Archive for February 1, 2009

Three Dead Women: Ballet and Opera Stories

Last weekend was my cultural weekend at the Opera House, it’s also when I experienced seeing three dead women.  I went to the premier ballet showing the Kazakh folk legend of Tlep and Sarykys.  See my earlier blog entry about the tech rehearsal I went to the week before.  This ballet apparently is the dream of a wealthy Kazakh patron to have a ballet based on the story of one of his forebears. The music was commissioned from a well known Kazakh composer, Almas, the son of Kazakhstan‘s most famous opera singer Yermek Serkbayev. That was the first dead woman I witnessed last weekend.


“A story that took place a long time ago is about a young man named Tlep, and his unique destiny was to live an incredible life.  When he was still a young boy, he met a Shaman and heard the kobiz (a traditional Kazakh musical instrument). The boy saw how the Shaman healed people with the sound of his kobiz. The melody of the kobiz deeply impressed the boy’s heart, and he decided to live with the Shaman and his daughter Sarikiz to learn to play the kobiz, become a Shaman and gift people with light. The young Tlep doesn’t change his decision even when he discovers that his father, together with his army, are leaving. He stays with the Shaman.

     A long time passes. Day after day, year after year, Tlep attentively learns the art from the old Shaman. Tlep and Sarikiz grow up. Their friendship transforms into tender love. They were happy together, but the day comes when Tlep ends his training, and he must leave the Master’s shelter and go out in the world. The separation is very hard for him. Tlep leaves together with his father’s army. Difficult challenges await him. The war between Light and Darkness never stops, and Tlep realizes he has to do his best on the side of Light. He feels the Dark warriors nearby, and together with the army, goes further into the steppe.

      Long endures their sorrow, Tlep misses Sarikiz and she also always thinks about him. Upon time the Army of light sets a camp. The golden hawk sets the Spirit of Friendship upon the camp. Girls dance, everyone rejoices. But, Tlep is sad. He looks for Sarikiz and he think he sees her, dancing with the other girls. At the highest point of the celebrations, the Dark army gets into the camp. The battle starts. The dark Army wins. The light army is destroyed. Karakus ,the leader of the Dark army celebrates. She raises the chapan (dress) of the Shaman above her head and everybody understands he died. Tlep defeats the Dark Army with the magical power of his kobiz. The dark forces leave the camp.

       Tlep travels to find Sarikiz, protect her and never leave her again. His journey is long and dangerous, Karakus and the Dark forces follow him at every step. They want revenge after he defeated them. Finally Tlep finds Sarikiz. They hug and she feels safe, but the Dark forces follow them, and she dies. Tlep is left alone, his only companion is music. Every time he plays the kobiz her image appears to him, and he believes she is there, because she lives within his music. He wears his Master’s chapan. Tlep feels that his Master will stay with him and that Sarikiz will be alive until his music will sound.” [not sure who to credit for this review] 


Last weekend I went to the premier ballet showing the Kazakh folk legend of Tlep and Sarykys.  The costumes, created by an American designer, were amazing. The military dancers had garb that represented their uniforms, the women dancers wore Kazakh looking traditional clothes, brightly colored.  The female hero was in a simple, billowy dress and the hero looked athletically lithe in his tights.  


The evil varmints made their dark presence known by their roach-like movements and black costumes along with their leader, the wicked witch who had cast a spell on the young lovers.  This vixen-like ballerina had six inch long finger nails and the guy who hoisted her around did an admirable job. When the ballet was finished, Margo Sappington was on stage taking her bows with the rest of the Kazakh ballet troupe.  The kobiz instrument, which was a major part of the story, showed in a pattern of stars in the backdrop along with the crescent moon of a Kazakh landscape.  Short and sad story but it ended with the hero losing his beautiful lover to death and he went on to be a kobiz musician and singer of sad ballads that healed his broken heart. 

Moral of story:  Never judge a ballet by its tech rehearsal, no matter how good the choreographer and dancers are!



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