Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Juliet

Don Quixote, Kennedy Center, June 22-26th

89 posts in this topic

So, there are finally some current pictures in the advertising, the rehearsals are back to back, the adrenalin and hopes are high....

A rousing Bravi! to Farrell and her dancers for undertaking this mammoth work.......it may or may not be an uneven work, but uneven Balanchine is still on another level than much of the choreography being made now.....I wish them all the best and hope for a succeessful and rewarding run.....

Who among us will be there? Shall we meet by the Kennedy bust before the curtain? (Other suggestions welcome!) I will be there every day but Thursday......

Share this post


Link to post

Juliet, I'll be there Sat night.

Share this post


Link to post

I'll be there Thursday and maybe Sunday afternoon...depending on whether I think once was enough after Thursday.

Share this post


Link to post

(from Washington, DC) I'm here for the run! Meeting by the Kennedy bust sounds like a good, albeit popular, idea. Tonight I'm at a dinner, and I don't know wheher we will be herded directly into the Opera House (this "cosseting" clashes somewhat with my democratic instincts, I must say), but at other performances I'll loiter there, and I'd be pleased to meet other BT'ers. I expect to wear my customary pink face (although I'm feeling a little pale this morning, in spite of my level of anticipation), blue eyes, and very pale blond hair.

Share this post


Link to post

NPR's Morning Edition today broadcast a short "segment" twice, just before the hours of 9:00 and 10:00, in which Kim Kokich presented Suzanne Farrell talking about this production and also George Jackson talking about past ones. I think people with the appropriate audio player on their computers can hear such items from the NPR website later on the day of broadcast, so check it out. (There was not a lot really new, but for me, it's fresh, nevertheless : Farrell said, for example, "I feel him [balanchine] in every book, every piece of scenery.")

In Paul Kolnik's Gallery Walk and Talk last evening, we found out his response to what he sees and especially to what he catches with his camera is also what I would call transcendant. His interpretations of his images and of the reception they got from Balanchine were an enlarging experience to hear, and I am glad to report that an "interactive" version of the talk is supposed to go online eventually at artsedge.kennedy-center.org, with images of the pictures and an edited version of Kolnik's comments. Meanwhile, though, I suggest planning at least a few minutes to give time to the exhibit, in the Opera House lobby, of the fourteen or so affecting photos (some of Farrell, many of her company). There's also a central case with a display centered on Don Quixote, with costumes (Farrell's "Dulcinea" costume is on loan from the Smithsonian, if I remember correctly) and Farrell's "memory book".

Suzanne Carbonneaux gave a lecture Monday about Farrell and Don Quixote which was enthusiastically received by a self-described "arts critic" in Kolnik's audience. I wasn't here yet. Did anybody go? What did she say? What did you think?

Edited by Jack Reed

Share this post


Link to post

...thanks for the link Bart, I enjoyed listening to it. I envy all of you who will be there tonight or later in the week. With dancers from my own company taking part I'd love to be there but I just couldn't manage to get away right now. I will look forward to everyone's comments on the production and the leading dancers - especially Rodriguez and Ogden. Whatever the the critical reaction is to Farrell's restaging of this work, she is to be celebrated for the effort it took to get it to get it back on stage some twenty-five years after the last performance. I suspect just getting the funding for the production was quite a task. A new generation needs to see this Balanchine work and judge it for themselves, and thanks to Farrell, now we can. (Well...in my case, it will have to wait perhaps a season or two - or whenever the new AD of the NBoC decides to schedule it!)

Share this post


Link to post
(Well...in my case, it will have to wait perhaps a season or two - or whenever the new AD of the NBoC decides to schedule it!)

And, hopefully, now that it's been done in a three-truck, commute-ready production, NBoC will bring it to Vancouver.

We hope to hear from those who are attending :)

Share this post


Link to post

To drop a leaden weight on the anticipation: what do you all think about the effect Nabakov's music is likely to have on the audience? This was, for me, the single most (and perhaps only) strong negative in Balanchine's strange and wonderful ballet. Alas, it casts its pall from beginning to end. I notice no one is mentioning it in the publicity or in Ballet Talk memories of the original production.

P.S. I write this as someone who actually enjoys a great deal of later 20th-century serious music and listens to it frequently.

Share this post


Link to post

I don’t think anyone really wants to focus on the negatives right now, and that includes the score. From everything I heard and read, it will present a problem. (I remember Suki Schorer saying from a dancer's perspective that it was hard to listen to all week long.)

I’ll be interested to see how the critics react – will the reviews be good (at the very least they’ll be respectful, I’m sure), and if so, will they be genuine raves or praise of the let’s-plug-the-production-because-everyone-worked-so-hard-and-we-don’t-want-it-to-be-DOA kind?

Share this post


Link to post

I'll be there for several performances & am genuinely looking forward to it. This is Ballet History, after all! I've mentally prepared myself to expect the unmelodious score and, instead, concentrate on the great psychological tale, with, hopefully, some wonderful Balanchine choreography. Any happy surprises above & beyond that will be the icing on the cake! So I'm set to accentuate the positive.

Here's the $64,000 Question: How will the KC ballet subscribers & 'plain folk out for a night at the ballet' react when they realize that this isn't their 'safe' DON Q with Kitri's 32 fouettes, the merry oom-pah-pah music and scores of classical tutus????? I'll have my ears perked-up at intermission time to glean a few quotable-quotes. Maybe the audience will pleasantly surprise me!

Natalia

Share this post


Link to post

Well, being a fairly "plain folk" :) , I wish I could be there for several reasons - the obvious being that it's an historic moment of sorts (and I've never seen Balanchine's Don Q, just read about it) and I'd love to see the dancers, particularly those whose parents I know, perform! Merde to all the dancers! I look forward to detailed reviews here. :yes:

I don't frequent this board the way I used to but would love to know if Farrell Fan is going to be down for this performance - I certainly hope so. :)

Share this post


Link to post

Since one of the related events is a ballet class for adults taught by Suzanne, it's a sure bet!

Share this post


Link to post

Really!? Isn't that an interesting draw - very smart. If any of you attend I hope you'll give us some feedback on that as well. :tiphat:

Share this post


Link to post

Well the first review is up - John Rockwell's is generally favourable. (Someone else will have to post the link...I don't know how) I'm very interested in what everyone who was there last night thought of the show. Rockwell's comment about the music being sometimes "downright gorgeous" is kind of amusing given the general opinion by those who saw the original production that the score was a major problem.

Share this post


Link to post
Rockwell's comment about the music being sometimes "downright gorgeous" is kind of amusing...

What was he snorting?

Last night amounted to the most downright-boring, sickeningly-laborious night at the ballet. People around me left as early as the first intermission, they were so disgusted.

It does not even work as a mime-drama, as the leading actors/dancers breathed ZERO life into their characters. Don Q himself was as wooden & lifeless as the 'gee-whiz' props that stood before him (the dragon, the wooden donkey, the giant knight). Perhaps I am a bit spoiled in just having recently experienced nine consecutive nights at the Royal Danish Ballet, in which the dancer-actors breathed life into the smallest of characters. Last night, we could marvel at a bunch of pretty costumes & nifty sets occupied by leaden characters. I tried really REALLY hard to get into the 'mood,' to cry, to care...but all I could do was yawn and look at my watch.

I could list the many positives -- Sonia Rodriguez's (Dulcinea) pliant back and lovely bourrees; the sharpness of the corps in the Act I Village Dance and Act III classical dances; the masterful designs, etc., etc. -- but this would paint an inaccurate 'big picture,' the negatives so outweighed the posititives. Yes -- so much went into this undertaking but is that reason enough for me to file a false review and lead people to believe that this is a hunky-dorry good ol' night at the ballet? Sorry -- not me.

By the time that the main all-dancing portion of the work came around -- the Act III "Dream Scene" -- very few of us were awake enough to enjoy it and care.

BORING! BORING! BORING!

It's a good thing that Suzanne Farrell was given her Capezio Award at the start of the program -- taking up the first 25 minutes of the night...the ballet did not begin until 7:55 pm -- because the enthusiasm would not have been there had the Kennedy Center management elected to present the award AFTER the show. Sad but true.

Natalia Nabatova

Share this post


Link to post

Until last night I thought that the ultimate oxymoron was "low-carb bread" but Suzanne Farrell's Don Quixote presents us with "low-dance ballet". Not only was there very little dancing -- perhaps 15 minutes in a two-hour performance -- but half of that dancing was invisible, because it was underneath head-to-toe velvet gowns, or, in the case of the men in Act three, hampered by stiff ruched collars, long sleeves, and worst of all, the puffy turkish bedroom slippers with curlicue toes that Nehemiah Kish had to risk his limbs and dignity to dance in in Act 2.

All the pageantry and mime and symbolism could have nonetheless worked -- if the production had succeeded in portraying the complex relationships between Don Q, his religion, Dulcinea and the power establishment that constitute the story. Even the loooong -- I mean really really long -- hallucinatory procession at Don Q's deathbed could work, but only if we had already appreciated his tragic delusions. But this was not at all conveyed in the preceding 2.5 acts. In fact, the vision of the scary knight with a swinging axe resolving into what was really just a windmill -- a brilliant piece of stage craft -- did a better job than the actor in conveying Don Q's state of mind.

There was some superb dancing by Sonia Rodriguez, Shannon Parsley, Erin Mahoney, NAtalia Magnicaballi and Runqiao Du in the the third Act, but since all of the dancing takes the form of divertissements and variations, the dancers can't create much in the way of relationships or spark. It was sort of academic, with the exception of Sonia Rodriquez' moving final variation which brings us back to the main story.

The word for Nabokov's score is cheesy. It's not that it's dissonant or clanging -- it's that it's so OBVIOUS and predictable.

Around us in the audience there were bail-outs after the second intermission and a tepid reaction at the end. Only the principals and some of the soloists took bows; the corps was nowhere to be seen. It was odd.

By the way, I do think it would be better if those of you who are ballet experts could try avoid looking down your noses at us "just plain folks" and caricaturing other peoples' taste. We pay the same $60 per seat as you do and we like ballet just as much. (Although not this particular ballet...)

Share this post


Link to post

Tammy, I don't think anyone is looking down their noses at anyone.

Share this post


Link to post

Ouch! Now I can hardly wait for the 2006/07 season so I can be underwhelmed as well!

Poor Nehemiah Kish - he deserves better. I'm glad Rodriguez at least impressed with her dancing as she is one of my favourites. Rockwell described her as "adequate" I believe.

Share this post


Link to post

Any of you who've posted thus far - had you seen it performed in the past when Balanchine was Don Q?

I certainly did not, but I would find it interesting to hear from someone who will have now seen both - to get their take on it.

I see that John Rockwell's review has been posted in the Links section and have read it - he certainly seems to have a different take on it all as compared to those who've posted thus far. Not meaning this to imply that anyone is right or wrong...just bringing it up.

Hoping to hear more on this one.

Share this post


Link to post
Any of you who've posted thus far - had you seen it performed in the past when Balanchine was Don Q?

One of the veteran DC-based writers touched bases with me soon after the performance. This person had seen the 'original' at NYCB & told me, "You did not see DON Q. The DON Q that I remember had living, breathing characters." Hopefully this person is slated to write a review of this production; I did not ask him/her.

Share this post


Link to post

I'm in general agreement that the mime and "acting" were not very effective, and I'm ready to take Natalia's word for it that the RDB outclasses this from the first moment. (They have, I think, decades or centuries behind them, while this production has five weeks - not to excuse, but to try to account for it.)

Act II, which is mostly dance, arrived not a moment too soon; dancing is what these performers know. For me, Magnicaballi and Kish's Pas de Deux Mauresque, the third Divertissement, and Bonnie Pickard's Ritournel, the last of the Act II Divertissements, were among the few high points, and I also enjoyed Shannon Parsley's Danza della Caccia, the second one. (I prefer the Mauresque costumes on the Kennedy Center's website, from Farrell's previous showing of this, to the nearly-monochrome ones we saw last night.) And I also enjoyed the dream-dance which begins Act III, even - rather, especially - when it begins to become disturbed toward the end. And the bit of stagecraft Tammy mentions was very effective, upstaging Momchil Mladenov's Don. (He is the only one in the cast lists; I hope by the end of the run we will see more preparation or development from him.)

But there are no "big" relationship pas de deux. Indeed, this is not a very "dancey" ballet, and the pyschological and philosophical themes are perhaps inherently difficult to show, ironically in a piece of work from someone who famously remarked, "There are no mothers-in-law in ballet," that is, there are things you can't adequately show in ballet.

*People who are tempted to leave at the first intermission should somehow be informed that the dancing comes next, in Act II and the beginning of Act III.*

As to Nabokov's music: Ron Matson and Farrell did some snipping here and there to remove what Matson calls "paper music" - music that looks good on paper, according to ways of composing in fashion at the time, but - well, they decided to take some of it out, especially where Farrell didn't have any action.

I remember the music gave me a lot of trouble when I saw the ballet a few times in 1972 (never with Balanchine in it). I don't enjoy Berg's music either, but in his opera Wozzeck I take his cracked harmonies as generating the world of Wozzeck's cracked mind, and I enjoy the opera from beginning to end, and so, when I hear Nabokov's music for this ballet, I take it that way, too, but it's so thin, I can keep it in the background of my attention where I don't really listen closely to it, unusually in a Balanchine ballet, where typically the music is equally important to the choreography and often seems to generate it.

Noreen, for what it's worth, I'm told NBoC wants to inaugurate its new building with this production, and construction is far behind schedule; that seems to be what's holding up their staging of it. I hope for your sake and others' that the intervening time will be put to good use in the studio.

Share this post


Link to post

Between the New York Times review and the reviews here, I don't quite know what to expect tonight! I have been somewhat breathlessly anticipating this ever since I obtained my ticket and, while a night at the ballet never disappoints, I do hope this is all I expect it to be.

Share this post


Link to post

I’m kicking myself for not bring my program and notes to work. Anyhow, I wasn't bored, but I understand the complaints. The scenes with Don Quixote and Marcella/Dulcinea were affecting, and if Mladanov and Rodriguez weren't great actors, they believed in what they were doing and made me believe as well. I thought Rodriguez was adequate technically, and in the third act that was extremely impressive. But she didn't project very well (I was 4th row center) and there wasn't much depth or variety to her characterization. I was moved by the story, and I was moved because I was rooting for her as she assayed such a monumental role; and she looked the part -- lovely and pure. The Don sure picked a Lady. But I hope she’ll have time to develop the confidence and experience to develop the character. The same goes for Mladenov-- affecting but one-dimensional. Sancho Panza was likeable, but pure buffoon.

The second divertissements were entertaining, but nothing more. Pickard and Parsely and Mahoney and Ritter (and the corps in the marvelous third act ensemble passages) were terrific, and the little girl shadowing Pickard with a hot pink feathered parasol couldn’t have been cuter, but the story stalled. Heather Ogden has been quoted as saying that the story builds momentum. That’s exactly what it didn’t do for me. The tone kept shifting – now we’re watching an epic tale told mostly through mime; now we’re admiring Balanchine choreography. It didn’t cohere.

For someone who doesn’t go to Broadway musicals, or even many story ballets, the sets and costumes were stunning. To give just one example, on the scrim used before each act the pages of a book open out into a sunset landscape with "Dulcinea" written in the merest wisp of cloud.

The audience applauded the dancing several times, but after the curtain they were polite at best. I felt bad for everyone onstage.

Share this post


Link to post
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0