I HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY OBLITERATED.
I have to be honest here. At last Friday's Vishneva/Gomes performance, I thought the dancing was absolutely gorgeous and musical, there were so many beautiful images burned into my head, and the Vishneva/Gomes chemistry was, as always, a delight. However, I didn't get the emotional satisfaction that I was hoping for. In the Herrera/Bolle dress rehearsal that afternoon, I had been driven to near-tears, completely unexpectedly, but that first Vishneva/Gomes performance left me strangely dry-eyed.
Not so tonight!!
I think the main difference was the tempo. Tonight's tempo was noticeably slower than last Friday, and much, much slower than last night. I think this enhanced the gravity of the story, and it also allowed Vishneva to luxuriate even more in every languid movement; she just seemed to hang in the air. They had so much time for the lifts, and in the first one where Albrecht lifts her straight up, it seemed she stayed there for an eternity. And the second set of lifts where she is moved slowly in an arc over his head unfolded so slowly that she seemed even more ethereal, even more ghostly. Pure magic. It reminded me a lot of the Vishneva/Gomes 2009 White Swan pas de deux that was sooo slow and amazing that I was scared to breathe, lest I break the spell.
Oh, and I retract my lament about Vishneva's waning technical skills. Perhaps she just needed a few days rest, or a new pair of toe shoes or something, but today those whirling attitude turns in Giselle's wili initiation were back to lightning speed, and the slower tempo really allowed her to show fantastic height in her entrechat quatre. And with the slower tempo, she made every balance long enough for a snapshot. In Giselle's Act I variation, The hops on pointe were almost ridiculous, they were done at such a slow tempo, and yet so steadily, with full port de bras almost from the very start.
I suspected that Vishneva might play Giselle a little differently today, and I was right. Today's Giselle was noticeably more frail and ill. She was still happy and sweet, but she clutched at her neck and her heart more, as if more aware that the exertion, or the emotion, was overwhelming her. From early on, another world seem to grasp at her. She changed the phrasing in her variation to highlight the balances, given the slower tempo, and definitely changed the arms in the hops on pointe. But it was only in her mad scene where I really thought, "is she just making it up as she goes along? Does just come on stage and then do whatever she feels like doing?" There were some things in the mad scene that were the same--she still ran from one side of the stage to the other as if hearing imaginary noises; she still came to the front of the stage and peered out into our world. But she did so many other things that seemed unfamiliar that I really wondered if she had rehearsed this or was just pouring out exactly what she felt at that moment. I was blown away. (This is why I have to see her every time she dances, even in the same role.)
The connection between Vishneva/Gomes was there last Friday, but today it was indescribable. Perhaps with the slower tempo they had the time they needed to really breathe with the music and let the emotion sink in. Or perhaps they just needed one more go at it.
I felt it, and I think you could tell they felt it too when they took their bows--so much admiration and affection for each other. And while last time, I was a bit put off by Vishneva's very dramatic bows--a little too much like the prima donna acknowledging her adoring subjects--today she looked almost humbled by the experience, and grateful to the participants and the audience. Bravo!
Speaking of which, the house was absolutely packed to the brim today! And yet the audience seemed notably quieter than last Friday, applauding and cheering far less, or at least I thought so since the technical marvels seemed so much greater today. But judging from the huge roar of the crowd and immediate standing ovation, I'm guessing that it was really that everyone was too awed, or too scared to emit a sound mid-performance, lest they break the illusion.
Thank you, thank you, Diana and Marcelo for a devastating (and thus wonderful!) experience! And thanks again for the corps for being absolutely stunning! What a glorious end to a wonderful week of Giselles!