The Taming of the Shrew.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It was Bolshoi artistic director Sergei Filin who managed to recruit Jean Christophe Maillot, artistic director of Ballet de Monte Carlo, to choreograph for the company the ballet Taming of the Shrew, based on Shakespeare’s play by the same name. Filin, not fully recovered yet from having battery acid thrown in his face by a soloist of the Bolshoi, was determined to see the project through and explained at the press meeting why he wanted Maillot: “I know him, I love him. For us it’s a dream come true.” This was Bolshoi’s first full evening narrative ballet by a non-Russian choreographer and the first creation of Maillot’s outside his own company in 20 years.
Monte Carlo’s premier, the first outside of Moscow, marked the beginning of a year-long Russian cultural activities of political significance for the Monaco principality, enough to bring to the royal box Prince Albert II, Princess of Hanover and high Russian government officials and diplomats.
Both Filin and Maillot appreciate technical and theatrical excellence within the context of narrative ballets, though Maillot tends to rely more on intricate dramaturgical grounds, influenced by contemporary re-enactments of the classics.
He chose well the two leading dancers with Bolshoi- style acting skills, a critical requirement, particularly for comedy ballet.
Ekaterina Krysanova played Katharina as a strong yet spoiled woman who treats her suitors with contempt, ridiculed them and wounding their vanity. Fortunately for us, she finds her match upon the entrance of Vladislav Lantratov, playing the flamboyant Petruchio.
Tall, disheveled, sexy and sassy, Petruchio’s on a mission: marry into money.
Katharina’s beauty is a bonus, as far as he’s concerned.
With his carefree, off-balance virtuoso stunts (and lots of chutzpa), he gives Katharina no chance to deploy her usual tricks. Each slap is answered with a pull, a pinch with split cartwheel until she ready to admit that the sun shines at night and his imaginary acts are real.
Most unaccepted politically, yet this superbly executed comedic ballet supplied many delightful and strongly sensuous moments, and after all, it’s all in good fun.