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2014/15 season


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#16 kbarber

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 07:48 AM

I believe it will be in 2015-16 in Toronto.

 
So are we going to have to wait for that premiere before they can include this ballet in a North American broadcast?

you would have to ask the NBOC or the RB!

#17 mom2

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Posted 13 April 2014 - 08:42 AM

further to my season's ticket pricing rant….

 

I had a call the other night from NBOC while I was cooking dinner.  Normally I wouldn't pick up at that time, but figured I had something to say.  The man on the other end of the phone was probably taken aback (I think he was calling for donations), but he was very nice.  Said he would look into it and call me back.  He didn't.

 

I did tell him that I was not about to make a donation when the price of my season's tickets went up so much, without warning.

 

Guess I have a couple of weeks to decide before the early bird deadline.

 

Question:  do other big companies have the renewal process so early?



#18 sandik

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Posted 13 April 2014 - 03:51 PM

Pacific Northwest Ballet has been in renewals for over a month -- they started during the February repertory.  The season starts in mid-September.



#19 California

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Posted 13 April 2014 - 11:29 PM

As I remember, NYCB last year announced the entire next season about May 1 and subscription renewals started right away, for a season that opens in September.

 

Colorado Ballet announced the new season in February at their last big program at the Opera House (the final program is at the University of Denver in late March) and subscriptions were available for renewal at that point, with a deadline of July 1 to keep your seats. Singles will go on sale in mid-July for a season that starts in late September.

 

RE: another issue on this thread: I read that telemarketers in the US do the solicitations for donations and also subscriptions and keep a big % of the revenue. I always deal directly with companies (via their web sites), so all the money goes to the company. I don't know if that's true in Canada.



#20 sandik

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 01:36 AM

 

RE: another issue on this thread: I read that telemarketers in the US do the solicitations for donations and also subscriptions and keep a big % of the revenue. I always deal directly with companies (via their web sites), so all the money goes to the company. I don't know if that's true in Canada.

 

This varies from company to company -- if you're concerned, you can ask about the breakdown of the donation, but don't assume that it's all to the bad.
 



#21 mom2

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 03:22 AM

NBOC seems to have a large "corps" of volunteers and staffers for the fundraising.  usually very nice people who actually know a lot about the ballet, so one doesn't mind the phone call terribly (though it would be nice if they avoided my dinner hour).



#22 kbarber

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 04:15 AM

NBOC does not use volunteers for telemarketing (either fundraising or ticket sales). They are paid, I believe by hourly wage, not by commission.

#23 mom2

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 02:27 PM

no good news about the price of my seat, but some very nice news regarding male principal dancers...

 

http://www.thestar.c..._superstar.html



#24 volcanohunter

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 02:32 PM

I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one. Jason Reilly had similarly announced his decision to move back to Canada before changing his mind.



#25 mom2

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 02:37 PM

This is true… hopefully this time it will stick??



#26 kbarber

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 09:39 PM

this one is sticking.

#27 volcanohunter

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Posted 21 November 2014 - 01:35 AM

I saw four performances of the National Ballet of Canada’s revival of Manon with three casts: Greta Hodgkinson, Marcelo Gomes, Jack Bertinshaw and Svetlana Lunkina; Jillian Vanstone, Harrison James, Francesco Gabriele Frola and Jordana Daumec; and Sonia Rodriguez, Guillaume Côté, Frola and Daumec. Considering that I don’t especially like the ballet, this was probably too much, but of the three lead pairs I saw, Vanstone and James were the most persuasive.

 

Vanstone danced consistently with beauty and ease, but was particularly admirable in the completeness of her characterization: initially a real innocent, genuinely offended at untoward advances, later convincingly upset that her brother should bring someone to see her while she was undressed and squirming in distress as she was pawed by Monsieur G.M. When she put on the coat he brought for the first time, she conveyed to the audience a palpable sense of how good it felt against her skin, and she was equally expressive much later on when she recoiled at the sight of the bracelet the Jailer dangled before her. In truth, I was not entirely clear on her interpretation in Act 2, scene 1, but then most Manons leave me a little confused in that scene. On the other hand, the second boudoir scene had a playful naturalness that was completely believable. In the final act she had some fight left in her scene with the Jailer, and it was only the flight through the swamp that finally brought her down.

 

James made a very fine Des Grieux—sincere, ardent and not overly theatrical. Shy and innocent, he was flustered and put off by the teasing of the courtesans, then visibly awakened by his encounter with Manon. Des Grieux’s variations, with their excess of pirouettes and fetish for balletic orientation in space, seemed to stump all of their interpreters, who couldn’t put much character into them. There were only two exceptions: Gomes in the variation just prior to the card game, and James in the second scene of Act 2. (So good for James, because by that point I will have usually lost interest in the ballet.) All the duets between Vanstone and James came across as spontaneous and natural. His Des Grieux realized that Manon had died only at the very end, as the curtain came down. This was a marked contrast with the prolonged and audible sobbing of Gomes and was closer to how Anthony Dowell once did it.

 

Hodgkinson, with her wraith-like body and large, sad eyes, is by nature more Marguerite Gautier than Manon Lescaut. She was not a particularly convincing ingénue or coquette, and at the end of the ballet she painted herself into an interpretive corner that left her little room to maneuver. When she came ashore from the prison ship looking beyond wretched, it was difficult to believe that she could make it to the end of the scene, let alone to the end of the ballet, so her final act was almost completely devoid of variety. Her various pas de deux with Gomes felt contrived, with too many deliberate flourishes. But in the second act her dancing had exceptional security, and she was best in portraying the moment at which Manon’s sympathy returns to Des Grieux.

 

I seem to be one of the few people on this board impervious to the appeal of Gomes. This time I tried to go into his performances like a blank slate, neither expecting to be awed nor underwhelmed. His first variation was very remarkable for its control, but I’m not sure this was appropriate to the character or the story. If Des Grieux, hitherto unexperienced with women, is suddenly prepared to overturn his life’s trajectory, I don't think a demonstration of self-possession is what’s needed. I saw a lot of Marcelo Gomes the principal dancer, but almost at no point was I persuaded by his Des Grieux. (See exception above.) But his first performance in particular was greeted very warmly by the audience, and there was a considerable contingent of squealing young women cheering him on at the end.

 

Like Hodgkinson, Rodriguez has been a member of the company since 1990, but her relative “maturity” in no way keeps her from portraying a young innocent. Hers was a very fine performance from top to bottom, but unfortunately she fared better on her own than she did with her partner. Des Grieux is not much of a jumping role, but each of Côté’s jumps came down with a thud. (On the other hand, Gomes’ landings were completely inaudible.) While I’ve already mentioned my dislike for MacMillan’s finicky preoccupation with direction in Des Grieux’s choreography, Côté’s renderings were so sloppy that I began to wonder whether he was dancing injured. His partnering of Rodriguez also appeared rough, and particularly jarring was the way he set her down onto the penchées on pointe. Perhaps he was aiming for wild abandon, but instead the duets looked bumpy. Some of his dramatic moments also failed to register adequately. Obviously Gomes came into the run with a lot of experience in the role, while young James was undoubtedly the recipient of a great deal of coaching. Perhaps Côté had inadvertently fallen through the cracks. In any event, this was the one performance I considered abandoning, but I remained for Rodriguez’s sake.

 

Where I found all the Manons a little lacking was in the long brothel scene. In particular, I didn’t think any of them captured the exotic atmosphere created by the chromaticism of the nocturne from La Navarraise. I never had the benefit of seeing Antoinette Sibley in the role, but it seems to me that somewhere along the line the interpretation of Manon has changed, and that initially she wasn’t quite as much of a vamp as she is played these days. Jennifer Penney and also Natalia Makarova brought a very compelling narcissism to Manon’s scene with her throng of admirers, and Penney tormented Des Grieux not by flaunting anything, but rather by ignoring him. Nowadays, Manons all seem to try too hard, projecting outward rather than drawing others in. Advance publicity seems to suggest that the POB’s broadcast of the ballet next spring is to star Aurélie Dupont. I would be very interested in seeing whether she brings the same sphinx-like inscrutability to this scene that she invested in Béjart’s Bolero, because I can imagine how it could be extremely effective.

 

Owing to injuries, the part of Lescaut went to young corps members Bertinshaw and Frola. Bertinshaw’s dancing was very fine, though his Lescaut was not yet much of a scoundrel, not fully falling-down drunk and insufficiently pathetic in his final scene. I have no doubt, however, that he could enhance these qualities in future performances, provided the National Ballet doesn’t wait another 17 years before performing the ballet again. In his first variation I found Frola unmusical and inelegant, though his very physical style, which is spectacular but so aggressive that it goes past being classical, was better suited to the second act. And if he had trouble keeping time in the first act, I think it was primarily because of the technical challenges of his variation; Bertinshaw did manage to stay on the music.

 

Lunkina was glamorous, witty and vivid as Lescaut’s Mistress, and while she made her character extremely memorable, I couldn’t help think that it was an underutilization of her abilities. Where she nearly managed to steal the show was during the card game. Standing center stage, like a general sending the other courtesans into the fray to gather intelligence and run diversions, her acting had an up-to-the-second engagement that was far more compelling than anything going on at the card tables. Lunkina and Stephanie Hutchison as Madame were the sort of women who could be maîtresses royales, while Daumec and Rebekah Rimsay in the same roles represented something more crass. Daumec is a very powerful technician, though she moves with little ease or grace, which was perfectly fine in the drunken duet, but less appropriate elsewhere.

 

Rex Harrington’s Monsieur G.M. was so sleazy that even inveterate gold-diggers would have thought twice before accepting his proposals. During the trio, when Manon is held like a swing between him and Lescaut, Harrington visibly rubbed her leg against his thigh, which was excessive. Peter Ottmann is not quite tall enough for the role, and in this production his character does not wear Nicholas Georgiadis’ vertiginously heeled shoes, but he possesses the handsomest of profiles, I’d be hard pressed to think of a dancer who would look better in a powdered wig, and he always projects power and authority.

 

Tomas Schramek’s kindly Old Gentleman did not re-appear in the brothel, perhaps for practical reasons, since Schramek must be close to 70 years old, and the lifts in Manon’s dance with her admirers may be beyond him now. But with all the brothel clients being equally young and tall, it was no longer clear why the courtesans should find some of them more objectionable than others. Unless it was supposed to some sort of joke about ballet body types, I also couldn’t understand why the client who seemed to request a curvaceous prostitute was each time presented with rail-thin and flat-as-a-board Tanya Howard. Had he requested a gorgeous face, I would have understood the choice perfectly. The male demi-soloists had some synchronization difficulties, and in general the performances lacked the specificity and detail that dancers of the Royal Ballet bring to the ballet, no doubt because the latter have the benefit of performing it regularly.

 

The company borrowed the Australian Ballet’s production. I have a few reservations about Peter Farmer’s designs, among them that the cotton-candy wigs worn by the harlots in Act 2 look so terrible that the matted wigs worn by the female convicts in the following act don’t look much worse. Also, the dresses worn by Lescaut’s Mistress and her fellow courtesans are similar to the dress worn by Manon in the second act, so the latter doesn’t stand out as much as it normally would. Strangely, the conspicuously outdoor setting of the first scene of Act 3 actually creates a sense of lesser space than Georgiadis’ original, which suggests to the viewer that he is seeing only a small part of a very large dock that extends far into the imaginary space beyond the wings. The original production had the female convicts wearing bedraggled dresses, tights and pointe shoes. Now the Royal Ballet dresses them in browned undergarments and soft shoes. The National Ballet took it a step further by having them go barefoot. I’m not sure this was a good idea, as it tended to underline the stylistic disunity in this scene. There is the essentially non-dancing naturalism of the Jailer, the stereotypical modern dance choreography for the convicts, with their half circles of little temps levés and synchronized side falls, and Des Grieux still carrying on with his pirouettes and directional changes. (It was at this point that I wanted to cry out in exasperation, “Enough with the en dedans, already!”) I also don’t think Martin Yates’ re-orchestration is much of an improvement on what Leighton Lucas had originally devised. The pieces orchestrated by Massenet himself have always been beautiful; the souped-up, overwrought renditions of the Élégie, “Ouvre tes yeux bleus” and “Il pleuvait” are as awful as ever.

 

None of the performances I saw seemed to be completely sold out, and at the final two the top two rings were closed off, which took about 700 seats out of the equation. There seem to be a lot of walking wounded at the National Ballet of Canada these days, and at various performances I found myself sitting in close proximity to Piotr Stanczyk, Evan McKie and also Côté. Audience response was enthusiastic, and there even seemed to be some self-appointed claquers present, but to be honest I didn’t see any weepy eyes.



#28 kbarber

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Posted 21 November 2014 - 07:29 AM

Wow volcanohunter, that was a pretty much spot-on review. I didn't see Gomes because I'm not a fan of his either but saw the other casts, including James Whiteside as Lescaut whom I gather you did not see. I also laughed about Tanya Howard being presented as the curvy prostitute! And was puzzled by the absence of the old gentleman being fobbed off on a most reluctant whore. I was also very impressed by Vanstone and James. I was curious to see how Vanstone would do, as she is usually cast in sweet innocent ingenue type roles which suit her porcelain-doll prettyness, so was agreeably surprised by how well she interpreted this role.

#29 volcanohunter

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Posted 21 November 2014 - 01:37 PM

No, indeed, I saw the last four performances, after Whiteside's were over. Frola did double duty as Lescaut on the 15th, as I gather Whiteside had done two days earlier. Daumec deserves a prize for turning in four performances over three days with two different partners.

 

Vanstone seems to be a thorough, thinking sort of artist, who also manages to make her performances seem completely natural. That's a terrific combination.



#30 kbarber

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Posted 21 November 2014 - 04:34 PM

Vanstone seems to be a thorough, thinking sort of artist, who also manages to make her performances seem completely natural. That's a terrific combination.

I've liked Jillian ever since she was a student at the NBS. I think she's really coming into her own.


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