Classics Triumphant

On December 5, the renowned Tovstonogov Bolshoi Drama Theatre hosted a successful premiere of The Queen of Spades ballet, performed by the Leonid Yacobson company.

The Argentinian choreographer Iñaki Urlezaga's new show piqued the interest of the St. Petersburg ballet lovers, who packed into the theatre to full capacity, alongside with ballet experts, representatives of reputable local media, and honoured guests. The public could not but feel entranced by the choreographer's daring idea to 'translate' the score of Pyotr Tchaikovsky's highly popular opera (based, in turn, on Alexander Pushkin's cult classic) into dance language. As we all know, both of these renowned figures, the composer and the writer, lived and plied their craft in St. Petersburg, which, back in the day, had also been the home city of the the notorious Princess Golitsyna, the inspiration behind the Old Countess in the story. The creators of the new show must have been inspired by the ambience of the 19th-century Imperial St. Petersburg, with its cold, haughty beauty, high-and-mighty nobility, and cruel laws of high society, where success was measured by titles and wealth. At the first stage of production, the choreographer tasked the performers with an incredibly complex challenge: in addition to maintaining a flawless dance technique, the troupe had to portray the tragic torment of Pushkin's characters with the thoughtfulness of drama actors. The young dancers from the Yacobson Theatre (particularly Alla Bocharova and Andrey Sorokin, who played the story's protagonists) served as the audience's guides into the world of the narrative, presenting diverse, memorable, and profoundly unique interpretations of the familiar characters. Urlezaga's unorthodox choreography clearly followed Tchaikovsky's score as precisely as possible, building a psychological foundation for the show's concept. The recognisable spirit of St. Petersburg was also shaped by the brilliant, professional work of the Italian production crew: Ezio Frigerio, an artistic genius and a living paragon of set design; Franca Squarciapino, a giftedcostume designer; lighting designer Vinichio Cheli; and others. Together, they managed to add an exquisite flair to the new ballet. The ardent applause of the public, which spent a long time cheering for the dancers and the production crew after the finale, reassures us that our playbill has gained a new beloved production.