Well, I just came back from a spitfire performance of "Don Quixote," courtesy of Xiomara Reyes and guest artist Ronaldo Sarabia!
They looked absolutely perfectly cast as Kitri and Basilio, and they had fantastic chemistry together. I think Kitri is a natural fit for Reyes' personality, and Sarabia looked/seemed like a natural Basilio, and they both nailed the cocksure, flirty, feisty attitude.
And what turns! Reyes has been on fire--first, those lightning chaines at the gala in "Majisimo," and then some equally rapid coupe turns (?) in a circle and some impressive fouettes! Sarabia also pulled off some amazing turns where he slid his free leg down to increase the speed. (And of course there was also Daniil Simkin as the gypsy putting on his usual fireworks.)
One trick Reyes/Sarabia did that I don't think I've seen before was this 1-hand supported pirouette--in the final pas de deux, Sarabia would take his right hand off and support Reyes in the pirouettes only with his left hand. That was really impressive!
Stella Abrera was a gorgeous Mercedes and seemed full of energy herself, and she seemed to have good chemistry with Jared Matthews as Espada. Yuriko Kajiya was a fun, bouncy Amour.
The toreadors were especially sloppy, in my opinion, but other than that, I thought the corps generally looked fine.
All in all, loads of fun!
As for the gala, I wholeheartedly agree that Vishneva/Gomes in "Manon" were the highlight for me. The audience seemed to agree, starting their applause before the final notes sounded and erupting into the loudest ovation of the night. I cannot wait to see them in "Giselle" and especially in "Lady of the Camellias." I know the critics hate it, but it's soo enjoyable, particularly with Vishneva/Gomes. Like an piece of blackout cake, or something--no nutritional value whatsoever, but soo delicious!
My guilty pleasure for sure!
On the opposite end of the spectrum, both of the "Swan Lake" pdd's were somewhat unbearable for me because of the terrible violin playing! I hope they find a new soloist (or that the current one practices a lot) before "Swan Lake" week, because all the off-pitch notes and squeaks totally prevented me from enjoying the White swan pdd. I'm not too sure even a great violin solo would have saved the Black swan pdd, though--it looked labored and had none of the usual excitement/fun for me.
This gala may not have been quite as impressive as other ones I've been to, but I'm certainly curious to see "The Bright Stream"!