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Harri Rospu

 


The Three Musketeers (ballet)
Esotonian Ballet Company
The Opera House, Tallinn, Estonia

Dance Europe, December 2009 – Stuart Sweeney

‘Alexander Dumas’ famous story is a simple tale of good guys and baddies. But, hang on: the Queen of France is involved in a treasonous affair, made worse as her illicit lover, Lord Buckingham, hails from a traditional enemy. So, those trying to expose the errant Queen – Richelieu, Milady de Winter and others – painted as the darkest souls here, shouldn’t they really be the goodies? David Nixon’s ballet adaptation, with scenario by David Drew and a tuneful score by Malcolm Arnold, follows the original as a story of love conquering all, with plenty of killing along the way.

Nixon relates the narrative clearly and with much humour. With a romp such as this the jokes can wear thin, but the sheer élan of the Estonian staging helped me suspend belief right up to the final curtain. The choreography is at its best in the elegant love duets between the Queen and Buckingham, contrasted with the young, sometimes awkward love of d’Artagnan and Constance. Nixon also uses the historical setting to provide an impression of the origins of ballet in the French court, and the Masques that played such an important role in establishing dance as a profession.

This production premiered last season, before Thomas Edur took over the company, but on the evidence of this performance the Estonian national Ballet are on fine form under his leadership.  Artjom Maksakov’s high jumps and boyish enthusiasm brings d’Artagnan to vibrant life, and the tiny, 19-year old Olga Malinovskaja is a perfect Constance, with her expressive dancing showing us a character with a strong will softened by warm presence. Marina Chirkova usually plays angelic heroines, but clearly relishes her role as the fiery temptress, Milady de Winter.

Thus, if you want buckles to be swashed, then The Three Musketeers fits the bill nicely, and this Estonian production of David Nixon’s ballet is deservedly a hit.’

 

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