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ABT at Civic Opera House in Chicago, April 19-24

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I've just returned home from Friday evening's performance, and I suppose I can start by apologizing to Treefrog for not noticing any soldiers, really, the dancing stage center kept me engrossed so the whole time. Julie Kent was unstinting always and ranged from lovely to pretty phenomenal, matched (in the latter respect) by Jose Manuel Carreno.

Actually, the habit of keeping my attention riveted to stage center, already established early in this ballet, served me well in the Peasant pas de deux, where Erica Cornejo was lovely, also, especially in her second variation. (She earned some approving soft vocalisations from the dance veteran next to me, too.) Carlos Lopez, however, performed some bravura-style material which seemed less in keeping with the pastoral character of the ballet's first act than I have seen previously, but I have no quibbles with the quality of his performance of it. Very impressive indeed.

And it's worth mentioning that Gennadi Saveliev, in the role of Hilarion, brought a technical excellence to it we don't always see there.

Overall, I had quite a good time, although I was nevertheless aware of a certain heterogeneity in the choreography I haven't always felt, for exmple when watching the Makarova-Baryshnikov video, and this was confirmed by a keener observer with a better memory who also confirmed that Carreno's second-act variation was the same one Baryshnikov introduced, for what that's worth.

Oh, and it was a pleasure to hear a live orchestra (under Charles Barker's direction) without thickening amplification.

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Hello! I also saw the Friday evening performance. Julie Kent was very good in the first act, her mad scene being teriffic, and her second act was superb. Jose Manuel Carreno was very noble throughout the ballet, and his dancing, especially the second act variation, as mentioned earlier, was :wink::yahoo: . His dancing always amazes me. They both looked very nice together and delivered wonderful performances.

Erica Cornejo was a very big standout in the first act. I had never seen her dance before and was extremely impressed. My sister (who also dances) and my dance friends agree with me that she was so exciting to watch and so captivating!

I was happy to see Gennadi Saveliev dance in the second act because I enjoy his dancing and thought he did a great job. It was a bit funny to me that when he was supposed to look tired by the end of his dance with the willis, he still had so much energy nonetheless and was still great to watch.

Finally, when I have been reading the reviews of ABT on the boards, I know that Veronica Part has quite a large fan base and so I was very interested to see her dance as Myrtha. First off, she was so tall on stage, she made you give her your attention. She had beautiful arms and impressed me. She seemed to improve throughout the evening as her jumps started shaky and not as controlled (her height a factor, perhaps?) but later got under control and displayed beautifully high jetes. She also kept in character the entire time and was a very cold Myrtha.

Overall, I had a wonderful evening seeing ABT's Giselle. It was a solid production, and even the corps was very impressive in the second act! The dancing was very beautiful, and I hope they return to Chicago again sometime soon. :D

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Tonight (Saturday the 23rd) I had a rather better seat than last night, two rows closer to the stage and about 2/3 as far off the centerline, and when you're in the fringe area, every improvement in reception makes a big difference, even though you're still in the lower balcony, and I found the whole evening's performance more present, vivid, and effective than last night's. So that's my caveat, and that said...

Some of the cast was the same: I enjoyed Cornejo's Peasant pas even more, was even more wowed by Lopez's dancing of choreography I felt even more strongly needed replacement with something possibly as showy but somehow more pastoral or folksy, but where there were changes I preferred McKerrow's greater lightness and vivacity, Carmen Corella's fuller dancing as Myrta, once she got past the early icy stuff, which she also realized - made real - very effectively.

I agree that Part was remote emotionally; Corella had intensity without passion, consistent with the role, in contrast to McKerrow's shifting character as Giselle - quite a big role in the range it requires as well as the plain physical endurance - McKerrow was quite impressive this way too, when I think back on it, as well as moment by moment as it was happening.

Tonight's Hilarion was Sascha Redetsky, not quite so impressive a technician to me as Saviliev, nor on the other hand did he give a coarsened performance of the role one could take - in fact, going farther than ballet-a-holic's hint - or even prefer as being more in character. I think the real problem here may be one of preparation of the role - when you have the resources Saveliev showed us he has, they might this time have been better directed into realizing a coarser character in the story and providing more interest by contrast with the others. If I remember correctly, Maxim Beloserkovsky achieved that as the Seracen prince in ABT's Raymonda last June; as tonight's Albrecht, he was somebody else, a nobleman.

Tonight's conductor was David LaMarche, and the results sounded as good as last night, or better, possibly because, sitting farther forward, I did not have as much of the upper balcony above me to cut off some sound. I've been looking in the program to find something about this orchestra; I assume ABT uses the Met Opera orchestra in New York, which plays the opera season currently. Does anyone know who these musicians are? They're good, and well prepared.

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I want to add an observation I made in the lobby and foyers, etc.: This was not an elderlyaudience: Very few white or gray heads in the crowd. Hmm... (I didn't look around much last night, as I was with friends.)

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I saw the Paloma Herrera/Marcelo Gomes performance of Giselle on Saturday, May 23. A decent-sized crowd turned out for the matinee show although the house didn't look quite as full as it did last year for the matinee performance of Swan Lake. Still, I would say that 85-90% of the seats on the main floor were taken.

Act 1 was - to quote an old saying - a triumph of perspiration over inspiration. The cast got there in the end but I felt like the first act lumbered along more than it should have. Herrera seemd less than convincing to me at times and the chemistry between she and Gomes was adequate but not spectacular. Both dancers danced well (Gomes especially) but they never drew me into their onstage fantasy world.

For me, Anna Liceica and Danny Tidwell (in the peasant pas de deux) were the highlight of Act 1. Both dancers danced cleanly and with great expressiveness. Tidwell was particularly effective and proved once again that the bench of talented guys at ABT is as deep as or deeper than those at any other company in the world.

Things picked up considerably in Act 2. I'm not sure what happened but all concerned stepped it up in the second act. Herrera and Gomes danced beautifully together and there was much more chemistry in evidence than had been the case in the first act. Herrera seemed more at ease here and her dancing benefited as a result. Gomes was a wonder to behold - tall, handsome and beautifully proportioned.

Special mention must go to Michele Wiles as Myrta. I found her somewhat cold last year when I saw her in Swan Lake but I thought this quality worked greatly to her advantage in Giselle. She also danced the part with real ballerina authority - which was a pleasure to see.

All in all, I thought it was a very workmanlike (not meant as an insult) production of Giselle. Not the most magical performance of this work you'll ever see in your lifetime but enjoyable enough on its own merits, particularly Act 2.

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I saw the same Saturday evening performance as Jack. It was wonderful. There was this fabulous soldier fellow, and a couple of good dancers, too. (Just tweaking your leg, Jack; hubby says that if you didn't notice him, he was doing his job.)

This was -- gasp! -- my first-ever performance of Giselle. Oh, my, what a delight! a story ballet that actually tells a story without diverging into weird national dances and other artifices. A wonderful, haunting story, so beautifully told and so beautifully danced that I almost had tears in my eyes. Choreography that abounds with apparently "simple" steps linked in astounding complexity. Stunning and emotional visual tableaux.

I had no idea the mad scene would be so tender. Nor so heart-wrenching.

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This was -- gasp! -- my first-ever performance of Giselle.  Oh, my, what a delight!  a story ballet that actually tells a story without diverging into weird national dances and other artifices.  A wonderful, haunting story, so beautifully told and so beautifully danced that I almost had tears in my eyes.  Choreography that abounds with apparently "simple" steps linked in astounding complexity.  Stunning and emotional visual tableaux.

I had no idea the mad scene would be so tender.  Nor so heart-wrenching.

As a jaded balletomane who has almost sworn off of Giselle after too many unsatisfying performances, I was touched by your neophyte's reaction, Treefrog. It brings me back to the time when ballet was new to me, too, and thrilling in a way that it can't be now.

I wish more of our ballet newcomers would post their reactions, too!

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(Just tweaking your leg, Jack; hubby says that if you didn't notice him, he was doing his job.)

Ambulatory scenery, eh? Yes, that shouldn't upstage the dancers.

Treefrog, you've just summed up why this old, old ballet is still on! Part of my definition of great is that there's something inexhaustible about the thing, whatever it is, maybe except for some who've become hopelessly jaded old cynics...

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Tonight (Saturday the 23rd)  I've been looking in the program to find something about this orchestra; I assume ABT uses the Met Opera orchestra in New York, which plays the opera season currently.  Does anyone know who these musicians are?  They're good, and well prepared.

For their season at the Met, ABT uses a pick-up orchestra comprised of local musicians on break from their normal gigs: a lot of NYC Opera musicians included. I don't know if that orchestra tours with them or if they contract Chicago musicians while in CHI & KC in KC, etc.

The Met orchestra is considered one of the finest in the world & will be playing Opera in the Parks while ABT is at the Met. They may also be going on tour; last year they went to Japan & the year before to Europe, I think. They also have performances at Carnegie Hall.

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