Posted 14 April 2013 - 11:17 PM
Happy to oblige. I saw 2 SL's this weekend: Saturday matinee and Sunday evening.
(I'm editing this because it's TLDR)
PNB's corps has stepped it up a notch. The corps was "on" at both performances that I saw. They are still a Balanchine company - no one would mistake their swan arms for Vaganova training - but the precision of the Balanchine flock was tremendous. Particular kudos to the 2 big swans: Chelsea Adomaiis and Elizabeth Murphy.
Equally important, Lesley Rausch was "on". She's had the technical chops for a while, but the acting was great on Saturday. Her Odette was tender, every facial expression matched the music. Her Odile was better - all "come hither / no you can't have me yet". She hit her 32 fouettes and Ms Rausch's reaction at the end matched a figure skater who's just skated the Olympic performance of her life. The audience responded to this performance like a figure skating competition - this was the most responsive audience I've sat amongst in years and years. At the end, the bravos and standing ovation began as soon as the curtain came down. I sat in the 3rd row Orchestra Left, and 5 seconds into the ovation I turned around to have a look - the entire house was on its feet.
As Prince Siegfried, Batkhurel Bold was his usual strong silent self. He'll never be a good actor - he does try - but his partnering is fantastic, so strong, lifts so high and stable. But no panache. I wish he'd work with Stanko Milov to get a little more flair. But he's in his 30's now and if the panache isn't strong by now - maybe it's just not going to happen. As a dancer in the modern works, or as the "heavy" playing Tybalt in R&J, I like him just fine.
Louise Nadeau guested as the Queen Mother and received applause as soon as she entered the stage. She gave a wonderfully detailed performance. I wish we could see more of her as a character actor.
Now, you all know how I feel about theatre manners, and next to us sat a young father and his 2 year old son. Honestly I felt sorry for the child. This is an adult space, and the show runs for 3+ hours. This is not Nutcracker and this child was not prepared to sit still and silent, even for a child-specific ballet. He was a happy child (thank god!) and he wanted to walk around. I could deal with that, but he was also very verbal, and not willing to whisper. His father kept him with him through the first act (Palace Courtyard) and famous second act (Lakeside), but left before Act 3. Despite this verbal child - Lesley Rausch kept us all enraptured in the Act 2 ppd. She held the spell. It was magic. This is not her first turn in Swan Lake but I think it was her best. My mother came with me and at the intermission we turned to each other and said "we're so lucky to be here today to see this!"
Kyle Davis made the most of the Jester role - although I quibble with the costume design. He is dressed as the others, and in the same red as Prince Siegfried, making his role difficult to discern for first time viewers. The humor of alcoholic Wolfgang seems to be mis-staged this time. In prior SL's, this is funnier. I don't blame Kiyon Gaines (the Sunday evening performance was similar) but there were missed opportunities for laughs. Also, his plain melton coat is very late 19th century, while the rest of the cast wears elaborate early 19th century Russianesque costumes.
Among the courtiers, Leta Biasucci and Angelica Generosa stood out (as they always do). Slighty off topic, but I really think both of these ladies are going to be wonderful soubrettes as they continue at PNB. Kitri, Swanhilda and Lise should all be assigned to them (gosh I'd love to see PNB bring back Fille!). Now, back on topic:
The Pas de Trois was Lindsi Dec, Kylee Kitchens and Jerome Tisserand. Ms. Dec has a 1000 watt smile and makes footwork look like hopscotch. Ms. Kitchens is her technical equal, but she never smiled during the entire ppt! Dancing with anyone else, this would go unnoticed, but dancing next to Ms. Dec makes Ms. Kitchens look like she is in terrible pain up on stage. The real highlight was watching Jerome Tisserand in this ppt. He sails through the jumps with such ease, and gave us beautiful body lines, clear beats on his entrechats, and a sense of his original French training.
Musically speaking, the PNBO was in fine form, although sitting immediately left of the stage, you do get an unbalanced reception the orchestra, because the strings are so close to you. The violin solos were all strong, and the horns really sounded good.
There was also a ppt that adds in Laura Gilbreath. I noted that the program cover shows Ms. Gilbreath as the black swan, but she is not dancing O/O in this rep. I'm sure having your picture on the cover as Odile has to hurt, when you're relegated to dancing the ppt.
More to follow...