As is my usual, I also got tickets for the final performance of Wiener Staatsballet in Tokyo. The mixed bill was only for two nights, the other performances were of Die Fledermaus, a ballet in two acts by Roland Petit. The final performance of a run always has an energy of its own that is very different from other nights, there is always a sense of joy when the run has been going well, as it was here, and a tinge of sadness that something so wonderful is coming to an end. Furthermore, it was one of the performance in which Manuel Legris would be dancing!
I saw the April 30th, Monday afternoon performance. It was a holiday in Japan and Ueno park was packed with families enjoying a beautiful, sunny day. I’ve never seen Die Fledermaus and was not even sure of the story. Flipping through the program, I didn’t see that there was an explanation in English. There is and it’s quite hysterical! But I’m kind of glad that I missed it prior to seeing the performance because as absurd as the story is, it was so well done that it was completely understandable and it felt like a wonderful present filled with joyful surprises!
I’m not the biggest fan of comedic ballet. For my money, I’d rather have a ballet that rips my heart out, pulls me to the edge of my seat, and will take nothing less than full on real tears before the curtain falls. But never will I pass up an opportunity to see Manuel Legris dance, so comedy ballet it is. This ballet is Hy-stericaL! It’s ridiculous and hysterical! Honestly, I loved it so much I would definitely go see it again and I would recommend very strongly that everyone go see it as soon as possible!
So here is the basic gist… husband, wife, and good pal – husband is kind of aloof and acting wonky, wife is sad because, well, husband is aloof and acting wonky. Good pal comes over for dinner and brings gifts including a big pair of scissors for sad wife. Hmmm, what could that mean? Middle of the night, and what the heck! aloof husband turns into a bat and flies away… seriously, flies away and he even does it in a kind of bat-like wonky way! Sad wife calls good pal who comes over and gives her this advice – as it is written in the program and I quote – “If you want to keep hold of a frivolous husband, be both always the same and always different. Don’t let your husband get away with metamorphosis.” You know, I say that all the time. Bwa-hahahaha! Anyway, good pal helps wife morph herself and off they go to a ball where everyone is charmed by the new version hot wife including wonky husband. Alas, “the life of a gigolo is no bed of roses” – who wrote these notes!?! and wonky bat husband makes a play for his own wife and is thrown in jail. Hot wife comes to bail him out but not without the scissors and snip, off come the wings! Voila! everything is resolved.
“With order restored to the household, what is there left to do? We are in the land of the waltz. So, ladies, gentlemen, dance, and let the music take you away.”
OMG, who wrote these notes? They are fabulous!
Wonky husband was danced by Kirill Kourlaev, sad/hot wife was danced by Olga Esina, and good pal was danced by Manuel Legris.
The good pal part, obviously, is a supporting role but seriously, Manu danced the heck out of it and stole the show. My sister, who enjoys ballet but is not a freak-fan like I am and before Tokyo, had never even heard of Manuel Legris (oh the horror), said and I quote “… when he is onstage, its more energetic, you can actually feel a difference…” and I completely agree, 100%. He was HY-SterI-CaL!
The sets were fantastic, the jail was very cool, the ballroom french, and there was even a coach with a pretend horse that Manu drove. The costumes were adorable. It was a wonderful performance as a whole. Tokyo City Phil Orchestra accompanied and they were superb. I mentioned before that the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan has wonderful acoustics and it makes the music very warm and enveloping. I really love this theatre!
“The Bat” was very well received by the audience, we all had a great time! And when it was over, the applause went on and on. And then there was confetti and a lighted sign that came down saying “Sayonara” the audience lost it even more. It was just so cute and it if wasn’t enough after a good dramatic pause another lighted sign came down below the “Sayonara” sign reading “see you again.” It was fabulous, truly. I can hardly wait for the next trip to Japan!