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About Birdsall

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  1. The Met’s current production is sort of macabre if I remember. It is not a traditional version at all. And although I find the music nice it is never an opera I crave or long to see or hear again when in the mood to listen to opera.
  2. Nutcracker 2017

    I originally planned a very short trip to see Angela Meade in Bellini's Norma at the Met and one NYCB Nutcracker, but my partner wanted to go along, so I made it a week trip and bought us both tickets to a second Nutcracker (he didn't go to the other shows). I told him he could fill the other nights with plays or musicals (what he likes) because he complained I usually fill up the vacation with a ballet or opera every single night. However, he decided he wanted us to have casual leisurely evenings at dinners instead. I was fine with that too and let him choose the places. In the past I have dominated what we do on vacations, and he has complained and tends to stay home nowadays, so this trip I let him decide everything besides the Norma and the Nutcrackers. Angela Meade, btw, while not perfect for Norma, is 100 times better than Sondra Radvanovsky (the first cast and Opening Night Norma). I continue to be amazed at how so many knowledgeable opera fans rave about her in this role. Her coloratura is so sloppy and her acting is goofy. I do not see any positives in her in this particular role. To me she "gets through it" but bel canto it is not. Angela Meade comes closer to having all the goods, although her pianissimi, as lovely as they are, seem totally disconnected from the rest of her voice as if she has to switch gears to achieve them. I was pleasantly surprised that she could be fiery and commanding (I thought that would be her weak point). Wasn't 100% happy with the moments she took breaths during Casta Diva, but overall this was a decent Norma. The cast reminded me that opera has to be heard live......hearing the sounds reach your ear from the stage is so much better than HD. As for the Nutcrackers, I absolutely loved Tiler Peck's Dewdrop. Oh, my God!!!!! Her chaine turns that speed up so much at the end right before going into the wings.......STUNNING!!!!! To me she stole the show. Her off balance balances were amazing. Tess Reichlen, on the next night, was more regal in the role and exciting in her own way too. Loved her attitudes. Sara Mearns was a very dramatic Sugarplum Fairy and I liked her a lot in it using very dramatic arm gestures when falling back in the cavalier's arms or making many other moves. In contrast, I also loved the super sweet Megan Fairchild who was a more dainty and cute Sugarplum Fairy on the next night. Did not have time to post until now (back in Florida) b/c we were walking around window shopping and doing things like One World Center.....DON'T GO!!!!!! The restaurant at the top is nice (very good cauliflower risotto but overpriced) and the view was great, but the rest of it feels like endless lines and photo opportunities and a big sell for some ipad to help identify buildings and to get photos.....it felt like a huge scam......it was like Disney World. The memorial pools are very touching and moving outside and those are free. I was in NY weeks after the original towers went down (I think to see Jane Eaglen in Norma....just realized that), and it was blocked off and still smouldering, and I have not gone down that way on recent trips, but it was nice to see that it has become a huge thriving tourist attraction (so no longer just a tragedy), but I advise people to skip One World Center and just look at the memorial pools. That is my personal feeling. I feel the pools are simple but sad and contemplative.
  3. He was one of the few male singers I loved listening to, and I saw him many times once together with Olga Borodina in concert. Backstage at that concert Borodina would not come out and greet fans, and someone alerted the impresaria that Borodina would not come out, and Hvorostovsky was standing there with her and I was next to him, and he had an honest reaction of shock blurting out, "Well, that's not right!" Borodina was apparently upset with her performance that night (although she sounded as gorgeous as usual to my ears). To me his reaction showed that he cared about fans and felt it was part of their duty to meet the ones who were ardent fans. Anyway, I loved the singer.....so few good singers around anymore, and we lose a good one! It is a rarity for me to even attend opera anymore, because I don't like what I hear. I made the effort to see Stemme in Tristan und Isolde last Fall b/c her Brunnhilde in San Francisco in 2011 was absolutely amazing. But so few singers are exciting to me now. Sad to lose one so young. 55 is young for humans and baritones can often sing into old age. I guess 55 is usually when a soprano is starting to wind down her career or drop the most difficult roles out of her repertoire, but Hvorostovsky probably could have sung for years if he had not fallen ill.
  4. Well, I did not connect the dots and do not follow them on social media at all. I am just reading this thread and responding. You are right that they don't owe anyone anything, but being gay, in my opinion, is no big deal in 2017 especially in NYC so their lives will go on if they are indeed gay and probably for the better. The hiding is the part that keeps people from being amazing people. I have witnessed a very homely guy who held himself very awkwardly and looked ugly literally blossom into a gorgeous man (after he told his parents and they accepted him) who was no longer stiff and nervous looking and transformed into a hunk (his face was lit up and no longer had a serial killer look) that every guy wanted to date. When I saw this amazing and incredible transformation of a friend in college it made me realize that people have to be who they are. Period. Trying to hide it is no good. But you are right. Nobody has to follow my idea of how to act. Everyone can act however they want, but I have a right to have an opinion also. I also have a good friend whose husband left her for a man while she was pregnant. It was very traumatic. So, yes, I know that there are sensitive issues at play, BUT I bet she's glad she's not being fooled anymore! If I were a woman I would be thankful that my husband didn't keep hiding it and waste my precious time looking for someone who really wants me. Who wants to live a lie? The Truth is always the best, in my opinion. Best for everyone in the long run.
  5. As someone who is gay and openly gay in the South and in education (a field where many find it harder to be open) I find it absurd to be gay and closeted in the performing arts in NYC in 2017.......it boggles the mind. I took lgbt high school students and their parents to meet with school board members way before anti-bullying iniatives were popular and mainstream. They were getting harassed and beat up and the schools they attended were not doing anything about it. I was shocked by these kids' stories and took them to meet school board members to tell what they are going through (getting beat up simply because other kids assumed they were gay without them necessarily admitting it). Other teachers thought I was risking my career, but hearing what these kids went through (fearing for their physical safety on a daily basis) made me not worry about my career. They needed an adult who showed them he is not afraid to be who he is and stand up for them to the school board. After those experiences I have no patience for people who worry about their careers after hearing about what these kids went through.
  6. MCB's Jewels October 2017

    I am in West Palm Beach and caught two performances of MCB's Jewels. As noted above I saw their Opening Night Jewels about a month ago in Miami, so I will call that the first cast (and that same cast was West Palm's first cast, although I couldn't make that performance on this past Friday). Last night's Emeralds was decent but somehow not as exciting as the first cast (in Miami). I usually like Jennifer Lauren a lot, but last night I felt like she did not have that little reckless abandon that you can sometimes find in Balanchine dancers due to the forward momentum of their off balance balances. I thought Tricia Albertson was more exciting back in October in the same role. Simone Messmer was a decent seconda donna.....Chase Swatosh and Jovani Furlan partnered them respectively well. The trio was Samantha Hope Galler, Harrison Monaco, and Nicole Stalker, and I enjoyed all of them. Rubies showcased Tricia Albertson and Kleber Rebello, two of MCB's best dancers, in my opinion. They danced the couple in Rubies, and I loved them. They brought the most excitement of the evening last night. I was disappointed in Lauren Fadeley's Tall Girl. She was the All-American Big Smiling Girl in this role. I much preferred Jordan-Elizabeth Long in that same role. She was more of a femme fatale and her high attitudes were amazing. I feel that Fadeley's high attitudes were forced. I just think that this is not the role for her, and I enjoyed her much more in Diamonds in today's matinee. More on that below. Katia Carranza and Renan Cerdeiro were great in Diamonds, although I thought he was excellent and she was very decent. Basically, this 2nd cast that I saw last night seemed decent but not a top notch cast except Albertson and Rebello and Cerdeiro......I feel those three were the most exciting. Today's matinee felt much more exciting and "on" than last night's performance. i think MCB does Emeralds and Rubies about as good as NYCB, but their Diamonds is not quite there yet. In Emeralds today I saw Ashley Knox and Reyneris Reyes as the main couple. Reyes looks in better form than in the recent past, and he partnered Ashley Knox as if she were light as a feather, and she was a very pleasant surprise for me. I thought she had lovely arms and an overall elegance and "perfume" to her dancing. I haven't noticed her that much in the past (I don't think she gets many lead roles at MCB), but I would like to see her again. Jordan-Elizabeth Long and Ariel Rose were the second couple, and I enjoyed both of them. I wondered why I had never heard of Ariel Rose. He is in the corps de ballet, but he got a lead role today, b/c he might be one of the only male dancers who can partner the very tall Long. Both were great. Ellen Grocki, Damian Zamorano, and Leanna Rinaldi were also good as the trio. I always love Nathalia Arja. Her exuberance is contagious, and she always gives her all from what I have seen. She and Alexander Peters were the couple in Rubies. I think Arja might have the easiest high extensions in the entire company. She was really fun to watch. Peters was a good partner, but he looks very small. I think Arja is already small, and they looked the same height when she wasn't on pointe. That might limit his future casting. Christie Sciturro was a great Tall Girl! She also played it like a femme fatale sort of like Long did in the first cast. Her high attitudes were beautiful! After seeing Fadeley in Rubies last night I had my doubts about her dancing Diamonds, but she proved me wrong. I think she did a great job, and out of the 3 casts I saw she did the chaine turns after her variation the fastest which is more like how NYCB dancers do it. She also turned off the All American Girl Smile and was able to convey elegance. So I think her Rubies was a case of miscasting. She was much, much better in Diamonds. Chase Swatosh partnered her well. Overall, I enjoyed MCB's Jewels. They are a great Balanchine company. I think Diamonds might stretch them a bit thin (it is a much smaller company than NYCB), but they did an admirable job even so. I would gladly see them do Jewels again in a few years (possibly).......they shouldn't wait so long to do it again!
  7. St Petersburg - November 2017

    I like many others too! My favorites are Novikova, Osmolkina, and Kolegova!
  8. St Petersburg - November 2017

    Madame P., thank you for this review. I felt almost like I was there, because you gave so many supporting details! The school where I work is using a Reading program school wide, and even though I am the librarian, I go in and co-teach in a class for 90 minutes, and we are trying to get the children to find supporting details, so when I read your review, I thought, "This is exactly what we are trying to get students to do!" Basically, great review! I love Novikova too! She has range and can do fast work as well as adagio. Her use of arms is magical to me. Wish I could have been there. Tkachenko was probably exciting as the Street Dancer. Too bad she doesn't get many major roles. She has personality and stage presence to me. Please do post more reviews! I promised my partner and parents I would take a break from Russia after my mugging and have fulfilled that promise (the amount of time I promised) and was ready to return but now I am taking care of my parents, so mainly seeing the Mariinsky on tours when I can. Maybe one day I will return.
  9. Last time I saw Orlando Ballet's SL there was canned music, the lead fell flat on her face, the canned music messed up, etc. I was shocked by the lack of Scene 1.....the pas de trois was placed in the Black Swan act......there were two jesters rolling on the floor......LOL Then, I saw Orlando Ballet's Don Quixote after that which was MUCH better. Adiarys Almeida was an excellent Kitri.......the DQ performance showed me that Orlando Ballet could do a serious performance! So when I saw that Adiarys Almeida was dancing Odette/Odile this time I had hopes that the Cuban ballerina would raise Orlando Ballet's Swan Lake to a much better level than last time. Taras Domitro (former San Francisco dancer) was Siegfried. So I had hopes that they could help me like this version. Overall, she did bring the quality up, but I think she is a natural Kitri whereas she has to work a little harder at Odette. She was good, but she didn't erase all the Russian ballerinas I have seen in the role, and even she could not save this production. Domitro was also good as her partner and danced his solos well. I think they did a very admirable and good job. I had no complaints about either of them. In fact, this whole thing should have been replaced with a gala in which she and Domitro danced the love duet and Black Swan duet while company dancers did variations from other ballets. I think that would have been much nicer and actually easier for the company to stage. Basically, the actual production is a big mess still even with these great guests' contributions. I imagine it is very hard to stage Scene 1 for a small, regional company, but I missed the music, especially since this time they had the Orlando Philharmonic performing the score.....seems a shame to cut the first scene and miss the lovely music even if it is light waltzing. It seems like something could have been done. A small group of Siegfried's friends celebrating his birthday or something could be staged with fewer people dancing. I also like seeing the juxtaposition between the society scenes and the more intimate lakeside scenes. To me Swan Lake's story is lopsided when Act 1 Scene 1 is missing. There is a balance between public and private in the normal versions. I think Scene 1 needs to be put back in and the pas de trois should be moved back to its original place rather than in the Black Swan scene. Swan Lake is NOT a long ballet, so I don't buy Robert Hill's explanation in a previous video that people don't want to sit for a long ballet. I suspect the real reason is that a small company has a harder time filling the first scene's stage, but, I would understand having a very small group dancing to what a large corps would normally dance to.....I understand it is a small company. I have seen Nutcrackers with just 6 flowers and 12 snowflakes! I am fine with a small company having a smaller corps. I am actually one of the few people on BA who actually likes the Jester in the Mariinsky's version of Swan Lake (there is a whole storyline if you pay attention.....he's wooing one of the friends of the prince). But two jesters, to me, is overkill especially if they are jumping over each other as the other one rolls on the floor. I don't know. It gives it sort of a spoof-like feeling to the production. I feel like Orlando Ballet's Swan Lake is not serious enough. To me it is one of the most beautiful ballets in the repertoire and I could watch the love duet between Odette and Siegfried every night of my life....it touches me profoundly, so it is disappointing to see a production that is more like a spoof. I can handle that if it is Les Trockaderos but otherwise.....no.....I really wish Orlando Ballet would rethink its approach to the ballet. On a really high point I discovered a wonderful Turkish restaurant Bosphorous where I had turkish grape leaves, lamb shanks, and a turkish wine flight (4 different tastings)......I tried to get into Chatham's Place at the last minute without a reservation, but they were all booked up, so I went searching for another restaurant in the plaza across the street and found Bosphorous which I highly recommend! Orlando has much better restaurants than when I was a child and my grandparents used to live there!!!
  10. 2017-18 Bolshoi cinema season

    mnacenani, Every great artist ends up getting very divided opinions, because everyone's tastes are different. I spent years following opera, before I started following ballet, and all the great singers have their fans and their detractors. Maria Callas divided people and she still does due to her importance in opera history (so people continue to listen to learn why she is so great). Her artistry changed opera for good but people who want beautiful singing are dumbfounded by her squally high notes and wobbles (although her early 50s bootlegs show beauty). Her voice acting will probably never be improved upon in any of her famous roles like Norma and Violetta. In complete contrast, the amazing technical Dame Joan Sutherland has always been criticized for her mushy diction and poor acting. However, I don't think anyone sings coloratura the way she does in this day and age with such roundness of tone and absolutely no sound of strain. Today we have Radvanovsky, and I am flabbergasted at anyone finding that voice beautiful or finding her adequate in the role of Norma. But I am outnumbered by her many fans. Personally, I think Bellini is rolling over in his grave. My point is that all great artists divide people's opinions. Mediocre singers or dancers tend to not get anyone arguing or excited enough to argue. But the singers and dancers who stand out as unique always divide people and create vehement reactions. My love of Stepanova's dancing comes from the way she uses her upper body and arms and her natural acting. I hate stiff upper bodies and arms. I do not judge dancers by the pony tricks like fouettes because even the best can have a bad night and the worst can master a technical feat. To bring it back to opera, Radvanovsky can sing a great high note or pianissimo (she can do the "wow" technical feats) but it is the overall artistry that I do not like in her singing. I find Radvanovsky's acting laughable and the actual sound of her voice annoying. So that is why.
  11. MCB's Jewels October 2017

    Last night I saw Miami City Ballet's Opening Night Jewels (and opening of their season)......I was hoping to see similarities to NYCB's Jewels since MCB is a sort of daughter of that company! And I feel I did see just that but with a slight Miami flavor. Tricia Albertson showed off gorgeous flowing arms in Emeralds which highlighted the lush music of Faure wonderfully. I loved every movement she made. Her off balance balances were great showing off good Balanchine style too. Rainer Krenstetter partnered her wonderfully. Emily Bromberg also had nice arms and did the "clock" movements well (not sure if that is what they are called but it always reminds me of a clock.....maybe passage of time?)......Emeralds can be the most boring of the 3 Jewels ballets, but it was not boring at all. I was mesmerized. It was a perfect welding of the music and movements that kept my attention, and I noticed that the corps was fast when speeding past each other like NYCB. Renan Cerdeiro partnered Bromberg, and both were great together. I never saw them paired and I thought it was a good pairing. Nathalia Arja, Shimon Ito, and Ashley Knox were all great in the trio......this Emeralds was actually fun and exciting. Katia Carranza (returning to the company this season) and Renato Penteado danced the couple in Rubies, and Penteado is always a wonderful dancer. Carranza was also very good, and they both had great charisma together. To me they brought a slight extra Latin pizzazz to Rubies that worked well since it is so jazzy and playful. Maybe it wasn't Latin, rather just slight spiciness. Jordan-Elizabeth Long came on like a femme fatale as the Tall Girl in Rubies, and I personally loved it. Her high attitudes were amazing, especially with those long legs. After one high attitude it did look like she almost fell out of it, but she recovered instantaneously. There was a slight wobble at one of the penchees as she left the stage (after the guys rotate her legs), but after that stretch I don't blame her. It must be so tiring. Those are minor quibbles. I loved her as the Tall Girl. She reminded me of Tess Reichlen, who I saw in the role at NYCB, but with a more femme fatale personality. So, after an exciting Emeralds and a fun Rubies, I was waiting for Diamonds with Simone Messmer and Jovani Furlan. Expectations were high. Although I liked what I saw I felt Diamonds was the weakest link, since the whole company seemed less energetic in Diamonds. Maybe it was an artistic choice (trying to play up the regal Russian style). I am not sure. But when I saw several Jewels at NYCB I was wowed by the speed and excitement that company brought to Diamonds. Nothing Messmer or Furlan did was wrong or bad. In fact, they were pretty good. In the past I have not quite understood why Lourdes Lopez seems to cast Messmer as if she were the company's Lopatkina. I have considered her mannered in the past (acting like a Russian prima ballerina without the goods to back it up), but tonight she seemed to act more like herself (like a regular person) and not as if she were trying to be something she is not, so I actually liked her a LOT better than I used to. I did wish for more speed in the chaine turns during the coda. Mearns at NYCB does the chaine turns at an incredible speed. However, Messmer was both regal and down-to-earth (if that makes sense). It was the right amount of woman as opposed to swan, right amount of regal movement without seeming pretentious. I liked her performance but it didn't knock my socks off. But I look forward to seeing her again now. I used not want to. I think she is getting better. I hear that Furlan was promoted to Principal, and he did look very princely and partnered very well. The audience loved him. The company needs a tall, strong partner. I do think he and Messmer look good together. He had a couple of sloppy landings that should have ended in fifth, but even the best male dancers can mess that up. Overall, I have always been impressed with his dancing. Anyway, I was glad I drove down to Miami to see this. I had to brave horrendous traffic and an accident that slowed things down. My partner and I drove to Jupiter to meet movers to move my parents' belongings up to Gainesville, and I saw that I could catch Jewels. In high school and college it was nothing to drive from Jupiter to Miami, but times have changed. The drive is HORRENDOUS! So won't be going tonight (I am back in Jupiter). I usually catch MCB during their West Palm Beach shows (20 minutes from my parents' house which is about to sell). Last night was sort of a "Goodbye" to MCB as my "sort of" official local company b/c I used to see all their shows. I probably won't anymore unless it is one I don't want to miss. I will also probably fly to West Palm or Miami for a show instead of driving from now on, since I will no longer have a home base and so I will book a hotel and fly and use uber to get around. The only really bad thing about MCB's Jewels are the backdrops. I didn't mind that the LED lights were simply green against a black backdrop during Emeralds. In fact, it sort of looked nice. They were red in Rubies but then turned into a tawdry dance hall or night club or whatever. Frankly, I don't know what it was supposed to be, but, in my opinion, it looked dumb. Then, in Diamonds it started as just white LED lights but then in the middle suddenly there was a chandelier made out of the LED lights, and I thought that was not very elegant looking. Little did I know it would get worse and become a wreath of chandeliers made out of the LED lights. It looked comical in fact. If Diamonds were a comedy it would be great. Thankfully, I care more about the dancing than the sets so it did not ruin the ballet at all. However, if I were a huge donor to MCB I would be lobbying big time for new backdrops for Jewels. Lopez is not afraid to bring in new productions (she did an underwater Midsummer and is bringing in a brand new production of Nutcracker), so next time she presents Jewels she should present it in a brand new production. I think I would have preferred a solid black backdrop for all three ballets rather than the LED lights.
  12. Drew, everytime I have seen Tereshkina (and I have seen her in person as Nikiya twice and as Odette/Odile twice among other things) she gives her complete all to the audience. I do not understand why some say she is a cold dancer. I find it to be the exact opposite. She is a very warm dancer giving her all technically and emotionally even though, in my opinion, she's not the best actress....but tries her best and gives to the audience). When I have seen her she never fails to motion to the orchestra at curtain calls to give the orchestra credit. For some reason Tereshkina is not someone I seek out to see, but when I see her in the cast I am happy. And after each performance of hers I recognize that she is a performer who strives to give her all to us. I read somewhere that she gives her best because she realizes some people come to see her instead of buying a new dress, so how can she not give her best? So that sounds like a very big hearted person too. I hope you paid attention to her series of turns that end in arabesque near the end of the scarf variation. She usually does triples ending in arabesque and does it excellently.
  13. Kolegova has been blonde for months. I think it must be a personal choice, not a character choice. I personally like her best as brunette or redhead.....she is such a stunning woman but for some reason I don't think blonde is her best color.
  14. Jovani Furlan promoted to Principal

    Wow! I stayed only for part of the curtain calls. I should have stayed longer. He was good and looks princely and great....
  15. I will agree to disagree about Kolegova. We all see things differently. However, I think Kolegova is a great adagio dancer, and she often gets cast in roles requiring adagio. She was recently cast in the Second Movement of Symphony in C. To me adagio is her forte. I have seen her Swan Lake in person and have multiple recordings. Her Act 1 Scene 2 love duet is divine. She is probably the most feminine (and most beautiful....talking about her face) Odette I have ever seen. The way she puts her hand in Siegfried's hands after he picks her up off the floor and before the assisted turns.....just a flick of her wrist makes that movement delicate and beautiful. Although she can be great in fast footwork I tend to think she seems to excel when she is moving slowly which gives her the time to make beautiful movements, and her artistry is in very subtle and final movements. Her flowing arms when she falls backwards are amazing too, but you have to pay attention to the hands at the end of the backwards falls. I saw her as Nikiya in person, and it was not her best performance, but since then I have seen her in a recording and she did much better. However, I still don't view it as my favorite role of hers. Her Gamzatti is better than I expected, because I didn't think she had the temperament, but she did a good job.