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Lady of the Camellias


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#31 4mrdncr

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 09:52 PM

Thanks for all of the reviews. I had tickets to that DV/MG matinee, but couldn't attend after all because I had a grant due and was trying to get it done. I would very much have liked to see them together--its been 2yrs since I did. And have never seen this ballet complete, only excerpts. (I agree about the choreography: pdds do have too many lifts, and the general choreography can get long & repetitious in many places. Great dancers though, help make it greater art. Sad to have missed it (again), but glad for BT and the detailed reviews. Thanks again.

#32 puppytreats

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Posted 10 June 2011 - 08:41 AM

We expect reports to anyone going to the Vishneva Gala. She is dancing the black pdd with Roberto Bolle.

#33 Batsuchan

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 02:31 PM

We expect reports to anyone going to the Vishneva Gala. She is dancing the black pdd with Roberto Bolle.


As I wrote in the thread about the gala, I'm very curious to hear how this turns out! Bolle is supposedly a very strong partner, so I'm sure the lifts will be secure, but I wonder how the chemistry will be!

#34 Batsuchan

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 02:35 PM

It's only been a week since I saw Vishneva/Gomes in their devastating final performance of “Lady of the Camellias,” but it seems like a really long time ago. I’ve finally heard back from the dozen or so friends that I convinced to go to the Tuesday night show, so I thought I’d add some more comments.

First, I heartily agree with abatt and Amour that the Vishneva/Gomes partnership is a force to be reckoned with! I am a huge fan, and it is a great pleasure to watch these two talented artists push each other to new heights. From the mutual adoration they express during the bows and curtain calls, it really seems like they love dancing with each other.

As for the dancing, the lifts by Gomes of Vishneva were executed flawlessly. As in their Giselle, Vishneva seems weightless when Gomes lifts her. I agree, as Batsuchan noted in a post on Giselle, that Vishneva may have lost a bit in the way of flexilbility during the last few years (legs less high, back not as flexible). At 35 she is no longer the whiz kid that I saw with the Mariinsky 10 years ago.


How I wish I had been able to see her in her whiz kid days!

Though as I said after their second, even-more-astonishing “Giselle,” I’m not so sure Vishneva has really lost much of her technical virtuosity. (And “Lady of the Camellias” is not really a great showcase for a ballerina’s technical skill anyway.) Now, having seen the huge gap between her first (great) performances of “Giselle” and “LOTC” and the second (beyond extraordinary) performances, I feel like the “quality” of her performances may depend heavily on her condition on that day and her mood, perhaps far more than in years past. I strongly agree with Marina Harss’ comment that “Vishneva is one of the few ballerinas I’ve seen who does not seem to perform steps; she rewrites the dance every time she rushes onstage, and what you get is an outpouring of whatever she’s feeling at the moment, call it Vishneva-ness.”

@ mimsyb - I applaud your poetry skills, but I must agree with Amour! I’d rather see Neumeier with Vishneva/Gomes over NYCB’s “Jewels” any day!

And more importantly, I’d never, ever, recommend an NYCB performance to someone who has never seen a ballet before, whereas I encouraged everyone I know to go see “Lady of the Camellias.” And it worked beautifully! Every one of my friends loved the Tuesday night show, even the ones who had never seen a ballet before.

One friend said, “if ballet is always that wonderful, then I would go every night! I wish there was a DVD of that performance!” Her husband, who is notoriously hard to impress, commented, “even though I’m brand-new to ballet, even I could tell that the ballerina was amazing. Anyone could tell she was amazing. She looked weightless, and nothing looked difficult.”

Another friend, who has seen a few full-length ballets, commented that “I’ve seen other ballets and thought they were good, but this is the first time that I’ve really been moved by a performance.” The next day, she admitted that she dreamed about it.

Now some of those friends are hungry for more, and are asking me for recommendations on what else to see!

So, yes, perhaps “Lady of the Camellias” has some dull choreography and relies too much on partnering tricks. But it has many attributes that make it appealing to ballet neophytes.

First, it has a compelling story and strong lead characters (of course, how well they are depicted is heavily dancer-dependent). For those who’ve seen “La Traviata,” it may also be a familiar story. Some have said that LOTC is more like a play told with ballet. And I think that is precisely what makes it accessible to the ballet-uninitiated. Having a strong story helps keep viewers interested in a performance, until they become familiar enough with ballet to take something away from the steps.

Second, there is not much “dancing for the sake of dancing”—not many divertissements. And even if other people are dancing, the leads are basically on stage for the entire performance, so it doesn’t really feel like a break in the narrative. And this was especially the case with Vishneva/Gomes, who never stop acting in character. For example, Act II may have given the other characters, especially Prudence and Gaston Rieux, a chance to show off their skills, but I was equally engaged watching Vishneva and Gomes interact in the background—pretending to read a book together, eating and drinking together, cuddling, etc.

In contrast, I’ve had many a friend tune out or become restless during the extended dancing sequences in Act I of “Swan Lake,” for example, or inadvertently doze off during the “Kingdom of the Shades” act in “La Bayadare.”

Third, the staging is interesting, with the curtain open at the beginning, and the performers coming way out on the sides of the stage. That makes it unconventional even compared to some theater productions.

Fourth, I know that some viewers dislike the Chopin score, but for me and some of my friends, this was a definite plus. The pianists and classical music fans among my friends definitely loved the Chopin music (it’s like getting a concert AND a ballet), and others commented that they really liked the use of the solo piano instead of the complete orchestra.

So, the ballet-educated and the critics can deride “Lady of the Camellias” all they like, but I maintain that with a passionate, charismatic set of leads, it makes for a great “gateway” ballet.

And as someone who had her own ballet epiphany while watching a performance of the much-maligned Kudelka “Cinderella,” I think that is the key—get people interested in the ballet, make them want to see more, and THEN you can educate them about what is considered “good.” And maybe take them to see “Jewels.” :wink:

#35 puppytreats

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 04:49 PM

It's only been a week since I saw Vishneva/Gomes in their devastating final performance of “Lady of the Camellias,” but it seems like a really long time ago. I’ve finally heard back from the dozen or so friends that I convinced to go to the Tuesday night show, so I thought I’d add some more comments.

First, I heartily agree with abatt and Amour that the Vishneva/Gomes partnership is a force to be reckoned with! I am a huge fan, and it is a great pleasure to watch these two talented artists push each other to new heights. From the mutual adoration they express during the bows and curtain calls, it really seems like they love dancing with each other.


As for the dancing, the lifts by Gomes of Vishneva were executed flawlessly. As in their Giselle, Vishneva seems weightless when Gomes lifts her. I agree, as Batsuchan noted in a post on Giselle, that Vishneva may have lost a bit in the way of flexilbility during the last few years (legs less high, back not as flexible). At 35 she is no longer the whiz kid that I saw with the Mariinsky 10 years ago.


How I wish I had been able to see her in her whiz kid days!

Though as I said after their second, even-more-astonishing “Giselle,” I’m not so sure Vishneva has really lost much of her technical virtuosity. (And “Lady of the Camellias” is not really a great showcase for a ballerina’s technical skill anyway.) Now, having seen the huge gap between her first (great) performances of “Giselle” and “LOTC” and the second (beyond extraordinary) performances, I feel like the “quality” of her performances may depend heavily on her condition on that day and her mood, perhaps far more than in years past. I strongly agree with Marina Harss’ comment that “Vishneva is one of the few ballerinas I’ve seen who does not seem to perform steps; she rewrites the dance every time she rushes onstage, and what you get is an outpouring of whatever she’s feeling at the moment, call it Vishneva-ness.”

@ mimsyb - I applaud your poetry skills, but I must agree with Amour! I’d rather see Neumeier with Vishneva/Gomes over NYCB’s “Jewels” any day!

And more importantly, I’d never, ever, recommend an NYCB performance to someone who has never seen a ballet before, whereas I encouraged everyone I know to go see “Lady of the Camellias.” And it worked beautifully! Every one of my friends loved the Tuesday night show, even the ones who had never seen a ballet before.

One friend said, “if ballet is always that wonderful, then I would go every night! I wish there was a DVD of that performance!” Her husband, who is notoriously hard to impress, commented, “even though I’m brand-new to ballet, even I could tell that the ballerina was amazing. Anyone could tell she was amazing. She looked weightless, and nothing looked difficult.”

Another friend, who has seen a few full-length ballets, commented that “I’ve seen other ballets and thought they were good, but this is the first time that I’ve really been moved by a performance.” The next day, she admitted that she dreamed about it.

Now some of those friends are hungry for more, and are asking me for recommendations on what else to see!

So, yes, perhaps “Lady of the Camellias” has some dull choreography and relies too much on partnering tricks. But it has many attributes that make it appealing to ballet neophytes.

First, it has a compelling story and strong lead characters (of course, how well they are depicted is heavily dancer-dependent). For those who’ve seen “La Traviata,” it may also be a familiar story. Some have said that LOTC is more like a play told with ballet. And I think that is precisely what makes it accessible to the ballet-uninitiated. Having a strong story helps keep viewers interested in a performance, until they become familiar enough with ballet to take something away from the steps.

Second, there is not much “dancing for the sake of dancing”—not many divertissements. And even if other people are dancing, the leads are basically on stage for the entire performance, so it doesn’t really feel like a break in the narrative. And this was especially the case with Vishneva/Gomes, who never stop acting in character. For example, Act II may have given the other characters, especially Prudence and Gaston Rieux, a chance to show off their skills, but I was equally engaged watching Vishneva and Gomes interact in the background—pretending to read a book together, eating and drinking together, cuddling, etc.

In contrast, I’ve had many a friend tune out or become restless during the extended dancing sequences in Act I of “Swan Lake,” for example, or inadvertently doze off during the “Kingdom of the Shades” act in “La Bayadare.”

Third, the staging is interesting, with the curtain open at the beginning, and the performers coming way out on the sides of the stage. That makes it unconventional even compared to some theater productions.

Fourth, I know that some viewers dislike the Chopin score, but for me and some of my friends, this was a definite plus. The pianists and classical music fans among my friends definitely loved the Chopin music (it’s like getting a concert AND a ballet), and others commented that they really liked the use of the solo piano instead of the complete orchestra.

So, the ballet-educated and the critics can deride “Lady of the Camellias” all they like, but I maintain that with a passionate, charismatic set of leads, it makes for a great “gateway” ballet.

And as someone who had her own ballet epiphany while watching a performance of the much-maligned Kudelka “Cinderella,” I think that is the key—get people interested in the ballet, make them want to see more, and THEN you can educate them about what is considered “good.” And maybe take them to see “Jewels.” :wink:



I agree with everything that you said, except I would add that the ballet is very powerful and painful to deal with emotionally. I am just getting over how haunted I was by the three Kent/Bolle performances that I saw, in addition to the "Giselle" performance I saw before "LOTC". Maybe the emotional nature of this ballet makes "LOTC" a ballet to consider for appropriate audiences. People who cannot endure emotional, dramatic movies or books would not enjoy this ballet.

I am interested to know whether the choreography alone, rather than the story or its presentation, caused boredom in critics of "LOTC". Perhaps viewers seeking an intellectual challenge, rather than an exploration of emotional terrain, would be put off. I cannot understand how anyone cannot be impacted emotionally by the ballet. Therefore, I wonder how those who were bored by the ballet generally feel when watching a portrayal of passionately felt emotions, including the heights of joy and the depths of loss, as well as pain, regret, loss and sadness. Do they just study the structure, language, phrasing and steps? Or do they feel the emotional aspects of the ballet were too heavy-handed?

I can understand criticism of certain aspects of the choreography. Personally, I found the choreography emotionally riveting. For example, who hasn't been uplifted, and lifted to flight, to running leaps, to heights, by new love? I even relived the joy and daydreaming that occurs when falling in love when I watched Armand seated in the front of the stage, and not dancing, when he found the flower left by Marguerite, and kept lifting it to his nose and smiling, closing his eyes and remembering and taking joy in her scent. I thought the repetition of phrases was limited and necessary, for reference purposes, to explain the development of the story and the characters. However, I thought certain aspects of the choreography could have been cleaned up in parts (e.g., the skirts in Armand's face during lifts -- I could have sworn I saw Kent and Bolle laugh during one of these difficulties).

Multitudes of divertissements, with repeated scenes of folk-dancing, or ballroom dancing, would likely cause a new ballet-goer to become bored or disinterested. I always fast-forward through large portions of my DVD of "Swan Lake", for example. I also tuned out the folk dancing scenes in "Coppelia." On the other hand, watching the interaction of MG and AD during the relatively small number of group dances kept my attention more fully in "LOTC".

#36 Batsuchan

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 07:19 PM

I completely agree with you, puppytreats, that the ballet can really break your heart. And I also agree that the choreography in the three pas de deux seemed to perfectly express the passion of Marguerite and Armand.

On the other hand, “Lady of the Camellias” does strike me as a ballet that is extremely cast-dependent. With the right pair of leads, I think the pas de deux with their mishmash of rolling on the floor and difficult lifts can be elevated to truly moving art. But with the wrong set of leads, I could definitely imagine the choreography looking labored, or the characters not as compelling. (That is actually why I didn’t see any of the other casts this year—like abatt, I felt like Kent/Bolle simply paled in comparison to the multi-dimensional, full-throttle interpretations by Vishneva/Gomes last year.)

I will also admit that the choreography didn’t leave me walking away with steps stuck in my head, the way the classical ballets typically do. The Chopin pieces were certainly stuck in my head for days afterwards, and certain images, but not really the individual steps. In contrast, with “Giselle,” for example, I had the music stuck in my head, which meant I kept seeing the variations in my mind’s eye too.

But that doesn’t mean that I thought the ballet was any less great, because I felt that EVERYTHING was done in service to character development and the story. And I love a good story. For all its wonderful choreography, “Swan Lake” rarely leaves me feeling as moved as satisfied as LOTC, because I can’t get over some of the fantastical aspects of the story. And although I love “Romeo & Juliet” as a good story, I think the ballet’s structure is not as effective because the big, key pas de deux is in Act I, and the leads only really get to dance together once after that.

In “Lady of the Camellias,” on the other hand, there are three big pas de deux, and they increase in intensity. The third one really feels like a climax, like they’ve saved the best for last, and I think that is very effective/satisfying for a viewer.

Sadly, I doubt we’ll be able to see this ballet again for awhile (if ever), so I’ll just have to treasure the mind-blowing performances I saw this year…

#37 Roberto Dini

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 08:50 PM


Tonight was apparently Carlos Lopez's final performance with the company. At the curtain call, many of the dancers brought him before the curtain and tearfully applauded him. Lopez was also in tears, and Gomes gave him a big hug. Anyone know if he is joining another company?


Wow, did not see that coming, though am not surprised. I did a google search and pulled up this blog entry on his website: http://www.carloslop...29_Changes.html which seems to allude to his departure.

Has Carlos Lopez announced his plans? I don't see any new blog posts on his website. He became a US citizen in May.


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