Saturday, February 27, 2021

My 6 Favorites Classical Music Composers

Ludwig van Beethoven 



Piano Concerto #5 "Emperor" - Vladimir Ashkenazy pianist

Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. Beethoven remains one of the most admired composers in the history of Western music; his works rank amongst the most performed of the classical music repertoire. His works span the transition from the classical period to the romantic era in classical music; from the "classical" styles of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, to the early romantics as Chopin, Shubert, Mendelsohn. In the late period of his, Beethoven began to suffer increasingly from deafness. His symphony No. 9 “the Symphony of Symphonies” wass composed when he was deaf 

Born in Bonn, Beethoven's musical talent was obvious at an early age. His first major orchestral work, the First Symphony, appeared in 1800, and his first set of string quartets was published in 1801. During this period, his hearing began to deteriorate, but he continued to conduct, premiering his Third and Fifth Symphonies in 1804 and 1808, respectively. His Violin Concerto appeared in 1806. His last piano concerto (No. 5, Op. 73, known as the 'Emperor'), dedicated to his frequent patron Archduke Rudolf of Austria, was premiered in 1810, but not with Beethoven as soloist. 

Beethoven was almost completely deaf by 1814, He composed many of his most admired works, in this period, including his later symphonies and his mature chamber music and piano sonatas. His only opera, Fidelio, which had been first performed in 1805, was revised to its final version in 1814. He composed his Missa Solemnis in the years 1819–1823. After some months of bedridden illness, he died in 1827. Beethoven's works remain the mainstays of the classical music repertoire.

Frédéric François Chopin 


Plonaise "Heroic" op. 53 - Olga Scheps pianist

Frédéric François Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote primarily for solo piano. He has maintained worldwide renown as a leading musician of his era, one whose "poetic genius was based on a professional technique that was without equal in his generation." 

 Chopin was born in Żelazowa Wola in the Duchy of Warsaw and grew up in Warsaw, which in 1815 became part of Congress Poland. A child prodigy, he completed his musical education and composed his earlier works in Warsaw before leaving Poland at the age of 20 Chopin formed a friendship with Franz Liszt and was admired by many of his other musical contemporaries, including Robert Schumann.

After a failed engagement to Maria Wodzińska from 1836 to 1837, he maintained an often-troubled relationship with the French writer Amantine Dupin (known by her pen name, George Sand). A brief and unhappy visit to Mallorca with Sand in 1838–39 would prove one of his most productive periods of composition. In his final years, he was supported financially by his admirer Jane Stirling, who also arranged for him to visit Scotland in 1848. 

For most of his life, Chopin was in poor health. He died in Paris in 1849 at the age of 39, probably of pericarditis aggravated by tuberculosis. All of Chopin's compositions include the piano. Most are for solo piano, though he also wrote two piano concertos and a few chamber pieces. His piano music is technically demanding which expands the limits of the instrument.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born 27 January 1756 and died on 5 December 1791, at the age of 35. He was baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. He was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical period. Born in Salzburg, in the Holy Roman Empire.

Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court but grew restless and travelled in search of a better position. 

While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in Vienna, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his early death at the age of 35. The circumstances of his death have been much mythologized. He composed more than 600 works, many of which are acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. He is considered among the greatest classical composers of all time. His influence on Western music is profound. 

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky


Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a Russian composer of the Romantic period. He was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally. He was honored in 1884 by Tsar Alexander III and awarded a lifetime pension. 

Tchaikovsky was in Kamsko-Votkinsk, 7 May 1840 and died St Petersburg, 6 November 1893; He lived in the Romantic period of music. He is the most popular of all Russian composers. He wrote melodies which were usually dramatic and emotional. His compositions include 11 operas, 3 ballets, orchestral music, chamber music and over 100 songs. His famous ballets (Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty) have some of the best known tunes in all of romantic music. He is widely regarded as the greatest composer of ballets.

Tchaikovsky's sudden death at the age of 53 is generally ascribed to cholera. His music has remained extremely popular among audiences, I consider his "Swan Lake" ballet the greatest ever. It is two plus hours of beautiful melodies, one after another. I always maintain that when Tchaikovsky composed "Swan Lake" he was touched by the "Hand of God."

Swan Lake "El Lago de los Cisnes" Teatro Colon /Nadia Muzyca- Juan Pablo Ledo

Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi


Giuseppe Verdi was an Italian opera composer born on 9 October 1813 and died on 27 January 1901. He was born near Busseto to a provincial family of moderate means, and developed a musical education with the help of a local patron. Verdi came to dominate the Italian opera scene after the era of Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti, and Gioachino Rossini, whose works significantly influenced him. In his early operas, Verdi demonstrated a sympathy with the Risorgimento movement which sought the unification of Italy. The chorus "Va, pensiero" from his early opera Nabucco (1842)was much in the spirit of the unification movement, and the composer himself became esteemed as a representative of these ideals. 

An intensely private person, Verdi, became professionally successful was able to reduce his operatic workload and sought to establish himself as a landowner in his native region. He surprised the musical world by returning, after his success with the opera Aida (1871), with three late masterpieces: his Requiem (1874), and the operas Otello (1887) and Falstaff (1893). His operas remain extremely popular, especially the three peaks of his 'middle period': Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and La Traviata, and the 2013 bicentenary of his birth was widely celebrated in broadcasts and performances. He is regarded as the greatest of all opera composers. He wrote 26 operas and more than 20 of them are in the standard repertoire of opera houses around the world.

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi 


Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was born on 4 March 1678 and died on 28 July 1741. He was an Italian  Baroque composer, virtuoso violinist, teacher, impresario, and Roman Catholic priest. Born in Venice, the capital of the Venetian Republic, Vivaldi is regarded as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and his influence during his lifetime was widespread across Europe, being paramount in the development of Johann Sebastian Bach's instrumental music. 

Vivaldi composed many instrumental concertos, for the violin and a variety of other musical instruments, as well as sacred choral works and more than forty operas. His best-known work is a series of violin concertos known as the Four Seasons. Many of his compositions were written for the all-female music ensemble of the Ospedale della Pietà, a home for abandoned children. Vivaldi had worked there as a Catholic priest for 18 months and was employed there from 1703 to 1715 and from 1723 to 1740. Vivaldi also had some success with expensive stagings of his operas in Venice, Mantua and Vienna. After meeting the Emperor Charles VI, Vivaldi moved to Vienna, hoping for royal support. However, the Emperor died soon after Vivaldi's arrival, and Vivaldi himself died in poverty less than a year later. 

 After almost two centuries of decline, Vivaldi's music underwent a revival in the early 20th century, with much scholarly research devoted to his work. Many of Vivaldi's compositions, once thought lost, have been rediscovered - in one case as recently as 2006. His music remains widely popular in the present day and is regularly played all over the world. 

Four Seasons Op. 8

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Olga Scheps

I just learned about Olga Scheps when I saw her recital of Chopin’s first Piano Concerto on Youtube. I was taken aback at her piano prowess and physical beauty. Unfortunately, her recordings are not distributed in the United States.

Olga Scheps is a young pianist with extraordinary powers of expression, Olga has been enchanting audiences throughout Europe for several years – she is 35.  Olga has performed either solo recitals or as concerto soloist with orchestras throughout Germany where she lives and throughout Europe.

Olga’s repertoire is a balanced combination of the very familiar and the seldom performed, and she brings to everything she plays a deeply considered emotional sensitivity to the impulses that drive the music.  Although it is clear that she has the technical prowess and sheer muscle to pull off the grandest effects called for in the many masterpieces in her repertoire, it is the beautiful clarity of her approach to playing the piano and her attention to subtle details of expression which I find most remarkable. Actually, Olga Scheps does not play the piano; she is the piano.

The only thing I wish her to play Beethoven's third and fifth piano concertos and some more Mozart piano music. The following are links to her performances:

Saturday, February 20, 2021

My Ten Favorite Ballets and Five Ballerinas

1. Swan Lake
2. Romeo and Juliet of Sergei Prokofiev
3. La Bayadere
4. Giselle
5. Le Corsaire
6. Sleeping Beauty
7. Nutcracker
8. Coppelia
9. The Merry Widow
10. La Fille Mal Gardée

My favorite presently perfoming 5 ballerinas, in the same order, are:
  1. Svetlana Zakharova (Bolshoi Theater)
  2. Maria "Masha" Alexandrova (Bolshoi Theater)
  3. Nadia Muzyca (Colon Theater)
  4. Yulia Makhalina (Mariinsky Theater)
  5. Lauren Cuthbertson (Royal Ballet Theater)
Nadia Muzyca

Lauren Cuthbertson

Lauren Cuthbertson is one of my favorite five performing ballerinas. The following is a brief biography that I copied from the Royal Ballet site.

English dancer Lauren Cuthbertson is a Principal of The Royal Ballet. She studied at The Royal Ballet School as a junior associate and at White Lodge and the Upper School, and joined the Company in 2002. She was promoted to Soloist in 2003, First Soloist in 2006 and Principal in 2008. Cuthbertson was born in Devon. Awards include Young British Dancer of the Year (2001), the 2004 Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Female Performance (Classical) and silver medal at the Varna International Ballet Competition in 2006, where she represented Great Britain. She is an active patron of National Youth Ballet and London Children’s Ballet. Cuthbertson’s repertory with the Company includes leading roles in the classical ballets, Juliet, Manon, Anastasia and roles in many other works by Kenneth MacMillan, and leading roles in works by choreographers including Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, David Bintley, Alastair Marriott, Wayne McGregor, Jerome Robbins, Liam Scarlett, Glen Tetley and Christopher Wheeldon. Her role creations include La Glace (Les Saisons), Alice (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), Hermione (The Winter’s Tale) and in Symphonic Variations, Tryst, Qualia, Chroma, Infra, Acis and Galatea (The Royal Opera), Live Fire Exercise, The Human Seasons, Tetractys and Multiverse.


Monday, February 1, 2021

Yulia Makhalina

Yulia Victorovna Makhalina also Yulia, (born 23 June 1968) is a Russian ballet dancer. Since 1986, she has been with the Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet where she is a principal dancer. Along with Ulyana Lopatkina, Makhalina is a member of 'the basketball team', a group of Kirov dancers who are characterized for being especially tall and slender.

Born in Leningrad, she trained under Marina A. Vasilieva at the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, graduating in 1985. A member of the Mariinsky Ballet since 1986, she has performed the leading roles in 
Swan LakeSleeping BeautyLe Corsaire and Anna Karenina. Her repertoire has included the major classical ballets as well as works choreographed by George Balanchine including Theme and VariationsScotch SymphonyApolloThe Prodigal Son and Symphony in C. Makhalina's role debuts with the Kirov/Mariinsky included Myrtha (1986) and the title role (1991) in Giselle, Medora (1987) in Le Corsaire, Odette/Odile (1987) in Swan Lake, Gamzatti (1988) and Nikiya (1990) in La Bayadère, Kitri (1989) in Don Quixote, Lilac Fairy (1989) in Sleeping Beauty, title role (1994) in Raymonda, and Countess of Elba (1996) in Goya Divertissement. She has also performed the title roles in Roland Petit's Carmen and in Kenneth MacMillan's Manon. Exotic roles have included Zobeide in Scheherazade and Death in The Youth and Death, while supporting roles have included the evil stepmother in Cinderella. She has also performed as a soloist at the Royal Danish Ballet, Berlin's Deutsche Oper, the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and at the Paris Opera. In Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre, she has danced in Swan LakeLa Bayadère and The Firebird. In 2014, it was announced that Makhalina would return to Montreal's "Gala des Étoiles du ballet russe", known as "Don des Étoiles" in 1988 when she first appeared at the event. With a repertoire of 40 roles, Makhalina also has outside interests in areas such as architecture and nature.


Yulia Makhalina has won many prestigious awards including:

  • 1990: Gold Medal, Paris International Ballet Competiti
  • 1998: Prix Benois de la Danse
Yulia Makhalina's Ballet Links:

Nadia Muzyca

Nadia Muzyca is an Argentine classical ballet ballerina who was born in the city of Quilmes, just outside Buenos Aires. At the age of 9 years, she became a student of the “Instituto Superior de Arte of the Teatro Colón.” Ever since then she dedicated her life and personal sacrifices to ballet.  In 2012 she was named as the first ballerina of Teatro Colon, her dream.  

She studied with Lidia Segni and at Teatro Colón’s Instituto Superior de Arte. She was part of Julio Bocca’s Ballet Argentino, who chose her as his partner in Pulsations. She was principal dancer of the Ballet Estable del Teatro Argentino de La Plata until 2004. In 2012 she entered the Teatro Colón Permanent Ballet as principal. She danced in numerous national and international galas and as principal with different companies. She won gold medals in the Latin American and International III Competitions. She was nominated to the Clarín Revelation of Dance Awards 2008 and 2009 and Benois de la Danse (Moscow 2014) as Best Dancer. In 2016 she took her own Tango Ballet show with success to Greece, Austria and Egypt. She directs and teaches in her own ballet school in Quilmes.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Maria "Masha" Alexandrova

Maria Alexandrova was born in
 Moscow and attended the Moscow Choreographic Academy. She won a gold medal at the Moscow International Ballet Competition in 1997 and shortly thereafter joined the Bolshoi Ballet, quickly making her debut as Myrtha in Giselle. In June 2000 she played a double role in Don Quixote as street dancer for the first act and as soloist in third. By 2004 she had become a principal dancer, and since then she has performed in such ballets as The Sleeping Beauty and played the title character in Alexei Ratmansky's Leah and Carmen in Carmen Suite. In 2005 and 2007 she performed numerous soloist roles and made her debuts as Odette-Odile in Swan Lake, Medora in Le Corsaire and the Pupil in The Lesson


In 2008 she participated in the premiere of Ratmansky's Flames of Paris, in which she played the heroine Jeanne. In 2009 she danced in the premiere of Coppélia as Swanilda, made her debut as Nikiya in La Bayadère and danced the title role in the premiere of Esmeralda. The same year she also traveled to Novosibirsk where she appeared again in Swan Lake and Don Quixote, both of which were performed at the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre. In 2010 she made her debut as the Countess in Roland Petit's Queen of Spades. On 2 August 2013, during a performance by the Bolshoi Ballet at the Royal Opera House in London, Alexandrova injured her leg while performing Gamzatti in La Bayadère and had to leave the stage without finishing her act. She returned to the Bolshoi stage on February 28, 2014 in a performance of Mats Ek's Apartment. 


On 2 February 2017, it was officially announced that Ms. Alexandrova decided to resign from the Bolshoi Ballet. "Bolshoi Theater has confirmed resignation of one of the ballet company stars, internationally acclaimed prima ballerina Maria Alexandrova. The resignation was voluntary, it said. "On January 19, 2017, People’s Artist of Russia Maria Alexandrova filed a request for voluntary resignation," a spokesperson for the theater said. "This was Ms. Alexandrova’s personal decision." Maria Alexandrova explained she will continue to dance within the context of other projects.

It’s no secret to those in the know that Maria Alexandrova and Vladislav Lantratov, boyfriend and possible husband “Masha” and “Vlad” – as they at times affectionately refer to each other - are two lovebirds whose deep connection is visible both onstage and off. They are as often 
referred as the "power couple."

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Classical vs Romantic ballets

Classical Ballet is the most formal of the ballet styles. It adheres to traditional ballet technique. Classical ballet is best known for its unique features and techniques, such as pointe work, turn-out of the legs, and high extensions; its graceful, flowing, precise movements; and its ethereal qualities. It puts a great amount of emphasis on the execution of movement and the method.The feature of ballet is the outward rotation of the thighs from the hip. The foundation of the dance is of five basic positions, all performed with the turnout. Example of classical ballet are the Swan Lake and the Nutcracker just to name two.

The Romantic ballet is defined primarily by an era in ballet in which the ideas of Romanticism in art and literature influenced the creation of ballets. The Romantic era marked the rise of the ballerina as a central part of ballet, where previously men had dominated performances. The movement style for Romantic ballerinas was characterized by soft, rounded arms and a forward tilt in the upper body. This gave the woman a flowery, willowy look. Leg movements became more elaborate due to the new tutu length and rising standards of technical proficiency. An example of a romantic ballet is Giselle. The synopsis is as follows:

ACT I:  The ballet is set in the vineyard country bordering the Rhine. Hilarion, the village huntsman and a gamekeeper to the court, returns from his early morning chores and pauses before a neighboring cottage—the home of Giselle, with whom he is in love.  Villagers pass by on their way to the vineyards, where they will harvest the last of the grapes before the Wine Festival.

Count Albrecht arrives with his squire and enters a cottage opposite Giselle’s. He emerges dressed as a peasant, submits his disguise to the squire’s inspection, and dismisses him. Hilarion has witnessed this exchange and is puzzled that the squire should show such deference to this youth, who is known to the villager as a fellow peasant named Loys. Loys excuses himself from joining the grape pickers so that he can be alone with Giselle. He swears eternal love, and she takes the traditional test with a daisy—“he loves me, he loves me not.”  When it appears the answer will be “not,” she throws the flower away; Loys retrieves it and, by surreptitiously discarding a petal, comes up with the answer “he loves me.”  Hilarion interrupts, protesting that he, and not Loys, truly loves Giselle. A quarrel ensues, and Hilarion’s suspicions deepen as Loys instinctively reaches for the sword that, as a nobleman, he is accustomed to wearing.

The villagers return, and Giselle invites them to join in a dance to celebrate the harvest. Her mother, Berthe, interrupts and warns her that her life may be endangered if she overexerts herself by dancing. She is struck by a momentary hallucination of her daughter in death. She sees her as a wili, a restless spirit who has died with her love unrequited.

A horn sounds in the distance, and Loys recognizes it as coming from the hunting party of the prince of Courland. As Loys hastily departs, Hilarion breaks into Loys’ cottage. Refreshments are served to the hunters, and the prince’s daughter, Bathilde, gives Giselle a gold necklace when she learns they are both engaged to be married.  After the royal party has returned to the hunt, Hilarion emerges from Loys’ cottage with a hunting horn and a sword, further evidence that the supposed peasant is, in fact, a nobleman.

The villagers return and proclaim Giselle the queen of the Wine Festival. Hilarion interrupts to denounce Loys as an impostor. When Loys denies the charges and threatens the gamekeeper with his sword, Hilarion blows the hunting horn, a signal for the prince to return. Loys is exposed as an impostor when Bathilde reveals that he is her fiancé, Count Albrecht. The shock of learning of Albrecht’s duplicity is too great for Giselle’s frail constitution. Her mind becomes unhinged, and she dies of a broken heart—her love unrequited.

ACT II:  The scene is laid in a clearing in the forest near Giselle’s grave. The wilis are summoned by their queen, Myrta, to attend the ceremonies that will initiate Giselle into their sisterhood.  Their love unrequited, they can find no rest. Their spirits are forever destined to roam the earth from midnight to dawn, vengefully trapping any male who enters their domain and forcing him to dance to his death. Hilarion, in search of Giselle, meets his death at their hands. Albrecht arrives to leave flowers on Giselle’s grave. He too is trapped and commanded to dance until death. Giselle resolves to protect him. She dances with him until the clock strikes four, at which hour the wilis lose their power. Albrecht is rescued from deat

The following link is to Giselle music by Adolphe Adam
 with Svetlana Zakharova at the Bolshoi:  In the first act, the ballerina acts; in the second, she dances.

Svetlana Zakharova

La Bayadere with Maria Alexandrova at the Bolshoi

Svetlana Zakharova is my favorite all-time classical ballet ballerina.  I prefer her to Margot Fonteyn, who was the picture of perfection. Svetlana is not only perfect, she seems to float in the air. I often believe that she learned to dance before learning to walk! If the previous was not enough, she is also beautiful.

The following is  link to the ballet "The Swan Lake" bay Tchaikovsky withy Roberto Bolle at the The Scala of Milan: Svetlana performs Odette in the second and fourth acts and Odile in the third act. the story of the Swan Lake tells the tale of the doomed love of Prince Siegfried and Princess Odette. Prince Siegfried goes out hunting one night and chases a group of swans – one of them transforms into a young woman, Odette, who explains that she and her companions were turned into swans by the evil Baron Von Rothbart.The spell can only be broken if someone who has never loved before swears an oath of undying love and promises to marry her. The Prince declares his love to Odette and promises to be loyal forever.At a grand reception at the palace, the Prince must choose a bride – but he can think only of Odette. Suddenly a fanfare announces the arrival of two guests – it is Odette! The prince dances with her and asks for her hand in marriage.But it’s not Odette – the mystery woman is the daughter of the evil von Rothbart, Odile. Odette has witnessed the whole scene. Too late, Siegfried realises his mistake.Siegfried follows Odette to the lake and begs her forgiveness. She says she forgives him but nothing can change the fact he broke his vow. They decide to die together. The lovers throw themselves into the lake.

Svetlana's Biography (which I copied from her website:)

"People’s Artist of Russia, laureate of the Russian state prize, prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia, étoile of La Scala, Svetlana Zakharova was born in Lutsk (Ukraine). At the age of 10 she entered the Kiev Choreography School. Having spend six years in the class of Valeria Sulegina, she took part in the international young dancers contest “Vaganova Prix” in Saint Petersburg, where she was the youngest ballet dancer. Then at the age of 15 Svetlana won the second prize. 

After the contest she accepted the invitation to go to the famous Vaganova Ballet Academy in Saint Petersburg. She skipped the second class and went straight to the graduating class which was the only case in the whole history of this educational institution.

Zakharova immediately drew attention to herself and six months later, she took invitation to perform a solo part in the ballet “Don Quixote” in the Mariinsky Theatre. The graduate from the class by Elena Evteeva perfectly managed to perform one of the most complicated classical roles – the Queen of the Dryads. This is how the young star of the Russian ballet was rising. When she was seventeen, Svetlana Zakharova graduated from the Vaganova Academy and in nearly no time she was accepted into the legendary ballet company of the Mariinsky Theatre.

Svetlana was noticed by the outstanding teacher of the Mariinsky Theatre and a famous ballet dancer the People’s artist of Russia Olga Moiseeva. Under her guidance, Zakharova debuted as Maria in “The Fountain of Bakhchisarai”. Then she danced Gulnara in “Le Corsaire” and performed “The 7th Waltz and Mazurka” in “Chopiniana”.

But the most tremendous success was brought to her by the role of Giselle in the ballet of the same name. Both the audiences and the ballet critics were full with excitement about Zakharova’s performance and demonstrated incredible interest in her. Shortly after the premiere Zakharova received an offer from Vladimir Vasiliev to join the company of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.

Having received her official ‘prima’ status at the age of 18, Svetlana continued her work for the Mariinsky Theater expanding her repertoire with classical and modern pieces: “The Sleeping Beauty”, “Swan Lake”, “Bayadère”, “Don Quixote”, - as well as premieres by George Balanchine. Zakharova successfully performed the pas des deux by Tchaikovsky and starred in “Apollo”, “Serenade”, “The Symphony in C” and “Diamonds in Jewels”. Zakharova also met with the great choreographer John Neumeier. In his ballet “Now and then” the young ballet dancer was presented as an ultra-modern artist, capable of mastering styles and genres of dance beyond the art of classical ballet.

At the same time she starts to receive international recognition. Her global fame is rapidly growing. In 2001, she signed her first contract with L’Opera de Paris for “Bayadère”. It was the first time in thirty years when a ballet dancer from Russia had a chance to perform on French capital’s famous stage. 
Zakharova is on tour to every part of the world: New York Metropolitan Opera, London Covent Garden, The Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, Teatro di san Carlo in Napoli, Vienna Opera, National Theater in Tokyo, stages in many cities of Europe, Asia, Australia and South America. La Scala signs a long-term contract with her and awards her with the status of étoile. It was the first time in the history of this great theater, no Russian ballet dancer had been awarded this honor before. She also takes part in DVD-recordings of “Swan Lake”, “Bayadère” and “Giselle”.

In 2003 Svetlana Zakharova decided to join the ballet company of the Bolshoi Theater. Famous ballet dancer People’s Artist of Russia Ludmila Semeniaka has become her tutor. Zakharova’s first work in the Bolshoi was the ballet-premiere “La Fille du Pharaon” by the famous choreographer Pierre Lacotte. A recording of this ballet was issued on DVD. Gradually Zakharova was introduced into every piece of the Bolshoi’s classical repertoire, into the ballets by one of the greatest choreographers of our time, Yuri Grigorovich.

Svetlana Zakharova is, in equal measure, a unique and universal performer of classical heritage ballets and she demonstrates her mastery in Russia and all over the world. Staying strong in the pursuit of her goals, the ballet dancer continues to expand her repertoire with the modern pieces and programs. Without fear, she experiments and makes use of the modern technical capabilities.

In 2006, Svetlana Zakharova becomes a member of the Presidential Council for Culture and Art.   

In 2007, for the talented embodiment of scenic images, development of great traditions of the Russian Ballet, Svetlana Zakharova was awarded with the State Prize of the Russian Federation.   

In 2008 the famous ballet dancer was elected a State Duma Deputy, she served one term in the Russian parliament from 2008 to 2012. 
As a prominent representative of the Russian Culture, Svetlana Zakharova was given the honor of taking part in the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014.

Her “Natasha Rostova’s first ball” won the hearts of millions with beauty and fine artistic image. In her interview Svetlana confesses: “Such an event can happen only once in a lifetime. I will never forget those emotions which I experienced at the moment of my performance: excitement mixed together with incredible euphoria and happiness from the event.” 

Svetlana's Awards:

– The highest theater award of St. Petersburg Golden Soffit 
– The Golden Mask awards 
– Best Dance of the Year award by Italian Danza magazine 
– People of our City award, Saint Petersburg 
– The Meritorious Artist of Russia 
– Benois de la Danse award 
 – The State Prize of the Russian Federation (for the talented interpretation of roles and development of the great traditions of the Russian ballet) 
2– Soul of the Dance award by The Ballet magazine, Queen of the Dance nomination 
2– The People’s Artist of Russia 
2– La Scala Ballet Étoile Officier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France 
2– Twice a laureate of Benois de la Danse award

Links to Svetlana Zakharova's ballet performances:

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Swan Lake

Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky
Swan Lake is a ballet composed by Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky in 1875-1876. Despite its initial failure, it is now the most popular ballet of all time. It did not become that popular until Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov choreographed Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece, in the early 1900’s, after the composer early death. I always sustain that when Tchaikovsky composed the Swan Lake, he was touched by the hand of God.

The Swan Lake is what kindled my love of classical music, specially ballet. Listening to it is sheer rupture. Great music and especially melodies, one after another. I believe I listened to Swan Lake, for the first time, when I was 10 and I never stopped; I'm 72. I must have listened to it at least 250 times and I never get tired of it.

It is a ballet in four acts with a prelude. The following is a sypnosis:

Night. A palace terrace by a lake.
As his coming of age approaches, Prince Siegfried feels the heavy responsibilities of his rank. He grieves, too, recalling the funeral of his royal father that so overwhelmed him as a young boy.
Next day. The palace gardens.
Marius Petipa
Amidst the busy preparations for the Prince’s birthday, his young friends, fellow officers, and ladies of the court, seek to distract him from his melancholy. His widowed mother the Queen arrives with the Chancellor, who has effectively ruled the kingdom since the King’s death. Four foreign princesses are presented by their ambassadors as potential fiancées for the Prince, but he seeks diversion in drinking toasts and dancing. As evening falls, he feels the familiar lure of the lake, with its promise of comfort in solitude.
That night. The lake.
Siegfried is transfixed by the appearance of a swan, which changes before his eyes into the Princess Odette. She and her maidens are prisoners of the sorcerer von Rothbart, and condemned to be swans for all but a few hours of each night. Only a vow of true love and fidelity can break the spell. Entranced himself, Siegfried gradually woos Odette, and promises her his love: Odette gives him her heart, although she fears the elemental powers of the malevolent magician.
The next night. The palace ballroom.
Fonteyn & Nureyev in "Swan Lake"
A great ball is in progress, and this evening a distracted Prince is expected to choose a future consort to reign with him. None are aware of his secret love for Odette. The festivities are interrupted by the arrival of von Rothbart and his retinue, which includes his daughter Odile. Strangely resembling Odette, the seductive beauty captivates Siegfried, who allows himself to fall under her spell, and to break the vow of fidelity. As von Rothbart triumphs, Siegfried runs from the palace in despair.
 That night. The lake.
Yulia Makhalina as "Odette" in Swan Lake
The swan maidens, now spellbound forever, have gathered to protect Odette. Desolate, the Prince begs her forgiveness, which she bestows, knowing that they must part. In desperation he drowns himself, but as von Rothbart gathers his body from the lake, the soul of Odette is released. Although she will remain a swan, she is free of von Rothbart forever.

Needless to say that Swan Lake is my favorite ballet. I have watched it over 50 times in person and over the Internet. I have listened to the music score over 100 times in my lifetime. I have never gotten tired of it. My favorite dancing duo is Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. They are considered the best duo of all time. The following link is to this duo performing the Pas de Duex from Le Corsaire: You will not see the "Pyrotechnics" from both until the last two minutes.

Nadia Muzyca as "Odile" & Juan Pablo Ledo as "Prince Sigfried" in Swan Lake from the Colon Theater

The following links are to:

Margot Fonteyn (Odette/Odile) and Rudolf Nureyev (Prince Sigfried) in Swan Lake with the Royal Ballet in Vienna
Yulia Makhalina as Odette/Odile with the Kirov Ballet
Svetlana Zakharova as Odette/Odile - Swan Lake/ Act II - with the Bolshoi Ballet
Nadia Muzyca as Odette/Odile with the Colon Theater in Buenos Aires

I was very surprised how good the Swan Lake production from the Colon Theater was. Nadia Muzyca is a top notch ballerina. However, Juan Pablo Ledo (Prince Sigfried) is second tier, in my opinion. If I did not say the above, most people won't be able to tell the difference.

Svetlana Zakharova as "Odile" in Swan Lake