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Saratoga first week

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rkoretzky has already opened the Saratoga second week discussion, so I apologize for this belated report. Ordinarily I'd be in Saratoga myself during the second week, which culminates, if that's the word, in the gala. But I can't stand Martins's Swan Lake which dominates this week. So my choice was between Midsummer last week and Coppelia next. I love them both, but the Coppelia week coincides with the start of the horseracing season, which means soaring hotel rates and too-crowded restaurants.

There's nothing to add to Manhattnik's brilliant report on Dream. But since the apparent object of these three full-evening ballets dominating the programming was to increase SPAC attendance, I was surprised that the audience wasn't bigger than it was. Although the next night's audience, at Concerto Barocco, Guide to Strange Places, and Western Symphony seemed even smaller. But it was great to aee Hugo Fiorato, the venerable Hugo Fiorato, conducting Barocco. I don't think he'd conducted at all in the spring season. He's a great favorite in Saratoga and got ovations on his taking his place in the pit Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights.

Abi Stafford and Wendy Whelen were the two violins and James Fayette the man on Wednesday night; Maria Kowroski and Rachel Rutherford danced it on Saturday night, with Fayette again doing the heavy lifting. Barocco always seems like perfection to me even when more critical eyes detect imperfections. I disliked Guide to Strange Places at the New York State Theater, but Saratoga has a mellowing effect. It's also a fact that I tend to like Martins's stuff better the second or third time I see it. Western Symphony had Pascale von Kipnes, James Fayette, Alexandra Ansanelli, Albert Evans, Maria Kowroski and Damian Woetzel on Wednesday night, but I preferred Friday night's cast: Jennie Somogyi, Nilas Martins, Janie Taylor, Albert Evans, Maria Kowroski, and Charles Askegard. As rkoretzy posted, Nilas gave a truly inspired performance in the first movement allegro. I never thought I'd say that either.

I missed the two other Midsummer casts, but I had seen one them at a rehearsal, so I got to appreciate Dan Ulbricht's Puck even more perhaps. The kid dances full out all the time. Incidentally the SPAC rehearsal audience was applauding the dancers even when they were marking the steps. They're so appreciative.

Glass Pieces came in between Donizetti Variations and Western on Friday. Miranda and Damian were amusing in the Donizetti, but the audience favorite was Glass Pieces. Remembering the mesmerizing, breathtaking pas de deux of Bart Cook and Maria Calegari in the second section, Facades, Wendy and Robert Tewsley just seemed workmanlike and kind of boring to me. Piano Pieces on Saturday night (between Barocco and Strange Places) was a fine performance by all concerned -- Millepied, Somogyi, Ansanelli, Marcovici, Kowroski, Seth Orza, and Stephen Hanna.

I had expected fierce mosquitos this year, but very few showed up. It was great to see rkoretzky again and her entire Saratoga contingent.

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Thanks, Farrell Fan! (I fixed the spacing -- I wouldn't have if you hadn't mentioned it; hope you don't mind. It put in line breaks. If you'd written something in a word processing program and copied it in, then sometimes that happens.)

It is an odd season, in a way, but I would like to see Kowroski and Rutherford in Barocco.

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