Batsuchan

Lady of the Camellias - Spring 2010

39 posts in this topic

Well, I just got back from tonight's performance, and all I can do is gush... :wub:

BRAVO, BRAVO!! I felt privileged to be able to witness such a triumphant premiere!

During the first act, I admit I had my doubts--the ballet was definitely unlike anything I've seen before, the synopsis was rather bewildering, and there seemed to be a few partnering issues that hadn't quite been smoothed out. But by the end, I thought it was perfectly cast, and the intertwined Manon/Des Grieux storyline unfolded quite naturally. Of course, I'm not sure the whole thing would have worked so well without Chopin's expressive and beautiful music, which provided depth and filled those motionless moments with unspoken emotion.

What a great vehicle to make use of ABT's roster of stars!

I thought Xiomara Reyes was a wonderfully sassy soubrette as Prudence, and Jared Matthews was an equally roguish Gaston Rieux. I heartily enjoyed their little dance-off in the country.

Hee Seo was a gorgeous Olympia, Julio Bragado-Young was a charmingly hapless Count N., and Roman Zhurbin a stern but affectionate Father.

How beautiful Gillian Murphy and David Hallberg were as Manon and Des Grieux! I think I've never enjoyed them more.

And then our leads. Julie Kent just about broke my heart by the end. She was so overcome with emotion that she was crying during the bows. And as for Roberto Bolle--as the lady sitting next to me remarked, "Well, I would fall in love with him too!"

Bravo, bravo, I say again!

I am intensely curious to see how the other casts will handle this. I'm very much looking forward to seeing it again!

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Julie was really incredible tonight; she showed great depth and range and brought palpable emotion to the stage. I loved the unorthodox staging of this production, especially the opening. The lifts were stunning... amazing complexity and partnering from Bolle. Dancing was excellent but much rests on the acting abilities of the performers... the relationships between Bolle/Kent and Kent/Murphy brought it to life... I think the other casts will be quite different. Can't wait for Vishneva/Gomes/Part tomorrow.

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I had mixed feelings about the production. I thought the first act was terribly boring and the choreography for the corps was simplistic. I also thought the subplot involving Manon was ridiculous. Murphy and Hallberg danced beautifully, though. I enjoyed the major pdds in Acts II and III between Kent and Bolle. This ballet plays to Kent's lyricism, fluidity and acting skills. She was magnificent. Roberto Bolle was utterly captivating. What a fabulous partner, exquisite actor and excellent dancer. I'm so disappointed we couldn't see his Solor last week, but I'm glad he made it back to the stage for this role. Kent and Bolle's partnership on stage was wonderful. I also thought Xiomara Reyes was outstanding in a role that really suits her well. Hee Seo was also a standout. It made me want to see her Juliet. The problem with this ballet is that it is 3 hours (including 2 intermissions), and I thought only a fraction of the evening was filled with fascinating choreography. It is much too long, and most of the choreography for the ensemble is, in my opinion, amateurish. the costumes were gorgeous. The pianist was wonderful. (I don't have my program to identify him by name.) I have concerns about whether Cory Stearns will have the charismatic presence to handle this role. I'd be interested in hearing any reports on his performance with Irina tonight.

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The dramatic structure would have been better with the ballet in two longer acts. Frankly, the first act is choreographically and dramatically thin. I don't know how this would have affected the Chopin score, but the first act should have been telescoped since it is essentially character introduction and plot exposition that leads up to the country house party and then stops before we get there. The shortened first act could then be combined with the current second act at the country house up to the big love PDD with Marguerite and Armand in the bedroom as the final climax and emotional payoff. Act II would begin at the auction with M. Duval telling his side of the story of how he convinced Marguerite to break off the affair running through the end of Act III. The new Act I is the big romance and Act II is the heatbreak, separation and death of Marguerite. We could have cut out one intermission and maybe 10 to 15 minutes of filler and we all would get home a half hour or more earlier.

My only earlier exposure to this ballet was the film with Marcia Haydee and gorgeous Ivan Liska. That film clocks in at under two hours and it works better than the stage version. If my memory is correct, less is more here. Neumeier felt the inclination as MacMillan did to create grand opera length, three act ballet spectaculars. Like "Mayerling" there is good stuff there and a LOT of padding. As I have heard (since I never saw either version), the one act MacMillan "Anastasia" is way better than the big three act show that came to ABT over 10 years ago.

Another interesting observation - Manon has more interesting, technically demanding choreography than Marguerite who basically runs around on pointe waving her arms and then is tossed around in the air over Armand's shoulders.

Things that make the evening worthwhile - some gorgeous pas de deux's, a beautiful physical production and costumes, Soheil Nasseri's fabulous pianism in Chopin (shout out to cutie Koji Attwood as his backup), good use of the soloists and corps in supporting roles, Julie Kent's deep vulnerability and sadness (real tears) and every second of Roberto Bolle.

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The dramatic structure would have been better with the ballet in two longer acts. Frankly, the first act is choreographically and dramatically thin. I don't know how this would have affected the Chopin score, but the first act should have been telescoped since it is essentially character introduction and plot exposition that leads up to the country house party and then stops before we get there. The shortened first act could then be combined with the current second act at the country house up to the big love PDD with Marguerite and Armand in the bedroom as the final climax and emotional payoff. Act II would begin at the auction with M. Duval telling his side of the story of how he convinced Marguerite to break off the affair running through the end of Act III. The new Act I is the big romance and Act II is the heatbreak, separation and death of Marguerite. We could have cut out one intermission and maybe 10 to 15 minutes of filler and we all would get home a half hour or more earlier.

My only earlier exposure to this ballet was the film with Marcia Haydee and gorgeous Ivan Liska. That film clocks in at under two hours and it works better than the stage version. If my memory is correct, less is more here. Neumeier felt the inclination as MacMillan did to create grand opera length, three act ballet spectaculars. Like "Mayerling" there is good stuff there and a LOT of padding. As I have heard (since I never saw either version), the one act MacMillan "Anastasia" is way better than the big three act show that came to ABT over 10 years ago.

Another interesting observation - Manon has more interesting, technically demanding choreography than Marguerite who basically runs around on pointe waving her arms and then is tossed around in the air over Armand's shoulders.

Things that make the evening worthwhile - some gorgeous pas de deux's, a beautiful physical production and costumes, Soheil Nasseri's fabulous pianism in Chopin (shout out to cutie Koji Attwood as his backup), good use of the soloists and corps in supporting roles, Julie Kent's deep vulnerability and sadness (real tears) and every second of Roberto Bolle.

Embarrassing. There's a reason this ballet in performed infrequently. The pieces of nice choreography are few and far between. The pdd for the leads repetitive. The corps has little to do but wear some very nice costumes. Chopin is better served in the Concert Hall. Long and dull. I was happily able to exchange all my other tickets for this ballet for other dates.

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The dramatic structure would have been better with the ballet in two longer acts. Frankly, the first act is choreographically and dramatically thin. I don't know how this would have affected the Chopin score, but the first act should have been telescoped since it is essentially character introduction and plot exposition that leads up to the country house party and then stops before we get there. The shortened first act could then be combined with the current second act at the country house up to the big love PDD with Marguerite and Armand in the bedroom as the final climax and emotional payoff. Act II would begin at the auction with M. Duval telling his side of the story of how he convinced Marguerite to break off the affair running through the end of Act III. The new Act I is the big romance and Act II is the heatbreak, separation and death of Marguerite. We could have cut out one intermission and maybe 10 to 15 minutes of filler and we all would get home a half hour or more earlier.

My only earlier exposure to this ballet was the film with Marcia Haydee and gorgeous Ivan Liska. That film clocks in at under two hours and it works better than the stage version. If my memory is correct, less is more here. Neumeier felt the inclination as MacMillan did to create grand opera length, three act ballet spectaculars. Like "Mayerling" there is good stuff there and a LOT of padding. As I have heard (since I never saw either version), the one act MacMillan "Anastasia" is way better than the big three act show that came to ABT over 10 years ago.

Another interesting observation - Manon has more interesting, technically demanding choreography than Marguerite who basically runs around on pointe waving her arms and then is tossed around in the air over Armand's shoulders.

Things that make the evening worthwhile - some gorgeous pas de deux's, a beautiful physical production and costumes, Soheil Nasseri's fabulous pianism in Chopin (shout out to cutie Koji Attwood as his backup), good use of the soloists and corps in supporting roles, Julie Kent's deep vulnerability and sadness (real tears) and every second of Roberto Bolle.

Embarrassing. There's a reason this ballet in performed infrequently. The pieces of nice choreography are few and far between. The pdd for the leads repetitive. The corps has little to do but wear some very nice costumes. Chopin is better served in the Concert Hall. Long and dull. I was happily able to exchange all my other tickets for this ballet for other dates.

I Agree, terribly long. I fell asleep during dress rehearsal.

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Excellent acting from Vishneva this afternoon, really loved her in this role. She has such an expressive face and was so moving in the third act. Lifts and partnering were sumptuous. Preferred Gomes to Bolle... both for the clarity of his movements and the sincerity of his performance. That may just be my interpretation, however.

I can't believe I'm going to say this, and I did prefer Part's actual dancing... but I thought Murphy's expression yesterday was better than Part's as Manon, and that she and Kent had more of a connection than Part did to Vishneva.

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Well, if last night's premiere boasted an all-star cast, then today's matinee was the Diana & Marcelo show. And with their passion-matched-for-passion performance, they elevated "Lady of the Camellias" to a whole new level for me.

Here I will try to describe some of the differences I noticed (and I apologize in advance for the lack of organization):

I agree with sealings about Part and Murphy--I liked Veronika's dancing better, but I really enjoyed Gillian's expression, and I did feel that she and Julie had a real connection.

I agree with some of the other posters that last night's Act I seemed a little lacking, and last night I would have agreed that it might have been better to merge Act I and II. But today--perhaps it was because I was seeing the ballet for the second time, and knew what to expect--but I found Act I to be more dramatically satisfying, and I think it is because of the different ways Julie Kent and Diana Vishneva approached the character of Marguerite.

Julie's Margeurite was sweeter, with a touch of childlike innocence. It was only natural that she should fall in love with Armand--it was Roberto Bolle, after all.

Diana's Margeurite was a worldly courtesan: glamorous, vivacious, a believable man-eater. But when confronted with Armand's ardent love in the Act I pas de deux, I could see the cracks in her facade of untouchability. She wants to treat him as just another meaningless dalliance, but then she begins to wonder, could these feelings be real? Am I really capable of love? And then I thought I also saw fear, fear about what could happen if she dropped her defenses and let herself love him....

The development of this character arc made Act I feel more fulfilling for me. Also--today I saw Armand give Margeurite a book. I'm not sure if that happened last night and I just missed it, but I thought it was a nice touch since Armand gives Margeurite a copy of Manon Lescaut in the original story.

In Act II, I enjoyed Xiomara Reyes & Jared Matthews' dance in the countryside more than Simone Messmer and Sascha Ratesky today--they seemed to have more pizazz--but it certainly was nice to see Sascha dancing again!

But honestly, I was paying quite a bit of attention to Diana & Marcelo. Even though they were in the background while the others danced, they were very animated: chatting away, reading to each other, drinking from each other's cups--very much the merry couple.

They threw themselves into the Act II pas de deux. I enjoyed Julie and Roberto very much yesterday, but Marcelo and Diana were just overflowing with emotion. Not just in this pas de deux, but in the whole ballet--I really felt like they were giving the steps everything they had. FauxPas mentioned that the steps for Margeurite were not as demanding as those for Manon, but today Diana made sure to make the most of them!

And there were definitely casualties from all that passion! Marcelo tore his tights over the knee right before the end of Act II, and probably no amount of hair gel could have held his hair in place after all that rolling on the floor!

In Act III, Julie Kent had that heartwrenching vulnerability and sadness after the confrontation with Armand's father, but Diana simply looked broken. From the very beginning, that first act pas de deux, she knew what she was giving up and what it could cost her. I was especially impressed by Diana's ability to make her body look like it is moving of its own volition. Her heart and spirit rebel, but her body moves as if pulled by an inexorable force. I felt that strongly when she was doing those little steps (bourres?) in circle, and when she was being pulled away by Manon and Des Grieux.

The biggest difference I saw in this act was the difference between Roberto and Marcelo's portrayal of Armand. On Tuesday night, I was a little dismayed that Roberto seemed perfectly happy to be dancing with Olympia, as if he had completely forgotten about Margeurite. Shouldn't he show just a little bit that he's doing this just to make Margeurite jealous? But Marcelo played the bitter, vengeful ex-lover wonderfully. (And Maria Riccetto was a smug accomplice.) And that made Margeurite's fate all the more heartwrenching.

Yes, if Julie & Roberto broke my heart, then Diana and Marcelo just about ripped it out of my chest and smashed it into a thousand pieces.

Ah, but what a wonderful way to spend an afternoon!

BRAVO, BRAVO, BRAVO!!!!

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As with Faux Pas--my earlier exposure to this ballet was the film with Marcia Haydee and yes, the gorgeous Ivan Liska. After seeing the exalted performances of Vishneva, Gomes and Part yesterday afternoon I watched my tape of the Hamburg Ballet with Haydee. I could not get past Act 1--Haydee's overwrought performance contrasted too sharply with my image of Vishneva still floating in my head--Haydee brought up images of the Mat Eks ballerina, Ana Lugana. I never thought too highly of the work from watching this film---if any ballet needs a live performance this is the one. I loved the sparseness of the decor; the effect was achieved through costuming and a few stage props. Act 2 was a gorgeous Act---no orchestra, just a pianist playing all that grand Chopin music---what a reverie--and Vishneva and Gomes in all their passion. I am starting to run out of superlatives. but Part was outstanding as Manon--my one disappointment was Eric Tamm who gave her great support in all those difficult lifts, but was not there for her emotionally.

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The pianist was wonderful. (I don't have my program to identify him by name.)

His name is Koji Attwood and he's tremendous. I hope he starts getting better known; he deserves it. He's a great transcriber too, he did transcriptions of Schubert's Death and the Maiden and Tarrega's Recuerdos de la Alhambra which are fabulous.

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I was at last night's performance.I have never seen J Kent give such a well acted and danced performance. It seems she's giving the performance of her career. She was esp touching in her confrontation scene w/ Armand's father( very well acted by R Zhurvin). R Bolle was also a very good(surprisingly) actor and an outstanding partner to Julie. The rest was of the original cast was just terrific.

Many complained of the lenght of the production but ,i guess, we are not used to the European-style full-evening production. The audience seemed to enjoy the performance giving it a prolonged,rousing applause in the end.

It certainly gave the THEATRE back to AMERICA BALLET. :P :blush:

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I've now seen all three casts for this ballet. I'm going back tomorrow for another performance of the Vishneva Gomes cast. I thought Vishneva, Gomes and Part were phenomenal. I wanted to weep by the end of her performance. She was perfect, and Marcelo was the perfect partner for her. This ballet is like a guilty pleasure- a trashy romance novel that I just can't seem to put down. I actually enjoyed all of the casts, but Vishneva was my favorite. Kent was wonderful, but much more demure and controlled. Vishneva was unhinged and wild. Loved it!

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I've now seen all three casts for this ballet. I'm going back tomorrow for another performance of the Vishneva Gomes cast. I thought Vishneva, Gomes and Part were phenomenal. I wanted to weep by the end of her performance. She was perfect, and Marcelo was the perfect partner for her. This ballet is like a guilty pleasure- a trashy romance novel that I just can't seem to put down. I actually enjoyed all of the casts, but Vishneva was my favorite. Kent was wonderful, but much more demure and controlled. Vishneva was unhinged and wild. Loved it!

How was the Dvorovenko-Stearns cast? He was singled out by the critics of Village Voice and WS Journal.

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I've now seen all three casts for this ballet. I'm going back tomorrow for another performance of the Vishneva Gomes cast. I thought Vishneva, Gomes and Part were phenomenal. I wanted to weep by the end of her performance. She was perfect, and Marcelo was the perfect partner for her. This ballet is like a guilty pleasure- a trashy romance novel that I just can't seem to put down. I actually enjoyed all of the casts, but Vishneva was my favorite. Kent was wonderful, but much more demure and controlled. Vishneva was unhinged and wild. Loved it!

How was the Dvorovenko-Stearns cast? He was singled out by the critics of Village Voice and WS Journal.

Stearns was very good. In fact, this has been his best role in my opinion. He can't really compete with ABT's top tier men in the categories of spinning a million revolutions per minute or jumping as high as the Empire State Bldg. However, in a dramatic, romantic role like this he is very well suited. His line is actually much cleaner than Bolle's, in my opinion. He is no longer this totally blank presence on stage, which is how he used to look. This was the first time that I was able to see why he is being given so many lead roles. Bravo Cory! Dvorovenko was good, and she was much more believable as a courtesan than Kent. She is a lovely dancer with beautiful extensions. However, she was my least favorite of the 3 casts because she appears to be very calculating on stage, and in a ballet where unbridled passion is key, that approach doesn't work so well. By no means was she bad. She just wasn't as good as the other two ladies.

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Well, my hands have just about recovered from clapping them numb. Vishneva and Gomes were phenomenal again. Thank you for spilling your souls out on the stage for all of us to see. Bravo, bravo, BRAVO!!!!!

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Well, my hands have just about recovered from clapping them numb. Vishneva and Gomes were phenomenal again. Thank you for spilling your souls out on the stage for all of us to see. Bravo, bravo, BRAVO!!!!!

I am physically and emotionally drained. It took a little while for me to warm up to this ballet, but it was a real emotional experience and yes - Diana and Marcelo were absolutely fantastic!

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Vishneva and Gomes were electrifying. I wish this had been taped.

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Vishneva and Gomes were electrifying. I wish this had been taped.

I second that! What a performance. I loved Veronika Part's Manon as well- venal, passionate, and then dying quite beautifully.

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It's wonderful to read these comments. MORE, please.

I haven't seen the ABT performances. But I did see the video of Neumeier's version once long ago. (I prefer Val Caniparoli's version, with its clearer story-telling.)

I wonder how well, in your opinions, the inclusion of the ghost figures of Manon and Des Grieux work in this ballet. Greskovic, in the online edition of the Wall Street Journal, writes:

.As audience members take their seats, the house curtain is already raised. The setting is an auction; a placard announces the sale as taking place on March 16, 1847. Program notes to the ballet's prologue and three acts are printed in a mix of italics and Roman type to help the audience grasp what is happening onstage. Notes in italics describe the auction; Roman type explains when the ballet's action moves back in time to depict the life of Marguerite, whose early death led to the sale.

[ ... ] If anything other than the program's synopsis puts across the choreographer's intended narrative complications—all, for good measure, intermingled with ghostly appearances by characters from Prévost's 1731 "Manon Lescaut," a novel mentioned in Dumas's narrative—it's the individual performers' abilities to act rather than to dance.

Is all of this clear on stage without having read the program? Is it effective?

It has been fascinating to read everyone's comments on the different casts. Greskovic talks about two of the casts in relation to specific qualities of Neumeier's choreography. Those who like Vishneva best -- and hers seems to be a peformance not to be missed -- might be interested in the following:

The first cast included the longtime ABT ballerina Julie Kent as Marguerite and the large-scale and inherently warm Roberto Bolle as Armand. Ms. Kent portrayed the classiest of courtesans, never reaching for clichés of pert haughtiness and always working to smooth out the knotty arrangements of Mr. Neumeier's dancemaking. Mr. Bolle kept his dignity, too, losing it somewhat only when the choreography's quirks asked for nearly spasmatic moves meant to indicate particularly tortured emotions.

In another cast, Diana Vishneva gave an almost wildly vivid portrayal of Marguerite, revealing a persona and manners of electrifying individuality. She entered into the often stabbing, stuttering and frenetic body language favored by Mr. Neumeier with gusto, managing in the process to reveal the ungainliness of the choreography. As her Armand, an almost relentlessly impassioned Marcelo Gomes suggested nothing so much as puppy love.line:

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I wonder how well, in your opinions, the inclusion of the ghost figures of Manon and Des Grieux work in this ballet. Greskovic, in the online edition of the Wall Street Journal, writes:
.As audience members take their seats, the house curtain is already raised. The setting is an auction; a placard announces the sale as taking place on March 16, 1847. Program notes to the ballet's prologue and three acts are printed in a mix of italics and Roman type to help the audience grasp what is happening onstage. Notes in italics describe the auction; Roman type explains when the ballet's action moves back in time to depict the life of Marguerite, whose early death led to the sale.
Is all of this clear on stage, without the program? Is it effective dramatically? In dance terms?

My wife and I attended a dress rehearsal on May 25th, and they did not hand out any programs, not even in the abbreviated format that they had used for previous dress rehearsals that we had attended. We also had not read a synopsis of the ballet before going, though we knew the basic outline of the story from having been supernumeraries in a production of La Traviata. To answer your question--we didn't understand the story within a story being told by Manon and Des Grieux. We just saw them as ballet dancers performing for the other characters on stage. Even without that level of understanding, we were able to follow the story of the two main characters (and the father), and the shifts from the time of the auction to the memories of the love affair, and we enjoyed the ballet (though we thought that Armand was reading Marguerite's diary at the end, rather than Manon).

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we thought that Armand was reading Marguerite's diary at the end, rather than Manon).

I thought that too, especially since at the end of the ballet Marguerite is struggling to write in her diary. It doesn't make any sense to highlight her writing in the diary unless it is linked back somehow to Armand reading it. The libretto has many confusing aspects, but I knew the story of La Traviata well enough that I was able to follow the story.

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we thought that Armand was reading Marguerite's diary at the end, rather than Manon).

I thought that too, especially since at the end of the ballet Marguerite is struggling to write in her diary. It doesn't make any sense to highlight her writing in the diary unless it is linked back somehow to Armand reading it. The libretto has many confusing aspects, but I knew the story of La Traviata well enough that I was able to follow the story.

Isn't Armand reading Marguerite's diary at the end? Nanine presents a book to him in a very solemn manner as the final scene begins: the audience sees the scene through Marguerite's eyes whil Armand is reading it.

Doesn't Armand read "Manon Lescaut" during the ball montage in Act I?

I'm familiar with the Dumas and Prevost novels, so following Neumeier's setting of the story wasn't that difficult. My friend, however, had trouble distinguishing between Prudence and Olympe and wondered who Gaston was (or that guy with the riding crop).

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It would make more sense for Armand to be reading the diary that was given to him by Nanina instead of Manon Lescaut.

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Isn't Armand reading Marguerite's diary at the end? Nanine presents a book to him in a very solemn manner as the final scene begins: the audience sees the scene through Marguerite's eyes whil Armand is reading it.

Doesn't Armand read "Manon Lescaut" during the ball montage in Act I?

That's exactly what I thought. The only time he is reading Manon Lescaut is during the ballroom scene in Act I. He is presented with the diary at the beginning of Act I during the auction scene, and he is reading the diary in the final scenes of Act III. I don't have a playbill wtih me to see how ABT described it in the synopsis. It would have helped if they used very different looking books for the diary and the Manon Lescaut book so that the audience could distingusih the two books.

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Vishneva and Gomes were electrifying. I wish this had been taped.

Hoping ABT will revived Onegin for them next season. :o

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