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Mariinsky Ballet Performs a Classic of Soviet Era Ballet

The Fountain of Bakhchisarai by Valentin Baranovsky © State Academic Mariinsky Theatre
On the evening of Sunday, November 3rd, I saw a ravishing production—presented by the extraordinary Mariinsky Ballet—of the splendid The Fountain of Bakhchisarai—which premiered in 1934—at the jewel-like Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia—this was especially fortunate since this work, like so much of classic Soviet choreography, is virtually unseeable in live performance in New York.
The libretto of The Fountain of Bakhchisarai was adapted by Nikolai Volkov from an eponymous 1823 poem by Alexander Pushkin—which I have not read—which also was the basis for a cantata by Anton Arensky and operas by Alexander von Zemlinsky and Alexander Ilyinsky. The enchanting score—impressively conducted here by Boris Gruzin—is by the eminent composer, musicologist and critic, Boris Asafyev, while the brilliant choreography is by the estimable Rostislav Zakharov, with marvelous sets and costumes designed by Valentina Khodasevich.
The dazzling cast, hitherto entirely unknown to me, was magnificently led by Yuri Smekalov as Ghirei, the Crimean Khan, exquisitely partnered by Anastasia Matvienko as Maria. Her bridegroom, Vaslav, was expertly danced by Xander Parish, while Zarema, the Khan’s favorite wife was performed by a superb Anastasia Kolegova. Along with many other charming dancers too numerous to name, other notable artists included: Alisa Petrenko and Dmitry Pykhachov in the Cracovienne; Anna Smirnova in the Bell dance; Maria Shevyakova in the Captives dance; and Nikita Lyashchenko, Daniil Lopatin, and Maxim Lynda in the Tatar dance. The wonderfulcorps de balletprovided entrancing support.
I look forward to future appearances of this glorious company.

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