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

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

After seeing a lot of version that felt like no effort was put into them it was refreshing to see that this ballet version tried to create an all round good HUnchback adaption. It told a version of the story that fit limits of a ballet but also catered to the advantage the medium can provide. Was this a perfect version? No, it did make some weird decisions with regards to the source material and add-ons, like that greek myth in the second act and have the Pope of Fools also in the second act.

For the most part this Ballet was good which why it’s harder to review. It’s a decent version of the book but even better if you let yourself get lost in the artist of ballet. Also helps if you like/appreciate ballet more than I do.

Like I said, Good Version of Hunchback are harder to review so let’s go for a not so good version.  What version should be next?

Next Version for Review?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Poll won’t expire for a while, may not get to the next version till the fall. This summer been hard/busy for me.

Sets

Sets of La Esmeralda Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Sets of La Esmeralda Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

For the most parts you don’t really notice the sets in this Ballet, mainly because so much of the attention is focused on the dancing, as it should be. If you do happen to  look at the sets you would see they are quite lovely.

The only set that is noticeable  would be  drop cloths that are used as transitions. They usually appear when characters are crossing the stage so there is little dancing taking part. The designs on the cloth is typically maps and   they have a nice cross hatching on them that make them feel like antique book illustrations. The concept of a basic though nicely done dropcloth does seem a little on the amateurish side but it does help set a tone.

The other sets are very well detailed and are more representational opposed to symbolic of Paris and Notre Dame. Meaning it looks like Notre Dame  instead of  columns and a gargoyle like  in Notre Dame de Paris. Neither approach is wrong just a style choice. Also Notre Dame is for most always seen in the distance. Always omnipresent. The realistic sets are also a good counter to the symbolist representation of the story through dance.

 

Lighting

Lighting of La Esmeralda Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Lighting of La Esmeralda Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

This is one of the strongest aspects on the show. It always convey the right mood and drama for the scene. The best use of lightening is during Frollo’s meltdown with  dancers bathed in red contrasted in cold blue of Frollo. Also the Pas de deux between Quasimodo and Esmeralda at the end in a wash of blue added to the tragic ending.

 

Music

Conductor of La Esmeralda Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Conductor of La Esmeralda Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

Not as crazy about the music. It sounded like it was trying to be the Dance of the Hours even though Ponchielli composed Dance of the Hours in 1876 and Pugni composed La Esmeralda in 1844. I don’t know much about 19th century music but the music didn’t to move me.  It wasn’t bad or incompetent by means. If you like the music that’s great but I do not. I  could just have unrefined tastes in music. 

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

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

So this pertains to the Kremlin version and not universal to the ballet productions as a whole.  For the most part the costumes in this version were pretty great. They expressed the characters and were made for dancing but I had issues with one costume. Can you guess which one?

 

It’s Esmeralda’s. 

Esmeralda La Esmeralda Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Esmeralda Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

I can accept them putting her in red. While I fundamentally disagree with the choice I understand it. Red is a striking color and it stands out on stage. I get that and I can overlook that aspect.

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

Esmeralda & Phoebus, La Esmeralda Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

On the whole I do not hate this costume. It’s pretty and a nice darkish shade of red. More like Scarlett. The tutu style of Esmeralda’s and all the tutus appears to be the Romantic style. She has little sleeves that almost like flutter sleeves that add nice motions. The asymmetry is nice with embroidered flower on one side of the bodice and balanced out by embroidered flowers on a hip scarf. As well as chain of gold coins. It does read as naive girly gypsy.

 Esmeralda La Esmeralda Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Esmeralda Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

However there one aspect of this costume I do not agree with and it’s the color of the  under layer of the skirt. It’s black. You can see it most of the time so it’s very noticeable. Why Black? Is it to match her laces?  Because that the only other black on the costume. Is to foreshadow her tragic death?  Is because red and black as classic sith color and Esmeralda is tempted by the dark side? That was joke but that reason makes more sense than any things else. I really don’t understand this choice. Any other color would have been better. Or was it because black was a safe choice with red? I thought it stuck out.

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

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

Not to bring up the book but there are few colors Hugo mentions for Emeralda, Gold, White, Blue and Green. Blue wouldn’t  have been a good choice as it’s Fleur de Lys’ color. White might have sticked out too much. Green would have been alright as it would have linked her to her backup dancers. Gold would have matched the cording on her bodice and the coin details so it would have fit into the costume. Pink would also been a good choice as it could have go with the flowers.

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

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

Speaking of the back-up dancers. There costume are near identical to Esmeralda but in green and they had headscarves. The head scarves are red as elements on their costume especially on the bodice. Their underlayer is also black but it does stick out as much.  The layer could have just been for economy and efficiency. This the main titular character  however I don’t think saving and money were an issue for her costume.

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

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

I really hated the color of the under layer since its purpose is to  add  grace to her movement but it was an ill-conceived choice to and other well-composed costume.  

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

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

The order of how the story plays outs in La Esmeralda is baffling. It’s near insulting to the original story. Who in their right mind puts a scene that is Quasimodo’s grand introduction halfway through the story? At least that is what I thought at first.

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

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

Yes, it’s an odd choice to have key scenes like the kidnap attempt and the Pope of Fool to unfold out of sequence however it’s a ballet so the story can’t follow as rigidly to have the same dramatic flow of the book or movies.  The more I thought about the order of  the scenes as they appear in this Ballet the more I relived that the second act was lacking in context. There was more dramatic performance but they needed to pad out the runtime. This why that Greek myth segment was a major focus in the second act and why I think the Pope of Fools was at the start of second act. I think dramatic flow was the reason behind the switch of Esmeralda’s marriage to Gringoire and the kidnap attempt.   

   

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

Esmeralda & Phoebus, La Esmeralda Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

Now I could be wrong, I know nothing about Ballets but the strategies for adapting a book into a ballets are different from movies or third-rate kid videos  based on better movies based on depressing French literature from the 1830s. I would say that the switching of the scenes is evident of the adaptation strategies employed by the creator(s) of La Esmeralda. So  while I may disagree with the choice in theory, I understand why they rearranged the story.   

I put a lot of thought into the pronouns for the subject line however there isn’t much to say on the characters’ characterizations, so we’re combining them into one post. 

Ye Gringoire

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

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

As Phoebus is Esmeralda’s primary  romances focus there isn’t that much for Gringoire to do especially in the second act. Gringoire does marry Esmeralda, tries REALLY hard to seduce her  and helps out with her act. Basically he is her friend. He does seem to be a writer as evident but him holding paper in his first number.  

One thing that confuses me and I’m sorry if I didn’t mention it before, Esmeralda marries Gringoire BEFORE meeting Phoebus. This means her rejecting  him is  less about being a naive girl who thinks she was in love with handsome soldier and is more about that she just isn’t into him. I don’t know but it seems less dramatic if you ask me, which no one did.

Back to Gringoire. His character seems to air on the side of comic relief. His numbers are light and almost fun. Esmeralda rebuffing him and indicating he would be hanged if he didn’t do as he was told were cute. Though he does try to something to Esmeralda when she was sleeping which is creepy, though he did do creepy things in the book, like spy on her through a keyhole so it’s not out of character but why would you have that but mess-up the order of the story.  There are some weird decisions in this ballet.

He does seem like a good friend to Esmeralda. He tries and comforts her when she learns about Fleur de Lys and he gives her two hugs in the second act. Once right before the first execution attempt and a second right before she actually executed. Since there is no attack on Notre Dame to save her hugs are all he really does and maybe that is enough to show he cares.       

 

Il Clopin

Clopin, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Clopin, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

Clopin is definitely there. Since he looks like a pirate I would say that he is a leader of Court of Miracle- Leader of the Thieves and not the Duke of Egypt- Leader of the Romani. So many version combine the two characters and yet I’m pretty sure there was a third guy in that leader mix.  Yet the text is confusing because it makes it seem like Clopin has all these titles, like Daenerys Targaryen, so reading the book I got confused and felt like an idiot that I would even think that Clopin wasn’t the Duke of Egypt   but yes Clopin and the Duke are separate characters and there is a third guy, the Emperor of Galilee. Duke’s given name is Mathias Hungadi Spicali and the Emperor’s name is Gulillaume Rousseau. I do recall the duke being in the 1950’s version and the Jetlag version but no version has had a the Emperor of Galilee for good reason he is fat drunk who doesn’t do anything that I can recall.

Anyway back to this Ballet’s version of Clopin, I assume that is what they call him  but I can’t read cyrillic so I don’t really know.  While he doesn’t lead the attack on Notre Dame he does care for Esmeralda as evident by a hug he gives her in the second act.

He does try to hang Gringoire, which a one of Clopin’s tasks and oddly like the Disney movie he hosts the Pope of Fools crowning. Not much to him but he seems like a jovial guy in an eyepatch.

 

De Fleur de Lys   

 

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

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

Fleur de Lys is a justifiable bitch, like in the 1956 version, I’m starting to see a little bit of a pattern. She loves Phoebus but her gives his love away to another girl. This metaphor is made clear by the scarf Fleur gives Phoebus which he gives to Esmeralda.
Unlike some other versions of Fleur, this version of her doesn’t help bring Esmeralda down or revel in her death. She is just sad and angry  about Phoebus loving someone else but she does take him back without question and marries him. She is boring in this version and that is about it.  

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

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

Unlike the other characters we have looked at so far, Phoebus’ depiction is a bit different from the book. In all honesty he isn’t like his book persona but instead he resembles how Phoebus was adapted in the 1956 French movie. I’m willing to bet that the movie took its cues from the ballet, that is if this version of ballet is the same as first ballet from 1844 and not a version of the ballet created after 1956, I have now confused myself.  If I had to guess I would still say this characterization of Phoebus is from the 1844 ballet.

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

Esmeralda & Phoebus, La Esmeralda Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

So how is this ballet Phoebus like 1956 Phoebus? For starts this Phoebus does seem to genuinely like Esmeralda as evident by the scarf. Though not in either the book or the 1956, Fleur de Lys gives Phoebus a scarf which he give to Esmeralda.When Esmeralda learn of Fleur de Lys, she  sadly tries to give it back to Phoebus and motions for her to keep it.  Basically the scarf is a symbol for  love. One of the real tragedies is that Phoebus goes back to Fleur after Esmeralda is sentenced to death. In the 1956 version it seems like a defeatist move that he couldn’t be with Esmeralda, not sure what his motive is the ballet but it’s probably the same thing.  He can’t be with the one he loves so he settles.

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

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

There isn’t much more to this Phoebus, he just a dashing romantic knight, they kept it nice and simple.        

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

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

This iteration of Frollo is pretty by the book except for the lack of backstory and alchemy. He doesn’t have a brother but since the ballet doesn’t go in Frollo’s motivates for looking after Quasimodo there is a little point to Jehan as character. Not complaining, never liked Jehan.

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

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

This Frollo is a priest and hangs out with Quasimodo. This Frollo does all the classic thing you would expect from a fairy straightforward Book, like obsesses over Esmeralda but feel tortured over the lack of control and then gets pulled down into committing terrible action against her and Phoebus.

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

Frollo, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

I’d say it was pretty standard although half the time Frollo is a creepy villain instead of creepy villain who was good yet stern guy who tried but couldn’t beat his own chemical impulses when he saw a really pretty girl. I’m trivializing Frollo’s internal struggles but even with the limitations of a ballet this version does get the point of Frollo across.

Quasimodo, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Quasimodo, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

In the realm of Quasimodo adaptations, this one opts for the sweet pathetic type. There is zero edge to him and that made him boring. Quasimodo in this version exists solely for the purpose of Esmeralda. He like-likes her, saves her and dies for her. While all that exists in the book Quasimodo doesn’t strictly die because of Esmeralda, he also dies because he killed Frollo. Adaptations forget that Quasimodo did love Frollo too and while he did kill Frollo for what he did to Esmeralda, he did so in a fit of rage. Honestly few versions really understand Quasimodo, they just see the pathos of his character but not his mind or half of his characterization.

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

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

As it’s stands with this Ballet, Quasimodo doesn’t have a strong attachment to Frollo and there is no backstory. The lack of the backstory is not a huge issue as it’s ballet, it’s forgivable but there is somethings that unforgivable. Quasimodo doesn’t seem to care about Notre Dame, like the cathedral is barely in the ballet. Fleur de Lys’ parlour has more stage time that Notre Dame. That just seems wrong. Also the Pope of Fools part was shoe-horned in middle of the ballet for little reason. It didn’t even makes sense after the whole kidnap attempt scene to have the Pope of Fools. The point of which is to show Frollo’s powers over Quasimodo and the then how the relationship is damaged after Frollo leaves Quasimodo to suffer for his crime. It would have been better not to have the Pope of Fools scene than messing up the order and their relationship dynamic.   

Quasimodo & Frollo, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow picture image

Quasimodo & Frollo, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow

One could argue that this Esmeralda’s story and messing with the dynamic of Quasimodo and Frollo is inconsequential to the emotional impact for her tragedy but that is misguided. You can’t show Esmeralda’s place in Quasimodo’s heart without the juxtaposition of Frollo or even Notre Dame in Quasimodo’s world.   

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

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

Quasimodo in this version just exists for Esmeralda. It’s akin more closely to Disney Quasimodo’s  schoolboy crush but in the guise of a tragic ballet.

Due to forces beyond my control, I have to postpone the next review post this week.

So instead you can just watch the Ballet,

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

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

Quite honestly I’m not sure how to address the analysis of characters as they are depicted in a ballet. Sure, there IS a characterization being portrayed but it’s not deep or as nuanced as something like Enchanted Tales or the Dingo versions, I’m totally kidding. The characters in this ballet have to be simpler than their book counterparts because of the nature of the medium. However since I have more or less groove to these reviews, I have to look at the characters so starting off with the real titular character, La Esmeralda.

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

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

 

Actually this version of Esmeralda is on point. She comes off very sweet, childish, has romantic notions and is innocent. She has all of Esmeralda’s best book traits. She doesn’t pout, doesn’t seems shallow or foolish, seriously what person would prefer wilted flowers because the vase of was prettier than fresh flowers is a clay pot? That’s not a scene you ever see adapted.

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

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

I’ll admit it’s been awhile since I have re-read the book so you guys can correct me if I’m wrong, since I’m wrong a lot, but I think there was a part where Esmeralda was trying to rationalize Phoebus’ relationship with Fleur de Lys as not romantic. I bring that up here because Esmeralda doesn’t do that. She sees Fleur de Lys with Phoebus and gets very depressed even though she is supposed to be performing for them, ballets seem to have lot of meta moments like that.

 

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

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

 

There isn’t that much to say that is negative about this depiction since it’s all of Esmeralda’s more positive attributes and it done very simply and straightforward. She’s youthful, kind and pretty  yet tragic no wonder this story has such staying power as ballet.   

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

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

Just a side note, I really enjoy Esmeralda walking on pointe around the stage, I can only guess this is a difficult move but the way they convey it to express a certain vulnerability is very lovely.