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Everything posted by Birdsall

  1. Birdsall

    MCB program IV. Apollo, Concerto DSCH, La Valse.

    Last time MCB did Apollo it was without the birth and the climbing the stairs at the end. Interesting that Lourdes Lopez went back to the original.
  2. I have been saying for a long time that the performing arts, especially in the 19th century, were a living thing. I know in opera, composers would often rewrite an aria or compose a new one for a new singer. Both the composer and the singer wanted a success. Things would be changed for a different singer, different theatre, or country (the french were used to 5 act operas that included a ballet). There was less, "It must be exactly what I created" concept in the 19th century. In some ways each new production was a new work b/c you had new stars and a new format at times. I think reconstructions are very interesting, and it is worthwhile to stage them, so that maybe we get a glimpse of what the style MIGHT have been, but I think a rigid adherence to what "should be" is foolhardy. I also suspect that if we could go back in time we would all be disappointed with Giuditta Pasta's Norma (Callas changed it forever, in my opinion) or Kschessinskaya's fouettes. Technique in both opera and ballet has evolved/changed......what we are used to is different. That is normal in the performing arts, in my opinion.
  3. Birdsall

    Sarasota Ballet 2018-2019

  4. Birdsall

    Yulia Stepanova

    I love the photos from Andris Liepa's FB page!
  5. If that article is accurate what a creepy psycho he must be, and it sounds like he messed up people’s lives!
  6. Birdsall

    Shen Yun

    Has anyone seen the Shen Yun company? It is billed as Classical Chinese Dance and from pictures and short clips it looks quite interesting, but was wondering if ballet lovers would enjoy it. I might go to the Tampa performance, but I wanted to know if anyone on these boards have seen this company and what they think about it before I buy a ticket.
  7. Birdsall

    The Dream

    I drove down to Sarasota this past Friday to catch Sarasota Ballet's The Dream. It is fun that a small company in Florida has become an Ashton company, so I have seen a lot more Ashton than I normally ever could. The company did great in The Dream. Beautiful sets and costumes. Great dancing! Friedemann Vogel from Stuttgart Ballet guested as Oberon. He was terrific even with slight veil and crown mishaps and so much mist or dry ice at one point that he bumped into part of the set as he exited the stage. None of these tiny costume and scenery mishaps were his fault though. Victoria Hulland was a lovely Titania. Her use of her arms seemed to fit Ashton's (and my) love of flowing arms. Ivan Duarte was an energetic and exciting Puck. The audience loved him. I have a hard time deciding which version of Midsummer Night's Dream that I like better. Balanchine or Ashton? Both have their charms! Another ballet friend feels the same way. I guess we should be glad there are two versions. The Dream was paired with David Bintley's "Still Life" at the Penguin Cafe. I love the idea of focusing on animals and then giving it an emotional element by dealing with how they are going extinct. However, I feel it sort of hit us over the head with this idea near the end. The zebra getting shot sent the message but then we see the impact on humans and their child and it continues to make the point and starts to become a big heavy handed and monotonous. Like I said, I do like the concept. I sometimes longed for more exciting choreography. I really wanted to like this ballet, but I respect the idea more than I actually liked it. I meant to post earlier but was busy also seeing Sarasota Opera's Norma and then driving across the state to catch Miami City Ballet's program. Sorry so short, but I have to get ready for work.
  8. Birdsall

    The Dream

    By the way, apparently Xander Parish will guest in Marguerite and Armand in April.
  9. I saw today's matinee of MCB's Program 3. Katia Carranza and Renato Penteado were the leads in Theme and Variations, and, although they did not exhibit the speed of New York City Ballet dancers in their turns I thought they did wonderfully. Carranza managed the gargoulliades well. Penteado was energetic and a great partner. I wish I could have seen the other cast (Lauren and Rebello), but I was on the other coast until this morning seeing Sarasota Ballet's The Dream and "Still Life" at the Penguin Cafe as well as Sarasota Opera's Norma. The second item was Brian Brooks' One Line Drawn. They start in a line, do their own freestyle variations and then start in small groups and then as a whole always returning to a line. I am not sure what it all meant but it seemed to say that each individual makes up part of a whole. However, the music (reminding me of Phillip Glass) by Michael Gordon was sort of a humming drone that got old and the same with the choreography. I give Miami City Ballet kudos for trying something new, but I heard lots of complaining during intermission. I think most people did not like it. I liked it for about 10 minutes and then I grew tired of it. Last was The Concert, and I was happy to see Emily Bromberg in yet another main role. A friend's son danced with her. She is lovely. However, I fail to find The Concert humorous no matter who is dancing. The audience laughed out loud just like the other times I have seen this, but to me it seems like slapstick which I never find funny. There are a couple of moments that made me smile, but overall it is a work I respect but do not really "get." For me this was a weak program, and I just went for Theme and Variations mainly. I spent the weekend in Sarasota and decided to try to drive across the state and attend the matinee of this plus visit a friend. More later.....the friend is picking me up for dinner......
  10. Birdsall


    I posted this in the tour topic, but I think some people may miss the news if that topic doesn't interest you. Oxsana Skorik is now listed on the Mariinsky web site as a First Soloist.
  11. Mekhmeneh Bahnu is the more dramatic role. She sacrifices her beauty to save her sister from death, she falls in love with Ferkhad but knows he would never love her, she becomes extremely jealous of the love between Ferkhad and her sister, and then she instigates Ferkhad's eventual saving of their people. I feel like Shyrin is simply a young girl in love and doesn't have quite the range of emotions that the tormented Mekhmeneh Bahnu has. Basically, the drama and the dramatic solos probably make prima ballerinas want to try it. Shyrin seems almost like a "soubrette" type role......just happy, innocent, pretty.......plus, Mekhmeneh Bahnu feels like the longer role. To me it is in the same tradition as how there is Nikiya and Gamzatti, Medora and Gulnare, Giselle and Myrtha, Aurora and the Lilac Fairy. One is the prima ballerina role that is coveted while the other is more like a seconda donna role. All of those "seconda donna" roles are great roles, but I suspect almost every ballerina wants to dance the "prima donna" one day. That is my take on it.
  12. Very true. However, even though I agree with most of what you say especially because the Met has to look at a legal angle, if what happened...happened just as the Times described, it does seem like an overreaction by the Met, so I guess I am looking for a hidden issue (that may or may not exist) to explain it in my mind. I don't think anyone should have to tolerate a hostile environment, but I think the majority of people would have laughed at the comment if made toward them, or, if offended, would have expressed their unhappiness right then or afterward and asked for an apology. Of course, nobody has to act or react in the way I would act or react, but I have to admit that I find that the Met overreacted, but, like I said, I don't have all the facts and wasn't in the room, so maybe I would feel differently if I had been there. The Met is probably in its legal right (and probably has a legal obligation if facing a lawsuit) to solve the situation as it did. However, the punishment doesn't seem to fit the crime, in my personal opinion. But you mentioned it might be the Met trying to show that it now takes sexual issues VERY seriously after the Levine scandal. That would help to explain it.
  13. In the end, without having been there we really don't know what exactly happened. If we had been in the room and heard tone and the exact words and mood of the room, maybe we would understand all this much more. Or maybe we would sympathize with Copley. I don't think we should rush to judgment about the chorister or Copley, unless we actually witnessed what exactly happened. It probably is a case of the Met trying to now show it no longer tolerates any hint of sexual harassment after years of ignoring Levine's behavior......those rumors dogged Levine and were discussed among opera lovers ever since I started listening to opera and probably longer, so the Met as an organization has reason to make a big show of drawing a line in the sand and showing it now finally means business. I also wonder if there was some personal conflict between Copley and administration that we don't know about. Samuel Ramey wrote that Gelb is as conservative as they come. Of course, that is an opinion. Maybe Gelb already disliked Copley, and he simply needed an excuse to get rid of him. I have no idea. Just throwing out how anything is possible. Sometimes the facts do not actually tell the whole story.
  14. Buddy, I looked at the Mariinsky website, and it appears that the two SB performances at the historic theatre are going to be the reconstruction that they have not staged for a long while! You are lucky!
  15. I just noticed that on the Mariinsky website the March 8 and 9 Sleeping Beauty performances that are at the historic theatre are the reconstructions that have not been done in a while there.
  16. Social media and Canbelto beat me to providing the links. They seem to be friends with other singers including Ildar. The reason that the new reports have changed my mind is that Ildar apparently is the type to have laughed it off and found it funny and would not take offense, and apparently he tried to defend Copley. The chorister in question supposedly misunderstood and thought Copley directed the comment to him. Overall, I do think that if it were strictly the way it was originally reported, I don't think a chorus member should have to put up with it, but if it is as these opera singers say, then it does sound like it was blown out of proportion. We need more information to really pass judgment. If there was no true victim I suspect the sexual harassment issue was a smokescreen. Gelb or someone wanted Copley gone and heard about something that could be used as an excuse. This is completely my personal opinion. There is usually some other motive when something seems too fishy.
  17. A couple of opera singers are saying openly that what happened was John Copley said he would like to see the Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov, who is playing Assur, naked, and a non-native speaker mistook the comment to mean Copley wanted to see him (the chorister) naked. The chorister reported it and later regretted it. Apparently, Ildar, according to Sarah Connolly, went to see Gelb to save Copley, but it did no good. So maybe it is an overreaction if that is the case. The initial report made it sound very different.
  18. Also, chorus members are not "extras"......many could have had major careers but chose not to globe trot and opt for a steady job and steady pay and settle down. Just because they are in the chorus doesn't make them lesser artists. They aren't all failed soloists. Many just didn't want to do what it takes for a major, international career. Why should a chorus member have to put up with that no matter who said it if she or he was in the workplace and had no interest in sleeping with Copley? There are plenty of opera directors as well, and no one is indispensable. Some people might choose to laugh it off or tell him, "No chance in that!" but someone who chooses to get upset has that right too. We are taught that the workplace is a professional place. Most companies even have trainings. Of course, people continue to break the rules and often it goes unreported for various reasons, but when it does get reported that is a person's right, in my opinion. If I had a daughter and some old man said that to her I would be furious.
  19. Birdsall

    The Bolshoi under Vaziev

    And the audience response is often baffling depending on the general mood. Due to her fame and reputation I always felt a certain atmosphere at Lopatkina's shows at the Mariinsky. There was a general feeling of excitement or buzz, and that is common when a very famous star appears, same in opera, but the actual performance isn't always one of the best. Sondra Radvanovsky is a case in point. Bellini turns over in his grave whenever she sings Norma, yet she gets huge applause. In contrast, you can have an amazing dancer like Victor Lebedev go unnoticed by a blind audience with polite applause. So my point was that audience reaction is not proof that someone did a good job or bad job.
  20. Birdsall

    MCB Program II. All Robbins.

    I was planning to skip this MCB program b/c Robbins (for me) does not inspire a trip, but, as fate would have it, a good friend from Chicago, who I haven't seen in years, was flying to South Florida to visit his mother. He guilted me into meeting him in South Florida to catch up. So I also bought a ticket to the West Palm opening night last night. For me Robbins ballets are always nice and fun to see, but somehow I don't crave them the way I crave Petipa or Balanchine. However, I enjoyed last night very much. Circus Polka is lovely with various levels/ages of girls dancing, and Lourdes Lopez as the Ringmaster. At the point where all the levels in different colors danced in circles the audience applauded. It is always fun to see young dancers showing the same style as the adults but at a different level, and it was a good way to kick off this celebration of Jerome Robbins. it was also nice to see a woman playing the Ringmaster in our current climate. MCB is one of the few ballet companies run by a woman and so it is fitting for her to be the Ringmaster on stage. Lopez joked that now we know how it is done except without the whip (she spoke between Circus Polka and In the Night about why she decided to program an all Robbins night. In the Night started with a very elegant Emily Bromberg partnered by Jovani Furlan. They made a great young love couple. I especially loved Bromberg's elegant turns that reminded me of the type of turns I saw at the Mariinsky many times. Tricia Albertson and Rainer Krenstetter were the mature, elegant couple, and they were really good, but it didn't erase my memories of Kronenberg and her husband who somehow exuded a couple who had matured into elegance. Since they were actually husband and wife it helped create that feel. Katia Carranza and Reyeris Reyes were the "fighting" couple, and they were spicy but the "fighting" was less apparent than in previous versions I have seen. They seemed to play it more like spicy throughout. This was different from my previous experiences of this ballet, but it worked actually. Normally I find the women flailing more comical. It was not comical last night. The Cage seems really old fashioned to me, but it has its fun moments. Jordan-Elizabeth Long is becoming a favorite. Her long limbs and tall frame with the wild hair made someone who could bring any man to his knees. She was appropriately wild and predatory as the Queen with amazing extensions. Nathalia Arja as the Novice was just as fabulous, but next to Long on stage she looked like a baby predator. That is not a criticism. Her dancing was fabulous. Those two made this ballet work, because they put their heart and soul into it. Simone Messmer and Renan Cerdeiro were great together in Other Dances, but Cerdeiro outclassed her a bit. His dancing is always full of excitement. I thought Messmer needed to play up the elegance, although she was not bad. I am gradually liking her more and more. Her stage presence is looking more and more natural. West Side Story Suite was fun as usual but I was disappointed in the phrasing by the soprano in "Somewhere".....her vowels were mannered. That is a song that needs emotion more than exact notes. Overall, a fun night, and Robbins probably deserves "All Robbins" programs but I will never run out to go to another. I don't quite know why. All the ballets I have seen of his I have liked, but somehow I like them better as one of the pieces better.
  21. I saw SB at the historic theatre before it was moved to M-2, and I am glad to see it is returning to the historic theatre for a change. It seems to be the only classical ballet that continues to be at the M-2; others seem to go back and forth between M-2 and the historic theatre. So glad it is returning to the historic theatre for a change. But even in the historic theatre the panorama was not used for some reason. I don't know why. The violin solo, however, is still done. The orchestra pit raises up for it and then goes back down after it is over. I love that moment.
  22. Birdsall

    The Bolshoi under Vaziev

    I don't think anyone is saying that dancers are imagining there is a claque, but it is really hard to identify or know for sure. I once took a non-opera lover to a performance in which I found the tenor excruciating to listen to, and my friend turned to me after a horrendous rendition of the aria, and he said, "I love his voice!" This was someone who was not used to opera, so he probably just found it thrilling to hear a loud voice. So anything is possible in the audience. People can love a terrible performer and not be a claque member. People can hate a performer and not be a claque member and vice versa......claque members are paid, but sometimes they actually like what they are applauding and sometimes actually hate what they are booing (I am guessing). Nothing is black and white in this world.
  23. Birdsall

    The Bolshoi under Vaziev

    The article about Abramov (Canbelto posted a link above) and his claque says that claque members sit in different places, not all grouped in one place. At La Scala opera singers have forever talked about having to pay the claque for an important debut. This paying does not mean they are lesser artists. They are genuinely nervous about a very important debut and do not need the extra anxiety of an angry claque that has not been paid. Some refuse to pay it and win over everyone anyway, but some choose to not have the extra anxiety. I suspect anyone who dares to sing Norma (if La Scala ever decides to stage it again) after Callas at La Scala will be so nervous and know it is high stakes that she will pay the claque even if she is the most amazing artist that ever lived. The article that Canbelto posted also has Mr. Abramov claiming many are hardcore lovers of ballet who can no longer afford tickets. They also sell their tickets sometimes to make money if a show is sold out. That means (in my opinion) the claque doesn't always work as planned. Someone buying a ticket who is not a member of the claque is probably going to be more independently minded (not always). I think it is probably very hard to know when the applause is caused by a claque and when not. Probably sometimes an audience reaction is genuine. Sometimes the claque is making noise b/c they are paid, but they also agree with what they are doing. I have sat in the Hermitage theatre and applauded with zeal the amazing Victor Lebedev while everyone else in the tiny theatre gave polite applause (same amount of applause to fairly mediocre talents on the same stage). I was astounded and wondered, "Don't they have eyes????" His deep cambres, His elegant turns, etc. So you can see someone amazing and for some reason the audience just doesn't seem to care. And I have definitely seen the opposite where the audience goes wild for what I consider a very lackluster performance. Who is to know if a claque was a t work? This happens with or without a claque. The amount of applause does not necessarily mean the dancer or singer was having the best night of her career. Lack of applause also does not mean the dancer was terrible. Occasionally an audience is just blah. All of the greatest artists have had divided fans. Mediocre artists rarely have people fighting over them, b/c no one cares. No one spends time debating someone is just "okay" or "meh." The ones that create the fights tend to go down in history as big names (and many are truly great artists). The great opera singers all have flaws and people still fight about them to this day online. Dame Joan Sutherland's mushy diction and lame acting vs. her amazing coloratura, big voice, etc. Many can not stand the sound of Maria Callas and point out her screechy high notes, her wobbling, etc. while many of us adore her way with drama and words and her fiery temperament. Montserrat Caballe admits she didn't have the forte high notes for the bel canto repetoire, but she got by on her silvery pianissimi that created some legendary moments in the theatre. She overused her famed pianissimi late in her career singing them at the end of almost every line even when it wasn't in the score, but it was hard to complain. ALL great artists have flaws. But most of them highlight what they can do and choose roles that suit their voices better. It is the same with dancers. There are always things people can find they don't like about a dancer while others find amazing things in the same dancer. This goes on and on throughout history but an audience's applause (amount or lack of) does not always tell the whole story. Callas was booed at times, but almost every opera lover would give their right leg to see her in Norma or Violetta today.
  24. Yes! This!!!! Yes! Yes! Yes!
  25. Nothing in life is black and white and simple.