Posted 27 May 2011 - 07:40 PM
I'm a little too tired to give a full description now--I also saw Cojocaru/Hallberg in Act I, and Herrera/Bolle in Act II in the dress rehearsal today, but I will wait to comment on that until after they actually perform.
I took 5 friends with me to tonight's show, most of whom are not very familiar with ballet. All of them thought the performance was great, and the ballerina exceptional, but they all had the same question, which was, "Are they [Vishneva/Gomes] a real-life couple?" Yes, indeed, the key to this performance was the fantastic connection between Vishneva/Gomes and the passion they shared. Bravo, I say again!
More to follow later...
Posted 27 May 2011 - 07:52 PM
Posted 27 May 2011 - 08:48 PM
They were terrific together - a terrific partnership. I saw an exquisite Giselle with Vishneva and Corella about 5 years ago. However, Vishneva and Gomes now seem to have a solid partership. I really got (in Act 2) that Albrecht needs protection from Giselle as well as the generally demonstrated love they have for each other. This is the first time I have seen that so clearly dramatized. So,different chemistry than Vishneva/Corella but just as wonderful.
Well, I just came back from a gorgeous performance of "Giselle" thanks to the sublime Diana Vishneva and marvelous Marcelo Gomes (and the commanding Veronika Part)! BRAVO!!!
I also thought that Part was strong as Myrta; she looked better to me than she has looked previously. But for me the revelation of this week has been Isabella Boylston. She was terrific tonight has Moyna (Yuriko was Zulma) and did a more than credible job in the Ratmansky and Wheeldon works on Wed. night. I look forward to seeing more of her.
Posted 28 May 2011 - 05:13 AM
She and Gomes had great chemistry and, of course, he was an impassioned Albrecht. They should dance together much more often!
Part was a brilliant, implacable Myrtha and both Kajiya and Boylston were excellent. I was surprised at how much I liked Kajiya - she is such a lovely, lyrical dancer I don't know why ABT always seems to want to force her into virtuoso roles.
I was also impressed by Maria Riccetto in the peasant pas. Her dancing was pristine, as always, but last night it also had a great delicacy and lovely phrasing.
Posted 28 May 2011 - 06:07 AM
In Act Two I thought both Gomes and Vishneva were magnificent. Their pas de deux was just beautiful. He lifted her like she was paper, and at various points he drew her closer to his body. Gomes did a series of wonderful entrechat sixes when ordered by Myrtha to dance, and I love the way he traveled upstage, closer and closer to Myrtha, as if being drawn by her power. Vishneva's initiation scene is also a wonder -- the way she suddenly starts turning furiously, as if really possessed, sets the stage for the entire act. She appears so wraith-like -- her arms start to float and even fly in every direction, as if this was really a spirit dancing. And when the clock strikes four I have never seen such a sudden transformation of Giselle. This Giselle crossed her arms every time Albrecht tried to touch her, as she bourreed back to the grave. Just a haunting end to a beautiful performance.
I thought Veronika Part as Myrtha gave one of her best performances. Really implacable and commanding. Not even heartless, just the Boss and thus even more frightening. The corps de ballet tonight looked on, after looking so raggedy last week.
Posted 28 May 2011 - 10:05 AM
Posted 28 May 2011 - 05:03 PM
Posted 28 May 2011 - 08:02 PM
Posted 28 May 2011 - 09:58 PM
Giselle with Alina Cojocaru - I've been going to the ballet for more than 40 years. This was one of the greatest performances I've ever seen. I don't even know where to begin. I'll write more tomorrow -maybe.
Posted 28 May 2011 - 11:58 PM
NOOO!!!! Out of curiosity who replaced her?
Program insert tonight: "Gillian Murphy is injured and unable to perform."
Posted 29 May 2011 - 04:23 AM
NOOO!!!! Out of curiosity who replaced her?
Program insert tonight: "Gillian Murphy is injured and unable to perform."
Posted 29 May 2011 - 05:23 AM
Her solos were beautiful but I've seen better Mad Scenes. Makarova's, in my opinion, is the gold standard in its power, creepiness and poignancy.
Act Two was glorious. Veronika Part's Myrtha was ruthless and her naturally majestic stage presence was amplified in the role. She was one scary Willi Queen! Part should go down in ballet history as one of the best Myrthas of all time along with Martine Van Hamel and Gillian Murphy. Vishneva was spot on perfect. A wild newly born Willi and angelic at the same time. She danced with exquisite lyricism and abandon in her solos and with Gomes. Giselle's initiation scene was an OMG moment -- the way she exploded into those turns was amazing. Vishneva moves around the stage with an unearthly weightlessness especially with Gomes. One got the impression that Albrecht was lifting a spirit. And their respective series of entrechats! I've never seen a ballerina ever get the height out of entrechats that Vishneva did. And Gomes's series of entrechats moving upstage were stunning. It was an Act Two filled with drama and poetry. Now I know why Vishneva's Giselle is so renowned.
At the curtain calls it was obvious that Vishneva and Gomes have formed a close bond. A great partnership has been born.
Posted 29 May 2011 - 06:01 AM
Diana Vishneva's Giselle is absolutely unique -- it really has to be experienced to be believed. From the moment she steps out her cottage, Vishneva brings a kind of moody intensity to the role that can't be topped. Think Giselle is a pretty ballet about a girl who dies for love? Vishneva will make you think again. This Giselle will stare emptily at the ground, as if lost in her own world. When she did the Spessivtseva variation, in her hops on pointe she turned towards Albrecht, in an almost erotic exhibition of this girl's love of dance. Seeing Albrecht and Bathilde together will unhinge her so much that her hair falls out while she's breaking them apart, not when she falls to the ground. In the mad scene she bumped into Bathilde before making a curtsy, with a completely blank, demented look on her face. When she mimed the "he loves me, he loves me not" bit in the Mad Scene, she mimed herself angrily tearing up the flower. Vishneva now conserves some energy for Act Two, but the basic outline of her Giselle hasn't changed over the years (I've now seen it three times). She has a doll-like face and is petite and pretty, but emphasizes the serious, dark side to this ballet.
Vishneva in Act Two is still probably the most intense, well-rounded characterization I've seen of the role. When Myrtha initiates her as a Wili, Vishneva sudden dropped her head to the ground and started turning furiously, really possessed. Natalia Osipova's turns might have been faster, but they had a lightness to them that left a completely different impression. Vishneva was stern and unsettling, as she never lifted her eyes, never let you forget that this was a ghost. Her eyes remained downcast for the entire second act, even when she did the developpes or the bunny hops. She wore a huge white skirt with many layers that flew in every which direction, and her eyes were drawn with dark eyeshadow. There was a wraith-like quality to Vishneva's Giselle that was frightening. She used her long arms to create an impression of a complete ghost, as she often would whirl her arms in different directions as she danced. When she grand jeted across the stage, she pounded her feet hard. One great example of a dancer reworking a role to suit her strengths -- Vishneva doesn't have the effortless, airy jump of, say, Alina Cojocaru, so she even makes her jumps fierce and forbidding.
Diana had wonderful chemistry with Marcelo Gomes, the Albrecht, who brought his own moody intensity to the ballet. Technically he was superb, but he made the dancing serve the drama, just like Vishneva. In Act One when Giselle expired in his arms Gomes visibly panicked more than any other Albrecht I've seen. When Myrtha commanded him to dance, he did a series of entrechat sixes that moved closer and closer to Myrtha, as if drawn by some sinister spirit. Gomes was a great partner -- he lifted Vishneva as if she were paper. Perhaps the greatest moment of last night's Giselle was when the clock struck four, and Albrecht was saved. Gomes carried Vishneva to her grave, and all of a sudden Vishneva let all life drain out of her. Her arms and legs dropped lifelessly, and all of a sudden Albrecht was carrying a corpse. It was spooky and scary. Vishneva then repeatedly crossed her arms whenever Albrecht tried to touch her, really as an untouchable spirit. She bourreed farther and farther away, and then she was gone. She never looked at him. Vishneva and Gomes made Giselle an unsettling, unforgettable gothic love story.
Veronika Part as the Queen of the Wilis was tall, stern, commanding, and really Vishneva and Part together made for one scary stage. Myrtha is one of Part's best roles -- it takes advantage of her strengths (her commanding appearance, the surprising lightness of her jumps), and she really has the role perfected. The imperious sweep of her arms as she commands her intendants, Giselle, and Albrecht was something else. Maria Riccetto and Jared Matthews gave one of those "nothing special" performances of the peasant pas de deux.
If Diana Vishneva's Giselle was so ghostly that it made your hair curl, Alina Cojocaru, David Hallberg, and Stella Abrera (subbing for an injured Gillian Murphy) made Giselle a kinder, gentler ballet. Cojocaru is naturally sweet and waif-like, Hallberg a sort of blond prince whose elegance of dancing is accompanied by a nice guy stage persona. The two of them were adorable in Act One. It was puppy-love at its most endearing -- I loved the way they giggled together while sitting on the bench. Their dances together had the joy and spring of young love. Cojocaru was really believable as a peasant too, not just as a ballerina posing as a peasant. Her hair was almost casually pulled behind her head with some flowers, and she smiled and curtsied to everyone with a winning artlessness. In the Mad Scene she didn't really run around the stage and swoon dramatically, but often stood or sat alone, arms folded, crying, like a teenager.
In Act Two, Cojocaru and Hallberg made it a continuation of their love story in Act One, rather than a shocking contrast (as Vishneva and Gomes made Act Two). They touched each other gently throughout the ballet blanc. It almost felt like in Act Two, this Giselle and Albrecht finally consummated their relationship. The same white Giselle costume looked ghostly on Vishneva but looked like a wedding dress on Cojocaru. Cojocaru was not really wraith-like -- this was the same sweet girl of Act One. Whereas Vishneva had her eyes downcast the entire act, Cojocaru often looked upwards, as if drawn by some kind of divine, benevolent force. Cojocaru and Hallberg embraced tightly when the clock struck four. Cojocaru did something I've never seen any other Giselle do -- she steered Albrecht away from her grave until the last possible musical cue, at which point she all of a sudden stopped and bourreed offstage, but not before dropping a daisy center stage. This Giselle simply could not be morbid, even in death. Giselle was very uplifting when Cojocaru and Hallberg danced it -- two lovers who cannot be together in life reunite in the afterlife.
Cojocaru has had a number of injuries, and there were moments where she visibly had difficulty with the technical demands of the ballet. One such moment was the Spessivtseva variation. Cojocaru's feet are disfigured by bunions, and I imagine this kind of pounding on pointe must be extremely painful. For a moment I thought she simply would not do the variation, as she stopped onstage and seemed frozen. But she grimly did the hops across the stage, but not traveling very far. Her arms were gripped tightly to her side. She stopped around center-stage and to everyone's relief went to the pique turns that end the variation. In Act Two, she had a wonderful lightness of movement and an airy jump, but I notice she was careful with the series of backward-traveling entrechats. Her initiation as a Wili didn't have the breakneck fury of Vishneva, but Cojocaru is able to make everything so enchanting. She accelerated her turns, and made the audience forget that she was doing less actual rotations. Cojocaru took advantage of what she does have -- namely, exquisite flexibility, grace, elevation and lightness. Even her bourress are so silky she drew applause just for bourreeing offstage. She brought her own personality to the ballet -- Cojocaru was the most lovable Giselle I've ever seen. You practically wanted to run onstage and give this Giselle a hug. Whereas Vishneva made her arms spooky looking, Cojocaru always had her arms tilted in these series of soft Romantic poses.
David Hallberg complemented Cojocaru beautifully. His Albrecht is not really a cad, just a good-looking and somewhat careless playboy. He's much taller than Cojocaru, but their body line matched each other and they looked born to dance together. In Act Two, Hallberg was the same as he was with Natalia Osipova two years ago -- somewhat reserved, but inspired to dance beautifully. Whereas Gomes collapsed by Myrtha's feet, Hallberg looked like he could have danced all night without collapsing. His less Byronic portrayal would have clashed terribly with Vishneva's Grimm Brothers approach to the ballet, but it matched Cojocaru's softer approach perfectly. He's really a very elegant-looking dancer, and he and Gomes are really stepping up to the plate this season as the ABT's male roster seems to be disappearing.
Stella Abrera stepped in for an injured Gillian Murphy and she's a beautiful dancer, but I kept thinking that this was a Giselle rather than a Myrtha. She didn't have the block-like torso and imperious "queenly" look of most Myrthas. Hee Seo was a standout as Zulma, really beautiful and elegant. Danil Simkin and Sarah Lane in the peasant pas de deux were technically impressive in their variations but had some visible partnering problems. At this point he's too skinny and scrawny and short to partner most ballerinas, even if he is a technical wunderkind.
One last thing -- the curtain calls. Both Vishneva and Cojocaru took them "in character." Vishneva stared moodily at the stage, her face stern and her eyes blank, for all of the curtain calls. She never looked up at the cheering audience, and never dropped character. Cojocaru on the other hand echoed the low curtsies and shy smiles of *her* Giselle. They were both works of art.
Posted 29 May 2011 - 09:29 AM
Act l - Cojocaru was young, sweet, joyful (you believed she loved to dance) and open to life. Technically there was one oddity (noted by Canbelto). In the Act l variation there are hops on pointe that usually travel on diagonal. Cojocaru did hops in place and opened to a balance before moving on to pique turns. If you know the ballet you'd notice. The people I was with who never saw the ballet before thought the way she open her leg and balanced was beautiful, they didn't mention the hops. Her dancing was beautiful and full in every way - balances, turns, extensions, jumps, the way she covered space, her port de bras, also her wonderful musicality in the length of her musical phrasing - all in service to the ballet. At one point she sustained a pique arabesque directed at Albrecht and opened her arms and chest as if to say - I'm opening my heart to you. As an audience member you loved her and didn't want anything bad to happen to her! This made the mad scene all the more devastating. The mad scene was totally in keeping with the character. She didn't run around ranting but instead crumbled into madness
Act ll - Myrta initiated her and jerked her about, but Giselle's sweetness of spirit always shined through. Pique arabesques across stage, head thrown back, fluid arms - this was a spirit rising. (I have to say that I was a little surprised at how good her beats were when she did an entrachat six, a lot of women don't really beat). There was moment in a lift when Hallberg held her extended leg and she just lifted her other leg from the floor, making her look totally weightless (sorry, I know that's a bad description), So many moments from both acts come back to me. Too many to set down. Cojocaru brings every detail, moment and step to life.
I had not seen Hallberg in much before, and haven't been a big fan. I have new found respect and admiration for him based on both the strength of his dancing and his characterization.
This interpretation of the ballet is Giselle at its most uplifting. The sweetness and purity of Giselle's spirit, and love for Albrecht couldn't be destroyed by betrayal, madness or death and Albrecht, taking the flower that Giselle leaves for him at the end, has learned about love.
The other roles - I agree with Canbelto that Abrera seems more suited to Giselle than Myrta. I hope she gets a chance. The lieutenant Willis, Riccetto and Seo were perhaps a little underpowered, but fine.
Peasant Pas - Lane/Simkin were very enjoyable in their solos. He still has some partnering problems. In fact she seemed better off turning without him than with him!
I feel privileged to have seen Cojocaru in this role.
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