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Manon: June 11-16, 2007


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Thanks drb for the heads' up about Ferri dancing on Saturday night! I've been crushed I couldn't make any of the other Ferri performances this season, so as soon as I read that, I picked up the phone and called for a ticket.

I'm glad to see so much enthusiasm about this week's performances. I was exhilarated after Tuesday night's performance, and I'm glad to see this ballet getting the appreciation it deserves!

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Very memorable performance tonight. And with a pretty unusual twist: with this Manon being almost twice the age of des Grieux, it was finally possible to understand why she dumped the rich old man for him :)

Hnh? Ferri is 44; Bolle 32. I am arithmetically challenged here.

Yeah, he has been around for a while now. He dances the Peasant pdd on Ferri's Giselle DVD from La Scala which has a copyright of 1996. So anyone that thinks he has a babyface now should check him out in the Giselle performance!

But certainly the age Zerbinetta quotes for him fits in with the logistics of that 11 or 12 year old performance.

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I hope ABT can convince Alessandra to do another R and J before her soldout farewell.

Since Ferri has twice substituted for Xiomara this week (in Manon), maybe the same will happen next week for R&J. Does anyone know if Xiomara is injured?

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I have some points of clarification to make about my perceived 'cynicism' of the June 14 NY Times

Vishneva article.

Yes, Diana is known for cancelling in places other than New York. This behavior is unique to the Met, but it is not unique elsewhere, even with her home company. For example, her bait and switch at the 11th hour with Alina Cojocaru for The Kings of Dance last year. That was a major disappointment out here, especially since there was no reason given for it, either from the producers or her handlers. As one of the Diana ticket holders, IMO Cojocaru was a poor substitute. It turned out that this was so that she could go back to Petersburg for Lacotte's "Ondine," - a ballet that she didn't follow through in either for the 2006 Maryinsky Festival. That's the second example. Eventually, "Ondine" went to Obratzova on opening night. I was there. During that time she was also ill. It was later revealed that she used that "illness" time to grease wheels for what turned out to be her Odette/Odile debut at the Bolshoi on April 28, 2006. The timeline ran together here - it was obvious.

The third example and my first experience of her 'whims:' I was in Petersburg in January 2002, and she was scheduled for "Raymonda," but opted to remain in Berlin the same night of the performance I attended because of a scheduling conflict. Daria Pavlenko made her debut because of that. I held Vishneva tickets for all three of these performances. Apart from Cojocaru's "The Lesson," (danced in slippers), the other two experiences were not in vain. In fact I judge Pavlenko and Obratzova to have been, and to be far superior to what I have seen from Vishneva to date, and what I have come to expect from her as a performer. I've witnessed her, O/O (at the Met), Giselle (at the Met), Aurora (the 1890 at the Met & Petersburg, the Sergeyev in L.A. & Petersburg), Nikiya (L.A.), and Firebird (Paris). As far as the standard classical repertory for a reputed world class Prima is concerned, I believe I've given her enough opportunities to have come to that conclusion.

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canbelto, isn't that a question that should go to the moderators, not be posted to the board?

If anyone has a problem with a post, the correct action is to click the "report" button associated with the post, and the moderators will review it.

There's a solid audit trail for Vishneva having been scheduled in two places at the same time, as Cygnet reports, and the Ondine performances were discussed here:

http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.p...st&p=179265

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Assoluta: Manon the Innocent

Tonight Diana Vishneva's Manon entered the scene as a young innocent, dancing with light airiness, a tone of wariness as she regarded the patrons in the inn's courtyard. Fragile, pointes delicately tip-toeing backward from M. G. M.

Not paying much attention to Marcelo Gomes initially, while he sat staring, transfixed by her. But during his display solo, she began to stare at him in shy wonder. She'd divert her eyes downward toward the stolen purse in her lap, only to have them force themselves back on Marcelo. As infatuation built, she placed the purse on the floor beside her, she'd still divert her eyes downward from time to time, but now he could see her interest becomming a First Crush, she was in Love. The duet was all in discovery, strange new feelings, her epaulement her heart opened to him. But not yet an actual kiss. The Bedroom pas de deux was grandly windswept, Diana enfolding Marcelo and all the space around, and quite a kiss!

At first she was wary of M. G. M.'s gifts of furs and a necklace, but gradually the sense of her power over men deceived her into enjoying them.

At Madame's party Ms. Vishneva was inhabiting her role to the extent that as she "drank" from the (empty) champagne flute she actually swallowed. As she is being displayed by G. M., being passed from man to man, just after the swoops she comes face-to-face with Marcelo and she becomes very unsettled. You see her great distaste--he (love) shouldn't be here in this world. Later, she is even passed to his arms, and that is even worse. She wants him away. Later, during his soliloquy, she enters with her brother's card shark plan, a way out for them. All goes wrong, and they escape to his room. She tries to regain him, dancing young and girlish memories, or suggestions, of their first act PdD. She wins him back, and they approach the bed. He sees the bracelet from G. M. And he becomes a man. Totally unlike those things that she thinks she controls with her power. But too late, for their power over her sends her to prison.

When she enters the prison's port she is all weakness. Helpless, half dead, her only strength is Gomes. She is taken to the gaoler, and is so frail and without hope that she can barely offer resistence. The humiliation, as he forces the bracelet on her wrist. Marcelo enters, kills the gaoler with a knife in the back, she is nearly blank, a quiet horror at what she's led him to, but just enough strength to drag him out.

In the swamp her eyes are wide but with a catatonic blankness. A moment of seeing, as in the background the card game is recalled, then blank again. For both triple spins, at the zenith of each lift's toss, her body goes lifeless, outstanding partnering. After the second, Diana is to our right. Her eyes suddenly see Marcelo, a great smile dawns on her face as she charges toward him. The lift. She is dead.

The curtain reopens. They are standing together, wobbly, each face buried in the other's body. For most of the bows, he supports her head on his chest or shoulder. A large bouquet of yellow flowers is brought out to her. As Diana faces him and plucks one from the bunch, she staggers backward a few steps, her face lights to an adoring smile as she charges back to him with it. Once, she just stood and blew air from her mouth.

Another Manon, another brand new story told by Ms. Vishneva. For all her gifts, the magic arms, the Russian back, the technical marvels, the otherworldly beauty, what I love most about Diana Vishneva is her mind.

And her Soul. She is a Russian Ballerina. Just yesterday, the sound of bronchitis ravaging her voice. And yet today she danced. From the bows, and from her interpretation in Act 3, you knew that even she was amazed that she'd gotten through it. Spasibo.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

When she enters the prison's port she is all weakness. Helpless, half dead, her only strength is Gomes. She is taken to the gaoler, and is so frail and without hope that she can barely offer resistence. The humiliation, as he forces the bracelet on her wrist. Marcelo enters, kills the gaoler with a knife in the back, she is nearly blank, a quiet horror at what she's led him to, but just enough strength to drag him out.

In the swamp her eyes are wide but with a catatonic blankness. A moment of seeing, as in the background the card game is recalled, then blank again. For both triple spins, at the zenith of each lift's toss, her body goes lifeless, outstanding partnering. After the second, Diana is to our right. Her eyes suddenly see Marcelo, a great smile dawns on her face as she charges toward him. The lift. She is dead.

drb, that is a perfect description of her last act - it was amazing.

Unfortunately I wasn’t as taken with her first 2 acts as you were. As the performance began I was a little disappointed in Vishneva’s Manon. Her dancing was beautiful but her phrasing had none of the sweep and flow of Ferri’s, in fact it looked kind of static and I felt like she did a lot of posing.

With this most dramatic of ballerinas I was very uncharacteristically aware that she was ACTING, rather than letting the story flow through her dancing. While she & Gomes related well to each other I didn’t think their first act pdd (the one in his room) conveyed the same degree of rapture that I’ve come to expect. There was ardor, to be sure - but not that blissful, crazy love that changes your life or that unbreakable connection that colors Manon’s choices from that moment forward. Not for Manon, anyway. Des Grieux was madly in love but - it was far too easy for her to forget him the moment GM dangled that jewelry in front of her.

In the second act she seemed so hardened to Des Grieux, as if she would have been happy to live the rest of her life as GM’s pampered mistress if Gomes’s Des Greiux had not been so passionate and so persistent in his pursuit. Dramatically speaking, I felt that Gomes drove the action in this pairing, much more so than other pairings I’ve seen. He was wonderful from his first scene to his last, so in love with Manon that nothing she did could turn him away. His dancing was gorgeous. He doesn’t have the highest arabesque but he has such beautiful, noble line and tonight those plush landings were very much in evidence.

Definitely a different Manon from the one I’m used to. A valid interpretation from this great artist, but not one that I found really touching until the very end.

The curtain calls alone were worth the price of admission, Vishneva could not have been more demonstrative towards Gomes. Either he really pulled her through the performance tonight or she’s found a new favorite ABT partner. Can't wait for their Swan Lake!

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Friday night's "Manon", with Vishneva and Gomes, was a very good performance. It was also a different interpretation than that of Ferri and Bolle. Vishneva's Manon is a cunning temptress, shrewd in her manipulation of men and not saved by her tragic end. Vishneva, with her flexible back and legs, hyper-extended arms, and wonderful balance was able to achieve gorgeous positions throughout the ballet. Yet, I found this to be something of a distraction in the first and third acts. In Act I missed the intensity of Ferri. Vishneva took the speed slower (especially the turns), her walking passés less high and the dancing generally more posed, and less emotionally intense, making it seem less natural. In Act 3, the choreography in the death scene seemed somewhat altered. Even more noticeable, one could see Vishneva placing her arms in positions that would look lifeless (as opposed to Ferri, who can play a corpse more effectively than anyone else and makes her limbs utterly limp and like deadweight). To her credit, Vishneva performed this last death scene with some emotional shading - initially barely able to move, by the end her Manon progressed to the point where she is also limp and dead.

I actually found Act 2 more understandable because of Vishneva's interpretation. Her calculating seduction and preference for monied suitors is clearly expressed and made sense whereas Ferri plays Manon as more of an innocent and an unwitting dupe of her brother Lescaut.

Gomes was as virtuosic as always. He was a more solemn Des Grieux than Roberto Bolle and took both his passion for Manon as well as her seeming betrayal with Monsieur G.M. very seriously. His dramatic skills were sharp and I felt I understood the interpretation (particularly his rejection of Manon's maniuplativeness, in his tossing away her bracelet) more clearly than I had with Bolle. I felt Bolle was a bit stronger technically, however, in terms of balance, turns and partnering.

Saveliev's characterization of Lescaut was good but he flubbed some lifts with Vishneva in Act I. Michele Wiles hasn't quite mastered the comedic aspects of the mistress role but her dancing was technically strong and musical. Craig Salstein, with high jumps, sharp beats and great musicality made the most of the role of beggar chief while Olga Dvorovenko was a perfect Madame. Isaac Stappas was the cruel jailor and the scene in which he abuses Manon had much more brutality than it generally does when Ferri performs Manon.

All in all it was an excellent performance and offered a subtle contrast with some of the other interpretations seen this week.

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The Bedroom pas de deux was grandly windswept ... and quite a kiss!

I also found the bedroom scene seriously hot! Marcelo in particular seemed overwhelmed with sexualized joy and abandon. There was so much steam coming from up from the stage floor that I had to wipe my glasses, and for a minute I wondered if it was that dry ice machine from SB malfunctioning! :wink:

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... in 24 hours, Vishneva/Gomes, to Ferri/Bolle. I'm so glad I live in New York! I actually preferred Gomes & Vishneva -- I prefer Vishneva's knowing temptress to Ferri's innocent portrayal, and more particularly, I love Gomes' wild passionate abandon. I'm not complaining about Ferri & Bolle, mind you -- this is an embarrassment of riches. The audience was still going strong tonight, very strong, when I snuck out.

There's also the matter of Ethan Steifel -- injured, apparently, in Act I, was replaced with Sascha Radestky. Just when I was reflecting on how great Ethan looked! Hope all is well, Ethan!

A few thoughts about what is going on with ABT female soloists. If they're not going to promote Part, I don't know who else is ready to move on up. Abrera (tonight's Mistress) is clearly preferred this season, but not getting principal roles either. Am I missing something -- why don't they try out the corps girls in bigger roles? Wouldn't Kristi Boone or Misty Copeland be great -- really great! -- as Lescaut's mistress? I just sense stagnation at the soloist level, with talent going to waste at the corps level.

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Well, the ominous program insert announced that Reyes was injured

and that Ferri and Bolle would be dancing tonight. Act 1 was as wonderful

as it was on Thursday. But before the Act 2 curtain rose the dreaded

announcement was made - "...due to Mr Stiefel's injury the part of

Lescaut will be danced by Sascha Radetsky."

There was no indication anything was wrong - Stiefel was really into

the part - he looked terrific. No one I talked to knew what had happened.

Oh, I hope it's not serious. Radetsky walked right on to play the drunk

scene. The performance continued seamlessly. Ferri and Bolle were

magnificant. Not as many curtain calls as Thursday and fewer flowers

tossed but their appearance was mostly unexpected. I've never seen

so many empty seats on a Saturday night - an uneasy pall over

a memorable performance.

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Abrera (tonight's Mistress) is clearly preferred this season, but not getting principal roles either.

Well, I don't know about that. So far this season Abrera has done Gamzatti, Symphonie Concertante, Lilac Fairy and Lescaut's Mistress - all principal roles.

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DrB,

Did you notice that Craig at one point touched both hands to the floor? Was that in the choreography, or did he have a momentary slip?

I know this wasn't directed to me, but there at least a couple of points where the beggar touches both hands to the ground. I'm assuming it's choreographed that way because it's been at every performance I've seen. Of course, I don't know specifically which spot you're referring to.

I've never seen so many empty seats on a Saturday night - an uneasy pall over

a memorable performance.

I was very tempted to take a personal day today so that I could see Ferri and Bolle again, but I figured there wouldn't be good seats available at this late date for Saturday night, so I didn't. Oh well...

I thought Gomes was wonderful amazing on Friday night. Gennadi Saveliev did his drunken scene very well. Wiles danced beautifully but didn't make as strong an impression dramatically.

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... there at least a couple of points where the beggar touches both hands to the ground. I'm assuming it's choreographed that way because it's been at every performance I've seen. Of course, I don't know specifically which spot you're referring to.

This is to set up a theft. The beggar "falls" three times, each enabling him to move closer the gamblers table that is to his left. Then, crawling, he gets to GM's pocket and steals a pocket watch. Later, GM looks around suspiciously and the beggar "falls" one more time. At the end of the beggars scene he is held aloft, joyfully waving the watch.

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Another truly magnificent performance from everyone last night. Yes, there were a number of empty seats including sold seats in prime areas held by no-shows or people who exchanged for other performances. What a mistake. I caught a glimpse of former ABT principal Bonnie Mathis sitting in par terre, looking ageless and absolutely entralled with the performance. Among the people around me was a woman who attended all eight of the Manon performances and gushed over every one of them. Another attended three and her daughter two. After Thursday night's performance, she waited at the stage door to ask Ferri to sign a copy of the new Ferri by Ferri book of photographs of Alessandra in performance and with her family. She said it was a mob scene as soon as Bolle came out and that he graciously posed for pictures with everyone and signed autographs. When Ferri came out with her 5 year old daughter in tow, she signed this woman's book and then Ferri's little girl asked the woman if she could sign her own picture as well. You gotta love 'em.

Bolle danced with less reserve and more abandon than on Monday night. Wow, what a parting gift from Alessandra, who was astonishing in all respects. Some of the risks that she took with falling arabesques last night left me breathless. Such a totally perfect performance. I will miss her so very much.

The Stiefel injury announcement after the first intermission jolted everyone. We can only hope that this was more of a cautionary replacement than one of instant need. It worked out relatively well. Radetsky, apparently fresh from the matinee, got another, all too infrequent opportunity to dance with his wife, Abrera. If you hadn't seen Stiefel dance Lescaut earlier this week, you would have thought that Radetsky was tops. He was very good - perhaps a bit studied in places - but nevertheless very good.

Abrera was gorgeous and secure and confident last night. Her limbs and torso were more relaxed. Her legs flew up with an uncharacteristic abandon. Her comedic timing with Radetsky was on spot. She looked to me like someone who could develop into a Manon. It's been highly satisfying to see her first rate principal work this and last season, and I only hope that MacKenzie gives her the shove forward that she needs and deserves. She is outstanding in every style that this company employs from Petipa to Tharp to MacMillian to Robbins to Fokine to Balanchine to Graham to whatever. What a gem.

The corps last night was again outstanding. Every dancer had his or her own character and retained it throughout. The imprisoned prostitutes were marvelous, but they could mess up the wigs a little. Last night, they tended to look more like stereotypical modern dancer haircuts.

During bows Alessandra turned around to face the corps and applauded them. She then grabbed Georgina Parkinson, who also performed the role of Madame at ABT's Manon premiere with Ferri and Bocca fourteen years ago, and gave her a massive hug.

Bolle got the flowers thrown at him when he came out in front of the curtain. Compliments to the audience member who this week mastered the art of having the rose petals spew all over the stage when the bouquet lands.

The audience's response was enormous and emotional every time the curtain went up and when Ferri came before it. Imagine a whole audience that is going to need grief therapy after next week.

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After attending three perfromances of Manon this week, I must conclude that it was Angel Corella who brought his performance (as Des Grieux) to a level usually unseen in ballet. He seemed to live it, seemed to become the character and feel the pain of love lost as Manon made her fateful choices. His interaction with Alessandra Ferri (as Manon), as well as Ethan Stiefel (as Lescaut) could not have been more realistic and subtly expressed. And all that while staying true to the MacMillan choreography and the Massenet music. In fact, I was stunned by how he maintained a wonderful sense of musicality while still adhering to the more dramatic moments of the story. His reaction to Manon's death- after a few precious seconds of him not wanting to believe it- was heart-wrenching, and made me cry. He is truly at the hight of his artistry and in my opinion is now the best dramatic dancer in the world. Wednesday's performance proves it.

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I am not a MacMillan fan, so I didn't see the Manons, but I'm glad to hear that Corella rose to the occasion. I have so often found his dramatic abilities disappointing. There is no doubt that he is one of the most musical dancers around, one of the finest technicians, and on a good day, one of the most charming.

He is truly at the hight of his artistry and in my opinion is now the best dramatic dancer in the world.
I'm also very envious that you have seen every other dancer in the world, against whom to compare Angel! :innocent:

I hope you will introduce yourself to us on our Welcome Page. You can do so by clicking the "New Topic" button. :clapping:

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Carbro- I did say "...in my opinion." And besides, I just may have seen every male principle dancer in the world- (major companies only) as that is where one finds the best. As for up and coming danseurs, we'll see.

I travel the world to see ballet performances and was a student (and friend) of Sir Antony Tudor. I am a ballet historian and a great admirer of MacMillan's work, esp. Manon. I feel truly sorry that you do not see what I see, or feel what I have felt, during Corella's performances. You have indeed missed out...

Glad I didn't, though!

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Carbro- I did say "...in my opinion." And besides, I just may have seen every male principle dancer in the world- (major companies only) as that is where one finds the best. As for up and coming danseurs, we'll see.

I travel the world to see ballet performances and was a student (and friend) of Sir Antony Tudor. I am a ballet historian and a great admirer of MacMillan's work, esp. Manon. I feel truly sorry that you do not see what I see, or feel what I have felt, during Corella's performances. You have indeed missed out...

Glad I didn't, though!

"Opinion" seems the operative word here. Each pair of eyes sees something different, ears hear and hearts feel something not quite the same as one's neighbor's.

Perhaps "favorite" might work better than "best".

Beyond the basic attributes, all is subjective.

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Carbro- I did say "...in my opinion." And besides, I just may have seen every male principle dancer in the world- (major companies only) as that is where one finds the best. . . .
Point taken and apologies if my winky smiley didn't convey my gentle pull on your leg. (What is the derivation of "pulling one's leg," anyway?*)
I feel truly sorry that you do not see what I see, or feel what I have felt, during Corella's performances. You have indeed missed out...

Glad I didn't, though!

Missed out? Again a matter of opinion, and I very well may have, but I was happy to read your report, QotW1. I have gotten other reports, face-to-face, that support your comments on that performance.

*Thanks to zerbinetta for the answer!

The origin is found in a Scottish rhyme in which "draw" is used in the sense of "pull" rather than the word itself. It goes:

He preached, and at last drew the auld body's leg,

Sae the Kirk got the gatherins o' our Aunty Meg.

The suggestion in the rhyme is that Aunty Meg was hung for a crime and, at the end, the preacher pulled on her legs to ensure that she was dead. The rather more sombre overtones of this possibility than are apparent in the British use of the phrase are mirrored in the American usage, where there is much more a feeling of trickery and deception when the saying is used.

Since the idiom dates from the late 1800's and long after the technology of hanging had rendered such gruesome embellishments unnecessary. "The more likely source is the practice of street thieves tripping their victims as a prelude to robbing them. To "pull someone's leg" thus meant to trick, disorient and confuse a person."

Edited by carbro
New info from zerbinetta
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I hope ABT can convince Alessandra to do another R and J before her soldout farewell.

Since Ferri has twice substituted for Xiomara this week (in Manon), maybe the same will happen next week for R&J. Does anyone know if Xiomara is injured?

Yes, Xiomara is injured (ankle?) and it was noted so in the program insert.

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