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ABT - Opening Night Gala May 19, 2008


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The first half fell flat for me, with the exception of Diana Vishneva's "Dying Swan." I didn't particularly care for the choreography in "The Merry Widow" (Ronald Hynd), "Swan Lake" excerpt (Kevin McKenzie) and "Splendid Isolation" (Jessica Lang).  The latter's choreography was particularly unimaginative. I kept worrying that Irina Dvorovenko would be tripped up by her dress, but she prevailed in the struggle and earned my applause for that feat.  Mahler's music is very difficult to perform well.  Entrusting a ballet orchestra with it is both unfair and unwise.

Both variations were inexplicably omitted from the Don Quixote pas de deux, and so the coda immediately followed the adagio.  Thirty-two fouettes were nowhere to be found in the coda---something that I can forgive in a full-length performance but not in a gala.  As a result, I was puzzled as to why this piece was included in the gala, in this form, and with these dancers (Ethan Stiefel and Gillian Murphy.)

Things definitely picked up with "The Dying Swan" which concluded the first half.  Vishneva's portrayal was one of the highlights of the evening for me. The two most memorable performances, however, came after the intermission. One was Act II pdd from "Giselle," performed by Nina Ananiashvili and Angel Corella with great precision, musicality and fluidity, perfectly conveying the poignancy

and ethereal quality of the piece.  Another brilliant performance  came from Julie Kent and Marcelo Gomes in the conclusion of "Onegin."  A truly impressive storytelling through great dancing.  I was really glad to have had strong binoculars which allowed me to see the subtleties of their facial expressions, as both acquitted themselves as fantastic actors, all the while getting through all the technical challenges with ease.

"Corsaire" pdd was very competently done (I especially liked Xiomara Reyes); however, this performance suffered from the inevitable---and unflattering---comparison with Tereshkina and Sarafanov who performed this pdd in New York just last month.

"Judgment of Paris" was quite amusing and interesting to watch.  "Etudes" excerpts left me cold.  The principals were very good in them (although here I cannot compare to the Mariinsky since that was the one program in their New York season that I skipped).  I am not convinced, however, that any great dancers can save that choreography and music.

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Both variations were inexplicably omitted from the Don Quixote pas de deux, and so the coda immediately followed the adagio. Thirty-two fouettes were nowhere to be found in the coda---something that I can forgive in a full-length performance but not in a gala. As a result, I was puzzled as to why this piece was included in the gala, in this form, and with these dancers (Ethan Stiefel and Gillian Murphy.)

.

that is so strange from what I have seen Gillian Murphy can perform those fouettes with one hand tied behind her back. I would have been disappointed at that especially not seeing the solos. The last time I saw Ethan Stiefel out in LA however he did look excellent. He has bulked up somewhat which looked great on him and as someone said earlier the haircut is great. Just looked more mature, substantial and was quite a presence. I hope his injuries are behind him for now.

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Both variations were inexplicably omitted from the Don Quixote pas de deux, and so the coda immediately followed the adagio. Thirty-two fouettes were nowhere to be found in the coda---something that I can forgive in a full-length performance but not in a gala. As a result, I was puzzled as to why this piece was included in the gala, in this form, and with these dancers (Ethan Stiefel and Gillian Murphy.)

.

that is so strange from what I have seen Gillian Murphy can perform those fouettes with one hand tied behind her back. I would have been disappointed at that especially not seeing the solos. The last time I saw Ethan Stiefel out in LA however he did look excellent. He has bulked up somewhat which looked great on him and as someone said earlier the haircut is great. Just looked more mature, substantial and was quite a presence. I hope his injuries are behind him for now.

If physical issues led to the omission of the variations, they may have been Murphy's issues. I just got back from Le Corsaire tonight and the updated casting sheet shows Murphy withdrawn from Thursday night's performance. Julie Kent will dance Medora.

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Well, Gillian and Ethan are artistes - they're free to do what they wish. If Angel can do 5 double tours en l'air instead of 8 (and, by the way, he was superb yesterday evening in "Le Corsaire" - he must be reading these!), then Gillian and Ethan can change the number of fouettes and entirely eliminate variations and go right to the coda. Why hold them to a different standard? It's not what they omit - it's how well they do what they chose to do.

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Double tours en l'air sans préparation. It was my understanding that technique doesn't give the dancer carte blanche to change the choreography, no matter how outstanding his technique is for what he's substituting.

:) Hmm Adam which one is it?

I was afraid there was an injury when you mentioned that the variations and fouettes were omitted. That is usually the case.

Hope she is well soon.

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You know, they missed a big opportunity. They should have had the curtain open on Irina in that dress, next to Sasha Radetsky in the big cape from the opening of "Manon".

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I didn't mention an injury in any of my posts. The only injury of which I'm aware is Maxim's. He apparently exacerbated a previous injury by dancing on opening night. However, I haven't seen Gennadi, Craig, or Misty so I'm wondering if any of them have been injured or are ill.

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Well, Gillian and Ethan are artistes - they're free to do what they wish. If Angel can do 5 double tours en l'air instead of 8 (and, by the way, he was superb yesterday evening in "Le Corsaire" - he must be reading these!), then Gillian and Ethan can change the number of fouettes and entirely eliminate variations and go right to the coda. Why hold them to a different standard? It's not what they omit - it's how well they do what they chose to do.

Since the 19th century, or perhaps even before, it has not been unusual to alter virtuoso steps to suit the dancer (Maya Plisetskaya and other ballerinas have chosen to skip Odile's fouettés, for example). However, omitting entire variations is not normal, although I have seen it done in the past at galas.

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You know, they missed a big opportunity. They should have had the curtain open on Irina in that dress, next to Sasha Radetsky in the big cape from the opening of "Manon".
:) That would be right up ABT's alley! Maybe next year.
I didn't mention an injury in any of my posts. The only injury of which I'm aware is Maxim's. He apparently exacerbated a previous injury by dancing on opening night. However, I haven't seen Gennadi, Craig, or Misty so I'm wondering if any of them have been injured or are ill.
Misty was down to dance Medora at today's Mat. Wasn't there, so I have to assume she performed as planned. Craig danced with his usual gusto in Monday's opening number. He was one of the demis alongside Joseph Phillips.
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Speaking of photos, there is an exhibit of Nancy Ellison's photos in the lower level of the Met Opera House, presumably from her new ABT book. I also noticed that in the supporter/ donor section of the ABT playbill Ms Ellison is listed as having given between $500,000 and $1,000,000 to the ABT. And then I found this quote online about a show she had a gallery:

"... She and her husband’s support of the Metropolitan Opera Company have allowed her a privileged access to create an extensive photographic essay of the company’s performances during the last several years."

Without comment on the quality of her work, the thing which pops out at me about it is the word; privileged. It just goes to show what money can buy you.

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