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Performances

20 Jan 2005

The Russians Bomb at Kennedy Center

What were they thinking? The “Kirov Spectacular” — which opened last night at the Kennedy Center Opera House — proved the sort of celestial vaudeville that should have . . . well, gone out with vaudeville. It seemed a generous program — some three hours of selections from ballets and operas performed by the Kirov Ballet, Opera and Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre, under the direction of Valery Gergiev. But the pieces had little to do with one another (indeed, they could almost have been chosen by lottery) and the musical performances were too often shopworn and lackluster — a scanty reward for those who managed to find their way to the Kennedy Center through the cold, clotted streets of pre-inauguration Washington.

Kirov Opera: Hitting All the Wrong Notes

By Tim Page
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 19, 2005; Page C04

What were they thinking?

The "Kirov Spectacular" — which opened last night at the Kennedy Center Opera House — proved the sort of celestial vaudeville that should have . . . well, gone out with vaudeville.

It seemed a generous program — some three hours of selections from ballets and operas performed by the Kirov Ballet, Opera and Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre, under the direction of Valery Gergiev. But the pieces had little to do with one another (indeed, they could almost have been chosen by lottery) and the musical performances were too often shopworn and lackluster — a scanty reward for those who managed to find their way to the Kennedy Center through the cold, clotted streets of pre-inauguration Washington.

The evening began well, with the overture to Glinka's "Ruslan and Lyudmila" — peppy, Russianized Rossini, conducted by Gergiev with his trademark headlong vigor. Within the past couple of days, it was decided, somewhat mysteriously, to make this long program longer by incorporating the "Black Pas de Deux" from "Swan Lake" into the proceedings, and here the show began its own swan dive, for the orchestra sounded tired and blanched (despite a nice hint of Gypsy throb to some of the solo violin playing). This is hardly the best of Tchaikovsky to begin with, and it sounded especially rum in the rigid, clattering performance it received last night.

[Click here for remainder of review.]

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