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About Birdsall

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  1. Birdsall

    Mariinsky Ballet China tour 2018

    Okay, I am glad to hear that he didn't cause it.
  2. Birdsall

    Mariinsky Ballet China tour 2018

    If the turns that slow down instead of speeding up that you mention were assisted turns (with Parish assisting with finger turns or paddle turns) then the fault is probably Parish. He is notorious for slowing down ballerinas during turns. He's gotten better, but it used to be the second he put his hands on the ballerina she would almost come to a complete stop and occasionally looked like he knocked her off balance. I have seen him doing better recently, but he's still not great at helping the ballerina.
  3. Birdsall

    Bolshoi Ballet Summer 2019 ROH London Residency

    Yes, the restaurants were easy to get into even without a reservation because early September is when the Milanese are away. But from my seats at all the shows the theatre didn’t look empty at all to me. A few seats here and there in some boxes looked vacant but not shockingly empty. So surprised the shows were considered poorly sold.
  4. Birdsall

    Season Opening. TPC#2. Concerto Barocco.

    Yes! It is strange how I suffer for this art, and I am just a $&@ing spectator!!!! LOL We expect dancers to have injuries from time to time, not audience members!!!
  5. Birdsall

    Season Opening. TPC#2. Concerto Barocco.

    I saw this program at the Kravis this weekend. I actually wasn’t planning to go down south for this but have the week off and visited a friend. Saturday night had Simone Messmer, Ashley Knox, and Jovani Furlan in Concerto Barocco. It has taken me time to warm up to Messmer. She was hired and immediately treated like the star of the company getting all major roles and all Opening Nights when there were dancers who I felt were better still not getting major roles. However, last season I enjoyed Messmer a lot more, and in Concerto Barocco I really loved what she was doing especially in the elegant 2nd movement. She now seems to be a solid member of the company who is hardworking and fitting in on stage as part of the ensemble. She no longer exudes a diva attitude on stage and seems humble and committed to the choreography. Jovani Furlan partnered her well too. There are so many lifts and he did them well. Ashley Knox was also great. Company B is fun, and even moving at times, as CubanMiamiBoy says above. The standouts were Jovani Furlan’s “Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!” And Alexander Peters in “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”... Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 is one of my favorite Balanchine ballets, and MCB did it justice and some. I saw multiple performances last time they did it so was glad I got to see it again with it’s intricate patterns of people weaving in and around (and not just when the main male moves the corps). It was nice to see Jeanette Delgado back with the company with her megawatt smile. She toned the smile down for this elegant and serious work but it came through at times. My favorite moment is how she did the chaine turns, sped them up, and ended in arabesque near the wings. She would fit in at NYCB...my favorite moment in Diamonds is when the female does almost the same thing (chaine turns that suddenly go at breakneck speed....my experiences at NYCB is that this is how they dance it whereas MCB disappointed me a little in that moment when they did Diamonds). Anyway, Delgado did the turns great! Renato Penteado was replaced by Rainer Krenstetter who did well. He is always elegant. Nathalie Arja brought her unending supply of energy to the 2nd female. She is actually the most exciting dancer at MCB because she seems full of love for the dance. I returned for Sunday’s matinee. In Concerto Barocco Katia Carranza was replaced by Simone Messmer. Jennifer Lauren also danced. Reyneris Reyes was replaced with Jovani Furlan. All did wonderfully just like the night before. Company B had basically the same cast with Furlan and Peters being the standouts again, although this time I liked Ellen Grocki’s sexy “Rum and Coca-Cola” more than the previous night. Helen Ruiz was also very moving in “There Will Never Be Another You.” Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 featured Tricia Albertson, Renato Cerdeiro (who was in the audience the previous night), and Ashley Knox. This cast was great too. My only little quibble was that Albertson didn’t speed up the chaine turns the way I like, but she was wonderful in everything else. I actually thought I was going to miss this show but glad I went. The simple, yet elegant Concerto Barocco and breathtaking Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 with a fun Company B sandwiched in between was a great programming idea. As I left I got out on the wrong floor in the parking garage, realized it, turned quickly around and started walking back to the stairs forgetting I had just walked over a wide curb thing in the middle of the garage, so I tripped on it and went flying flat on my face. I am okay but scraped lip, palms, and knees. Basically, a reminder to watch where you are walking in the Kravis parking lot!!! They did have the sides painted yellow, but I was literally right beside it and had just stepped off but confused that I didn’t see my car so my mind was elsewhere. If you know the Kravis you know how crazy the parking garage can be as everyone leaves (older people can’t move except when leaving the ballet for their cars...then suddenly they are 20 years old), but take your time!!!! Don’t get hurt!
  6. I have to say that I found Parish's Apollo very boyish too, which I did not like. He looked and acted like the type of boy who sits at the front of the class eager to answer every question the teacher asks, and who would always color within the lines when given a coloring sheet. His acting was disappointing even his acting through movement especially his strumming arms at the beginning. It looked like a rehearsal for him, in my opinion, instead of a professional performance....like he's still learning the role and is just not up to the task. He also had trouble with the women linking arms and turning. At the Mariinsky he used to be a weak partner, but he has improved slowly over time, but he's still a weak partner at times. I like him best when he dances by himself and the focus is on dancing and not any acting. For me personally Apollo needs more command of the stage. I liked all 3 Vaganova grads to varying degrees, but I agree that Khoreva seemed to take her role more seriously. I feel Apollo is a mismatch to Parish's personality and wish they had sent someone else like Stepin.
  7. So far I have seen 2 out of the 3 shows I have tickets for....on paper this sounded like a great idea (various companies paying homage to Balanchine), but so far in reality a bit disappointing. So far I feel the best Balanchine style (not counting NYCB) was exhibited by Miami City Ballet (despite a mistake by one of the women). I think it is important that other companies do Balanchine and I do think his choreography shines through even with different company styles, but it does sometimes look “off”.....my biggest disappointment has been the Paris Opera Ballet dancers in Midsummer PDD....
  8. I have a Lucia from her debut run from February 1959 at the Royal Opera......I don't think it was Opening Night. I would have to research, but it was from the first run (her first Lucias ever) that really made her an overnight sensation, and it is proof that Sutherland could be very effective in the drama department. Her amazing technique was what carried her through her career and kept her fame alive, but she could be more than just a wind up doll also. Without the bootlegs we would not have Callas in Anna Bolena (on fire in the final scene) or her wild Medea in Dallas after being fired by Bing at the Met. She sings like she has a score to settle. You are right about her Normas and the first studio recording (I disagree with John Ardoin who wrote that her 2nd studio Norma was better due to more dramatic insight and a better supporting cast......to me the 2nd studio shows how here voice had declined and her first one shows so much power and ENOUGH or PLENTY of incisive drama.......nobody has come close to creating so much drama in Norma, although Caballe comes very close in the L'Orange video). Her bootleg from 1958 of Traviata makes me weep when she sings after Alfredo throws the money at her as well as her "Addio del passato....." All three of these greats (Callas, Sutherland, Caballe) ruined Norma for us all......no one else has measured up, imho. It continues to be the Mount Everest role for sopranos and no one has knocked those three off their pedestals.
  9. This is why bootleg audio recordings are traded, bought, and sold. Many opera singers are much better "live" rather than on studio recordings. Callas sings with such intensity with her words even more than her studio recordings. Caballe proves that she could be "a beast of the theater" as you say on live recordings. Even Dame Joan Sutherland, usually thought of as a technically incredible voice but lousy at the drama, has even shown more acting on her bootlegs.
  10. I love Caballe and saw her live on the tail end of her career, where she began to use her famed piannissimi even when the score said, "forte" (she even admitted that she really didn't have the high notes for the bel canto repertoire, so her forte notes were often screamy but occasionally fine, and she relied on her floated pianissimi more and more, but I couldn't complain. Her piannissimi were so gorgeous. One of my all-time favorite moments is when she holds a piano note forever in Maria Stuarda during the preghiera, and just when she SHOULD run out of breath she credscendos instead. I don't think any other soprano has done that. The very end of Don Carlo had her holding a piano note until the orchestra stops. Her studio Norma is mediocre, but her video of Norma at the antique theatre in L'Orange is amazing! She's totally on fire! And the wind that night helps to create a turbulent atmosphere. She is one of the greats!
  11. Birdsall

    Yulia Stepanova

    I have to admit that I don't like the color scheme of the costumes/sets in the first scene and the second act of the Grigorovich's Swan Lake. It does look depressing compared to the Mariinsky's (Sergeyev's) version. I love the swan scenes in both versions. There are distinct differences even though the first swan scene is almost identical. I don't mind the choreographic differences or even the Evil Genius at the Bolshoi or jester in the Mariinsky. I love the Sergeyev version more than any other version in the world, but I find the Grigorovich version has grown on me.
  12. Birdsall

    Svetlana Zakharova

    Laurent, This is true. I am just a fan of both ballet and opera, although I have much more experience with opera. I do think the performing arts have always had "experts" and simple fans giving opinions. Sometimes experts can be so caught up in the technical aspects they miss other aspects. Fans can sometimes see things with a different perspective that is fresh compared to an older, experienced critic. Both can be dismissive of great artists as well. Even critics and/or experts disagree on some dancers and singers and fight like cats and dogs. Even today people argue over Maria Callas and Dame Joan Sutherland and probably always will. People hear and see things differently no matter what their background is. Art is very subjective. But I do try to stay positive when I see an artist give her all. I just saw Svetlana Zakharova in the Bolshoi's La Bayadere in Milan, and I think it is a shame that many on BA dismiss her due to her high extensions. She has given very good and some great performances over the years and, in my opinion, she deserves respect as an artist.
  13. Birdsall

    Yulia Stepanova

    That looks almost identical to the Sergeyev, except that she lingers on the floor a little longer. When I saw her in the Sergeyev Mariinsky version instead of lingering on the floor she got up and went from side to side showing how weak Odette felt followed by the high attitudes (which you also see here). Nadezhda Batoeva recently debuted and did a 2nd Swan Lake at the Mariinsky, and she lingered on the floor just as Stepanova does here. So I think it is the Sergeyev, but apparently there are slight variations on the small details of Sergeyev's version.
  14. Birdsall

    Bolshoi at Teatro alla Scala

    That's true, Drew. Zakharova was the most experienced, and she was very good. She is still worth seeing. And Rodkin partnered her very well. So that was a recipe for being the best show, but somehow it wasn't. Kovalyova and Tissi were electric, in my opinion, and this is something that is hard to put your finger on why exactly......they simply made the story come alive for me.
  15. Birdsall

    Bolshoi at Teatro alla Scala

    Last night Kovalyova, Tissi, and Kretova thrilled the crowd, and the audience didn’t seem to want them to leave. Tissi, of course, was beloved, but it also felt like I was watching a star being born for Kovalyova! Kretova too! It was like watching 3 stars being born! I actually saw Kovalyova’s debut via a private video and thought she was too young and inexperienced for Nikiya...I was actually disappointed when I watched the video, but last night she impressed me, so I assume she’s been working on the role. Where she was weak in her debut seeming to barely act when the High Brahmin accosted her, she was more emphatic in her rejection last night. However, she looks to me to be a sweet and gentle soul where anger or rejecting someone comes harder than for someone like Zakharova. She has the flowing Vaganova arms that I love, and all night she seemed like a woman in love. Her turns with the scarf looked more assured than Zakharova’s! But the biggest thing that made me love this performance was that all three main characters seemed fresh, young, alive, and the dancers looked like they LOVED what they were doing at every moment. Kretova’s acting was outstanding. She looked desperate when she thought she might lose Solor, and she was very imperious and angry after the cat fight bringing her fist down powerfully. After the snake bite and Nikiya accuses her she looked scared. Technically I found no fault either. Her Italian fouettés and regular fouettés were great! Tissi was hard not to love. I am sure part of the excitement in the theatre was due to his being Italian. However, he delivered and added so many little balances or poses that were beautiful and expressive of the moment. It was like he wanted so much to give the most to the performance. His first solo, however, had a slight jerkiness to it, as he prepared to jump, but all other moments were gorgeous. His cambres in the first act as Nikiya circles around him were deep and beautiful. Basically, this was the performance I thought I would like the least, but it ended up knocking my socks off! Everyone was “on” and you truly believed in the plight of these young people! It is so rare for all the main dancers to be so exciting.