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ABT at the Met 2011 - Sleeping Beauty


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#46 leonid17

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 04:53 PM

There certainly does seem to be an element of unearned grace, as Waelsung says. I'm not so sure that there is nothing in the way of "character development." There are striking changes in Aurora, especially as expressed through her choreography, as she moves from the Birthday Scene to the Vision and Awakening Scenes to the Wedding Scene.

One of the strengths of Fonteyn's performance is that she was able to make each part of this development believable on its own, while convincing us that Aurora has become a much more serious, complex, and womanly character by the end. The final tableau -- with everyone posing prettily and Aurora and Desire, side by side, commanding center stage -- should not just be a pretty picture. It has to have dramatic impact, and it has to be earned.

I admit that I find quite a lot of "dramatic conflict" in SB. Fairies, witches, wicked minions, guardian fairies: all help wrench the world from Order to Chaos to the Restoration of Order, but of a more transcendent kind than at the start.

A cynic might say that this is a story line designed to send the Romanovs back to their palaces with tears in their eyes and smiles on their faces.


I am sure you are right in what you say in your last sentence.

However it seems to me that some of the comments in this thread miss a number of points.

In producing The Sleeping Beauty, Telyakovsky had simply picked up on what was an earlier tradition of setting the well-known tale as a ballet.

This was following the examples of, “La belle au bois dormant, “staged at The Opera, Paris in 1825 by Pierre Gardel with music by Michele Carafa. This was followed by Jean Pierre Aumer’s version with the same title again produced at The Opera in Paris in 1829 with music by Ferdinand Herold and designs by Pierre Ciceri . In 1833 a revision of Aumer’s production was staged by Anatole Petit at Drury Lane Theatre, London.

Of course there are spiritual overtones in this Petipa ballet as he was a Catholic, Telyakovsky and the ballets audience, were in the vast majority Russian Orthodox Christians. So a parallel of beliefs and values were required in this 1890 production.

I think we also have to remember that this ballet is quintessentially a paean to the Romanov dynasty and the gift of the Lilac Fairy to Aurora symbolises that she will be blessed with, beauty, pride, and youthful innocence. The idealised parallel being, that the children of the Imperial family arrive blessed by God.

As regards drama in this ballet, there are two powerful dramatic scenes that if played well capture evil nature of Carabosse.

I recall both Ray Powell and Alexander Grant giving outstanding performances as Carabosse and who were often as well received as the two/three principal characters. Anatole Gridin of the Kirov gave legendary performances in this same role clearly delineating the dramatic fight between darkness and light taking place in what is a seemingly (Goodly/Godly) protected kingdom.

1890, was a time (especially amongst Royal and Imperial families) when young women married as virgins and Telyakovsky and Petipa portray Aurora as being innocent and therefore, in a state of God's grace.

As Waelsung states, "Aurora's grace is not unearned, it is symbolically dignified by her status as was typical of characters in fairy tales. Aurora is born into a magic kingdom of light and goodness, and without having done anything either good or bad; she receives everything one can only dream of. Sin has no role to play here."

To contextualize evil as depicted in The Sleeping Beauty, the sheer venom of Carabosse, would resonate with that 1890 audience as symbolising the continuing existence of evil within Imperial Russia.

This had earlier been signified by the bomb placed in the Winter Palace in 1880 that killed eleven people and later followed by the subsequent assassination of Alexander II.

EDITED TO CLARIFY

PS
Regarding the Bolshoi couple they have been photographed in a studio in Southwark(London)rehearsing Romeo and Juliet.

#47 Helene

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 04:53 PM


Many of us wanted to see Osipova and instead wound up with two tickets to see Cojocaru and Kobborg. It would be a huge plus for ABT customer relations if they would allow those of us with tickets for both performances to return one for credit to City Center or Nutcracker. Wishful thinking, I know, but what a huge gesture of goodwill towards loyal customers... and giving ABT a reputation as a company that cares about its loyal fans, unlike another nearby company, which will remain nameless.

Let's not forget ABT is the company that did not permit any exchanges for the day of that blizzard in Dec 2010 - you remember, the one where there was NO public transportation and we got about 20 inches of snow.

If companies were to refund tickets based on guaranteed casting, there would be no opera or ballet company in the world that would be in business. There's a reason for that fine print about casting subject to change.

I think over the years fans decide for themselves how much to trust the casting lists, especially when they are published well in advance, where illness, injury, overwork, etc. can't be anticipated (at least most of the time).

#48 vipa

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 05:16 PM



Many of us wanted to see Osipova and instead wound up with two tickets to see Cojocaru and Kobborg. It would be a huge plus for ABT customer relations if they would allow those of us with tickets for both performances to return one for credit to City Center or Nutcracker. Wishful thinking, I know, but what a huge gesture of goodwill towards loyal customers... and giving ABT a reputation as a company that cares about its loyal fans, unlike another nearby company, which will remain nameless.

Let's not forget ABT is the company that did not permit any exchanges for the day of that blizzard in Dec 2010 - you remember, the one where there was NO public transportation and we got about 20 inches of snow.

If companies were to refund tickets based on guaranteed casting, there would be no opera or ballet company in the world that would be in business. There's a reason for that fine print about casting subject to change.

I think over the years fans decide for themselves how much to trust the casting lists, especially when they are published well in advance, where illness, injury, overwork, etc. can't be anticipated (at least most of the time).


I agree with Helene. ABT this season had a lot of cast changes and replacements, there is no way they could allow exchanges/credits. I understand the disappointment of those who ended up with 2 ticket to see the same cast, on the other hand I think ABT did as well as they could have replacing a star with a star.

I'm a little surprised Cojocaru & Kobborg were willing to do it. According to her website they did Giselle in Taipai on July 2.

#49 onxmyxtoes

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 06:10 PM

I'm interested to see if Irina does the wedding variation tonight. Last year in Los Angeles, she and Max skipped the solo variations in the wedding pas.

#50 Batsuchan

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 07:20 PM

Renata Pavam, IMO, was the standout among the fairies, at least in Act I.


I wholeheartedly agree! I am peeved that Macauley omitted her from the review. So what if she's not a soloist and doesn't fit nicely into his sentence about them and their "own distinctive fragrance[s]"?! Hmmph! On the other hand, I am happy (if shocked) to see some positive words from him regarding the soloists, and perhaps all this really means is that Pavam should be promoted to soloist, pronto! :wink:

@ leonid (and others), I was completely ignorant of the political climate at the time of the initial staging of "Sleeping Beauty," so thank you for enlightening me. I don't really feel like ABT's production retains any of those dark undertones (or any undertones at all), though the next time I see the ballet "Sleeping Beauty" (which will not be this season), I will try to be cognizant of the history and symbolism!

#51 Batsuchan

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 07:35 PM

Here are some thoughts from me on Wednesday night’s performance with Cojocaru/Kobborg and Abrera.

I am still not a huge fan of “Sleeping Beauty,” but I guess it can be charming, with the right Aurora.

I saw Alina Cojocaru’s ABT debut last year, and found it extremely enchanting. Although I felt that she was a bit reserved or a bit nervous at the beginning (it was her debut, after all), she became more and more comfortable and radiant as the performance progressed, leading to a natural climax in the Act III pas de deux. There was an aura of excitement and anticipation surrounding her debut, and she delivered.

This year, the aura of anticipation had diminished somewhat—Cojocaru has several ABT performances under her belt now, and moreover, several viewers (including the people sitting behind me) were undoubtedly disappointed that Osipova had been replaced. However, whereas Cojocaru had been slightly restrained at first in her performance last year, on Wednesday night she was her at her endearing, ebullient best right from the get-go.

Although Part danced well on Tuesday night, I didn’t get much out of her characterization in Act I beyond some kind of vague youthful happiness, but that suited me fine, since Aurora doesn’t strike me as a particularly complex character. With Alina, however, Aurora’s thoughts seemed crystal clear. With her bright eyes and ear-to-ear smile, she seemed to be saying, “Oh wow! This is the best birthday party EVER!” She looked at her suitors with an excited but slightly bashful expression, as if saying, “I can’t believe all these handsome princes are here to see me!”, and she greeted all of them with a glance or a drop of the head before she took their hands in the balances or leaned on their shoulders in the penchee arabesques. She was always affectionate and deferential to her parents—I especially liked that she took the time to gently place her collected roses at their feet instead of scattering them on the ground. And she simply radiated joy. Throughout this whole scene, I had a huge grin on my face. I simply couldn’t help it!

Indeed, those people behind me who had been disappointed to miss Osipova were full of praise and admiration for Cojocaru in the intermission! There were a few little bobbles here and there, and I have to admit, Part really outdid her in the grand jetes (must be that gymnastics training!). And Part also looked better in the short sequence of little hops in an arabesque while turning that become pirouettes. However, I can honestly say that I enjoyed Act I thanks to Cojocaru.

After that, however, the usual shortcomings of the ballet set in for me. I thought Kobborg made a fine Prince, if unremarkable, and he and Cojocaru looked very sweet together. Really, the dancing was lovely, but that’s about all I can say.

So it seems Stella did three Lilac Fairy’s in a row (Tues night, Wed matinee and evening), but you couldn’t tell it! She looked fantastic last night, even better than Tuesday. Her arms are always so lovely, but last night her pirouettes were also spot-on. (Was it just me, or did Sascha just look so proud when she came out to take her bows? :wink: ) Promote this girl to principal, PLEASE!

Sascha himself did a fine job as Bluebird, though I did not care for the way he used his arms—very floppy wrists, especially compared to Simkin, whom I think has lovely port de bras.

I don’t understand at all what Macauley is referring to in his review when he says Simkin “doesn’t cut clean lines in the air.” Is he referring to the entrechat six? Yes, perhaps Simkin doesn’t have the definition of the Danish dancers, for example. But I didn’t see anything sloppy about the brise vole or the bigger jumps. Granted, Simkin is not Hallberg, so he won’t have those ridiculously long lines. Anyone else have an opinion on this?

Boylston was okay for me. Like Drew, I appreciate her verve, and she does have that ‘look at me’ quality (which she sometimes over-uses), but she is the not the most graceful dancer, and yesterday I noticed that she does some of her steps and poses by leading with her chin, which is a pet peeve of mine. My ballet teacher is always reminding us to stretch from the back of the neck, not the chin.

Wednesday night’s fairies were Melanie Hamrick (green), Kristi Boone (orange), Leann Underwood (blue), Luciana Paris (yellow), and Simone Messmer (red). All were fine though I missed seeing Renata Pavam!

Paris toned down the hand-fluttering and looked less like a spastic bumblebee, to my great relief. Messmer fell off pointe badly in the middle of her variation, but she did not let it affect the rest of her performance at all—if you had blinked during that moment, you probably would not have realized anything had happened. I myself had been in the middle of thinking how much I enjoy watching her, and then when the little stumble occurred, I felt like those figure skating commentators who are like, “so-and-so is skating perfectly!” right before she falls. :sweatingbullets:

Overall, it was an enjoyable performance of a ballet I don’t particularly like, though I don’t think it was nearly as exciting as Cojocaru’s debut last year.

So the ABT season ends for me with a whimper, not a bang. Thank goodness there’s the Mariinsky to provide a much-needed dose of drama next week!

#52 Batsuchan

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 07:44 PM

If companies were to refund tickets based on guaranteed casting, there would be no opera or ballet company in the world that would be in business. There's a reason for that fine print about casting subject to change.

I think over the years fans decide for themselves how much to trust the casting lists, especially when they are published well in advance, where illness, injury, overwork, etc. can't be anticipated (at least most of the time).


I agree with you, Helene, it would be very difficult to refund tickets. But I do have to share an experience I had with the Barbican centre in London. I bought a ticket to see a concert there since my favorite violinist would be performing with the London symphony orchestra, but of course she had to cancel the day before due to injury and was replaced by the concertmaster(yep, I couldn't believe it either--this is not ballet after all!). Luckily, the Barbican has a policy that allows you to receive a credit for a returned ticket, which can be used in the next six months. (I actually was able to receive a refund because I'm a foreigner.)

I doubt that would really be feasible for ABT (a credit good till next season?), but I did want to point out that some theaters have return policies...

#53 Amour

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 03:32 AM

If that was the case, then ABT should have put up the casting changes much sooner. Since ABT does allow exchanges (except on the day of performance) ticket hold ers could have had a choice of seeing a Swan Lake ( maybe even Semionova) instead of Wednesday night's SL.

#54 nanushka

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 04:42 AM

I don’t understand at all what Macauley is referring to in his review when he says Simkin “doesn’t cut clean lines in the air.” Is he referring to the entrechat six? Yes, perhaps Simkin doesn’t have the definition of the Danish dancers, for example. But I didn’t see anything sloppy about the brise vole or the bigger jumps. Granted, Simkin is not Hallberg, so he won’t have those ridiculously long lines. Anyone else have an opinion on this?


Honestly, I often suspect that Macaulay must feel the need to temper a positive comment with something negative and so he relies on vague phrases such as this. I felt this with the Swan Lake article, when he called Part's dancing "monotonous." I understand he's working with limited space, but he could often do more to make himself clear.

Perhaps, though, someone on here can explain what he meant about Simkin, if they're seeing whatever he's seeing. Personally, I thought the only thing wrong with the Bluebird pdd was the partnering; individually, Simkin and Lane both looked fantastic to my eyes.

#55 Helene

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 04:48 AM

A gentle reminder that the company forums were created to discuss what you think about what you've seen. To discuss Macaulay's views, please post in the Macaulay thread in the "Writings on Ballet" forum:

http://balletalert.i...sm/page__st__75

#56 nanushka

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 05:11 AM

A gentle reminder that the company forums were created to discuss what you think about what you've seen. To discuss Macaulay's views, please post in the Macaulay thread in the "Writings on Ballet" forum:

http://balletalert.i...sm/page__st__75


Very sorry. It's at times difficult to disentangle the two, given that we see as much through others as through our own eyes (as these forums themselves attest). To clarify, the thrust of my comment was to solicit others' impressions of what they had seen in Simkin's dancing on that or other nights.

#57 abatt

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 05:41 AM

I'm interested to see if Irina does the wedding variation tonight. Last year in Los Angeles, she and Max skipped the solo variations in the wedding pas.



That's really surprising and disappointing to hear. ABT should never allow dancers to completely skip variations because of their physical limitation. I understand that people frequently alter choreograhy to suit their strengths, but I've never heard of dancers leaving out entire solo variations. (I didn't see Irina last night, so I can't comment on last night's show.)

#58 Helene

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 06:25 AM

Very sorry. It's at times difficult to disentangle the two, given that we see as much through others as through our own eyes (as these forums themselves attest). To clarify, the thrust of my comment was to solicit others' impressions of what they had seen in Simkin's dancing on that or other nights.

I knew what you meant when you posted. I'm afraid, though, that any mention of Macaulay is like honey to bees :) and the thread topics drifts to him.

#59 Michael

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 07:03 AM

To keep to Vernonika Part then, the Times review if you read it carefully is appropriately balanced and factually detailed. Some things she did very well; some others that made the role very difficult for her.

#60 Adam

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 07:03 AM

Perhaps you should just, um, quarantine Macaulay in his own area heh, heh.

While you can't have people posting things that are wildly off-topic, the problem is, if you post, "Cojocaru and Kobborg did a lovely 'Sleeping Beauty'. They did a "Sleeping Beauty" at the Royal last year, but it was better at the Met. I think they're a lovely couple", somebody's going to say - "A gentle reminder. The first part of sentence 2, but not the seven words after the comma, belongs in "European Ballet Companies" under "Royal Ballet". Sentence 3 belongs in "Dancers".


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