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Don Quixote -- Spring 2013 MET Season


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#46 aurora

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 04:24 AM

Hee Seo was fantastic in Symphony in C - 2nd movement in DC -- which is considered a "technically difficult' role, angelica.


And conversely, Maria Kowrowski, while often lovely, does *not* seem to have the requisite bravura skills for Kitri. This isn't a criticism of her, it just wouldn't show off her strengths and would expose her weaknesses.

#47 Natalia

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 04:37 AM


Hee Seo was fantastic in Symphony in C - 2nd movement in DC -- which is considered a "technically difficult' role, angelica.


And conversely, Maria Kowrowski, while often lovely, does *not* seem to have the requisite bravura skills for Kitri. This isn't a criticism of her, it just wouldn't show off her strengths and would expose her weaknesses.


She did, ten years ago. Seo is entering her prime years. Veronika Part would be a closer analogy to Maria Kowroski.

#48 angelica

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 04:44 AM

Hee Seo was fantastic in Symphony in C - 2nd movement in DC -- which is considered a "technically difficult' role, angelica.


I think it's the 19th century Petipa ballets that show Seo's technical limitations. Petipa is unforgiving when it comes to ballet technique--his choreography demands technical perfection, including strength and stamina. It's in those ballets that Seo is known to founder, for example, in Bayadere as Nikiya, and now in Don Q as Queen of the Dryads. I worry for her in Swan Lake, especially those 32 fouettes. If she was fantastic in Symphony in C, then presumably she can work to "up" her technique for the Petipa ballets. I haven't seen "C" enough to know the choreography, but I believe the second movement is the adagio movement. Seo is good in adagio. But she's simply not ready for the challenges of high-powered Petipa roles and to put her onstage in them is doing her and the audience a disservice.

#49 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 04:47 AM

I think Hee Seo is absolutely wonderful in dramatic roles like A Month in the Country (I didn't see her Onegin) and romantic roles like La Sylphide and Giselle. I am going to see her Swan Lake and I'm a bit worried about how she'll handle the role of Odile. My Saturday subscription ticket was for Julie Kent. I shouldn't say this but at least with Hee Seo I'm relatively sure she'll be a very good Odette. Hopefully she'll surprise me with regard to Odile.

#50 abatt

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 05:01 AM

You can make the fouettes easier in the Black Swan section. I've seen people do that, like Kyra Nichols. I'm guessing that Hee Seo will simplify a lot of steps in her SL debut. However, it's more difficult to switch/simplify the Dryad choreography. Let me add that I've enjoyed Seo in Onegin and Month. In lyrical roles that require fluidity, she is marvelous. The problem is her weak pointe work. If that hasn't been corrected by now, I'm not sure it ever can be.

Forgot to add that Polina managed some fantastic triple fouettes with arm embellishments last night in the wedding act, but toward the end she lost some control and starting weaving.

#51 California

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 06:01 AM

I bought this ticket when Hallberg was cast (as I assume many others did) and found Stearns a disappointment. There is something odd about his partnering. In supporting her pirouettes, he manhandles her like he was working one of those old-fashioned butter churners. At the end of an Act I sequence, she did a series of complicated turns into a fishdive and they almost lost it. The flying fishdives in Act II where she throws herself into him seemed ultra-cautious, like they didn't trust each other. But he did two one-armed lifts in Act I which seemed very secure and were held for a long time. His preparations for a multiple pirouette are so long and slowly drawn out they seem like he worries about it. The barrel turns in Act III were sloppy and close to the floor.

Seo's Italian fouettes in Act II were the disaster others reported. She came down off pointe after two and just seemed to give up.

Semionova saved the day. She held several long unsupported balances throughout the evening that were stunning. Her technique in the stabbing turns and hop sequences was flawless. When she came out in the Act III fouettes carrying a fan, she had a knowing look: "Wait until you see what I'm going to do with this." She held the arm with the fan over her head for the first several fouettes, threw in lots of multiples.

Perhaps I was reading too much into things, but I didn't sense any chemistry between Semionova and Stearns - pasted-on smiles and looks.

The house seemed about 80% full, but I wonder how many had bought tickets for Hallberg.

#52 abatt

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 07:01 AM

My area of the house was also about 80 percent full. There was zero chemistry between Semionova and Stearns, and it seemed clear that Semionova was fearful and lacked trust in Stearns, so many of the portions of the choreography that should have been thrilling were dumbed down, muted and conservative because there was a lack of a true partnership. I kept the ticket because I love Semionova. I think Cory may be more suitable to danseur parts, but he performed in a professional and respectable manner. Seo's Dryad was unprofessional, and she was not merely having an off night. These problems are a regular occurrence for her.

#53 puppytreats

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 07:04 AM

Why is this ballet such an important part of the canon? I am rarely interested in the tricks, but Natalia's balances and Ivan's split turns were the only things that held my attention. Other ballets differ from the books from which they derive, and still are compelling, but in this case, the book has so much to offer, while the dance does not move me.

#54 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 07:50 AM

I like the comedy of Don Q. More improtantly I love the dancing, especially if it is done well. It's the same with Le Corsaire. You don't see it for the stories, which are both rather silly. You seen it for the dancing. You have to accept that about Don Q going in. Again, if the dancing is good and there is chemistry between the leads and the smaller parts are well acted and danced, well - you leave the theater on such a high. I do anyway and I have seen Don Q around 20 times.

#55 rg

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 08:25 AM

slightly off topic, but f.y.i. Semionova is currently featured in a print ad campaign for UNIQLO, now seen in some NYC subway cars) for a simple tank top; she's shown wearing the white top in a simple, straightforward, evidently intentionally unglamorous shot, captioned by her name and identifying her as at "The world's leading ballerina."
i wonder if she was aware of the campaign's plan to identify her that way. i somehow doubt it. her interviews seem to indicate a woman well aware of her talents but not a hyperbolic one.
a companion ad for Novak Djokovic is similarly presented alongside those for Semionova, with the tennis player in a similarly plain t-shirt from the same line, etc. (i didn't register on the identification wording for Djokovic.)

#56 mussel

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 08:53 AM

Is this the ad?
Posted Image

Posted Image

This must be the French version:
Posted Image

#57 rg

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 09:27 AM

yep that's it.

#58 FauxPas

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 09:52 AM

Why is this ballet such an important part of the canon? I am rarely interested in the tricks, but Natalia's balances and Ivan's split turns were the only things that held my attention. Other ballets differ from the books from which they derive, and still are compelling, but in this case, the book has so much to offer, while the dance does not move me.


Puppytreats, it is an important part of the canon because it is Petipa - however, how much "Petipa" it contains and how "Petipa" it is danced depends on the company and the version of the choreography that is danced. Petipa choreographed the ballet for the Bolshoi in Moscow in 1869 and restaged it in St. Petersburg in 1871. If you read Cyril Beaumont's "Complete Book of Ballets", he got a synopsis of Petipa's original 1871 St. Petersburg version and it is very different from the ballet as it is danced today. The story has many other characters and includes more of Don Quixote as protagonist and less Kitri and Basilio. The wikipedia article also includes this synopsis:

http://en.wikipedia....uixote_(ballet)

The Alexander Gorsky Bolshoi revision of 1900 that he restaged in St. Petersburg in 1902 is the basis for all modern revivals. It cuts out a lot of the story and mime and adds much more character dancing. That version, much altered is what ABT performs today. So we are several steps away from Petipa.

The Bolshoi does a very circusy, everything-including-the-kitchen-sink version staged by Alexander Fadeyechev (that is the one they toured to NYC in 2005 - is it still used?). The Maryinsky-Kirov version has details that western versions don't use - children interspersed with the Dryads in the Act II "Dream" sequence for example that once you see it you miss it when it isn't there. That dream sequence is the most authentic original "Petipa" choreography.

Ideally, Kitri would exude the demi-caractère Spanish dancer bravura of a Bolshoi ballerina in Act I, morph into a pure classical "Mariinsky" ballerina as Dulcinea in Act II's "Dream" sequence and then combine both qualities in Act III. She needs to dance in multiple styles and not just be a jumper/athlete virtuoso. Just like Violetta in "La Traviata" needs a soprano with a different voice for each act. Similar to Odette/Odile in "Swan Lake" she asks the interpreter to dance in many different styles - be proficient in both adagio and allegro. Nina Ananiashvili had all of these qualities. I also saw Sylvie Guillem as Kitri circa 1991 who could be very classical and very daring. Soubrettes can work too - provided they have great technical strength.

#59 Ceeszi

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 01:21 PM

Plus - it's a happy ballet with a happy ending!

#60 Batsuchan

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 06:10 PM

So far I've seen three Don Q performances, and I have two more to go. Here are my thoughts so far:

1) Friday 5/24 - Reyes & Cornejo 10th anniversary
I had such a great time at this performance! Sure, Reyes doesn't have the same extension or flexibility as some of the other ballerinas, but she more than made up for it with her quicksilver turns, musicality, and her saucy charm as Kitri. Those fouettes that she did where she opened and closed the fan above her head were AMAZING! Also, her comedic timing was perfect, especially in the scene when Basilio fakes his death.

As for Cornejo, I could watch him turn and jump for days! So easy, so perfectly centered, such nice lines. Bravo! He was also perfectly believable as the hot-tempered charmer.

The two of them had great chemistry and brought some real Latin panache to the performance. They were the only pair I saw who actually made the Spanish dances look authentic, instead of like ballet dancers trying to do flamenco.

Craig Salstein was an absolute scene-stealer as the bumbling suitor Gamache--so much so that he occasionally distracted me from the main action with his antics. An unexpected highlight for me occurred when Kitri's father (played perfectly by Roman Zhurbin) accidentally hit Gamache with a large fish near the end of Act I. Somehow, Zhurbin managed to hit Salstein at just the right angle that not only his hat flew off, but also his wig!! It was a mishap--yet perfectly believable (why wouldn't the foppish Gamache wear a wig?)--that I and the people around me burst out laughing. I was laughing so hard I was crying!

Hee Seo generally danced beautifully as Mercedes/Queen of the Dryads, though she did have a little bit of trouble getting around those darts on the ground in Act I, and a few bobbles with the Italian fouettes in Act II (but so did everyone). However, I just did not really believe her as the sultry street dancer--to me she just came off as mildly coquettish.

It didn't help that her Espada--Alex Hammoudi--was not particularly charismatic, though he did look dashing in the costume. He seemed to struggle a bit with the steps, and they came off a little ill-defined to me.

Overall, however, the performance was immensely enjoyable thanks to Reyes and Cornejo's fun and fiery performances. Congratulations on 10 years as principals!

2) Saturday 5/25 - Osipova & Vasiliev
Well, I may be in the minority here, but I was really disgusted by Osipova and Vasiliev's dancing. I've been put off by their sloppiness in the past, but I thought I would be able to overlook their flaws in a ballet like Don Q, which is all about the big tricks. Unfortunately, I was wrong. They changed the steps, they totally disregarded the music, and they didn't try to make it balletic/graceful at all. As the NY Times review mentioned, "fabulously vulgar!" I understand that the vast majority of people find them immensely exciting, but I guess they're just not my cup of tea.

Tiler Peck was sitting a few rows ahead of me, and she left after Act II. Maybe I should've done the same. ;)

But, if I had, I would've missed Christine Shevchenko's lovely performance as one of the flower girls! Her performance was a real highlight for me. I hope to see her in more soloist roles (and promoted to soloist)!

In fact, I thought most of the supporting cast looked pretty good. When Osipova danced Don Q with Carreno a few years back, I felt like the rest of the cast was a total snooze in comparison to Osipova, but I didn't feel that huge discrepancy that this time.

In particular, Simone Messmer totally oozed sex appeal as Mercedes--there is the fire I was missing in Hee Seo--and I think she even made Hammoudi dance better!

Interestingly, Messmer did not dance Queen of the Dryads--Misty Copeland did. Apparently it was her first show back after her injury, so they wanted to ease her back into it so they split the roles of Mercedes/Queen of the Dryads.

3) Monday 5/27 - Semionova & Stearns
Well, I guess I'm REALLY in the minority here, but I totally enjoyed this performance, and so did my friend.

Now HERE was the BEAUTIFUL bravura dancing I was looking for! Semionova was wonderful--even better than two years ago, in my opinion. Last time, I remember she seemed a little nervous (it was her first show with ABT, after all), but this time she looked 100% comfortable. In fact, as my friend commented, she was positively glowing. She pulled off some jaw-dropping balances--in the Act III balance, she went from a back attitude to retire and then developped the leg forward, all while staying on pointe--and crazy multiple pirouettes in the fouettes section.

But I also appreciated the way that she would luxuriate in the music--slowing down a soutenu turn, or taking a backbend to the limit. Gorgeous!

In contrast to most people, I really enjoyed seeing Stearns with Semionova! I thought they make an attractive couple and to me (with my binoculars), I thought there was real chemistry there. Though she and Whiteside might be interesting!

True, there were a few iffy partnering moves--sometimes it looked like he was hindering the supported pirouettes rather than helping, and one of the fish dives looked a bit strained--but he definitely held Semionova in the one-handed lifts much longer than I would've expected.

I also have to give kudos to James Whiteside for a flashy and sharp portrayal of Espada. He certainly had plenty of attack! I would love to see his Espada paired with Messmer's Mercedes sometime!

All in all, a gorgeous performance!

More on the other Don Q's later...


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