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I too would like to see another week of mixed bills. I save my playbills and in reviewing them I see that in the last 10 years I have seen a few evenings of wonderful mixed repertory pieces at ABT. In the earlier years some of these pieces were performed at the opening galas, which I attended sporadically. But I too would like to revive some Macmillan, Ashton, even Twyla Tharp, which I remember fondly from the days of Baryshnikov. I have a ticket for Tchaikovsky Spectacular, in which a potpourri of emerging great ballerinas are scheduled to dance, and I'm excited about that. I'm all for livening up the ABT repertory while keeping the big moneymakers like Giselle (still love it) and SL so the company can stay solvent. Maybe we need to start a new topic to discuss this? How do others feel?

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4 minutes ago, CTballetfan said:

I too would like to see another week of mixed bills.... I'm all for livening up the ABT repertory while keeping the big moneymakers like Giselle (still love it) and SL so the company can stay solvent. Maybe we need to start a new topic to discuss this? How do others feel?

 

Is it time to start a 2018 Met Season Prediction thread? We could continue the discussion there.

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I'm usually not one for super dramatic ballets without a great deal of dancing, but have to say that Onegin pleasantly surprised me. I have seen it before and didn't have great recollections of it, but really enjoyed Ferri/Bolle and Lane/Simkin on Tuesday night, and there was a lot more dancing in it than I remembered. Bolle in particular was spot on in his characterization IMO and very strong in the partnering and lifts with Ferri.

 

Regarding the lineup of programs: what I don't understand is why they brought back Golden Cockerel for a second year. Did they have a two-year rental agreement on the sets/costumes or something? It was nice to see once for the spectacle, but it didn't seem like it sold very well even last year and didn't contain much dancing at all. Would've really loved to see La Fille Mal Gardée again instead, as it's not done too often here and just such a charming ballet amidst all the dramas and tragedies.

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34 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

I think if Vishneva wasn't leaving and Ferri wasn't returning (again), they wouldn't have scheduled Onegin. Instead it would have been another full-length dance-intensive ballet, not a "fluff" drama.

I don't think this only relates to Vishneva and Ferri.  Gomes, Hallberg, Bolle and Abrera are older and/or fragile dancers. This isn't meant as an insult.  Gomes and Hallberg have clearly dropped a lot of roles, and it remains to be seen whether Hallberg will feel sufficiently recovered to take on the big classical roles again like SL, DonQ and the like.  The fluff  ballets help them add appearances during the season.  Going forward, after Vishneva's departure, I believe that we will see Misty cast more in these fluff ballets too, because she can appear twice in one week and give the box office a big bump.  

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This may be a bit off-topic, but I remember in the old days (1970s) ABT seemed to do many more mixed programs during a season than they do now. I'd much rather see a season with a few full length ballets and a few weeks of mixed programs. I was really surprised when we moved to NYC to see that ABT does week after week of full-lengths. It becomes so tedious for me as an audience member and I've got to think for the dancers, too, both veterans and up-and-comers. They don't get much opportunity to stretch themselves artistically, unlike the dancers at NYCB.  Perhaps ABT just isn't my cup of tea. I tend to get really bored with the old chestnuts, especially if, as it seems this year, several of the key dancers are not up to the technical challenges (Swan Lake fouettes, for example). If ABT is going to put on the full-lengths, they've got to be performed with technical excellence, and they are just not at this point in time. So I welcome the chance to see a more contemporary full-length ballet, like Onegin, which offers a break in the monotony of endless Le Corsaires, Swan Lakes and Don Qs. Just my humble opinion. :)  

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Count me in the minority, but I still like Onegin and Manon (and R&J), especially when they are danced by dancers who can handle the acting/characterizations.  I will forever remember Vishneva's and Gomes' Manon performance (Vishneva's 10th anniversary performance).  

 

Plus, as a relative newb to the ballet world (about 5 years now), I think that something like R&J or Manon may be more accessible to the public who has not seen a lot of classical ballet versus something like...Sleeping Beauty.  While I completely adore Sleeping Beauty now, five years ago I couldn't say that.

 

I am super happy to hear the Stearns/Abera pairing went well! 

Edited by Kaysta

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3 hours ago, Natalia said:

 

Also Hynd's Merry Widow. For me, unless the set & costume designs are truly spectacular, as they used to be in the original Onegin, I don't waste time & money on the mid-20th-C full-evening narrative ballets, no matter who's dancing. I'd rather see an evening of Balanchine "Blacks and Whites" danced by NYCB.

 

Natalia, thank you for bringing up the original Jergen Rose production - it was wonderful to learn more about it.

The original Oniegin production was a unified Cranko/Jurgen vision which should have been preserved. This  is still the go to for Stuttgard Ballet , the Hungarian ballet and I am sure some other European houses that pay attention to period .   It is not even the lavishness, but rather the connection with Romanticism - the sensibility,  art and lets say zeitgeist of that period.  Perhaps that is why Europeans do it better, though I think in the US it would be the Sarasota Ballet that would pull it off as their esthetic would be a good match and of course I think Ashton, whom they promote is part of that Romantic tradition and draws from it.    

The scenery of the original is sparse and lets the dancers almost be silhouetted against the background, as often in Empire painting.  So help me the duel scene makes me think of Caspar David Friedrich.

It takes a lot of knowledge and culture to pull this off.  And the original does recreate the feel of country life sweetness as well as the high society in the Biedermeier period 10 years later .

understanding this as a work of Romanticism also  translates to how the characters are interpreted.  Onegin is much to complex to be a "bad guy" etc.

 

Onegin plays in Europe because people grow up with it and love it.  Its like the "Little Prince"  it just has a special place in the heart.  

 

 

 

 

 

Does this feel like the same ballet?  Lensky can actually emanate simple happiness!  The pas de deux is gorgeous.

Edited by Mazurka

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2 hours ago, ABT Fan said:

I think if Vishneva wasn't leaving and Ferri wasn't returning (again), they wouldn't have scheduled Onegin.

I wonder if Vishneva requested this for her farewell.  Onegin is so special for the Russians.

 

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43 minutes ago, Kaysta said:

Count me in the minority, but I still like Onegin and Manon (and R&J),

 

I really do not think you are in a minority in liking Onegin and Manon and R&J. I am in fact astounded at people saying that they don't like Onegin, it has no dancing in it, etc. etc.

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Getting really off-topic now, but there was once clamoring on here for a revival of the Tudor R&J.  (I still remember Reyes and Cornejo dancing the bedroom pas de deux when they had the Tudor celebration season at City Center)  This is something I'd like to see in favor of the MacMillan production.

 

The Fall season is generally devoted to mixed bills.  I thought the current Spring programming was in part due to the size of the Met stage, which seems to demand sets and spectacle.  Rooting for Les Patineurs this fall!

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I wouldn't want to see "The Merry Widow" every second (or third) season, but I love the music, and saw some of the most wonderful characterizations when PNB last did it.  One of my favorite PNB memories was the heart-breaking way in which Uko Gorter so graciously let Valencienne go.  It makes me verklempt all over again thinking about it.

 

Edited to Add:  I've seen a number of R&J's that I've liked.  One I think was by Rudi van Danzig that was on YouTube, with Juliet performed by a wonderful blond dancer from Dutch National Ballet.  I would love to be able to see the Tudor.  I loved Kent Stowell's "The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet," that was set to a Tchaikovsky score crafted by Stowell and Stewart Kershaw.  

 

I just don't like the McMillan.  Or his "Manon."  I've never seen "Onegin,' but I know the reverence in which Russians hold the original, as well as the opera.

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56 minutes ago, Mazurka said:

...... I think in the US it would be the Sarasota Ballet that would pull it off as their esthetic would be a good match and of course I think Ashton, whom they promote is part of that Romantic tradition and draws from it.     

 

 

 

iness!  The pas de deux is gorgeous.

 

Thanks for all of this, Mazurka, including the lovely clips. Unfortunately, the recent Board, staffing (# of dancers cut) & overall budgetary changes in Sarasota no longer make staging the Rose-designed Onegin (or any Onegin) a realistic option for that troupe. 

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4 hours ago, DeCoster said:

Getting really off-topic now, but there was once clamoring on here for a revival of the Tudor R&J.  (I still remember Reyes and Cornejo dancing the bedroom pas de deux when they had the Tudor celebration season at City Center)  This is something I'd like to see in favor of the MacMillan production.

 

The Fall season is generally devoted to mixed bills.  I thought the current Spring programming was in part due to the size of the Met stage, which seems to demand sets and spectacle.  Rooting for Les Patineurs this fall!

I believe the Tudor R&J is a one act ballet and would be on a mixed bill program

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6 hours ago, kbarber said:

 

I really do not think you are in a minority in liking Onegin and Manon and R&J. I am in fact astounded at people saying that they don't like Onegin, it has no dancing in it, etc. etc.

 

I can see why serious balletomanes like us might find these partnering-heavy ballets to be boring, and personally I find "Onegin" to be one of the weakest.  I much prefer "Manon," "Romeo & Juliet," and even the very-divisive "Lady of the Camellias."  However, I think "Onegin" can be an extraordinary vehicle for an exceptional pair of lead dancers, such as Vishneva/Gomes.   I took about 10 people--mostly ballet newbies--to see them on Monday, and I'm taking about a dozen people to see them tomorrow.  

 

Would I take them to see another cast in "Onegin"?  Maybe.  Would I recommend a mixed bill to them?  Absolutely not*.

 

I think that for ballet newbies, "Onegin" is a great "gateway" ballet.  It tells its story very clearly and very compellingly, and that plot gives you something to latch on to when you don't know enough to judge how cleanly a dancer does his entrechat sixes, or how solidly a ballerina does her fouettes.  Personally, I try to get my friends interested in watching ballet with one of these dramatic ballets, and if they become more interested in the art form, then perhaps I would recommend something that is more technique-heavy and relies less on a cohesive plot...

 

(* Unless it contains "In the upper room," which I would recommend to everyone and anyone.)

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I have non-ballet friends for whom a mixed bill has turned out to be a better bet to introduce them to ballet. But I think it depends a lot on other factors--including the the kind of art and music they enjoy generally and also, the dancers. People new to the ballet will often say they don't know the difference when it comes to dancers, but I have usually found that they feel it in their bones the same as the most sophisticated viewer does even if they can't articulate the differences in the same way. I never took someone to see Kirkland who didn't instantly understand why I adored her.  Certainly I would take someone to see Vishneva in Onegin that I might not otherwise take to see Onegin.

 

I will say that all these posts make me think of my father who very much enjoyed Macmillan's Romeo and Juliet when he saw it with my mother and myself. We were going to see Ferri's first Juliet with ABT, and it was my father's first time seeing Romeo and Juliet at all. He not only called it the best ballet he had ever seen, but spoke about all aspects of it so warmly (a way of talking that was not his wont after a ballet) that it suddenly occurred to my not-very-astute younger self, that he must have been pretty bored by most other performances he came with us to see--which was a lot--and just too nice to complain. Not a balletomane, but a great dad!

Edited by Drew

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I actually adore the corps segments of Onegin as much as the soloists' parts, especially the A1 Russian-folk dance...that high-voltage criss-cross of the couples w/ the guys supporting the gals' grand jetes across the stage, at breakneck speed. It's a highlight of the corps ballet repertoire anywhere! The various corps ballroom dances in As 2 & 3 are also fantastic.

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54 minutes ago, Natalia said:

I actually adore the corps segments of Onegin as much as the soloists' parts, especially the A1 Russian-folk dance...that high-voltage criss-cross of the couples w/ the guys supporting the gals' grand jetes across the stage, at breakneck speed. It's a highlight of the corps ballet repertoire anywhere! The various corps ballroom dances in As 2 & 3 are also fantastic.

Yes! I attended last night's performance and I really loved the corps segments, particularly the supported grand jetes. This was my first time seeing Onegin or a Cranko ballet for that matter and I very much enjoyed it. I think that the cast played a big part in it - Bolle and Ferri and Simkin and Lane were wonderful in their respective pas de deux, and I thought their acting was spot on. Simkin has really matured in that regard. Even Whiteside surprised me in a good way (I don't usually very much care for him) by delivering a solid partnering performance in Act III. 

 

I don't know that I would say there wasn't enough dancing - certainly no fouettes, but the various lifts demand so much trust and precision, it's equally demanding, I think, only for a different part of the dancers' skill. And they're wonderful to look at, at least to me. 

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Seeing "Onegin" again last night brought back my memory of meeting John Cranko when the Royal Ballet (then "Sadler's Wells) came to NYC in 1949 for the first time.  As students, we learned that a reception was being held for the Company at the NY Public Library on 42nd Street & 5th Ave and we managed to 'crash it and spent the evening sitting on a slab of marble talking to Cranko (who was a Corps member at the time) about Ballet on his part of the pond and ours.  He was so bright and articulate.  We didn't manage to see any of the 'stars' but believed we got the better part!

At last night's performance I thought Simkin and Lane (Lensky/Olga) would walk away with the laurels--so compelling was their PDD---but Ferri and Bolle, after a slow start, held their own.  To see a passionate "Onegin" I recommend the film with Ralph Fiennes!!!

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34 minutes ago, atm711 said:

To see a passionate "Onegin" I recommend the film with Ralph Fiennes!!!

 

but his arabesque line's not so hot ;-)

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46 minutes ago, atm711 said:

 

At last night's performance I thought Simkin and Lane (Lensky/Olga) would walk away with the laurels--so compelling was their PDD---but Ferri and Bolle, after a slow start, held their own.  To see a passionate "Onegin" I recommend the film with Ralph Fiennes!!!

Everyone performed better on Thursday evening than on Tuesday evening (same cast entirely).  Only issue was Ferri's difficulty in her solo in Act II, right before Onegin slams his fists down on the card table.  Bolle had fallen out of some of his turns on Tuesday, but they were much better last night. The final scene of Act III was devastating and brilliant. 

 

For an Onegin opera performance, I recommend Hvorostovsky and Fleming at the Met Opera from a number of years ago.  The singing and acting were so good it brought tears to my eyes at the opera house.  Available on DVD.

 

Can I conjure my mirror so that Roberto Bolle emerges from it ?

 

 

Edited by abatt

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I really liked Tuesday's performance, so attended again last night and it was even better. Especially, Simkin and Lane were much better yesterday so the whole performance was higher level. I sat quite close to the stage and could see the facial expressions of Bolle and Ferri, and their actings were sublime and in the end Act 3 made me tear up. I felt so fortunate to see the moment. 

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2 minutes ago, nana said:

I really liked Tuesday's performance, so attended again last night and it was even better. Especially, Simkin and Lane were much better yesterday so the whole performance was higher level. I sat quite close to the stage and could see the facial expressions of Bolle and Ferri, and their actings were sublime and in the end Act 3 made me tear up. I felt so fortunate to see the moment. 

 

I attended last night, and agree with everything that was said above about the remarkable performances of all the dancers, including the corps de ballet. The only thing I would add is that all the dancers have such beautiful lines so that everything they did, in addition to being dramatic, had a classical refinement that elevated the performance to a fine art. Which, at its best, ballet is.

 

After all the posts I read initially about Onegin not having enough dancing, I was surprised by how much dancing there is. This is a gorgeous ballet. I hope ABT keeps it in its rotational repertoire.

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Usually they do these novelty ballets two consecutive years, because they have already invested the time and money in teaching the roles.  I anticipate that Onegin may return again next season, and then put into storage again for a few years.

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Some beautiful video clips (and sentiments) from Vishneva's Instagram:

 

 

Vishneva memories I'll never forget: her astonishing first Giselle with Corella, with a mad scene that sent chills down the spine; when she made time stand still in the Thais pas de deux with Jared Matthews; when she brought the house down in the Manon bedroom pas de deux with Carreno (earning an ovation like none I've ever experienced during a mixed program*); and every moment of abandon she shared onstage with Gomes, of course! 

 

*edited to add: I just remembered an additional detail: She made a heart sign with her hands over her chest during the ovation, and then extended them to the audience. Only Vishneva could get away with that! ;)

Edited by fondoffouettes

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It might be hard to find the right partner for her but I think Veronika Part would be a wonderful Tatiana.

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