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ABT in Chicago

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According the Chicago Tribune article linked above, next year ABT is bringing Sleeping Beauty to Chicago.

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Q: Where is Ethan? Did he do Siegfried weeks previously?

Ethan Stiefel opened the Detroit appearances dancing a very fine Siegfried with Gillian Murphy.

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Thanks to all re: Ethan Stiefel's whereabouts.

QUICK NOTES for now re: Chicago....

The Chicago Tribune loved the opening performance by Kent & Corella, but thought corps was flat and/or tired. I thought the orchestra was definately that, and worse--(horns again--probably due to quick change in barometric pressure as evening wore on, and some major tempo changes)--they were better the next night when the weather had stabilized more. I didn't know this was first time Kent & Corella had done full-length together?! Interesting, but I'm not sure it works exactly because so many other things were in play at the time such as all those cast shufflings, Corella's hectic schedule between ABT and Spain, this supposed fist-pairing in the full-length, and those orchestral mishaps etc.etc...?

Corella, was probably tired from the major doings on his plate in Spain, and consequently did a lot of compensatory action technically, which I noticed but obviously the Trib's reviewer didn't see. What I did see were some actions slowed down considerably to stretch (and heighten) the dramatic moment (which worked for the most part), and others almost shockingly sped up (which put him ahead of phrase several times(!) something he is usually MUCH more conscientious of); it made the audience go "wow" but made me think he just wanted to 'get through it as quickly as possible.' Also noticed the usual full extension (rt.side mostly) was missing or sharply held in the back to curtail momentum and a mushed control on those rt-side turns.

Corella can act--especially in this role, and, as ABT has noted, it's what each principal uniquely brings to the role(s) that makes R&J so fascinating to watch. So yes, the speed and fury of the fight with Tybalt is still very evident from previous performances--as was the bent sword (of couse in fencing the tips are always bent to give them more "spring.) The two lovers interactions, however, were more contained (restrained?) than with other partners. It sort of reminded me of first dates where the couple is attracted, but more a fascinated, wondering curiosity, still 'feeling' each other out, and only developing slowly to true passion. And that probably had a lot to do with Ms. Kent, who definately brings a porcelain delicacy to Juliet: beautiful dancing and line as usual, sweetness, and vulnerability, but never quite the total abandon to love and fate. A very warm simmer, but not a hot sizzle. (An intellectual approach to the role?)

I preferred the following night's pairing with Xiomara, which was on a whole different plane altogether, with more experience behind it. There the temperaments were better matched, and consequently, despite some technical skirting again, was a true give & take, with each artist feeding and reacting to each other in a true conversation both choreographically and emotionally.

Craig Salstein did a good Mercutio--esp. the second night. And Sascha Radetsky was his usual haughty, uptight, menace as Tybalt. (There was quite a close call at the end of the duel with Romeo, which some careful choreography and acting saved.)

Just my generic musings for now--and rather jetlagged again. Cannot wait to read how the BIG DEBUTS this weekend work out. How exciting that will be.

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I'm very interested in hearing how Cornejo and Murphy did in their debuts. Has anyone caught their performances??

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Stiefel is guesting in Australia right now. According to newspapers down there, he'll be back in New York in the coming week.

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Just looking out of the window

Watching the asphalt grow

Thinking how it all looks hand me down . . .

Another year, another ugly view of downtown Chicago as my train rolled into the station . . .

I attended the Sunday matinee with Herman Cornejo and Xiomara Reyes. The Opera House was very full -- not a complete sellout but very close.

Here are some general thoughts:

Romeo and Juliet

As a ballet, I found this disappointing. I guess I just have a bias against ballets where there is SO MUCH miming going on and SO LITTLE actual dancing. But that's my limitation and not ABT's.

Prokofiev's Score

I had never heard this score in its entirety -- my head is still ringing! I couldn't help but think that this score was the inspiration for the music for the Star Wars movies. It was so bombastic at points that I expected Darth Vader to march onstage! :)

Herman Cornejo

This was only (I think) his second performance in this part so I don't want to say too much about his acting. He was neither great nor terrible -- he needs time to grow into it and I think he will.

His dancing (what little of it there was) was splendid. Since I came and went with the story, I found myself watching him in an abstracted way (much like I did with Maxim Beloserkovsky last year) and was very, very impressed with what I saw.

Xiomara Reyes

In terms of her physical appearance, she was almost ridiculously typecast as Juliet. Again, as with Cornejo, I found it difficult to really assess her dancing as Juliet's dance content was so episodic. What we saw was fine but Juliet doesn't strike me as a great part for a ballerina who sees herself as a dancer-dancer instead of an actor-dancer.

Sascha Radetsky and Craig Salstein

Frankly, I though these two (especially Salstein) stole the show. Radetsky is looking very sleek these days and his dancing was strong and manly. He is also an actor-dancer of considerable depth. So why isn't he getting an opportunity to play parts like Romeo when he is clearly up to the task?

As good as Radetsky was, I have to say that Salstein was even better. What marvelous comic timing he has -- even Lucille Ball would envy it! Of all the performers on stage, I would have to say that he gave the most fully-rounded performance. Every movement, every gesture, every nuance -- everything was pitch perfect.

I was also very impressed with his dancing. He does not have the perfect male ballet body that we have all come to expect -- he has a very "mesomorphy" build. As a result, he does not have (and probably will never have) the most perfect line. Still, the way he guts through these physical limitations and presents himself cleanly and unaffectedly is quite impressive. A+ buddy!

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed this well enough but, as I have said, I'm not a big fan of ballets that are mimed versions of classic plays. My bottom line would be that, if you're going to stage a three-hour version of Romeo and Juliet, then give me Shakespeare's dialogue. Anything less is just a pale substitute.

Sleeping Beauty next year . . .

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Romeo and Juliet

As a ballet, I found this disappointing. I guess I just have a bias against ballets where there is SO MUCH miming going on and SO LITTLE actual dancing. But that's my limitation and not ABT's.

My thoughts exactly! It was verging on boring Saturday night. The crowd scenes are an endless sea of brown, with occasional bursts of dancing. Okay, so this isn't a ballet with virtuoso turns and phrases -- you can still make it interesting. On balance, I prefer the Cranko choreography. Somehow, it manages to bring out the details so they don't get literally lost in the crowd. (For starters, there's less of a crowd to deal with.)

Hallberg was tremendous as Romeo, Murphy was fine as Juliet. Not having ever seen Jesus Pastor, I honestly was not clear which of the sidekicks was Benvolio and which was Mercutio until Mercutio's final scene. That does not speak well for the acting. Nor did I find Benvolio and Mercutio particularly fun-loving, or diverting in the ball scene. I am used to boyish shenanigans, played by boyish dancers such as the Joffrey's Calvin Kitten (not boy-aged, I know, but still plays the type well) and John Gluckman.

Overall, it was a tired, lackluster performance. The corps was not particularly together. The music was better once the dancing started; for a few moments during the overture I actually wondered if the strings and horns were working off the same score.

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Hallberg was tremendous as Romeo, Murphy was fine as Juliet.

Did anyone else go? Treefrog, do you have any more to add? I've been so immensely curious as to what murphy would do as juliet, and while fine is better than bad, I'd love to hear more :)

anyone? nudge nudge

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Hallberg was tremendous as Romeo, Murphy was fine as Juliet.

Did anyone else go? Treefrog, do you have any more to add? I've been so immensely curious as to what murphy would do as juliet, and while fine is better than bad, I'd love to hear more :blink:

anyone? nudge nudge

Yes, please - if anyone who saw the Murphy/Hallberg R&J is inclined to post a few more details please know that they would be greatly appreciated.

Pretty please?

Susan

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One side note:

I had an hour-and-a-half wait between the time the performance ended and my train departed. So, I hung around the stage door with all the teenage girls to see some of the dancers leave. By far the biggest autograph draw for the teenage girls was Sascha Radetsky. He was very sweet with them -- he stopped and signed every autograph even though he had a cab waiting for him.

Oh Charlie, your fan base is as strong as ever -- when are you going to give your adoring public Center Stage 2? :blink:

(And no, I didn't ask anyone for an autograph!)

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Speaking of the stage door -- I thought it was incredibly bad form for a certain male dancer in full makeup to smoke a cigarette just outside the stage door 20 minutes before curtain. The stage door is not hidden in some alley; it fronts onto the same street (Wacker Drive) as the main entrance, and many, many members of the audience pass it by on their way to the show.

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Speaking of the stage door -- I thought it was incredibly bad form for a certain male dancer in full makeup to smoke a cigarette just outside the stage door 20 minutes before curtain. The stage door is not hidden in some alley; it fronts onto the same street (Wacker Drive) as the main entrance, and many, many members of the audience pass it by on their way to the show.

Hmm.. principal or soloist??

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