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"Merry Widow"


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After seeing "Sleeping Beauty" and "Bayadere" at ABT, it was nice to see something very light. I must say that the costumes and sets for "Merry Widow" were beautiful, probably one of the most visually interesting productions that ABT has to offer. While over the top, it fits with the mood of the ballet. The music was so lavish and fun, you couldn't help but want to sway a little bit in your seat.

I went on Monday night, with Julie and Jose dancing the leads. For me, this comedy hinges on the fact that both the leads, Hanna and Danilo, have a duality to their characters. Hanna is a cold-hearted rich woman with a humble past and a soft spot for the man she loves, and Danilo is a hot-blooded drunk with a love he has never gotten over. It is in playing with these two sides of the characters that leads to some of the best moments in the ballet. Julie exploits the two side of Hanna's character; she held me throughout the entire performance. Her timing is great, and she has great chemistry with Jose. She kept the ballet light for me, I love that she can do this convincingly, and still pull of a stunning "Juliet" as well - it really does speak to her abilities as an actress. Jose was great as well a charming Danilo, constantly second guessing his feelings. Xiomara as Valencienne was flirtatious, but I felt could have exaggerated the role a bit more - there is nothing subtle about her character, and I wish she had run with it a bit more. Gennadi Saveliev as Camille was fantastic - he was such a great partner for Xiomara, lifting her throughout the difficult pas de deux, and making her float through the choreography. He was also very funny, playing up the pomp as the French Attache, but also as a softer, lovesick suitor to Valencienne. He was definitely one of my favorites of the evening.

Some deserved praise - new corps dancer Joseph Phillips was leading the national dance in second act. He was so clean, high jumps, perfect turns, so full of bravura, I couldn't watch anyone else. He has a very promising future with the company. Victor Barbee was also great at the Baron - I have enjoyed seeing him do character roles this season.

All in all, it was a dream cast - I thought that they were wonderful, and I am excited to see a different cast put their unique spin on the production!

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I was at the same performance but I'm afraid I didn't enjoy it very much. This was the first time I've seen Merry Widow - the costumes and scenery were certainly lavish and from my seat about 10 rows from the stage the costumes especially looked quite over the top. My problem with the production was that there was very little dancing that I found interesting and I thought the story was silly & boring - not quite a parody, not funny enough to be really funny and, again - no dance interest. To put it in perspective - to my eyes it made last year's Cinderella look like a great ballet and NYCB's Double Feature look like a masterpiece.

There were, I think, 2 pas des deux for Kent & Carreno that were lovely and I really liked the last pas de deux for Reyes & Saveliev which was in the 2nd or 3rd act (I forget which one). I also liked the fake "Pontevedrian" national dances, and thought that Joseph Philips was great in them. He and Reyes were the highlights of the evening for me, I think the charm and flirtatiousness of her personality suited her role well. Of course, none of the actual steps presented any challenge to any of ABT's dancers but the corps did seem to have some problems staying out of the way during Reyes & Saveliev's first pas, or maybe I have that backwards...

Anyway, I was tempted to go again last night just to see Gomes but in the end I didn't think I could sit through this again so I decided to stay home and rest up for Giselle.

The funny thing is that despite my boredom in the theater the last act waltz theme keeps running through my head today!

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I haven't seen this production yet this season though I am going on Saturday night and probably will go on Thursday since I haven't seen Kent at all this season. However, the piece is a beautifully designed vehicle for stars who have a certain flair and gift for presenting light material. It needs big personalities. I remember when it was done over 10 years ago with Bocca & Dunham, Jaffe & Carreno, Kent and Hill, Ananiashvili & Graffin, etc. was that Ronald Hynd (who supervised that staging) managed to get really stylish acting out of dancers who could be stiff elsewhere. Case in point: Paloma Herrera doing the secondary role of Valencienne. Suddenly we had a sexy, decadent spoiled darling who was funny, sophisticated and charming and who knew that Paloma could do that? Ashley Tuttle yes, but Paloma no. But there she was.

I wonder if Hynd has a hand in this revival. He has a real flair for helping dancers create characterizations.

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I wonder if Hynd has a hand in this revival. He has a real flair for helping dancers create characterizations.

Since I got to see him working with Paloma and Marcelo at 890, I'd say that's a reasonable assumption. :)

They were working on the flashback sequence, and he told Paloma, "Remember, now, he's a prince and you're trash!"

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I hope this isn't too far OT from Merry Widow, but can someone tell me how standing room works for ABT? How/when/where can I buy a ticket? PM is fine. Thanks!

Standing room tickets are sold the same day of the performance at the met.

Box office opens at 10 am, I think.

I attended to Monday performance.

Kent and Carreno were both very good. I was happy to see Julie dancing so well again (I was pretty dissapointed with her SB ). Carreno partnered her beautifully, especially in the final pdd.

Xiomara also did a great job, very expressive, great dancing.

Saveliev was ok, he partnered well Xiomara, although I still dont like him.

Costumes and set are very pretty and the ballet is funny.

Still lacks good choreography (with those costumes, its clear they can barely dance) as to make it a favorite of mine, but it is ok for 1 time.

I wont go again, but def something light and refreshing before Giselle.

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:) but further to Classic Ballet's advice, the Met offers four levels of Standing room for ballet, all priced at $25 for Monday-Thursday, $28 for Friday and Saturday. This is also the price of a Family Circle seat.

Standing room is located in the following areas:

  • 100 spaces on the Orchestra level (you do not want anything higher than space #40, as you will be standing behind someone),
  • 30 in Grand Tier (where standees stand bunched together [depending on how many] in two little cul-de-sac-like areas a few feet behind the last row of seats and where the overhang of the next level cuts off the top of the proscenium) and
  • 40 (?) in Dress Circle, where we stand along the length of the last row of seats, directly behind the seat-ticketholders.

Grabbing seats is not recommended, but if there are many empties, the ushers won't mind if you discreetly take a seat in the back row or two after the first intermission. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.

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Just in from tonight's Merry Widow with Irina Dvorovenko, Max Beloserkovsky, and Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews. This is the first time I've seen this ballet. I love the camp, comic style (especially the guys falling all over Hanna in the first act), and the production is nice to look. Other than that, it's pretty boring. Why is it so hard to choreograph challenging steps? It drives me nuts to see all those fantastic dancers on stage, just kind of skipping around. There were a few nuggets of interest. Loved that big cotton puff that Dvorovenko wore during the last act. Also Simone Messmer and her friend's wild hats. (was the friend really Jacquelyn Reyes, as the program said? didn't look like her). Craig Salstein got a chance to do some excellent, actual dancing as the lead pontevedrian dancer. The real highlight (and the one thing that really made me glad I was there) was Yuriko Kajiya's Valencienne. Besides whipping off some beautiful fouettes that made me hungry for more, she proved to be a totally delightful actress, a pouty, sullen, and demanding mistress but with great comic flair. I loved it. She did not look like the Yuriko Kajiya I've seen in other ballets, in other words, she really took on a new persona. By contrast, Dvorovenko looked like Dvorovenko. Kajiya got a well-deserved ovation at the curtain call.

p.s. Thanks to all for the standing-room advice.

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Attended yesterday's matinee performance of the Merry Widow. Enjoyed the production. The choreography, though not particularly virtuosic (word?) did seem challenging at times, especially some of the corps partnering work in the first act (those attitude turns in plié while moving and the lifts with the girls performing extend brisé: not easy!)

Was delighted to get a chance to see Julie Kent this season, as I've missed her thus far. I felt that this role suited her poised maturity and subdued elegance especially well. To me Kent was just pure grace: nothing forced, lovely footwork (precise but soft), supple port de bras, and a sensuous rapport with her partner, the always charming Carreno.

X. Reyes is not one of my favorite principals by any means, but she excelled as the sassy flirt, Valencienne, and the outrageous gowns didn't hold her back one bit. However, I was hanging around after the performance to wait for the tapes (I work for the NY Public Library for Performing Arts, and we were documenting the performance for the Jerome Robbins moving image archive*) and Yuriko appeared onstage in practice clothes (only 5 or 10 minutes after curtain!). As I watched her whip through some of the choreography I was intrigued and a bit jealous of the Wed. PM crowd (including christine174). I can't wait to see her develop as a dancer!

I'm attending Saturday's matinee. Looking forward to seeing the production with a different cast and from up high.

*For those of you in NYC, the Dance Division of the New York Public Library will be adding Wednesday's matinee to its growing collection (at least 200 titles) of ABT performances. What better way to spend a hot summer day than watching ballet in our air conditioned research room!

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*For those of you in NYC, the Dance Division of the New York Public Library will be adding Wednesday's matinee to its growing collection (at least 200 titles) of ABT performances. What better way to spend a hot summer day than watching ballet in our air conditioned research room!

This sounds terrific to me !!!

Is that the Lincoln Center public library ?

Where is that room ?

Do you have most of this year abt performances ?

I am desperately looking to see Part bayadere and swan lake in video, wd you have that by any chance ?

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Is that the Lincoln Center public library ?

Where is that room ?

Do you have most of this year abt performances ?

I am desperately looking to see Part bayadere and swan lake in video, wd you have that by any chance ?

Yes, the Lincoln Center public library. The research division is on the third floor. We have not only film and video, but clippings, photographs, programs, printed materials, etc. (Circulating materials are on the 1st and 2nd floors).

We generally only tape ABT (and other dance companies) once a year (I believe last year was Manon w/ A. Ferri). The artistic director chooses the production and the cast. Because the film needs to be edited and cataloged, it can be as long as six months before it is available at the library. There are other videos, beside full-length ballets, that we acquire which may be of interest to ABT fans, for example the "Works and process at the Guggenheim series" features artistic staff, choreographers, coaches, etc. in roundtable discussions with principal dancers and soloists demonstrating segments of the choreography.

To see what our holdings are before you come in, go to http://catnyp.nypl.org/. You can search by company name, dancer, or choreographic work. Or you can just do a keyword search. A good way to see only ABT videos is to search "American Ballet Theatre" under author and then modify your search to restrict the format to film and video. Or you can just come to the library and ask your friendly dance librarian for help.

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I went to see the performance yesterday (July 2), with Dvorovenko and Kajiya. I think it really was Kajiya's night - she was lovely when she got to dance (too rarely), and she delivered a witty interpretation of her character with great charm. Other than that though, the night was a bit of a disappointment.

I echo the others' sentiments - the ballet was very lavishly produced, but didn't really have a lot of dancing. The art-deco last set at 'Maxims' got its own applause when it was revealed and that seemed apt. Unfortunately, an awkwardly placed column in the first act seemed to make all the dancers very cautious and self conscious. I kept worrying that someone would smack into it by accident.

The costumes were also very lavish, but maybe a tiny bit ridiculous (esp. the coat Dvorovenko wore at the end, which looked like she had killed and skinned a polar bear) and was pulled off only because Dvorovenko has such flair. Also, the decision to do those big bias cut flouncy skirts was a bit frustrating, because you can't really see the dancing. You just get big swirls of fabric swishing through the air. Very pretty, but not ballet, exactly, and sort of a waste of all these awesome ballet dancers.

This is developing into a pet peeve for me now - this performance had two moments featuring loudly-dropped props. I was so hoping that everything would go smoothly given my bad night watching all the prop (and veils and balance) issues at La Bayadere last week, but when the corps came on with the big mirrored fans I started to feel nervous, and guess what? One of the last two dance-holding corps members to leave the stage in a big lift CLACK! dropped her fan! Kajiya saved the day admirably, by smoothly miming her character 'discovering' the dropped fan and 'delightedly' picking it up and leaving with it. In the last act, Beloserkovsky or Dvorovekno dropped one of the two glasses they were drinking toasts to each other from, but actually I blame that more on the awkward choreography. If you're going to put in lifts-to-the-shoulder you shouldn't ask that dancers also keep track of wine glasses at the same time.

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Merry Widow, Kent/Carreno/Reyes/Saveliev... I did something I have NEVER done at the ballet, which is that I left at intermission. *yawn* Kajiya made it worthwhile last night, but tonight, I had stuff to do at home (like the dishes) that took priority. What is that big double column doing in the middle of the stage in the first act? It cuts the huge Met stage right in half, for a ballroom scene! Couples swishing all over the place, the women in the largest possible dresses, and a featured pas de deux in the middle, and only using half the stage. Does that make sense? I think not. I only regret missing that big cotton puff outfit in the last act. But I couldn't stay for that.

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Merry Widow, Kent/Carreno/Reyes/Saveliev... I did something I have NEVER done at the ballet, which is that I left at intermission. *yawn* Kajiya made it worthwhile last night, but tonight, I had stuff to do at home (like the dishes) that took priority. What is that big double column doing in the middle of the stage in the first act? It cuts the huge Met stage right in half, for a ballroom scene! Couples swishing all over the place, the women in the largest possible dresses, and a featured pas de deux in the middle, and only using half the stage. Does that make sense? I think not. I only regret missing that big cotton puff outfit in the last act. But I couldn't stay for that.

Wow, I left too. My first & last time seeing this ballet. What is ABT doing spending money on this? I saw lots of empty seats in the house.

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I've always found this production to be just the right amount of ridiculous. The costumes are tasteful, if a bit understated. The scenery provides just the right amount of challenge for dancers who aspire to swirl through something akin to the subway construction on the A platform at Columbus Circle. The music is waltzonoxious for three acts. And the choreography is inventive, not uninspired by Ashtononics, doesn't have a single Balanchine cliche in it, never gets in the way of the story – or the costumes – and is danced by ABT with such 'you cannot be serious - oh, sure we are' good spirit that it really doesn't hurt to enjoy style over substance - for once.

Thursday night's performance with Kent, Carreno, Reyes and Saveliev was probably as good as this one will get. I smirked through the whole thing, immensely enjoyed Savelliev in his comic role, and now I'm ready to get back to business with Giselle.

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I attended a different performance of "The Merry Widow" than Haglund (I went to the July 5th matinee), but I agree with her assessment of the ballet. "The Merry Widow" is a silly ballet, but the music, the costumes, and the sets are beautiful. It is very well danced as well. I knew Marcelo Gomes would be a fantastic Count Danilo (and I was right. Gomes is a wonderful comedien, with a great comic's timing), but I wasn't sure about Paloma Herrera as Hannah. But I'm pleased to report Paloma was a very good Hannah. The rest of the cast was spot on too, especially Sascha Radetsky and Maria Riccetto as the young lovers, and Mikhail Ilyin as the leading Pontevedrian dancer.

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I went again on Saturday night. I enjoyed it much more than opening night and I'm chalking it up to the difference in seating – for me the costumes, scenery and acting in this ballet all read much better from the balcony than from up close. Dvorovenko and Beloserkovsky did well in the leads as I suspected they would but I was tempted into this second performance by Kajiya & Jared Matthews as the secondary couple and was delighted to find that I also got Grant Delong and Alexandre Hammoudi as the undersecretaries and Craig Salstein as both the lead Pontevedrian dancer and the Maitre d' at Maxim's. They all did very well, especially Kajiya whose dancing was light and lovely. She had beautiful, high, easy extensions and her personality was absolutely effervescent. Matthews was dashing and handsome, as were his fellow diplomatic officers. I still think a lot of the lifts look awkward and this is definitely a production I could skip if there were other things to do, but the second time around it made for a pleasant evening.

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I went to see Merry Widow on Saturday night and had a merry evening. :) It was like watching light operetta in the middle of serious opera season. No deep emotions, just pleasant entertainment.

The sets are gorgeous, costumes are lavish, music is charming. Irina's and Maxim's acting and dancing were beautifull, so was Yuriko Kajiya's and Jared Matthews.

I thought that can-can girls at Maxim's in the third act could use more rehearsals :unsure: - they were completely out of sync with each other and some of them out of music as well.

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I attended a different performance of "The Merry Widow" than Haglund (I went to the July 5th matinee), but I agree with her assessment of the ballet. "The Merry Widow" is a silly ballet, but the music, the costumes, and the sets are beautiful. It is very well danced as well. I knew Marcelo Gomes would be a fantastic Count Danilo (and I was right. Gomes is a wonderful comedien, with a great comic's timing), but I wasn't sure about Paloma Herrera as Hannah. But I'm pleased to report Paloma was a very good Hannah. The rest of the cast was spot on too, especially Sascha Radetsky and Maria Riccetto as the young lovers, and Mikhail Ilyin as the leading Pontevedrian dancer.

I was a bit nonplussed reading the negative posts about The Merry Widow until I came to yours, Colleen Boresta. I was at the Saturday matinee as well and couldn't have been more charmed. I agree totally with your brief comments. Unlike Haglund's implication, though, I loved every note of the music. (Give me more "waltzonoxious" music, please. Or did s/he mean that in a good way? :))

My seat on the side of the dress circle (partial view) did not allow me to see many nuances of facial expression (I forgot my binoculars back home in Canada), but, interestingly, Marcelo's facial features always come through, even from such a distance. The previous Saturday I saw his Solor and the same held true. I though Maria Riccetto was wonderful, just wonderful, such beautiful lines and technique. Even her characterization of the role was evident from the heights. I was truly pleased I got to see her as Valencienne. Sascha Radetsky (another reason I came to the afternoon performance) displayed his accomplished, soloist-status well. I hadn't seen him dance for years. His Kirov Academy-honed technique is still visible under the layers of maturity he has gained over the years of his performing experience. Mikhail Ilyin, whom I had seen the week before as the Golden Idol, was terrific as the lead Pontevedrian dancer. I was thinking that, boy, those character classes he's had certainly held him in great stead here. He was electrifying, and I wanted MORE!

Paloma was my biggest concern, as in "would I like her in this?" I've never been her biggest fan, although I can't quite say why. She is certainly exceptional. What a pleasure, then, to see her as Hannah. She danced the part perfectly. I wish I had had a closer seat in order to really "see" her. This performance raised her value as a versatile dancer to me. About the marshmallow puffy wrap. What fun! I was eager to see what was underneath it. The waiter/host who carried it away backstage after she undid herself from it certainly had an armful. I watched him go, nonchalantly, as if this were an everyday occurrence, completely at the mercy of the garment and almost enveloped by it. It contrasted with the end of the scene when Marcelo brought it back to wrap around her again. He held it with aplomb and respect, as a debonair suitor would do.

So, there were no difficult variations as in classical ballet. For a ballet as fluffy as the widow's coat, it was immensely satisfying and memorable (yes, it lingered for me, and I had sweet dreams going over it in my mind while falling asleep). Call me an old romantic.

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I saw two performances of Merry Widow last week -the Kent/Carreno pairing on Mon. and the Herrera/Gomes pairing on Tues. For me, the Kent - Carreno pairing was flat. Carreno in particular seemed to be uncomfortable and underpowered. The Herrera - Gomes performance was much more satisfying. Gomes was delightful, and he made the most out of the lightweight choreography. His acting and facial expressions were also terrific. Paloma was very enjoyable as well. However, the Merry Widow is not a ballet that stands up well for repeated viewings, in my opinion. The choreography is rather simplistic. In my opinion, Vienna Waltzes is a much more impressive display of waltz, accomplished in less than half the time of the Merry Widow. I also enjoy La Valse, which is of course much darker in tone. (Wish City Ballet would revive that one!)

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