The Bolshoi Ballet’s production of The Taming of the Shrew was telecast in HD at theaters around the world this afternoon. Loosely based on Shakespeare’s least politically correct play (at least for now) The Taming of the Shrew, the choreography was by Jean-Christophe Maillot. The dancing was set to about 25 pieces by Dmitri Shostakovich. Most of the music was from the film scores by the great composer. He wrote more than 25 of them for the movies.

So great was Shostakovich’s range that the music chosen ( by the choreographer and the conductor Igor Dronov) ranged from bouncy and light hearted to deeply moving and profound. After the plot lines, slender as they were, were resolved the ballet ended with Shostakovich’s amusing arrangement of ‘Tea for Two’.

The dancing was different from the usual 19th century style performing characteristic of the Bolshoi, but it was embraced and ably enacted by the Moscow company. The two highlights of the show were the two duets in the second act – there were only two acts separated by a long intermission. The first was danced by Krysanova and Lantratov as Katharina and Petruchio. It marked the point where the truly became lovers. The second was performed by Smirnova and Chudin as Bianca and Lucentio. It marked their being allowed to get together now that Katharina (the shrew) was safely married off. All the dancers were easily at or above the high standard that is the rule at the Bolshoi.

The sets by Ernest Pignon-Ernest were spare, as is required by ballet, and in muted blues and greys. They got the job done, but could have beens sets to any dance in the 21st century. Dronov’s conducting was idiomatic and sensitive. When, as must be inevitable, this performance finds its way to DVDs it will attract buyers who are either (or both) devotees of Shostakovich’s music even if presented in bits and pieces or the state of the dance at one of the world’s great companies.

 

 

Bolshoi shrew cast

Choreographer: Jean-Christophe Maillot
Assistant to Choreographer: Bernice Coppieters
Set Designer: Ernest Pignon-Ernest
Costume Designer: Augustin Maillot
Assistant to Costume Designer: Jean-Michel Laîné
Lighting & Video Projection: Dominique Drillot
Assistant: Stefani Matthieu
Dramatist: Jean Rouaud
Répétiteurs: Yan Godovsky, Victor Barykin, Josu Zabala
Music Director: Igor Dronov