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Last Nutcracker performance for Kitten and Lopez


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#1 Treefrog

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 08:09 PM

Calvin Kitten and Suzanne Lopez are retiring after this season; we saw their final Nutcracker appearances yesterday.

Kitten pretty much defined the role of Fritz/Snow Prince ever since the Joffrey arrived in Chicago. So it was great to see him once again play the bratty, indefatigable naughty boy. How he captures the essence of 12 at the age of 38 is ever a mystery, but he projected it even to the very back of the balcony of this huge theater. As Snow Prince, Kitten's leaps have lost a touch of the gravity-defyingness for which he was celebrated, but his series of pas de chats were as quick and clean as ever.

At the close of the first act, Kitten appeared in front of the curtain for his individual bow, then quickly left. "Is that it?" we wondered. No; the curtain rose again, on Kitten standing alone, center stage, amidst the remaining snow. What a lovely scene! Up in the rafters, not many people stood but I believe the patrons in the orchestra gave him a much-deserved an affectionate standing ovation. Kitten has been a company stalwart for 15 years.

That I have less to say about Lopez's Sugar Plum reflects only that, while she has danced this part many times, it is not the same signature role for her that Fritz/Snow Prince is for Kitten. (Also, of course, one's attention at the end of a performance is not what it is at the beginning ...) Lopez has been with the company about as long as Kitten has, and has always had an admirable sparkle to her performances -- and that was true yesterday as well.

At the closing bows, it was lovely to see the affection and admiration exchanged between Lopez and the rest of the company. In particular, I loved the way she acknowledged the recently retired -- and now Ballet Master -- Willy Shives (who, as Drosselmeier, hovered above the stage in the 'ascending' hot-air balloon), and he returned her salute with an elegant bow.

#2 motwins8391

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 11:31 AM

Well stated. It was a poignant send off for these two.

#3 keguri

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Posted 15 June 2010 - 05:14 PM

Calvin Kitten and Suzanne Lopez are retiring after this season; we saw their final Nutcracker appearances yesterday.

Kitten pretty much defined the role of Fritz/Snow Prince ever since the Joffrey arrived in Chicago. So it was great to see him once again play the bratty, indefatigable naughty boy. How he captures the essence of 12 at the age of 38 is ever a mystery, but he projected it even to the very back of the balcony of this huge theater. As Snow Prince, Kitten's leaps have lost a touch of the gravity-defyingness for which he was celebrated, but his series of pas de chats were as quick and clean as ever.

At the close of the first act, Kitten appeared in front of the curtain for his individual bow, then quickly left. "Is that it?" we wondered. No; the curtain rose again, on Kitten standing alone, center stage, amidst the remaining snow. What a lovely scene! Up in the rafters, not many people stood but I believe the patrons in the orchestra gave him a much-deserved an affectionate standing ovation. Kitten has been a company stalwart for 15 years.

That I have less to say about Lopez's Sugar Plum reflects only that, while she has danced this part many times, it is not the same signature role for her that Fritz/Snow Prince is for Kitten. (Also, of course, one's attention at the end of a performance is not what it is at the beginning ...) Lopez has been with the company about as long as Kitten has, and has always had an admirable sparkle to her performances -- and that was true yesterday as well.

At the closing bows, it was lovely to see the affection and admiration exchanged between Lopez and the rest of the company. In particular, I loved the way she acknowledged the recently retired -- and now Ballet Master -- Willy Shives (who, as Drosselmeier, hovered above the stage in the 'ascending' hot-air balloon), and he returned her salute with an elegant bow.


Thank you for this wonderful and moving description of Kitten and Lopez's farewell. For me, Calvin Kitten and Fritz are inseparable, and it is sad to think that he is retiring, since he was such a striking presence in the performances of the Joffrey that I saw. When I was in Chicago, I saw the Joffrey's Nutcracker many times, and was never bored. It is really one of the best out there, I think. The NYCB left me sort of disappointed, not because of the quality of the dancing, but because it seemed a bit like the ballet version of the gigantic rigid stuffed animals at the flagship FAO Schwarz Store on 5th avenue --- toys that seemed to satisfy an adult's fantasy about childhood, rather than the real dreams of children. And I think it is a mistake to cast children as Fritz and Clara. The Joffrey Version really caught the true magic of the Nutcracker, which has little to do with that sort of magic that Hollywood is in the business of peddling : its ecstatic, mystical quality. I hope they can still pull this off without Kitten. He will be sorely missed!


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