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2015年3月26日 星期四

The Flames of Paris is burning at Tsimshatsui: the Bolshoi Ballet (巴黎火焰在尖沙咀燃燒:莫斯科大劇院芭蕾舞團)

No one who loves ballet can be ignorant of Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet founded in 1776. In this year's HK International Film Festival, a selection of 8 of their productions will be screened including “Swan Lake,” “La Sylphide,” “Nutcracker,” “The Pharaoh’s Daughter,” “Don Quixote,” “La Bayadere” and “The Rite of Spring". But last night, we had a chance to see them live in Tsim Sha Tsui. They performed a ballet which is little known in Hong Kong: Boris Asafiev's "The Flames of Paris" about the French Revolution of 1789, based on the original libretto of Nickolai Volkov and Vladimir Dmitriev and as choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky upon that of Vasily Vainonen.

The Flames of Paris is a ballet in two acts each with 2 scenes.  In Act 1, scene 1, a large group of people are gathered: they are the revolutionaries on the way to Paris from Marseilles. The protagonist Philippe who longs to join the Marseillais, meets a peasant girl Jeanne and kisses her before her brother Jerome under the castle of the local seigneur the Marquis Costa de Beauregard who is returning from a hunt with his men and his daughter Adeline. Against her wishes, the Marquis tries to flirt with Jeanne until she is rescued by her brother eJerome, who is there and then beaten up and thrown into a prison cellar but Adeline who saw everything and feels attracted to him, frees him in the dark. Jarcasse, her father's spy obstensibly employed by him as her chaperone, sees everything and informs the Marquis and he smacks her and orders her into a Paris bound carriage,watched over by Jacasse. Jerome and Jeanne join the revolutionaries. The red-capped revolutionaries dance a Farandola .


In Act 1, scene 2, the Marquis and Adeline are at a ball at the royal palace where a court ballet called Rinaldo and Armida begins: It features Armida's forces returning  from a campaign with their prisoners, including Prince Rinaldo, dancing a Sarabande. Then Amour (Cupid) aims an arrow at the hearts of Armida and Rinaldo and the two instantly fall in love. Armida frees Rinaldo and the two dance a Pas de Deux. Then the ghost of Rinaldo's bride appears. Rinaldo abandons Armida and sails off in a boat after her. Then the angry Armida conjures up a storm and Rinaldo is washed upon the seashore where he is surrounded by the Furies, who dance The Dance of the Furies after which Rinaldo dies at Armida's feet. Then we see the Marquis "courting" another girl the way he did Jeanne but the sound of the Marsaillaise can be heard. The courtiers and officers panic and flee and in the confusion, Adeline runs away.

Act 2 scene 1 Phillipe, Jerome, Jeanne are now in a square in Paris with the Marseillais. A shot from a canon lit by Philippe signals the attack on the Tuileries and the people are jubilant. Jerome spots Adeline in the crowd which start a celebration where wine flows freely and they dance: from the Dance of the Auverne into the Dance of the Marseillais, followed by the Dance of Basque, joined in by Jerome, Philippe, Adeline and Jeanne and also by Gilbert, the Captain of the Marseillais. In the festivities, the effigies of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette are torn to pieces. Jeanne dances the Carmagnole with a spear in her hand .Amidst the beating of drums, Adeline and Jerome declare their love for each other, oblivious to the confusion around them. Jeanne holds high the tricolor flag of the  new French Republic and the crowd storm the palace which falls with little resistance.

Act 2 Scene 2. Members of the Convention and the new government mount the steps of Revolutionary Tribunal in a Paris square and the crowd rejoices. The two ballet dancers who previously entertained Louis XVI and the courtiers now join the Revolution and perform for the people The Dance of Freedom, not much different from the old except for the Republican flag in the hand of Mireille de Poitiers, the leading female dancer.  By the side of the canon, the President of the Convention unites the hands of Jeanne and Phillipe, the first marriage of the new French Republic. They dance a Dance of Betrothal .Then the condemned Marquis is brought in for the guillotine. Adeline sees him. She runs towards him. Philippe tries to stop her. Then Jarcasse denounces Adeline to the crowd. The mob wants her dead. The despairing Jerome tries to save her. The mob would not relent. She is guillotined. Jeanne and Philippe try to restrain the struggling Jerome but the celebration continues to the sound of ça ira. 

The dancers are world class: their leaps, their turns, their pirouettes, their curved hands arms, their body postures, their steps, their sense of rhythm are flawless and it's sheer delight to watch them flit about the stage in perfect control, with grace, with elegance, with energy and with passion.   The choreographer Alexei Ratmansky says in an interview that The Flames of Paris is not really about the causes of the French Revolution but about the people in it. "[It] is the first ballet in which the chief character is the people, or the corps de ballet in ballet terms". A great deal of the enjoyment for the ballet would have been lost if what the dancers did on the stage were not so seamlessly matched by the music provided by the conductor Pavel Sorokin directing the Orchestra of the Bolshoi Ballet Theatre.The Principal dancers of this wonderful ballet team are Ekaterina Krysanova (as Jeanne, not on 35.03), Ekaterina Shipulina (as Jeanne), Denis Savin (as Jerome), , Vladislav  Lantratov (as Phillipe, not 25.03), Nina Kaptsova (as Adeline), Semyon Chudin( as The Marquis de Beauregard) , Artemy Belyakov (as Antoine Mistral, the ballet dancer and actor) Artem Ovcharenko ( as the Actor Antoine not 25.03) , Alexander Volchkov (as Philippe) and their Leading Soloists are Kristina Kretova, (as the Actress, not 25.03)  Vyacheslav Lopatin (as Jerome not 25.03) and their Soloist Daria Khokhlova (as Mireille de Poitiers, the actress). Alexander Vodopetov (as Gilbert, the captain of the Marseillaise), Irina Zibrova (as Jarcasse, the old woman) Alexander Petukov (as Gaspard, Jeanne's father) and Liudmila Ermakova (as Lucille, Jeanne's mother) Anastasia Stashkevich (as Amour in Rinaldo and Armida) Yulia Lunkina (as the ghost of the Bride in Rinaldo and Armida) Anastasia Kazakova, Yanina Parienko, Elvina Ibraimova, Tatiana Lazareva and Sveltlana Pavlova (as Furies in Rinaldo and Armida) Alexey Matrakov, Igor Tsvirko (First Soloist) and Dmitry Dorokhov (in Marsellaise Dance)and Yury Ostrovsky (as David, the artist of the Revolution)





The Opening Scene of the Flames of Paris



The Marseillaise Dance



Part 1 of Rinaldo and Armida



Part 2 of Rinaldo and Armida




The Dance of the Basques



A close up of the same



The Dance of Freedom