Although not quite the household name in Britain as the Mariinsky Ballet,
the company enjoys a long and rich history that would rival any in Russia or the
world. Founded in 1833, the Mikhailovsky Theatre was named after Grand Duke
Mikhail, the brother of Tsar Nicholas I, and at different times has been known as
the Maly or Moussorgsky Theatre before reverting to its original name in 2007.
The Mikhailovsky Balletís programme of five works features a welcome blend
of the old and new, of the famous and less well known. Swan Lake, whose
seven performances begin on 13 July, and Giselle (15-16 July) are the most
famous pieces, but in terms of production they combine tradition and modernity.
Giselle was first performed in St Petersburg in 1842, but the production
shown here is Nikita Dolgushinís 2008 creation, which delicately unites dance and
classic mime. Swan Lake, on the other hand, is a revival of Alexander Gorsky
and Asaf Messererís historical Moscow production of 1956, with this restaging by
Mikhail Messerer enjoying its premiere last year.
On 17 and 24 July, London audiences will be treated to the UK premiere of
Cipollino. This fairy story, which sees Little Onion boy (in Italian, Cipollino)
fight against the unjust treatment of his fellow vegetable folk (such as Old Mr
Pumpkin) by the fruit aristocracy (including foppish Prince Lemon) is guaranteed
to charm adults and children alike. However, even though the ballet was created
especially for young people, it never lacks the serious choreography of classical
ballet, and in London an extra element will be added in the form of a narrator
delivering the storyline. The music is by Karen Khachaturian, the sets and
costumes by Valery Leventhal, and the choreography by Genrikh Mayorov.
On 20-21 July, London will be the first city in the world to witness the historical
revival of Laurencia (after a fifty year absence from the Russian stage) in
a new full-length production by Mikhail Messerer. Based on the play Fuente
Ovejuna by Lope de Vega, the ballet was originally choreographed by Vakhtang
Chabukiani who helped to create a new choreographic language by blending folk
dance and classical ballet in a unique way.
Finally, the Mikhailovsky Ballet will present its Triple Bill on 18 July. This includes
the classics Divertissements and Le Halte de cavalerie, choreographed
by Marius Petipa, alongside a premiere created especially for the Mikhailovsky Ballet
by Viacheslav Samodurov to music by Domenico Scarlatti.
The Mikhailovsky Balletís visit to London in 2008 saw its Triple Bill greeted with
numerous curtain calls. Just from looking at the 2010 programme, Iíve got a feeling
that it wonít be the only piece to be received so generously.
Further details of the Mikhailovsky Balletís London programme can be found