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...