror, unfolds in a few words the drama of the forces of nature – darkness, howling storm, skies that are not clearing up, snowdrifts, snow ditches. Horse and human are bathed in sweat and tired, the sledge keeps tipping over.
On the other hand, everything that Kaydanovskiy winds up is the electronic feeds with which commissioned composer Lorenz Dangel complements the rich sound of the Bavarian State Orchestra. The work is based on the avant-garde of the twentieth century, especially Stravinsky, plunges into the emotional depths of the film music without fear of contact and uses an accordion in a nostalgic, popular way. That fits in with the whole sleek, harmlessly pretty staging.
The plot is in places absurdly complicated for a dance piece and full of “fallacy of misplaced concreteness”: “Marja agreed with Vladimir that she should first pretend to be unwell, then go to her room and later on to church. Vladimir wants to wait for them there. ”Aha. If you see the parents of the couple, they seem stiffer than the Montagues and Capulets from John Cranko’s “Romeo and Juliet”, much is frumpy, a Biedermeier dance theater so to speak.
Colorful costumes, houses like drawn with a neon tube ruler, church and fairground outlined with lightbulbs and colorful pennants, and all of this against the blackest black background that has ever tired an online audience. To get lost in boredom would have been expected last in Alexander Pushkin’s Russia. That the abandoned Vladimir goes to war and perishes, can that leave you cold? But that’s the way it is, because this almost complacent, well-behaved, choreographically conventional ballet halfway up not only answers the irony of the narrative with total naivety. The tragedy of Pushkin is also missing.
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