Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cinderella - Aschenputtel - Aschenbrödel ... three names one story

What could be nicer than attracting friends to a field of art that is for most of us situated only on the large stages of the operas such as Semperoper and somewhat out of scope (so to say)? Starting with the premiere of "Dido and Aeneas" Semper 2 now is attracting a wide range of newcomers and opera lovers. Always a pleasure to see age range from 10 to 80, newcomers and fans alike!

This time the 4th premiere on this cozy stage, just holding 200 seats, in a -you'd think boring-looking- cubicle was coming up with the ballet "Cinderella". Guest choreographer Stijn Celis had adapted the fairy tale with the music by Sergej Prokofjew and others to a one-hour show, which should certainly open some surprises - as the audience experienced pretty soon. For me the first surprise happened minutes before the start - but that's another story, which worked out fine. Patience is what is needed in tough looking situations, as "Cinderella" had to go through later on as well.

Off we go!

First protagonists on stage three man-looking women ("Hm, wasn't it a stepmother with two stepsisters?"). This was the moment to set the mind into gear, recalling the story on mind, racing back in time to the brother Grimm's fairy tale or the famous "3 Nüsse für Aschenbrödel" (a great czechoslovakian movie from the 70's which actually was filmed close by to Dresden, around Schloss Moritzburg). Again and again the ballet plays out surprises with a well-set choreography that -on purpose- leads the audience's minds through the story, sometimes on totally derailed thought routes.

George Hill as stepmother was just as hilarious as "her" two "daughters" (played by Claudio Cangialosi [main protagonist at "Silent Spring" a few weeks earlier] and Jón Vallejo [Franz in "Coppélia" together with Anna Merkulova as Copéllia]). A great compliment to the make-up artists, as this was just created beautifully!

A good start into the story, as the audience eased into to the flow of the story, and minds free to take the action on stage, actually right in front of some visitors (as seating goes well on the very edge of the stage, actually there is no stage, everybody is sitting or playing on the same ground - which makes it a very special feeling, and one "field").

Photo: Costin Radu
When Anna Merkulova appeared on stage in the role of Cinderella she struck again with her strong pantomimic expression, which made once again another shift in the setting that night. Now two counterparts on stage: the natural Cinderella versus the "artificial" stepsisters (which stands for the constraints in life, the struggles everyone of us encounters every day in life).

Being almost part of the play the audience was completely entrenched and part of the play on stage - amazing what can be achieved when it's not world of acting on stage and audience rather a combined "social field" in the room which the dancers had made possible in the first place.

The general take-away from this beautiful evening: life is always a surprise and one has to keep the hands open to capture the love (and personal vision) that arrives often out of the "blue".

  • Good: A big THANK YOU to the whole team especially Anna Merkulova and Guy Albouy (on stage and behind the scenes [there are always surprises, like the snow flakes coming from top, one would not expect that moment], beautiful story setting (Stijn Celis) and costumes (Catherine Voeffray), audience being almost part of the play (sitting along the four walls), a crisp story wonderfully told by all the protagonists, new faces and friends.
  • Tricky: Personally bound too much on the "3 Nüsse für Aschenbrödel" story - had to let go get in the flow of "Cinderella".
  • Learned: I like the short performances a lot, as they enable to condense the essentials of the play and its implications to one's own world and experience much easier also through the closeness to the actors and dancers during the play.
  • Action: Applying Cinderella's view of life even more in own life, enjoy and let the future come.



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