Esmeralda & Phoebus, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Esmeralda & Phoebus, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

Ballets unlike movie have to convey all the story element through only motions and  gestures. This makes ballets more like a silent movie without the intertext panels. For the most La Esmeralda does tell the basic story of The Hunchback of Notre Dame/Notre Dame de Paris however it does have some weird differences that don’t really impact the narrative but should be mentioned.

Esmeralda begging Phoebus o spare Quasimodo, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Esmeralda begging Phoebus o spare Quasimodo, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

There is no pillory scene and so Quasimodo is never punished for Frollo’s crimes. He does nearly get arrested and Esmeralda begs for his release. This takes the place of the pillory scene as it’s the kindness of Esmeralda he falls in love with. Is it as impactful? No but it’s gets the job done.

 Quasimodo as The Pope of Fools, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Quasimodo as The Pope of Fools, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

Quasimodo is crowned the Pope of Fools nearly halfway through the performance. Not sure why they bothered moving this scene so late in the show. Would have been better easier as at this point the division of Quasimodo and Frollo have already started and this felt tacked on and unnecessary. Sure it’s a very important scene in the story but to place it after Quasimodo expresses a love and loyalty for someone other than Frollo shows a misunderstanding of the characters.

Frollo and Esmeralda, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Frollo & Esmeralda, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

Another weird odd change is the movement of the Red Door scene. I didn’t even recognize it as the Red Door scene, or the scene where Frollo tries to force himself on Esmeralda during her sanctuary in Notre Dame, I thought it was an additional scene for the Ballet and I JUST figured it out was the Red Door scene. It’s a bizarre placement as it occurs right after Frollo tries to abduct Esmeralda and she returns to her  dwelling. Frollo hasn’t even stab Phoebus yet, his torture, lust and lack of self control hasn’t gotten to this point yet.  It comes off like an old cartoon from the 1930’s where the villain chases an innocent maiden around a room till the hero bursts in and Quasimodo does bursts in saves Esmeralda.  Don’t misconstrues this, the choreography is lovely but it shows that the people who originally did this Ballet lack an understanding of the characters, mostly Frollo and Quasimodo.       

Artemis & Apollo(?), Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Artemis & Apollo(?), Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

One thing that was really annoying about the ballet is the padding out it does especially with Fleur de Lys’ party scenes. There is one scene where Fleur de Lys is have a performance done  of Artemis and maybe Apollo. I can only guess at Apollo because it would be a clever call back to Phoebus. Performances in performances are intriguing as it makes the audience part of the performance but here it just dragged things on. It could be for a practical purpose of allowing the principal dancers a ten minute breather but again I do not know the ins and outs of ballet. As beautiful as the performance of the myth was it interrupted the flow of the story.  

Esmeralda & Quasimodo, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Esmeralda & Quasimodo, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

For most people these changes are not going to impact their overall enjoyment of the ballet as it does capture the emotional impact of the story but the seemingly minor changes does suggest that someone in charge at some point didn’t have a great working knowledge of the finer points of the characters and the story. 

(Note- Not all the ballet version of La Esmeralda depict the story like this.)

Or at least as the Kremlin performance depicts it.

Frollo and Esmeralda, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Frollo & Esmeralda, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

Pretty much all the major, overall story beats are hit in this version and this an approximation of the plot, it’s possible things are misconstrued . First we have Phoebus and Fleur-de Lys getting engaged. Fleur de Lys gives him a scarf.   The the court of miracle dance along with Gringoire and Esmeralda. Frollo scares her. Quasimodo stops Frollo from scaring her too. Frollo is torment by his lust for the young dancer. Gringoire follows Esmeralda to the Court  of Miracle where he is nearly killed but Esmeralda marries him to save his life. She also rejects his romantic advances.

Esmeralda begging Phoebus o spare Quasimodo, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Esmeralda begging Phoebus o spare Quasimodo, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

Frollo and Quasimodo are out roaming the streets when Esmeralda just so happens to be wandering by. Frollo has Quasimodo try to kidnap her but Phoebus and the guard show up. Esmeralda and Phoebus fall in love and he gives her the scarf that Fleur de Lys gave him. As the guards are about to take Quasimodo away, Esmeralda beg mercy for him and Phoebus lets Quasimodo go. Quasimodo then falls in love with Esmeralda.

Esmeralda & Gringoire, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Esmeralda & Gringoire, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

Esmeralda return to her dwelling happy about meeting Phoebus. As she trying to fall asleep Gringoire tries again with the romance, I really hope he wasn’t trying to force himself on her. Esmeralda rebuffs and pulls out her dagger. She basically tells him no and if he acts up he’ll be hanged. So friends they shall be, or maybe co-workers.

Frollo and Esmeralda, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Frollo & Esmeralda, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

Esmeralda tries to go to sleep but Frollo enters her dwelling. Frollo tries to win her over with forces, not really sure what he was doing but Quasimodo helps Esmeralda escape and Frollo takes her dagger.

Esmeralda & Fleur de Lys, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Esmeralda & Fleur de Lys, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

The there is a party at Fleur de Lys’. Esmeralda and Gringoire perform but when Esmeralda sees Phoebus with another woman she became distraught. Fleur de Lys becomes enraged when she sees Esmeralda wearing Phoebus’ scarf.

Esmeralda & Quasimodo, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Esmeralda & Quasimodo, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

Then the Feast of Fool happens and Quasimodo is crowned Pope of Fools. Frollo is displeased and Quasimodo is sad. Phoebus and Esmeralda meet in a bar for some romance. Frollo follows them and plays the owner to let him hide in the room where they will be. Before Phoebus and Esmeralda can consummates their love  Frollo bursts in stabs Phoebus. Quasimodo shows up and tries to help but Esmeralda is arrested.

Frollo and Esmeralda, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Frollo & Esmeralda, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

Esmeralda is arrested and Frollo tries to get her out but she rejected him. Fleur de Lys i having a party again. Things are going when Phoebus enters and beg Fleur de Lys to forgive him.

Esmeralda & Quasimodo, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Esmeralda & Quasimodo, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

Esmeralda is about to executed when Quasimodo saves her. They bond but Frollo bursts in and arrests Esmeralda.  Before Esmeralda is executed Fleur de Lys and Phoebus get married.

Esmeralda & Quasimodo, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Esmeralda & Quasimodo, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

Frollo and Quasimodo have a fight and Quasimodo throws Frollo off the cathedral and the scarf falls too. Quasimodo lays down beside Esmeralda to die as the scarf falls on them.

Carlotta Grisi and Jules Perrot, La Esmeralda picture image

Carlotta Grisi and Jules Perrot, La Esmeralda

Well break is over, I can’t hold off anymore on not reviewing another Hunchback version. So here we are instead of some stupid annoying dumb knock-off Disney animation waste of time that makes me dumber as I watch it over and over instead we’re going a classy upscale version of Hunchback, a Ballet. Even though if you have seen The Forsythe Saga, Ballets aren’t cliche as opera because it’s young women dancing. I digress in today society Ballet is more an upscale art form and it something I know nothing about. The closest thing I got to a dance class was tap dance and I got run out the class by the mean students and the incompetent teachers.

Let’s just start with some basics. The ballet is called  La Esmeralda  and it’s done in three acts and five scene. It was originally choreographed by Jules Perrot to music by Cesare Pugni, with sets by William Grieve and costumes by Mme. Copère. It was first presented by the Ballet of her Majesty’s Theatre, London on 9 March 1844, with Carlotta Grisi as Esmeralda, Jules Perrot as Gringoire, Arthur Saint-Leon as Phoebus, Adelaide Frassi as Fleur de Lys, and Antoine Louis Coulon as Quasimodo.

Alexandra Timofeeva as Esmeralda, La Esmeralda Bellet, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Alexandra Timofeeva as Esmeralda, La Esmeralda Bellet, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

The first time it was performed in America was in New Jersey in 2004. Most Western ballet companies only perform two Esmeralda-related pieces—La Esmeralda pas de deux and La Esmeralda pas de six—and the Diane and Actéon Pas de Deux, which is actually not excerpted from the ballet, but often mistakenly credited as having been added by Marius Petipa to his 1886 revival of La Esmeralda. So it’s not a very common ballet to American but you do seem the part performed for like ballet competition. It’s a good allegory of Hunchback a piece work that is superficially  known by the general public but the story isn’t understood.

 

The version we’ll look at and review is by the Kremlin Ballet Company of Moscow. Alexandra Timofeeva plays as  Esmeralda. While I could be wrong this production was done in April 2016. Though there were performs in 2014, so it could something they perform periodically. 

I feel very much out of my  depth with this one.