Posted 15 July 2007 - 03:42 AM
I also went on Friday (Nunez/Pennefather). I recently saw multiple casts of this production in London but, at that time, missed Nunez...hence, my great interest in revisiting the production in Philly.
I agree with nysusan on many counts, including the overall ugliness of the set design and many of the costumes, especially for the men. However, I love the feathery quality of the long corps swan dresses; they truly enhance the choreography, particularly when the girls are waltzing (a lovely swishing quality to the skirts).
Unlike nysusan, I was absolutely bowled over by Marianela Nunez' Odette and Odile. WOW! WOW! WOW! Think Uliana Lopatkina's lines, balances, pirouettes...then add warmth. PERFECT! As Odette, Nunez was 100% poetic and lyrical, while acting as if Siegfried (long and elegant Rupert Pennefather) was truly THE man in her life. Her mime was clear as a bell; she truly engaged us, the audience, in her plight. In the pdd and, esp., her solo, she was expansive and musical. Whether hitting an arabesque or executing a multiple pirouette, she made it seem effortless. Smooth as butter. So languid. Nothing was rushed. Nothing was 'punched.' I have admired this languid, easy turning quality in only one other dancer in my 40-plus years of traveling the globe for ballet -- Michele Wiles. But Nunez adds to Wiles' technique-uber-alles manner.
Now it is not even worth comparing Nunez to the other Royal ballerinas who I saw performing this ballet in London last May; Nunez blows them all out of the water, I'm sorry to say.
Only tiny fault: Nunez is such a 'Can Do' dancer that sometimes -- just a tad -- she pushes the musical envelope as she slowly extends a pirouette or a balance well past the musical limit. [She must drive some conductors nuts.]
As always, it is a JOY to see the two white acts of this production -- the ONLY production on earth that preserves Lev Ivanov's original 1895 choreography for Acts 2 & 4, as staged ca 1985 by R.J. Wiley from the Stepanov Notes at Harvard Univerity Library. My main complaint about the touring aspect of this production: The Mann Center audience was unable to see A2 as Ivanov envisaged, with eight children accompanying Odette. The kids did not come along on tour, so Nunez emerged from the wings without the eight girls. Adults took the place of the girls during the Waltz of the Swans (the central line at the start of the waltz, where Ivanov intended the pre-teen/early-teen girls to perform). To see the true-and-complete 1895/Ivanov A2, one must travel to London.
p.s. I was highly impressed by the two dancers who appeared as 'solo swans' - Helen Crawford and Gemma Sykes. The taller one, in particular, who danced the first 'demi solo' segment in the A4 Valse Bluette (Crawford?...going by photos of faces in RB 06/07 Season programme book) has 'future Odette/Odile' written all over her. Both were wonderful.
p.s.s. Unlike the casting at most of my London viewings, Ashton's 'Neapolitan pdd' in A3 was NOT performed in Philly-July 13 by Stephen McRae, who absolutely, almost-embarrassingly 'stole the show' at the ROH. Nonetheless, it was impossible to miss McRae's stunning leaps and expansive movements during Friday's A1 Waltz by the corps de ballet! I wonder if Thursday's Philly audience saw McRae's Neapolitan?