California

Le Corsaire

33 posts in this topic

I'm surprised no one has started a thread on this, so I will...

I saw the Tuesday night season premiere with Osipova, Vasiliev, Simkin, Cornejo, et al. The house appeared almost full, even the top balcony. I put this ballet in the category of "guilty pleasures" -- plenty of virtuoso dancing, bizarre story. That cast was their usual over-the-top selves and the audience loved it all.

I do find the ending of this ballet peculiar. Green puffy scenery (scrims?) are apparently waves engulfing the boat. They go on a long time - too long, actually - with the briefest appearance at the last moment of Medora and Conrad. We need a few more minutes to take them in and they could be doing something - anything.

I couldn't help thinking of the bizarre twist in Game of Thrones in Act III --

At the Friends dress rehearsal Tuesday afternoon, Gillian was rehearsing with Marcelo, so she seems to be well enough to perform again. I gather Marcelo was doing to do the slave Wednesday, but now he's back as Conrad. I do love to see the two of them together and his partnering is such a joy to see, but it would have been fun to see him in the other role.

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here's the casting slip for today's matinee (where Matvienko was indisposed):

post-848-0-74656900-1370467646_thumb.jpg

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I enjoyed the performance last night very much. Simkin ain't my idea of what Ali should look like (Oh, those memories of sexy bare chested Carreno running around in those turquoise pants), but Simkin managed some pretty impressive tricks as the dancing slave. Not to worry - his partnering of Osipova was fine. Vasipova were exciting, and certainly gave the audience what they came for - super fast spins from Osipova and those crazy, gravity defying jumps from Vasiliev. Boylston nearly stole the show. She was a perfect Gulnare. She seemed a bit too tall for Herman, but it all worked out. I thought Herman was more supercharged as Lankadem last season, but he did give a very good performance last night. I don't think the new scenery or costumes are an improvement over the ones they had in the old production. Since I have seen the Bolshoi version of this ballet, I always find ABT's version of the Animated Garden scene a disappointment.

It was a definite conflict for this balletomane to attend this performance, as there was a one night only concert given by Paulo Szot, Marrin Mazzie and Megan Hilty at the NY Philharmonic last night. But ballet won out, again. All Ballet All The Time (ABATT)

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Thanks for the review of this cast - I'll be seeing them Sat matinee. Abatt, not to rub it in but Alec Baldwin tweeted that P. Szot brought the audience to tears. Sigh...

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Nice moniker , ABATT. I made the same choice Tuesday night and really enjoyed the new Corsaire.

If you still want to see Szot - he'll be at the Irish Rep Gala Monday the 10th.

Irish Repertory Theatre - 2013 Benefit Gala

Rodgers and Hammerstein or Gomes and Vishneva. Forgive me this time, ABT.

The deal breaker is Shirley Jones. I'm very excited to see this.

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I saw the performance on Tuesday and was a little disappointed in the new costumes and set designs although the 2nd act costumes are a definite improvement (at least Medora's are). I think it was in the jardin animé that the chandeliers reminded me of jellyfish. I can't imagine how much it all must have cost, but I don't think it's that much of an improvement. I enjoyed seeing Herman dance but wish he had danced Ali.

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I saw both performances on Wednesday. Gillian and Marcelo were their usual elegant thrilling selves. Whiteside was a competent slave, but in contrast with Simkin on Tuesday night and Vasiliev on Wednesday night, he seemed a little boring. I was struck that Cornejo, Simkin, and Vasiliev were all cast both Tuesday and Wednesday nights, although in different roles, and all with plenty of fireworks, no matter the role. I wonder if Vasiliev is showing that he is a "team player" after being passed over by Royal Ballet.

Audiences were a little surprising. It seemed almost sold out at the opening Tuesday night. The Wednesday matinee was pretty healthy, perhaps 80-85%. But Wednesday night was the least attended, maybe 70-75%. No crush to get in. Short lines at the ladies' rooms. The missing ingredient Wednesday night was Osipova, of course. (Reyes was Medora.) So if management was looking for confirmation that she's the one who sells tickets (not Vasiliev, Simkin, or Cornejo), they got it.

Both Simkin and Vasiliev do that turn where one leg flips over the other in the air. Is there a name for that? Is that the new "thing" that others now feel obliged to try? Simkin actually did four in a row for one entry Tuesday night. Vasiliev did two in a row Wednesday night. It seems for the women that simply doing 32 fouettes is no longer good enough. They have to throw in doubles and triples with arm over the head for some. The super-athletic bar keeps moving for all of them, for better or worse!

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.

If you still want to see Szot - he'll be at the Irish Rep Gala Monday the 10th.

Irish Repertory Theatre - 2013 Benefit Gala

Rodgers and Hammerstein or Gomes and Vishneva. Forgive me this time, ABT.

The deal breaker is Shirley Jones. I'm very excited to see this.

Thanks for the info on Szot. I'm going for the Gomes/Vishneva performance so I'll have to wait to see Szot till August, when he plays at 54 Below in Manhattan.

I saw 2/3 of Wed. night's performance. My section was less than 50% sold, Very poor attendance on Wed night. The men were thrilling. I loved Herman as Conrad, even more than as Lankadem. He is so elegant. Reyes can still spin like a top, but there is a definite loss of plasticity and extension that I noticed in Act I. I thought Sara made a mistake during her Act I variation (did she come off pointe?), but otherwise shw was good. The Odalisques definitely looked like third cast, especially Melanie Hamrick. Vasiliev did his "look ma - one leg" trick when he lifted Reyes.

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California, the men's flip that you describe is a 'revoltade' or 'rivoltade' - a similar Spanish word ('revuelto') means 'scrambled'...as in 'scrambled eggs' - huevos revueltos. (That's how I remember it!) Simkin totally stole the thunder of Osipova & Vasiliev in the coda of the pas de trois when he performed this - 4 in a row.

I'm not surprised that most folks are somewhat disappointed with the new Econo-cave designs. :)

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Rivoltare means "to turn over" in Italian. An apt description!

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Osiliev, Vasipova... I do not know any dancers that go by these names. I do know Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev.

Ekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev were a fantastic couple in the past, but nobody ever dared to call them Maxiliev or Vasimova. I think Natalia and Ivan deserve no lesser respect. Should we use silly nicknames invented by journalists? Sorry to tell this.

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Osiliev, Vasipova... I do not know any dancers that go by these names. I do know Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev.

Ekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev were a fantastic couple in the past, but nobody ever dared to call them Maxiliev or Vasimova. I think Natalia and Ivan deserve no lesser respect. Should we use silly nicknames invented by journalists? Sorry to tell this.

Mikhail - I haven't noticed that much on this site (although perhaps it has slipped in now and then). I think the press is influenced by the "Brangelina" thing. We have another habit that some find annoying: referring to much-loved dancers by their first names only: Marcelo, Gillian, Gelsey, Misha...it suggests a cliquish "in-group" discussion that non-balletomanes don't grasp. Another practice annoying to many: referring to grown men and women (especially in the corps) as "boys" and "girls."

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Just from Links, Judith Mackrell described the pair in "The Guardian" as "Vasipova" on April 1:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2013/apr/01/mikhailovsky-ballet-don-quixote-review

That's in the mainstream press, and it was the first quoted reference on this site, followed by "Osiliev" in another article from Links two days later. (The terms may have appeared in far more and earlier Links articles and earlier where they weren't part of the short except quoted.)

"Bennifer" and "Brangelina" are latecomers to the party: The "Supercouple" was the calling card for the soap opera "Days of Our Lives" in the '80's, and portmanteau couple names like "Shelle" and "Bope" were used regularly. Silly as the term "Vasiova" might seem -- that and "Osiliev" -- at least they're descriptive of a phenomenon and the fact that native English speakers now are willing to recognize and spell anything beyond first names. There are languages that use symbols and regularly use and create compound words in which this type of wordplay is far more common.

It's one thing when "Margot," "Rudi," and "Misha" became worldwide phenomena and were well known outside of the ballet world by a single name, but outside the ABT ballet world, "Marcelo," for example, has no meaning, and smacks of cliquishness and intimacy. We've often asked Ballet Alerters to stop using first names only, or, at minimum to use full names at least one in the post, so that people outside the sanctum can follow the script without a scorecard or Google, but to no avail.

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I attended the Wednesday matinee of Le Corsaire and will also be seeing the Saturday matinee. I will post about them together, probably early next week. I also read Macauley's review of the Tuesday night performance. The one thing I'm in total agreement with him about is the fact that the "new" production just means new scenery and costumes. I'm glad about that because I loved the old production. It may be a guilty pleasure, but if danced right ABT's Le Corsaire is just so much fun!!!!! Some of the costume changes seem to be changes made just for the sake of changing (if that makes sense). For example, instead of wearing blue pants, Ali wears purple pants. Besides that, the pants are exactly the same. (I just watched my copy of the ballet taped live in 1999, so these things are pretty clear in my head.) Birbanto now wears a black bandana instead of a red bandana. The red bandana made more sense in the scene where Medora stabs Birbano when he tries to put the moves on her. The black bandana blends in with the black mask or whatever the facial covering the pirates are wearing is. He has to take off the whole covering so that she'll be able to identify him as her attacker later. In the old version, his face was covered but his red bandana was showing. And since Birbanto was the only pirate wearing a red bandana, it was easily for Medora to identify him later. I certainly agree with whoever talked about the joy of seeing Carreno as Ali. I remember once attending a performance at City Center where Carreno danced both the pas de deux from Diana and Aceton (is this the word) and Robbins' Afternon of a Faun. (Both are shirtless roles.) Both myself and all the ladies around me thought we had died and gone to heaven.

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I'm sorry Abatt for not giving you credit for the Carreno remark in my earlier post. I also wanted to bring up another point. When Misty Copeland (at Wednesday's matinee) does her solo in Act I, isn't she supposed to do fouettes on a diaganol? She just did regular turns. I'm going to check my copy of the 1999 ABT Le Corsaire on tape and see what Herrera does. l also want to see what Isabella does at Saturday's matinee. Besides the lack of fouettes, Misty was very good as Gulnare. Marcelo was perfection as Conrad, Gillian was sensational as Medora, Whiteside was good as Ali but not up to the level of Vasiliev or Corella. I was really impressed with Steven McRae as Lankadem. I've never seen him before. He was a very exciting dancer and a wonderful actor. I would love to see him again.

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Audiences were a little surprising. It seemed almost sold out at the opening Tuesday night. The Wednesday matinee was pretty healthy, perhaps 80-85%. But Wednesday night was the least attended, maybe 70-75%. No crush to get in. Short lines at the ladies' rooms. The missing ingredient Wednesday night was Osipova, of course. (Reyes was Medora.) So if management was looking for confirmation that she's the one who sells tickets (not Vasiliev, Simkin, or Cornejo), they got it.

I'm not sure if the multiple casting of Cornejo, Vasiliev and Simkin would clearly prove that. Surely she does sell tickets, but maybe the fact that there was the opportunity to see these three on various dates (inlcuding the Wed matinee which had no Osipova according to the ABT performance calendar and still was well attended) also played a role in this. There was no urge to buy tickets for one special performance to see either of these dancers and it would seem natural that in such a case, people choose to buy tickets for performances with dancers they find exciting in the rest of the cast. Of course I don't really know how many people go to multiple performances or rather choose one performance per ballet, so it's all just guesses.

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Mid-week matinees are tricky to sell in general, since so many people work and NYC isn't the scary place of the '70's and '80's when especially eldetly women were afraid to travel at night. I would think it's the slot that generally appeals or isn't possible, and that while casting may entice a few to take a precious vacation day, I think on the whole, the slot would be cast-agnostic.

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Helene, I hate to sound ignorant, but I have absolutely no idea what the term "cast-agnostic" means. Could you explain it please if you get a moment?

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Mid-week matinees are tricky to sell in general, since so many people work and NYC isn't the scary place of the '70's and '80's when especially eldetly women were afraid to travel at night. I would think it's the slot that generally appeals or isn't possible, and that while casting may entice a few to take a precious vacation day, I think on the whole, the slot would be cast-agnostic.

But didn't the matinee sell better than the evening performance still? Maybe it was a convenient day on that particular date or the casting sounded so good that people were particularly eager to see that one.

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I don't know about the evening performance, but the afternoon performance looked to be about 80% full as has already been mentioned. Who knows why? I got my ticket at the last moment (which I normally don't do). It was after 12:00pm yesterday when I got to the Met box office and I got a great seat. The triple bill program on May 22nd (Drink, A Month in the Country and Symphony in C) had an even fuller audience than yesterday's, at least in the orchestra section. Maybe that was because Osipova and Vasiliev were dancing in Symphony in C. Again I don't know. I was able to buy my niece a ticket for that performance two days before the May 22nd performance and she got a very good seat in orchestra row M. It was also only a few seats away from the ticket I got for myself during subscriber exchange week.

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People will go to matinees because the slot is appealing and possible, and, for the most part, people who have to take time off from work won't. Wednesday night is neither Opening Night, a traditional night out night, like Thursday (huge in the UK and Ireland and among macho young financial types in the US who can make it to work on Fridays after getting home at 3am or later) and Friday, nor a weekend. It's also not considered a "prestige" night, like Opening Night or Saturday night.

The only day-specific casting patterns I remember from NYCB were more soloists and corps members getting their chances on Saturday matinees -- I don't remember if this was true for Sunday matinees when they did two Sunday performances -- a majority of Principal Dancers' final performances were scheduled on Sunday nights, and there was lots of star power at the Spring Galas, usually on Thursdays, if I remember right and at the season finale Sunday night special performances. (Dancers' Emergency Fund benefit at the end of Winter Season; I don't remember what the Spring season closer was.).

Does ABT have a pattern of giving specific nights to the casts with the biggest names? Do Wednesday nights sell very well if the big guns appear?

Helene, I hate to sound ignorant, but I have absolutely no idea what the term "cast-agnostic" means. Could you explain it please if you get a moment?

"Cast-agnostic" means pretty much the same number of tickets will be sold no matter who dances, because people want to go on a particular day or time (or they want to see a ballet no matter what) or they can't make/dislike a slot. Subscriptions, for example, generally are cast-agnostic, unless they're to "All Opening Nights" or predictable based on experience about how a company casts. Another example is weekend matinees of "The Nutcracker," to which families will buy tickets way in advance of knowing the casts, and, if they're trying to make their five-year-old happy generally, won't care who's dancing, unless the Prince is their next-door neighbor. For people who travel to see ballet and can only come on weekends -- that's my situation with PNB now -- you can only hope that casting works out, which for me means almost always, as many permutations of casts as possible.

I passed up almost every matinee In NYC, except the year I was a full-time graduate student with night classes. The exception was a Paris Opera Ballet matinee for which I took a precious vacation day. It was my only chance to see Patrick Dupond, and it might have been the performance with Sylvie Guillem in second movement of "Palais de Cristal." [Edited to add: no, I checked: Guillem danced Tuesday night, 15 July 1986 and Platel, whom I loved, danced the Wednesday matinee, 16 July 1986.

The trouble comes when a person picks a day/time that yields them casting they don't like consistently. I've long had a first weekend (of two) Saturday matinee subscription to PNB. Until five or so years ago, Opening Night was a Thursday, and if there was ever a time that Patricia Barker, the PNB star at the time, was not going to dance, it was Saturday matinee. (She would have danced the Opening and would be prepping for the evening performance.). I would hear people around me open their programs and say, with disappointment, "No Patty," as if this wasn't predictable. Same with NYCB Saturday matinees: I got to see lots of the soloists -- Saland, Calegari, Fugate, Joseph Duell, for example -- make their debuts in roles and grow into Principals. For people who wanted to see Suzanne Farrell, who did a few ballets like "Davidsbundlertanze" in that slot -- it was a time when many elderly women were worried about taking the buses or subway at night -- it was an exercise in frustration.

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I think that for ABT the Wednesday matinees are an opportunity either to (1) try out an upcoming soloist in a principal role (when they actually promoted from within) or (2) have a principal dancer perform a role for the first time (e.g., this season, Veronika Part in Don Quixote, Hee Seo in Swan Lake, and Veronika Part in Sylvia).

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Audiences were a little surprising. It seemed almost sold out at the opening Tuesday night. The Wednesday matinee was pretty healthy, perhaps 80-85%. But Wednesday night was the least attended, maybe 70-75%. No crush to get in. Short lines at the ladies' rooms. The missing ingredient Wednesday night was Osipova, of course. (Reyes was Medora.) So if management was looking for confirmation that she's the one who sells tickets (not Vasiliev, Simkin, or Cornejo), they got it.

I'm not sure if the multiple casting of Cornejo, Vasiliev and Simkin would clearly prove that. Surely she does sell tickets, but maybe the fact that there was the opportunity to see these three on various dates (inlcuding the Wed matinee which had no Osipova according to the ABT performance calendar and still was well attended) also played a role in this. There was no urge to buy tickets for one special performance to see either of these dancers and it would seem natural that in such a case, people choose to buy tickets for performances with dancers they find exciting in the rest of the cast. Of course I don't really know how many people go to multiple performances or rather choose one performance per ballet, so it's all just guesses.

I didn't mean to suggest that Osipova is the only factor in deciding when to go. As others discuss here, there are so many factors involved, we can't get scientific results. I didn't check to see what NYCB was performing, but that could have been a factor, too. Still, it was a striking contrast in the two nights. And, as noted, it was impressive that three principal men of significance danced two nights in a row, in quite demanding roles. (I suppose with a fair number of injuries at this point in the season, we'll see more of that.)

Those Wednesday matinees are a puzzle. I have sometimes seen several busses and vans from senior centers lined up near the theater and wonder if that accounts for some of the good attendance. Ticket prices are a tad cheaper, but not that much.

For at least some of us visiting New York from some distance, we try to cram as many performances as possible into a few days, even if it means seeing some casts we're not thrilled about. New Yorkers have the luxury of scattering their attendance more selectively.

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I don't think there's any question that some dancers sell more tickets that others, all else being equal or similar. It would be easier to show from a company that has advance sales without disclosing casting until closer to the performances, but I doubt ABT would have posted so early for so long if they weren't selling tickets on names. (Now, it's harder, because dancers tweet and post their schedules to websites, blog, and Facebook.) I remember as a pre-teen and teenager poring over the ABT ads in the Sunday NYT and fantasizing about performers I would never get to see, as they were no long performing in NYC when I moved back to NY metro as an adult.

It's not just casts: for three years in a trips in a row, the only time I could be in NYC, NYCB was playing "A Midsummer Night's Dream." I love the ballet, and it could have been a lot worse, but I was dying to see some other Balanchine.

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