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Le CorsaireSpring 2013 Met season


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#16 Moonlily

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 10:35 AM

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.

#17 Helene

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 10:58 AM

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.

#18 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 11:20 AM

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?

#19 Moonlily

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 11:23 AM

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.

#20 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 11:45 AM

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.

#21 Helene

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 11:49 AM

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.

#22 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 02:47 PM

Helene, thank you so much for answering my question.

#23 angelica

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 03:26 PM

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).

#24 California

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 05:27 PM



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.

#25 Helene

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 05:35 PM

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.

#26 canbelto

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 07:41 PM

I went to the Corsaire this afternoon. I hated the new costumes -- all the bikini-tops made the whole thing look Vegas-like. I enjoyed the super-duper-power-house-jumping cast of Osipova/Vasiliev/Simkin/Cornejo/Boylston/Salstein. This ballet (especially the ABT production) is so silly that it was fun seeing the different dancers just sort of do their own thing. Cornejo was absolutely dynamite as Lankedem. He was the shortest dancer in the cast but had the most imposing presence. I enjoyed Osipova/Vasiliev more in Corsaire than Don Q, where I found their routine sort of stale and hard-boiled. Here they seemed to be having a lot of fun and their technique is as always awe-inspiring. Boylston was lovely and Simkin isn't my idea of the slave but he certainly was super exciting.

After the show since I had time as I was headed to the NYCB in the evening I went to the stage door. It was a fun experience.

#27 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 05:48 AM

Did anyone go to the evening performance of Le Corsaire? If so, please post. I would love to know how Marcelo was as Ali and how Matvienko was as Conrad. I saw Gillian on Wednesday afternoon and as always she was superb. The revelation of Wednesday's matinee, as I think I already mentioned, was Steven MacRae's Lankedem. Does anyone else agree or disagree? Wednesday's matinee was very good, but the Saturday matinee was just so much fun. And it was so exciting! Everyone was in top form. (As I already said, I will post in more detail in a few days.) I just want to mention briefly how great Craig Salstein was as Birbanto. His dancing was superb and his comic timing was just amazing. In the section immediately following the pas de deux a trois (According to Alastair Macauley that is the correct name for the dance) Birbanto is holding two pistols and he usually fires twice. Salstein fired once, then looked straight at the audience and didn't fire. He fired the second gun a minute or so later. He clearly made the audience part of the joke, which was fun. It was all so masterfully done. Salstein should give lessons in comic timing for ballet dancers.

#28 Silks

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 11:08 AM

I saw Saturday night's performance! Everyone looked great: Marcelo, Gillian, Misty. Matvienko seemed to be a little out of control with off-balance jumps and flexed feet, although he landed everything cleanly. I was SO impressed with Steven McRae! I had youtube-d him before the performance, and thought he was great--very classically Royal Ballet, very clean lines, charm and technique to spare. Anthony Dowell-esque. So, I was totally unprepared for the firepower that he unleashed as Lankendem. Wow! Huge jumps, huge air, great turns, and very, very solid partnering. He's not the biggest guy, and I didn't expect him to be as strong as he was. He did a one-armed overhead carry of Misty like it was nothing. I'd love to see him again.

(Also, longtime lurker finally decides to post!)

#29 abatt

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 03:15 PM

The Matvienko who showed up at the Met on Saturday evening was not the same Matvienko who gave such a brilliant performance in Don Q only 4 weeks ago. Last night he was sloppy and undisciplined. His partnering was good. I was very disappointed with Matvienko's performance. I know he has some personal issues which caused his cancellation but I don't think that can explain away the situation. Murphy was absolutely brilliant. People always rave about Osipova, with good cause, but Gillian is just as strong a virtuoso as Osipova. Murphy is at the height of her powers. I hate to speak negatively of Gomes, because he is exceptional in so many ways. He had the right look for Ali, but his bag of virtuoso tricks is a bit empty for this showy role. He's much better as Conrad. McRae was a delight - high jumps, good partnering, good stage presence and acting skills. Misty did well in the first act, but she was not in control during the series of pirouettes along the diagonal of the stage during the garden scene of the last act. Overall, Sat night was disapponting except for the thrilling Ms. Murphy.

#30 California

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 03:59 PM

I hate to speak negatively of Gomes, because he is exceptional in so many ways. He had the right look for Ali, but his bag of virtuoso tricks is a bit empty for this showy role. He's much better as Conrad.


I saw both Vasiliev and Simkin last week as Ali, and was stunned at their bag of tricks. But they are both in their early 20s and Gomes is in his early 30s. I wonder if we're seeing the athleticism bar move to ever more demanding "tricks" in that particular role as younger dancers come along.

I heard Peter Martins say at a panel discussion last February, after they showed some clips of Baryshnikov, that we need to remember that he was the only dancer doing many of those steps in the seventies, but now his male dancers at NYCB see them as starting points for their own virtuosity. (We can see the same thing in gymnastics today compared with the daring "tricks" from just a few decades ago that are now considered routine.)

Still, don't we wish that Vasiliev and Simkin would take some cues from Gomes on style, form, elegance, and, most especially, partnering?


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