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New production of Firebird by Ratmansky

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WORLD PREMIERE OF ALL-NEW PRODUCTION OF

THE FIREBIRD,

CHOREOGRAPHED BY ALEXEI RATMANSKY,

SET FOR MARCH 29, 2012 AT

SEGERSTROM CENTER FOR THE ARTS,

COSTA MESA, CALIFORNIA

American Ballet Theatre will premiere an all-new production of the Igor

Stravinsky classic The Firebird, with original choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, on

March 29, 2012 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, it was

announced today by Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie. The ballet will be given five

performances, March 29-April 1, 2012 in California, and will have its New York

Premiere during ABT’s 2012 Metropolitan Opera House season.

Based on the Russian fairy tale, the one-act ballet will feature scenery by Simon

Pastukh and costumes by Galina Solovyeva. The design team previously collaborated on

Ratmansky’s On the Dnieper in 2009. Ratmansky’s choreography for The Firebird will

utilize the entire Stravinsky score.

Ratmansky’s The Firebird is American Ballet Theatre’s fourth production of the

ballet. Originally choreographed by Michel Fokine to Stravinsky’s first score for ballet,

The Firebird received its world premiere by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes at the

Théâtre National de l’Opéra in Paris on June 25, 1910. It first entered the repertory of

Ballet Theatre at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York on October 24, 1945 with

choreography by Adolph Bolm and scenery and costumes by Marc Chagall. A second

production, with choreography by Michel Fokine and staging by Christopher Newton,

was premiered by ABT in 1977 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles,

California. ABT gave the revival premiere of The Firebird, with choreography by

Michel Fokine and produced by Nicholas Beriozoff, on January 24, 1992 at the Palacio

de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.

Ratmansky was named American Ballet Theatre’s Artist in Residence in 2009.

The Firebird will be his fifth work for the Company. He previously choreographed a

production of The Firebird for the Royal Swedish Ballet in 2002.

For more information on American Ballet Theatre, please visit www.abt.org.

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Segerstrom Center posted, on their Facebook page, this casting info regarding The Firebird:

"ABT has announced preliminary casting for the world premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s new production of The Firebird. Scheduled to perform in The Firebird are three extraordinary ballerinas: Natalia Osipova, Misty Copeland and Isabella Boylston. ABT's The Firebird will be performed March 29 – April 1, 2012."

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Segerstrom Center posted, on their Facebook page, this casting info regarding The Firebird:

"ABT has announced preliminary casting for the world premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s new production of The Firebird. Scheduled to perform in The Firebird are three extraordinary ballerinas: Natalia Osipova, Misty Copeland and Isabella Boylston. ABT's The Firebird will be performed March 29 – April 1, 2012."

I think we can safely say that there will be a lot of jumping in the choreography

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I certainly hope there's a lot of jumping. I like jumping. But then,I'm a heathen.

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:yahoo: Thank Heaven, I can finally uncross all those fingers and toes! I'm coming! Tickets on sale yet?

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Tickets for non-subscribers of SCFTA usually don't go on sale until about 6 weeks month before the show date. They usually send out a presale password a little before that if you are on their Facebook page. If you are worried about getting good seats, don't be panicked--it's a slow buying crowd and there are usually lots of good seats right up to the week of performances.

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Tickets for non-subscribers of SCFTA usually don't go on sale until about 6 weeks month before the show date. They usually send out a presale password a little before that if you are on their Facebook page. If you are worried about getting good seats, don't be panicked--it's a slow buying crowd and there are usually lots of good seats right up to the week of performances.

They go on sale February 19, according to this new article in Broadway World, although the date isn't announced yet on the SCFTA site:

http://costamesa.broadwayworld.com/article/Segerstrom-Center-Presents-World-Premiere-of-ABTs-The-Firebird-20110823

I don't know about Facebook, but they used to send out passwords for single ticket sales a week early to anybody who had bought any tickets at all the previous season. I have no idea if they'll continue that this season, but wouldn't be surprised.

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Added to the SCFTA program: Thirteen Diversions and Apollo :yahoo:

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Segerstrom Center posted, on their Facebook page, this casting info regarding The Firebird:

"ABT has announced preliminary casting for the world premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s new production of The Firebird. Scheduled to perform in The Firebird are three extraordinary ballerinas: Natalia Osipova, Misty Copeland and Isabella Boylston. ABT's The Firebird will be performed March 29 – April 1, 2012."

Misty is dancing Firebird? That's a rather exciting news for me. I've been waiting to see when she would be given a chance to do a bigger role! :clapping:

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Added to the SCFTA program: Thirteen Diversions and Apollo :yahoo:

Apollo is gone from the triple; replacement = Duets. dry.png

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If anyone is looking for a specific Firebird cast, the SCFTA website shows this info:

Firebird Casting:

Natalia Osipova

March 29th & 31st eve

Misty Copeland

March 30th & April 1st

Isabella Boylston

March 31 mat

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The night is upon us. Here's the final word on casting:

Program and Casting:

Thursday, March 29 at 7:30 p.m.

Duets: Company

Thirteen Diversions: Maria Riccetto/Craig Salstein, Hee Seo/Cory Stearns, Stella Abrera/Eric Tamm,

Christine Shevchenko/Blaine Hoven

Firebird: Natalia Osipova, Marcelo Gomes, David Hallberg, Simone Messmer (Order: Firebird/Prince Ivan/Evil Kastchei/the Princess)

Friday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m.

Duets: Company

Thirteen Diversions: Maria Riccetto/Craig Salstein, Hee Seo/Cory Stearns, Stella Abrera/Eric Tamm,

Christine Shevchenko/Blaine Hoven

Firebird: Misty Copeland, Herman Cornejo, Roman Zhurbin, Maria Riccetto

Saturday, March 31 at 2 p.m.

Duets: Company

Thirteen Diversions: Sarah Lane/Jared Matthews, Misty Copeland/Gray Davis, Kristi Boone/Thomas

Forster, Devon Teuscher/Daniel Mantei

Firebird: Isabella Boylston, Alexandre Hammoudi, Cory Stearns, Kristi Boone

Saturday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m.

Duets: Company

Thirteen Diversions: Sarah Lane/Jared Matthews, Misty Copeland/ Gray Davis, Kristi Boone/Thomas

Forster, Devon Teuscher/Daniel Mantei

Firebird: Natalia Osipova, Marcelo Gomes, David Hallberg, Simone Messmer

Sunday, April 1 at 2 p.m.

Duets: Company

Thirteen Diversions: Maria Riccetto/Craig Salstein, Hee Seo/Cory Stearns, Stella Abrera/Eric Tamm,

Christine Shevchenko/Blaine Hoven

Firebird: Misty Copeland, Herman Cornejo, Roman Zhurbin, Maria Riccetto

Also, Julie Kent leads a post-performance discussion this evening if anyone would like to stay after.

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A question to start: Is Hee Seo injured again? Misty Copeland and Gray Davis danced in the place of Seo/Stearns and since Stearns was on in Duets, I don't think the issue was him.

I'm not really sure what to make of The Firebird, to be honest. It felt like it was missing something, but I'm not sure what and perhaps the repeated viewing on Sunday will help clarify it. The stage is sparse, four huge trees loom as the only background, with digital projectionss filling in the rest. The ballet opens with a blank scrim down and Gomes (clad in all white) lying on the ground. He enters a door, and then we arrive in the enchanted forest. The Firebird has been robbed of her recognizable solo entrance music, and instead that music is used for a flock of Firebirds (male and female) dancing that build up to her arrival. Osipova enters and duets with Gomes, leaving him with a feather. The choreography is more atheltic than anything and reminds me of Wheeldon, oddly enough, at (what I consider) his worst: overly dependant partnering, lots of twisting, not a lot of lightness and flight that I associate with the Firebird. Osipova couldn't seem to decide how to play the role: is she vunerable? Saucy? In control? Every moment it seemed like this changed, and not in a cohesive way.

After Gomes receives his Firebird feather, we are treated to the arrival of the Maidens, dressed in tattered green dresses and ratty blonde&green wigs (perhaps better referred to a Zombie Unsocialized Swamp Ladies?), led by Simone Messmer. Gomes seems much more comfortable in this scene with Messmer (who really takes over the stage once her story kicks in); he turns on the charm and convinces his Unsocialized Swamp Lady to join him in a duet, while her Swamp Sisters alternately flirt with Gomes to attract his attention or pull them apart in jealousy. Messmer's characterization reminds me a little of the Mermaid in Neuemier's Little Mermaid: she is highly awkward, yet utterly captivating. They kiss and share an apple. Spurned, the Swamp Ladies all attempt to gain his affection with apples of their own (one apple didn't want to leave the stage--as Messmer tried to fling it off it hit the wing and bounced back in the path of dancers. One of the corps girls grabbed it and tried to fling it off again, only to have it hit a tree and bounce back at her).

Things get weird when Hallberg arrives as the Evil Kaschei; Hallberg seems wasted in this role (actually the role seem wasted in general) as it is little more than posing and preening--no real dancing. He has control over the Swamp Ladies and, once he arrives onstage, they are under his spell: he lines them up and sniffs at them, finally stopping with Messmer, giving her a kiss. Tasting (?) Ivan/Gomes on her mouth he becomes enraged, searching out Gomes and smelling him as well, confirming he is the culprit; he claims Messmer for his own. What could be a beautiful pas de trois that leads Messmer to be pulled between Gomes and Hallberg is, again, a lot of posing. Gomes finally pulls out the feather and Osipova flies back onstage. The four "dance" or really, pull, themselves about the stage until Osipova leads Gomes to an egg that will break the spell of the Kaschei. They really need to work this prop out a bit better because I don't think the cello player in the pit appreciated the piece of the egg that flew down and hit him. Messmer then undergoes a transformation, turning her into a beautiful maiden clad in white, as do all the Swamp Ladies. The trees open to reveal beautiful gilded interiors (and a lot of men clad in white). They dance, it ends.

Really, for me, Messmer was captivating and her vunerable, yet skittish, presence provided the most pathos to the ballet. I wish there was more dancing.

----

The rest of the evening: Duets was not to my taste. I spent most of the time watching the splendor of Veronika Part's limbs and back. I'm confused as to why ABT is listing this as Company when the majority of the dancers are principals (Kent, Part, Herrera, Reyes, Stearns). Considering the small amount of principals appearing on the rest of the run, it would be prudent to list them, especially since Kent and Herrera, at least, are extremely widely known in the area. I thought Arron Scott was very promising partnering Reyes--he looks a bit like a younger Sasha Radetsky, and seemed thrilled to be there. He had a spark in his eye that gave depth to his dancing.

I really enjoyed Thirteen Diversions. Seo was replaced by Copeland who was really glorious. She and Abrera ate up the stage. It cannot be said enough: what is up with Abrera's career? More than a few times I was watching the four lead women together and thought, 'Which one is moving so gloriously fast?" and it was Abrera. Moreover, she acts the part of the principal--commanding the stage in everything she does in a way that other ABT soloists offer only in tantalizing glimpses still. She's ready! Give her more! Copeland was softer than I've seen her before--she was very luxurious where she used to be harder, more rushed. I'm VERY excited to see her take on the Firebird on Sunday.

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.....The stage is sparse, four huge trees loom as the only background, with digital projectionss filling in the rest. .....

"Sparse"... 'El Cheapo' strikes again! toot.gif

Thanks for the report, ksk04.

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.....The stage is sparse, four huge trees loom as the only background, with digital projectionss filling in the rest. .....

"Sparse"... 'El Cheapo' strikes again! toot.gif

I love that you can be so dismissive of something you haven't seen.

The making of digital projections, btw, is not necessarily cheap.

I note both published reviews raved about the sets.

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I predicted it on another thread (about Mariinsky's FIREBIRD)...that the Ratmansky FIREBIRD would have "...a plain backdrop with the outline of trees." I swear, I had not seen the designs.

Aurora, why should the general public that loves traditional, luxurious painted sets & gorgeous costumes pay 'filet mignon prices' to be served pink slime?

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why should the general public that loves traditional, luxurious painted sets & gorgeous costumes pay 'filet mignon prices' to be served pink slime?

What was that other poster said of something like"champagne price with beer taste.."? rofl.GIF

Sorry...back to "Firebird"...whistling.gif

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I ve been waiting all day to hear about Misty's Firebird last night....Please someone give us your thoughts!!!!! Aren't there any BA West Coasters??? We are counting on you! I have my tickets to all Firebirds in June!!!

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Aurora, why should the general public that loves traditional, luxurious painted sets & gorgeous costumes pay 'filet mignon prices' to be served pink slime?

And I like lush sets, I can also like more modern and artistically adventurous ones if they are appropriate.

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Ok feeling nauseous now ( May be getting "food poisoning") I"ve checked "Links". Has anyone heard or read ANY feedback or reviews, of last night's "DANCING" ? So interested in knowing how Misty's Firebird Debut went. I knew I should have gone to California and see for myself! I know it takes a day or two sometimes for print reviews, but someone please report something!! We are used to instant reviews on here on the East Coast!

Edited by balletmor

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I predicted it on another thread (about Mariinsky's FIREBIRD)...that the Ratmansky FIREBIRD would have "...a plain backdrop with the outline of trees." I swear, I had not seen the designs.

Aurora, why should the general public that loves traditional, luxurious painted sets & gorgeous costumes pay 'filet mignon prices' to be served pink slime?

Perhaps to see the dancing and the choreography?

I've never gone to an opera or ballet simply to see the sets and costumes, although I've often enjoyed them.

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Ok feeling nauseous now ( May be getting "food poisoning") I"ve checked "Links". Has anyone heard or read ANY feedback or reviews, of last night's "DANCING" ? So interested in knowing how Misty's Firebird Debut went. I knew I should have gone to California and see for myself! I know it takes a day or two sometimes for print reviews, but someone please report something!! We are used to instant reviews on here on the East Coast!

I will see her on Sunday. There's only a few posters in Southern CA that attend shows in the area AND post on here, compared to the multitude of NYC-based/East Coast posters. Also it has been less than 24 hours, so you may need to be a little patient. I was hesitant to post my thoughts without seeing the production more than once because it's hard to articulate an opinion on something when you are not at all familiar with the ballet, so that may also be what people are waiting on.

Re: the setting

It may have been where I was sitting (a little higher than I usually do), but the details of the setting/background were lost on me, compared to the pictures and reports from the papers. I could hardly see the visual projections, so it looked kind of sparse. Seeing the straight on photos, the effect is markedly different.

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I'll be interested in what people have to say about this production as more posters here have a chance to see it. Firebird is a notoriously difficult ballet to produce -- I've seen many more noble attempts than outright successes, but I've certainly learned something from each of them.

ksk04, when you have a chance, could you go into more detail about the ending of the work? For me, that's the most problematic section of the score when it comes to the staging, from Fokine, onwards, and I'm curious to know more about how Ratmansky handles it.

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Just back from this afternoon's performance which worked so, so much better for me than the opening night one. I'm sure it's a mixture of factors: the work has had a few runs now making everything look a bit more comfortable onstage, there appeared to be some slight changes to choreography (or they were performed slightly differently), plus the cast wasn't making their debut (they had a run two nights ago). Every movement had much more clarity of purpose behind it, which made it much more dramatically interesting as well as choreographically so.

I hate to delve into comparisons between the casts, as again the first cast was making its first run at it, but it is hard not to compare them in my head. For example, while Gomes treated the opening as if he were shocked to arrive in front of the vast white scrim, he was a man up for an adventure and there was little tension in what laid ahead for him. Cornejo, however, was dwarfed by the scrim (due to his height, especially in comparison to Gomes, but also through his deep plies and backbends in the opening solo). The mood was more treacherous and foreboding. Further, he wasn't attracted to the Firebird nor was the Firebird attracted to him at all--he was clearly awed at her, but it's clear there isn't any sexual connection. Their pdd more clearly sketched out how the Firebird appears caged and Misty was great identifying moments in the choreography where the Firebird attempts to flee and then dramatically slumped back toward Cornejo as she is unable to leave. I think the key lies in the quieter intensity of both Herman and Misty. Misty was a more regal and majestic Firebird, and she used her back to great effect. While Osipova sprung around the stage in a seeming haphazard manner, Misty glided and showed her skittishness through her arms and hands. She was truly fantastic. I liked how she kept her face fairly blank, rather than making a lot of faces, as it added to her mystery and otherworldliness.

Maria Riccetto was incredibly good--she is an excellent comedienne and while Messmer played the Maiden as more of an outsider from the start, which was very effective, Riccetto was the Maidens' ringleader, leading them in their bit of craziness, giving her a larger character arc when she happened across Ivan/Cornejo, as she gradually shuns her sisters and sheds her wackiness. There is this really awkward overhead lift that made no sense to me on Thursday night, but Riccetto made the movement's purpose a bit more clear: as Ivan lifts the Maiden into a press directly over his head she bends her legs into a froggish position and beats them nervously, making it clear she hasn't been lifted above anyone's head before (or in ballet language, it's been awhile since a man wandered through the forest to have a romantic pdd with her).

I was in a better spot to see the visual projections this time (hint: if you want to see them don't sit higher than the second level at the theater as the trees really block them), and was able to see the "entrance" of Kaschei, which is a gigantic shadow projection that zooms in small behind a tree from which the dancer Kaschei emerges. I missed all of this the other night. I thought Zhurbin worked better for me as the Kaschei, and I'm sure this has to do with him being more used to doing character roles, and turning mere sketches of people into something really great. Hallberg was more kitsch and funny (this is not to say Zhurbin didn't embrace the moments of humor in the choreography), which doesn't work if you are supposed to believe this guy controls a pack of women. Also, Cornejo was able to demonstrate that he is under the spell of Kaschei in his body, but not yet in his mind.

To sum it up: this cast was really incredible, buy your Met tickets for them NOW!!

Finally:

ksk04, when you have a chance, could you go into more detail about the ending of the work? For me, that's the most problematic section of the score when it comes to the staging, from Fokine, onwards, and I'm curious to know more about how Ratmansky handles it.

Sure! I'm not sure where you would like me to begin (so if there's something else, I am happy to elaborate) but I guess I will start when Ivan pulls out the feather to call the Firebird. Kaschei and Ivan struggle awhile for control over the Maiden, with Ivan and the Maiden slipping in and out of his control. Finally it seems like Ivan will surely lose as Kaschei grabs him and throws him to the ground, but Ivan wrestles the feather out and the Firebird appears. The Firebird bourees around the stage and puts the Maidens to sleep, leaving the three leads awake. They have a pas de quatre where the Firebird seemingly controls their movements as she lulls Kaschei into submission. First she twines herself around Ivan, while Kaschei has the Maiden--then when Ivan sees the two of them dancing together he tries to break free, but the Firebird separates them for him and she dances with Kaschei. The part seems a little convoluted because this is what I think should be occurring, and it does occur, but sometimes the choreography belies this and it seems very confusing what the Firebird is actually doing here.

This goes on for awhile. Eventually she lulls Kaschei and the Maiden (who has been suffering a bit from Stockholm syndrome on and off throughout this last part) to sleep and leaves them curled up together on the front of the stage. Ivan is clearly upset at this, but she draws him back to one of the trees (she bourees a lot through the whole section, giving her a nice showcase for her upper body) and reveals the power source for Kaschei: a glowing white egg. As Ivan reaches for it, Kaschei awakens and lunges for it, but Ivan drops the egg and Kaschei is yanked (literally, there is a cord that drags him off) offstage. The Firebird leaps off and Ivan and the Maiden are left alone onstage (as the foreboding forest projections begin to fade and turn to sunlight), and she realizes her dress is coming off of her to reveal a white slip underneath (this is a bit like Giselle's mad scene where Bertha is trying to make it look like she isn't actually taking Giselle's hair down, so...not that realistic). Ivan pulls on her frizzy blonde and green wig, and a much nicer all blonde wig is revealed underneath. Then the trees open to reveal trapped men that the Kaschei has been enslaving this whole time (though, imo, it's odd we don't see them before this moment because both times someone in the audience around me has said "oh so the maidens were actually...men? and they have been turned back into men now?"). Then the Swamp Maidens who have long left the stage return in the same white slip as the Maiden (also w/ a better blonde wig). The men have a nice bit of dancing together, and they have a bit of finale number of the kind that Ratmansky seems to favor. Finally the Firebird returns and the Freed Gents raise her above their head so it looks like she is flying and they dance around her in a circle, thanking her for freeing them all.

The rest: it looks like Hee Seo wasn't injured since she was on this afternoon for Thirteen Diversions. Or, at least, wasn't injured seriously...I am still wondering if something was up as she barely got off the ground while doing any jumps in Thirteen Diversion and seemed very restrained. Kristi Boone was replaced by a pre-curtain announcement for Duets, so I don't know if something is up with her as well.

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