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Helene

Spring 2015: Othello

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Well, I'm not sure "Othello" can boast of first-rate choreography, but as a drama, it is a masterpiece! At least when Othello is played by the magnificent Marcelo Gomes, who was utterly riveting. Such power, such passion! Bravissimo!! If there were Oscars for ballet performances, he would certainly deserve one!

Kent made a predictably sweet (and thus tragic) Desdemona, and the partnering-heavy choreography played to her strengths. Whiteside was a despicable devious Iago. Much of the real dancing was given to Cassio, and it was an utter pleasure to see Gorak. He has nobility flowing through to the very tips of his toes. Stella Abrera and Misty Copeland were fine as Emilia and Bianca, respectively, but they didn't have much to do. Same for the corps. It's all about the key players.

I thought tonight's performance was fantastic, but still, I'm not sure I'd like to see this ballet again and again. The music fits the action perfectly, but it has an unrelenting sense of unease and foreboding, and very few breaks in the tension. I do like the melodramatic, heart-wrenching ballets, but usually I feel exhilarated and emotionally exhausted by the end. However, now I just feel like I need to run around for awhile to work off the psychological stress!

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Glad you liked Othello Batsuchan. I'm seeing that same cast tonight. Wasn't Cornejo originally scheduled to dance Cassio back when the original casting came out? I'm not complaining. Looking forward to seeing Gorak.

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I saw last night's cast with Gomes. Everyone on that stage was doing fine work and giving it their all. However, there is only so much you can do with this kind of workmanlike choreography. I completely agree with Macauley's review in the NY Times today. This is bottom drawer choreography. Sadly, the most fascinating part of the evening was noticing that a glass armonica was used in certain portions of the score. You rarely find that instrument in the symphony, much less at the ballet. The last time I recall seeing it played was during the Met's run of Lucia a few years ago (not the recent run this season). The choreography for James Whiteside was particularly goofy and silly, as he contorted, threw his arms around and made nutty faces as his "acting". At the close of Act II, when Othello sinks into mad jealousy, the closing tableau was James Whiteside standing in a spotlight, raising his hand and stroking his hair in victory. Mr. Abatt turned to me and said "It's the Fonz". (For those of you youngsters who never saw Happy Days, check it out on wikipedia or youtube. The Fonz was known for stroking his hair, among other traits.)

The Times asks why it was revived. I would guess to give Julie Kent an easy role to do in her farewell season. The audience was less than 50 percent full. How is ABT paying its bills with these dismal attendance figures. I looked at the seating chart for Hammoudi's performance today, and ticket sales are even worse than for the Gomes cast. .

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I was also at the Wednesday night performance. It was such a joy seeing Marcelo, that I could overlook the cringe-worthy choreography. In Act I, Whiteside's "acting" seemed to draw laughter from the audience, or perhaps it was discomfort. Marcelo made more of similar angst-laden solos.

Marcelo does have some impressive solos and I was intrigued by the male partnering that occurs in several segments. The partnering with various couples was also imaginative and often thrilling.

The curtain calls were very moving. Marcelo had sent out an Instagram a few hours before the performance noting that this was his last performance ever with Kent. (Her last Giselle and last R&J will be with Bolle.) It included an old photo of their earliest partnership in Swan Lake. At the end, he seemed genuinely distraught and Kent handed him the entire bouquet of flowers. Many long hugs and affectionate poses. But he still took time to turn his back to the audience and gesture his appreciation to the ensemble, just one of his many endearing qualities.

The orchestra seemed about 75% full and I couldn't see well into the tiers.

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I completely dusagree wuth the negative comments about Whiteside. I think he did a marvelous job. His turns were great, the male oartnering with Gomes and Gorak excellently executed. And to hold your own in a one to one with Marcello is no small feat! You can't blame him for the perhaps unsubtle moves such as the "hair stroke" pose. The ballet is a "short hand" of the psychologies in this presentation, and he is the villain. I think he did thst very well and danced very well besides. There are other roles that csn offer him mire of a chance for subtlety (Romeo, for instsnce).

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I agree. Whiteside is an excellent dancer, but the choreography and acting that was required of him was awful. Not his fault. As noted above, everyone in the cast did their utmost with the ghastly material they were given. Whitesides acting drew laughter, as noted by California, not because he is a bad actor. He did what Lubovitch required. Subtle is not a word in the Lubovitch lexicon.

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I saw Othello the season ABT first did it and, at that time, thought Kent's performance as Desdemona was one of the loveliest I had seen her give.

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Kent was radiant and her repoire with Marcello was evident. Still, it wasn't an example of great dancing. I like the balllet because if the commitment of all of the leads, but GISELLE it ain't.

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I saw last night's cast with Gomes. Everyone on that stage was doing fine work and giving it their all. However, there is only so much you can do with this kind of workmanlike choreography. I completely agree with Macauley's review in the NY Times today. This is bottom drawer choreography. Sadly, the most fascinating part of the evening was noticing that a glass armonica was used in certain portions of the score. You rarely find that instrument in the symphony, much less at the ballet. The last time I recall seeing it played was during the Met's run of Lucia a few years ago (not the recent run this season). The choreography for James Whiteside was particularly goofy and silly, as he contorted, threw his arms around and made nutty faces as his "acting". At the close of Act II, when Othello sinks into mad jealousy, the closing tableau was James Whiteside standing in a spotlight, raising his hand and stroking his hair in victory. Mr. Abatt turned to me and said "It's the Fonz". (For those of you youngsters who never saw Happy Days, check it out on wikipedia or youtube. The Fonz was known for stroking his hair, among other traits.)

The Times asks why it was revived. I would guess to give Julie Kent an easy role to do in her farewell season. The audience was less than 50 percent full. How is ABT paying its bills with these dismal attendance figures. I looked at the seating chart for Hammoudi's performance today, and ticket sales are even worse than for the Gomes cast. .

When I think of all the great and wonderful choreographers that have done work for ABT, Lar Lubavitch's name does not come to mind. Decidedly third rate stuff. Why, indeed, was this revived for this anniversary season in particular? All that time and money. What a complete waste. If ABT wanted another ballet for Julie to dance in her final season why not revive the splendid "Dark Elegies" by Tudor? This is a far superior work and Julie was always so moving in it. And while we're at it, why wasn't ANY Tharp being done this season? (OK, the Gala audience got "Push"). But the "Bach Partita" or "Upper Room" surely would have been better choices than "Othello". The mind boggles.

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I saw last night's cast with Alexandre Hammoudi, Gillian Murphy, Cory Stearns, Veronika Part, and Blaine Hoven. Gillian is looking better than ever. (Her expressiveness just grows every season.) I haven't been much of a fan of Hammoudi or Hoven, but they both won me over with this performance and were looking great. This is the first time I've watched Hammoudi where I totally bought his acting (and was convinced of his principal-potential), and it made me want to see more. Cory does a great job in the Iago-type roles. Veronika was a little cold to me, but I'm pretty sure that's on me, not her.

The corps was looking absolutely fantastic, and Luciana Paris really stole the show as Bianca. The Venetian quintet also looked great. The girls especially were very sharp.

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When I think of all the great and wonderful choreographers that have done work for ABT, Lar Lubavitch's name does not come to mind. Decidedly third rate stuff. Why, indeed, was this revived for this anniversary season in particular? All that time and money. What a complete waste. If ABT wanted another ballet for Julie to dance in her final season why not revive the splendid "Dark Elegies" by Tudor? This is a far superior work and Julie was always so moving in it. And while we're at it, why wasn't ANY Tharp being done this season? (OK, the Gala audience got "Push"). But the "Bach Partita" or "Upper Room" surely would have been better choices than "Othello". The mind boggles.

I'd questioned this revival too. But I remember hearing an interview with McKenzie (the PBS documentary?) in which he pointed out that Othello was the first full-evening-length original ballet that ABT had ever commissioned (all other new commissions up to that point had been short works; all other full-evening-length works were revivals of classics). Given the 75th anniversary, they might have felt that it was a landmark they couldn't ignore. (The fact that they only tacked four performances onto the week of other heritage works suggests that their estimation of the work isn't too high, either.)

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I'd questioned this revival too. But I remember hearing an interview with McKenzie (the PBS documentary?) in which he pointed out that Othello was the first full-evening-length original ballet that ABT had ever commissioned (all other new commissions up to that point had been short works; all other full-evening-length works were revivals of classics). Given the 75th anniversary, they might have felt that it was a landmark they couldn't ignore. (The fact that they only tacked four performances onto the week of other heritage works suggests that their estimation of the work isn't too high, either.)

All "landmarks" are not created equal. These performances take time, money, etc. to do or revive. OK, as a vehicle for Julie and/or Gomes (who doesn't need them), and perhaps an opportunity for some to dance in some other roles, it might have a bit of merit. Still, most audiences don't know (or care) that this was a "first" for ABT. Ticket sales were not so wonderful, even for the four performances.

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