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Swan Lake- Spring 2011


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#16 angelica

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 05:58 PM

Does anyone know if Cory Stearns is actually dancing with Veronika Part on Friday night? Has he recovered from his injury?

#17 abatt

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 06:43 PM

Genadi was replaced by Simkin as Benno tonight. Gomes was fantastic as Siegfried. He's a great partner, has charismatic stage presence, and strong technique. Paloma was better as the Black Swan than as Odette. She doesn't really have enough dramatic presence to be a great Odette. It would help if she learned to use her upper body, especially her back, to greater effect. Radetsky did a good job as Purple Rothbart. He's not as electrifying as Gomes (who is?), but his jumps were very good.

#18 rg

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 06:55 PM

Stearns did his performance this p.m. w/ Wiles.
no word has come from ABT about any cast changes on Fri.

#19 nysusan

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 07:09 PM

Tuesday night's Swan Lake was such a schizophrenic experience for me. It started out wonderfully. Unlike some other posters I thought the corps looked great and the act 1 waltz was beautiful, musical & joyous.

Hallberg was perfection, period. His line was stunning from his perfectly placed hands and arms through his body to the tips of his gorgeously stretched and pointed toes. His dancing was superb, his bearing regal, his acting sincere & engrossing.

Pavam & Messmer were wonderful in the pas de trois. Unfortunately Radetsky was frustrating. There are so many wonderful things about his dancing but he hits the floor like a hammer. Can't this guy find a plie?

Then Murphy leaped onstage in the first lakeside scene. What an amazing change she's undergone in the 3-4 years since I last saw her O/O. She's found a new softness and flow to her upper body and her Odette now displays genuine vulnerability. She was passionate & emotional, relating really well to her Siegfried. Despite her newfound lyricism she was still able to pull off some stunning technical feats that fit the music and the drama perfectly - the slow triple (or maybe quadruple) pirouette and lightning fast chaine turns Batsuchan noted in Odette's solo. Unfortunately, I also noticed how harsh her developpe's looked without the battement but that was a tiny flaw in what I considered to be a really lovely first act.

It went downhill from there. Murphy's Odile was the most nasty, over the top BITCH I have ever seen. Her phrasing was so harsh and jarring and she was so mean & RUDE that Siegfried had to be a bumbling idiot to mistake her for Odette, or to be tempted by her in the least. Her technique was prodigious but she was not sexy, or charming or mysterious - just harsh. It made no dramatic sense. And I can only think that Saveliev must have been ill or injured because about halfway through his variation he stopped completing the phrases - he was just marking it.

There were some high points in the ballroom scene - I enjoyed Kristi Boone in the Czardas and Joseph Gorak showed effortless extensions in the Neopolitan, but it was too little & too late.

Then came the world's worst 4th act, once again. By now I know what's coming yet somehow I'm still always surprised at just how bad it is. Why doesn't Odette seek out her swan sisters to share her grief? Why does she run out to the edge of the rock like she's ready to throw herself in before she even confronts von R or sees Siegfried again? What's noble or heroic about that? Lord knows I disagree with Macaulay often enough, but his SL review really expresses my feelings about this act perfectly. Done well, the first 3/4 of this staging isn't bad but the last lakeside scene just robs it of any emotional impact. And what good is Swan Lake if it fizzles out at the end?

#20 Ray

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 07:08 AM

I too saw Tuesday night's performance. I'm not going to comment on the performances, but just register my disappointment in the lackluster quality of the production. Like nysusan, I think Macaulay got this one right. As a viewer, I should understand what motivated McK's choices--why preserve certain steps/phrases and re-choreograph others? I don't get a sense of a bigger vision here (whether towards "realism" or sticking to tradition); very middle of the road, cut-and-paste. The choreography of the Act IV prelude was terrible--lots of aimless running around. And the lighting was so bad, in design, but also some in execution--at the Met!

And did I hear it wrong, or does McKenzie repeat the Pas de Sept music from Act I in Act III? I guess it's draw a link b/t Act I and III, but it certainly bogs things down in a production that otherwise aims towards efficiency (to its detriment, as Macaulay points out, in act IV).

#21 rg

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 07:45 AM

Pas de sept?
there is a pas de six in the 1877 SWAN LAKE score originally positioned in the ballroom sc. of Act III and often one or more of its 8 sections get used variously in different; but a pas de sept?
in any case, i don't recall any musical repeats in McK's staging. cuts, as with almost any production, yes, but repeats?

#22 Ray

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 08:45 AM

Pas de sept?
there is a pas de six in the 1877 SWAN LAKE score originally positioned in the ballroom sc. of Act III and often one or more of its 8 sections get used variously in different; but a pas de sept?
in any case, i don't recall any musical repeats in McK's staging. cuts, as with almost any production, yes, but repeats?



I may be calling the big waltz near the beginning of Act I "Pas de Sept" because I danced in a company that called it that. But I'm asking the question mostly because I didn't know the answer. I have listened to the score again, though, and discovered that I was mistaken. Maybe that's a worse commentary on the production then: it felt like a repeat!

#23 Batsuchan

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 02:19 PM

Welcome to the board, nanushka!

Like you and nysusan, I too was somewhat surprised and taken aback by Gillian’s very gruff portrayal of Odile.

Then came the world's worst 4th act, once again. By now I know what's coming yet somehow I'm still always surprised at just how bad it is. Why doesn't Odette seek out her swan sisters to share her grief? Why does she run out to the edge of the rock like she's ready to throw herself in before she even confronts von R or sees Siegfried again? What's noble or heroic about that? Lord knows I disagree with Macaulay often enough, but his SL review really expresses my feelings about this act perfectly. Done well, the first 3/4 of this staging isn't bad but the last lakeside scene just robs it of any emotional impact. And what good is Swan Lake if it fizzles out at the end?


I’ve only seen ABT and NYCB’s versions of “Swan Lake,” so I’m totally clueless about other stagings of Act IV. :sweatingbullets: (Other than the Soviet version with the happy ending, which I suspect I wouldn’t like.) Perhaps this is a topic for a separate thread, but could someone please tell me about the more satisfying versions that they’ve seen?

I completely agree with nysusan and Ray that the choreography in the beginning with the swans appearing on stage, flapping around, sitting down, and getting up and going off-stage seems random and boring and adds nothing to the story. It’s clearly filler.

But I understand that they need to kill time at that point. The ballerina needs time to change out of the Odile costume into the Odette one, and they need to switch the set from the ballroom scene to the lakeside scene. How do other stagings handle this? (Listening to my recording of “Swan Lake,” I realize that there is some music that is omitted in McKenzie’s staging.)

I have to admit that the moment in Act IV where we first see Odette standing on the rocks is actually my favorite moment in McKenzie’s staging. :sweatingbullets: At that moment, the music resolves from the turbulent, dissonant passage and drum roll into this soaring, expansive melody, and Odette is revealed in all her majesty, bathed in moonlight, towering above all else. To me, the image underscores Siegfried’s terrible mistake—how could he ever confuse the skanky Odile with this wondrous, lofty creature? This moment always gives me chills.

But, then it’s all pretty anticlimactic from there. In the performances when Odette and Siegfried really seem to be in love, Act IV always seems too brief to me. I always find myself wishing that they had more time to dance together. (I’ve already written about how I prefer the interpretations where Odette doesn’t seem mad at Siegfried.)

Near the end of the scene, the part where von Rothbart picks up Odette, and then Siegfried grabs her from him always seems odd to me (why does von Rothbart let Siegfried take her at all?), and no matter how well Odette is played, to me it always seems a bit abrupt/random when she decides to go and jump off the cliff. There is no clear impetus.

On the other hand, even if the staging is not great, Tchaikovsky’s score gives you so much. I always think it is so clever and powerful to give the restatement of the main theme in a major key, and I love the triumphant, soaring finale. I always walk away feeling moved by the music. But I agree that with better staging, it could be SO MUCH MORE.

#24 christine174

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 08:41 PM

So.... comments on tonight's performance?

#25 Drew

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 08:54 PM

I have to admit that the moment in Act IV where we first see Odette standing on the rocks is actually my favorite moment in McKenzie’s staging. :sweatingbullets: At that moment, the music resolves from the turbulent, dissonant passage and drum roll into this soaring, expansive melody, and Odette is revealed in all her majesty, bathed in moonlight


I think that is a moment that in its own terms works rather well in Mckenzie's otherwise lame Act IV-but it's also an off-kilter moment for me, because in the Blair version and the versions I've seen done by the Royal (all of which I understand to be closer to the original) that music signals Siegfried's arrival on stage--I have an especially vivid memory of Anthony Dowell running onto the stage in agonized desperation; the music seems to express the full power of the prince's love as he comes to re-unite with Odette despite his betrayal. Odette does not just appear--he has to seek her out among the swans (as alluded to by another post above); it's a sort of quest to compensate for his error. Now, he has to find her and only her.

Batsuchan--you asked if someone could tell you "about more satisfying versions" they had seen. I don't have the kind of memory that would enable me to describe the Act for you in any detail -- but certainly I always loved Siegfried's entrance and, in those versions too the whole world of the swans/swan maidens is much more vividly present as well as Odette's place in it (she expresses her emotions to the others before he appears). I suppose if you like ballet on video (mostly I find it boring) you might check out a video of the Royal in, say, Dowell's production or perhaps a video of ABT's old Blair production. I believe there is one with Makarova--it may even be on youtube. (In the productions I am writing of there was/is an intermission between Act III and Act IV.)

#26 Amour

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 09:17 PM

, I think Macaulay got this one right. The choreography of the Act IV prelude was terrible--lots of aimless running around. And the lighting was so bad, in design, but also some in execution--at the Met!


Just came home from Thursday's Swan Lake, where Carreno retired. It's too bad that he retired with this production because, like others, I think it has so many problems and really suffers when compared to others productions, like those of the Mariinsky.

Act I started out fairly well. The corps looked to be in unison and the pas de trois, with Joaquin de Luz (on loan from NYCB) Yuriko and Sarah Lane was pretty good, although Sarah and Yuriko were rarely synchronized in their movements. De Luz has lost some of his brauvura technique since he danced with ABT but he made up for it with his amazing precision and speed. No need for the orchestra to slow down for his solo part; he just performed beautifully at full speed (I guess that what dancing Balanchine will do for you). I also have to give props to Susan Jaffe as the Queen Mother. I don't think I have ever seen a more regally danced Queen and her mime was absolutely outstanding! I really understood what was going on in the relationship with her son. Finally, I must note that I also heard what others have mentioned - the noisy marley floor. I assume it must be new or newly washed because it squeaked (VERY LOUDLY) when dancers pirouetted.

Then came Act II and things went downhill. To my mind, Julie Kent needs to retire while Carreno could last a few more years. Her Odette was, IMO, fairly awful. She couldn't hold a balance on pointe (fell out of every one, too), changed the choreography a bit to do single pirouettes instead of doubles, and bourred slowly. However, the worst was that because her back has become much more inflexible, she really couldn't deliver the goods dramatically, to express Odette's sorrow/concern at being trapped as a swan. To compound an already bad situation, the solo violinist was atrocious (often sharp and with lack of technique) and the orchestra kept slowing the music down to an unbelievably lethargic pace every time Julie danced solo. The corps was also a bit ragged (especially their arms). However, the cygnettes (Gemma Bond, Marian Butler, Misty Copeland and Maria Riccetto) and the big swans (Simone Messmer and Melanie Hamrick) were good and somewhat made up for the other deficiencies of the Act.

Act III brought welcome relief as Gillian Murphy came out as Odile and David Hallberg as Rothbart. I agree that Gillian is a harsh, not particularly seductive, Odile. But at least she can do the steps, balance, pull out some quadruple pirouettes (which she did) and otherwise perform the part, which is more than I can say for Julie Kent. When she started the fouettes, she did quadruple turns after each fouette. She ended up doing single fouettes without the turns and, as others have noted, traveled about halfway across the stage. Still, not bad. The highlight of the act, though, was David Hallberg, who was wonderful as Rothbart. Though he is not as evil or menacing as Gomes (who originated the part and is still my favorite in it) he did a wonderful job. The ethnic dances were pretty much standard (they are also truncated) with the exception of the Neopolitan. Craig Salstein and Joseph Phillips were technically and dramatically great there.

Act IV was its truncated, disappointing self, with the corps basically flitting across the stage. Lost are the beautiful formations of four swans and the section where Siegfried tries to discern who is Odette. And of course, back was Julie Kent. For that reason alone, I was rather glad for the brevity of the Act. However, Carreno did justice to his solo (and all the other solos he had) with outstanding pirouettes and jumps while not bravura by today's standards, were certainly nothing to be ashamed of. And I loved that, after Odette has jumped off the cliff, Carreno flung himself after her with special elan.

Then came the celebrations. First all the principal ballerinas (including Alesssandra Ferri) came out, then the principal men, then the entire company, including Kevin McKenzie, to bid Carreno adieu. Carreno even came out with his two teenage daughters. The crowd gave him a very long standing ovation (though not as lengthy as the one when Julio Bocca retired) and then finally the night concluded. Overall, it was an unsatisfying performance but a nice farewell for a great and much beloved dancer, Jose Carreno.

#27 Roberto Dini

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 09:51 PM

So.... comments on tonight's performance?

I thought it was spectacular.

The cast was Odette - Julie Kent, Odile - Gillian Murphy, Siegfried Jose Manuel Carreño, Queen - Susan Jaffe, Wolfgang - Victor Barbee, Benno - Joaquin De Luz, von Rothbart - Isaac Stappas and David Hallberg, Pas de Trois - De Luz, Sarah Lane & Yuriko Kajiya.

Carreño's dancing was beautiful. He got a huge welcome on his entrance. I'll miss the control he has in his turns.

I won't be as harsh as Amour on Kent's performance. She had some lovely moments while Gillian Murphy had comparatively a multitude of lovely moments. She has the flexibility in her back that Kent lacks.

I still find it amusing that, in this production, Odile doesn't exit with Rothbart at the end of Act III. Where does she run off to? The kitchen?

It was nice to see De Luz dancing with ABT again. His Benno is superior to the soloists I've seen in the role lately (last year). (This is the only Swan Lake I'm seeing this season.)

Hallberg was amazing. Gomes and he own the role of Rothbart, and it was wonderful to see him.

The cygnets (Gemma Bond, Marian Butler, Misty Copeland, Maria Ricetto) were good. They even got their head movements together although I have yet to see a performance where they all seem to be using the same focal points.

The two swans were Simone Messmer and Melanie Hamrick.

The house appeared to be sold out. There was a lot of talking/shouting that I couldn't make out at the beginning of the 1st Act, followed by the requisite and repeated shushing from fellow audience members. Some of this, I think, had to do with people still being seating as the performance began.

Sadly, the women seated next to me and behind me felt compelled to sing along with the score at different points throughout the evening. The woman next to me whispered to her companion throughout the entire performance, used her phone to light up her program and checked her text messages too.

The orchestra has sounded better. There were a lot of clunkers tonight. The violin soloist had pitch problems in the 2nd act. Overall, his 3rd act solo was better, but it still wasn't at the level it should be.

The ovation at the end was very moving. Carreño turned and knelt to the company at what would have been the end of a regular evening's curtain call. Then they brought up the curtain on him alone. And then the company came out one by one to hug him and give him flowers. I didn't recognize everyone, but they included this evening's cast members, natch, De Luz and Jaffe, Xiomara Reyes, Paloma Herrera, Natalia Osipova, Julio Bocca, Marcelo Gomes, Maxim Beloserkovsky(?) and Cory Stearns. I'm not sure who the older man was, who hugged him before Kevin McKenzie.

#28 abatt

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Posted 01 July 2011 - 05:51 AM

Carreno's performance last night was better than most of the performances he has given over the last 2 years. It was as if he turned back time. Last night he really did look like he could have danced several more years. He gave it his all, and it was a performance to remember. His chemistry w. Kent was riveting. His partnering was magnificent, and his technique was wonderful. Kent certainly has issues these days with holding her positions and balances. However, I thought that the depth of emotion she brought to the role more than made up for her technical lapses. When she and Carreno parted at the end of Act II, it almost brought tears to my eyes it was so moving. Her deportment is so beautifully elegant. Even though Dvorovenko and Herrera were superior Odettes in terms of technique earlier this week, those performances didn't have much emotional impact for me. Therefore, I felt Kent's performance was superior despite the obvious flaws in her technique. Murphy was so impressive as Odile, with amazing technical prowess (triple spins). Difficult choreography looks like child's play when she does it. How wonderful to see Susan Jaffe as the Queen Mother, reminding of all of the great performances that she and Jose performed on that stage. DeLuz has lost some of his technique, but it was wonderful to see him back on the MET stage. Sarah and Yuriko were much better in the peasant pas than earlier in the week.
Hallberg was very good as Purple Rothbart, but I cannot buy him as an evil character. Gomes is my gold standard as Purple Rothbart.

I didn't notice Osipova come out. What was she wearing? I saw Irina, Xiomara, Ferri, Jaffe and Paloma. I did not see Part or Wiles. It was great to see Bocca back to honor Jose as well. Steifel and Max B. were there too, even though they are not performing this season. I didn't see Herman. I don't think he was there. Hamrick (the future Mrs. Carreno) gave Jose a big hug and kiss (and flowers, I think) and then went to the back of the stage. Jose's daughters did not appear to interact with her at all on stage. I think the gray haired man who came out right before McKenzie was Barbee. Does anyone know?


Carreno gave many great, memorable performances on that stage which I will cherish in my memory. The first time I ever saw ABT was in the mid 90s. It was a Don Q. w. Susan Jaffe and Jose.

#29 spinning2night

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Posted 01 July 2011 - 06:14 AM

so lovely to hear the Jose's farewell was everything it should have been. I definitely wish I could have been there, but seeing as I'm in the middle of a transcontinental move, being in NYC just wasn't going to work out.

#30 mussel

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Posted 01 July 2011 - 10:27 AM

Did anyone see Wed. matinee? That was Wiles farewell performance with ABT.

I'm not sure who the older man was, who hugged him before Kevin McKenzie.

That's Victor Barbee. I also spotted Jacques d'Amboise in the audience.


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