This weekend, the Bolshoi Ballet will once again be performing The Taming of the Shrew (La Mégère Apprivoisée), the magnificent ballet created for the Company in 2014 by Jean-Christophe Maillot, Choreographer-Director of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo. It played to sold-out houses then – and also when the Bolshoi subsequently took it to Monte-Carlo – and the three performances in Moscow this weekend are also sell-outs.
Why should this be relevant to audiences in San Francisco and across the United States? Well Sunday evening’s performance will be transmitted live from the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow to over 500 cinemas across the US, giving many of us the opportunity to see for the first time, perhaps, the work of this highly acclaimed choreographer.
The production of The Taming of the Shrew in Moscow marked the first time that Maillot had choreographed a ballet for a company other than the Ballets de Monte-Carlo since his appointment in 1993. It also represented the first time that a foreign choreographer had been invited to create a full-length work for the Bolshoi, confirming the close friendship shared by Maillot and Sergei Filin, Director of the Bolshoi Ballet, the two having worked together on a number of artistic projects in recent years.
Jean-Christophe Maillot wanted to create for the artists of the Bolshoi a ballet which would highlight both their theatrical skills, as well as the brilliant dancing for which they are known. Realizing the need for a strong narrative theme to the work, Maillot took his inspiration from the greatest playwright in the English language, William Shakespeare, focusing on the battle of wills between the flamboyant Petruchio and the cantankerous Katherina, which forms the central plot of the play.
He spent four months coaching these remarkable Russian artists, creating his characters on the leading dancers – Ekaterina Krysanova as Katherina, Vladislav Lantratov as Petruchio, Olga Smirnova as Bianca, Semyon Chudin as Lucentio and Anna Tikhomirova as The Housekeeper.
The Taming of the Shrew won three Golden Masks at the National Theatre Awards in 2015 – the most prestigious awards in Russia given to productions in all genres of theatrical art. They were awarded for best ballet, best actress (Krysanova) and best actor (Lantratov).
The ballet is set to music by Dmitri Shostakovich, which was mostly composed, initially, for the cinema, and includes a piece which we’ll all recognize – Tahiti Trot, Shostakovich’s 1927 orchestration of Vincent Youmans’ Tea for Two, from the musical No No Nanette. The Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra is conducted by Igor Dronov currently Professor of Conducting at the Moscow Conservatory, and guest conductor of a number of Russian orchestras, including the Russian National Orchestra.
Jean-Christophe Maillot’s production team for The Taming of the Shrew comprises a group of artists with whom he’s worked for a number of years. His Assistant Choreographer is Bernice Coppetiers – a former prima ballerina of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo – staging is by Jean Rouaud – a French writer who won the Prix Goncourt in 1990 for his novel Fields of Glory – set design is by Ernest Pignon-Ernest, and lighting by Dominique Drillot. Costumes are by Augustin Maillot – designing for one of his father’s ballets for the first time.
The Taming of the Shrew – described as “sumptuous” by The Telegraph – is brought to the cinema screen by Pathé Live and By Experience!. The performance takes place on Sunday, January 24 at 12:55 pm ET / 11:55 am CT / 10:55 am MT and time shifted to 12:55 pm PT/AK/HI.
To find your nearest cinema, and performance times, visit www.BolshoiBalletinCinema.com. Tickets can be bought via this website, as well as from all participating theatres.