Good girl gone bad
It’s been a long time we haven’t heard from each other, but honestly, every day I was starting this post in my head. Many beautiful things happened to me during this past month. I could tell you about Klimt exhibition, wonderful Vienna museums, “Traviata” in Staatsoper or fantastic soviet photography I’ve recently seen. But all January I was thinking about Her white shoulders, soft movements and fear in the eyes. Today, I’ll add another word to the greatest beauty – to the ballet. This masterpiece made me rethink all I knew about Anna Karenina. I started this roman of Tolstoy once again and I can say about totally different precipitate it left comparing to me six years ago. So, it was a marvelous Sunday afternoon in the Zurich Opernhaus and the story as old as the world. Marriage, betrayal, love, loneliness and brain fog.
The beautiful Anna lives in St. Petersburg, in a colourless marriage with her husband Alexei Karenin; a dry, self-assured, and highly respected government official, with whom she has a son. When she first meets the lively and pleasure-loving military officer, Count Vronsky, she is reluctant to enter into an affair with him, but soon gives way to his overpowering attraction. In the pas de deux of their first encounter, the two dancers were so erotically entwined as to bring even the conservative audience (I can say I was the youngest in the whole theatre surrounded by frosty heads)) to the edge of its seats. Predictably, it’s not long before the affair between the two is discovered. While Vronksy can carry on socializing openly and still commands the respect of his peers, the adulteress Anna is ostracized by society, and her husband even skirts her beloved young son away from her. Torn between moral duty and her love for Vronsky, Anna begins a descent into despair. She is increasingly jealous of her lover’s interaction with other women, and of his easy acceptance by the friends that meet her only with aversion. Ultimately, all things lost, she commits suicide by throwing herself in front of a train… I dropped on purpose the polar opposite story of Levin and wonderful Kitty, because they faded in comparison with Karenina’s passion. But I totally enjoyed the scene of haymaking, where Levin with fifteen half naked dancers imitated hard working in the field.
You already know, that I pay lots of attention to the decorations and costumes. This time everything was impeccable. Starting with the director’s idea to imitate the coming train or the horserace with the projector, white sheets and retro pictures. For example, in the wind-up to Anna’s suicide, a turbulent musical score underscored sepia coloured, close-up images of a 19th century steam locomotive and the shimmering tracks beneath it. Anna simply falls to the ground, as if ‘cut down.’ A simple, but powerful ending.
Christian Spuck’s production has lots of such innovative accents, which don’t disturb you from the classic curvy dresses and splendid music, but add a certain something to the whole composition. The fate of Tolstoy’s characters is superbly accompanied by symphonic and chamber music, primarily by Sergei Rachmaninoff and the more modern Polish composer, Witold Lutoslawski. What’s more, the three Russian melodies sung by accomplished soprano Anna Stéphany gives the staging a nostalgic dimension and surely surprises. During the whole ballet you can feel the electricity flying on the stage, which was suddenly interrupted by lights off and falling curtain before the intermission and at the end. So, I’ve decided to finish my review without further ado…”Cut”!
Masha D.Anna Karenina, Ballet, Opernhouse, Tolstoy