Friday, May 3, 2013

La Esmeralda: A review that won't help you

In the past month I have attempted to sit down and write a review/synopsis/bitchy rant about watching La Esmeralda several times, but to properly express my feelings about it the post always ends up about ten chapters long. It would be faster to WATCH the silly thing than to read my synopsis!
For the record:
It took me a while to find a full-length version of it, because apparently it's rarely performed that way these days. Mostly people stage shortened one-act versions. Am I the only one who gets kind of annoyed when they go to see a ballet and it's super short and preceded by some plotless razzmatazz Balanchine thing? Anyway, I digress.
Luckily, in Russia it is actually performed in it's entirety. So! I found a pretty Bolshoi version (starring Natalia Osipova, who is basically a ballet rock star and now I see why) and settled in for three acts.
It's basically the story of the hunchback of Notre Dame (Notre Dame De Paris) but with a weirdly happy ending attached to it. Which was the part that bugged me. I mean, okay, I can see why you might possibly want to make the ending a little more upbeat than the source material (AND THEY ALL DIE THE END) but it basically ends with Esmeralda being reunited with the TOTAL D BAG she was infatuated with who broke her heart (and then tried to get in her pants anyway). And the only nice character, the dorky but sincere poet that is in love with Esmeralda, gets totally shafted. Not even fair. He was the only one distraught when Esmeralda was being tortured. He was the only one who tried to cheer her up after D Bag broke her heart. He even slept in the barn with the (actual live) goat for her. You know what, Esmeralda? Your priorities are all screwed up.
Anyway, if you want to watch it, this is the one I watched (the acts are all separate videos). Like I said, Osipova as Esmeralda is gorgeous and brilliant. Her dance of dejection when she finds out D Bag is fooling around with another lady is sadness in a bubble. Completely heart-wrenching.
But seriously. That guy was a D bag.

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