Welllll, that was an interesting contrast with last night.
95% of the performance with Semionova/Hallberg, I probably would've characterized the performance like this: expertly executed and beautiful, and even though it was lacking the emotional heft of Monday's show, it was a performance that ABT could be proud of.
AND THEN HALLBERG OMITTED THE ENTRECHAT SIX! There were murmurs of surprise and disappointment in my section, and the guy ahead of me even let out a disapproving "no!!" Instead, Hallberg did the brises down the diagonal, twice, followed by some split jumps. And no one clapped!
All evening, I had been looking forward to seeing some beautiful entrachat six from Hallberg, and he didn't do them! I was so shocked that it totally took me out of the story. In addition, because the brises simply did not look that impressive/exhausting, the emotional impact of Albrecht collapsing to the floor was just completely lacking, and it basically killed the drama for me.
Okay, I can understand why Hallberg/Semionova didn't even try for the stock-still overhead press lift that was so jaw-dropping last night--instead Hallberg just lifted her up, rotated in a circle and set her down--but THIS omission was a complete disappointment for me.
I totally agree with canbelto on this one. I think I am over my initial infatuation with Semionova. She's a gorgeous girl, and at first, I just loved her long lines, and her 100% reliable, rock-solid technique. I even appreciated the fact that her characterizations were never over-the-top, and honest. But since I know she's so technically impressive, now I find myself waiting for her to surprise me, to push beyond simply what is required and into what is extra and unexpected. And so far this season, she hasn't.
This was especially apparent to me tonight, in contrast to last night's Act I Vishneva who was REALLY giving it all she had--to astounding effect. In her variation, Vishneva effortlessly dipped into a 180 degree penchee arabesque and pulled off double pirouettes in attitude easy as can be, but Semionova didn't try for the deep arabesque and only did singles. By the time Vishneva did her hops on pointe, the audience was in a frenzy. Not so tonight.
The only times I've seen Semionova seem like she was genuinely "into" a performance and pushing for more was her first Swan Lake (with Gomes) and last year's Sylvia. So I do think she is capable of giving more, but only when she is paired with someone who can comfortably partner her, allowing her to be free--and there are not many partners who can do that.
This being said, I did really like Semionova's mad scene; I felt like it was the most emotionally engaged I've seen her all season, and it wasn't overdone. I also MUCH preferred the fact that her hair was completely loose--but it did almost fall out before her mother undid it.
In Act II, Part was great as Myrta. I've always thought she has a fabulous jump, and she used it to great effect tonight.
For me, there wasn't as much contrast between Semionova's characterization of Giselle-the-girl and Giselle-the-wili--she even had the flowers in her hair in Act II. Those hops in a circle Giselle does when she first appears were thrilling, but then the side-to-side steps she did (glissades?) punctuated by jumps on either end seemed very off the music to me--too much emphasis on the in-between steps and not enough on the jumps which really make Giselle look weightless.
In the pas de deux, they took the tempi much faster than last night, and I realized anew how much harder it is to do things slowly. Those initial steps Giselle does around a kneeling Albrecht--when she raises onto pointe and developpes her other leg--when the tempi is a lot slower you really have to hold the balances longer. You need so much control and strength to take it as slowly as Vishneva and Gomes dared to do last night.
Last year I attended a talk at ABT with Semionova, and I was struck when she said that she wished she had attended the Vaganova academy (instead of the Bolshoi academy) because she really admires the way they use their arms and upper body. This came to my mind as I watched her Act II tonight. Semionova is long-limbed, and yet her arms didn't have the same fluidity--and I dare say poetry--as Vishneva's seemed to have last night.
Perhaps I am being overly harsh--but this is what happens when you see a "performance for the ages" followed by one that is merely good. I do wish ABT would pair Semionova with Bolle instead--or even with Shklyarov. I think they have the potential for great chemistry, which I think would push Semionova to be more engaging.
I've got three more Giselle's left, so hopefully they will be more fulfilling!