So today I went to the ballet for the first time. Well first time in Tbilisi, I'm not quite that uncultured.
Connections got us a front seat at the 1st loge.
It was billed as Frederic Ashton's ballets, and since none of us were ballet buffs we weren't sure what that would mean in practice.
The opera and ballet theatre has seen better days, and seats are still cheap. Although the auditorium is quite quite small on plan it has 5 galleries of seating above the stalls, so holds quite a few people. It was practically full for the last day of the 3-day performance. It was a matinee, so full of children reasonably well behaved given it wasn't a children's programme.
We got "A Birthday Offering" in Act I, pas de deux from Thais, Sylvia and La Chatte in Act II and the full Marguerite and Armand in Act III.
Thais was very sexy, as required by the story of a religious fanatic who tries to rescue a courtesan. Sylvia more classical, as a Nymph of Diana, accompanied by a more down to earth male dancer. He dispensed with tights revealing nobbly knees, not enhanced by supposed hunting kneeboots of an unfortunate purple and beige colour, making them look more like rugby socks. A hairy chest revealed by a modification of the tarzan costume, (no leopard skin but the usual one shoulder exposed) did not improve the impression. In La Chatte, a rather appealing cat stretched and prowled but was let down by a late arrival (it seemed to me anyway) of the radar controlled mouse. In order to keep up with the music, she had already leapt on the chair and "screamed", eventually jumping down in a tizz when the mouse finally appeared. The mouse got a special "bow" from the rest of the cast at the end. In case you are wondering why this was necessary, the full title is La Chatte metamorphosee en femme.
The theatre outside the auditorium is very dark and dull: no photographs of previous performances, no proper bar, nowhere to promenade, to see and be seen. Although it was a matinee, we managed to find a bottle of wine, but when we went back for more, it was the only one, so one of us had to go without. Not recommended!
The third Act was Marguerite and Armand, originally written for Nureyev and Fonteyn. It seemed it had "died" with them and only recently been revived for other artists. I can't say what it must have been like with the originals but Nina Ananiashvili and Vasil Akhmeteli were fantastic.
The performance's only bad point was when I got home and found my phone had vanished. I dashed back with a colleague and eventually got in round the back way involving coming on stage, back into the auditorium. Luckily the phone was still under the seat. On the way out again we found the photo exhibition on a wall backstage (a funny place to put it).
Checking facts on the internet to write this, I found this interesting snippet about Frederic Ashton here:
He had a sense of humor in person to match the one he displayed on the dance stage, and among those who enjoyed it was Queen Elizabeth II, whom he once taught to dance the tango. Ashton could mimic various well-known British personalities including the queen, who, it is said, retaliated with an Ashton imitation of her own when she heard about his routine.
Technorati Tags: ballet, Frederic Ashton, Tbilisi