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MCB Program III

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I moved Cristian's post to the top of this new thread. Let the anticipation begin! From: Bart.

Ok, so let's get ready next for...Don Quijote!!

Oh, and THAT is more "tierra firme" to me...-(unlike Balanchine's ballets)

Let's not forget that the Cuban version for which I will be comparing it is the one currently danced at the Royal Danish Ballet.

The Royal Danish Ballet has recently taken Alicia Alonso's NBC production of Don Quixote. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the performance on 25h April.

I'd seen NBC perform this production in London a couple of years ago so was ready for the show-stopping one-handed lifts in Act 1. It was great hearing everyone in the audience gasp in amazement, especially after the second one when Joel Carreno virtually ran across the stage with Anette Delgado still held way above his head. The grand pas in Act 3 was similarly spectacular. I would love to know how they achieve the gravity-defying leap into the fish dive! At the end of the grand pas, some of the audience gave a standing ovation, which I have never seen before during a performance. Needless to say that at the end of the performance the entire audience was on its feet cheering and all the Danish artists were applauding these two wonderful dancers. It had turned out to be a fabulous evening.

Dream casting choice number one goes to Patricia Delgado/Rolando Sarabia.

Let's see...

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Thanks, bart for opening the thread!

Ok, as per casting options:

1-Jeanette Delgado/ Rolando Sarabia. Jeanette has all it takes to make a successful Kitri. The technical sharpness, the flirt, the flair, the Latin blood, the beautiful smile..As per Sarabita, Basilio was one of his trademarks back in Havana. He's older now and hasn't been exposed to the role for a long time...(I wonder if he danced it while in Houston), but I'm sure he'll be his old self.

2-Kronemberg/Guerra. C'mon...is there a more convincingly in love couple around...? This two are beautiful together, and should be perfect in the roles.

3-Catoya/Panteado. Catoya because she should be delivering great fouetees and has been glowing during the season. Panteado because he sure knows how to partner her.

Believe it or not, I would like to see Baker as Basilio...I don't think it will happen.. :wub:

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A confession: I have to admit to not really enjoying the Petipa-Gorsky Don Q -- except as an occasion for bursts of bravura dancing with a bit of ensemble lovelliness in Act II. I wish Villella had looked elsewhere for a full length crowd-pleaser. That being said, Miami did a creditable job in November 2006 when they premiered this production.

In retrospect. Villella may have been feeling his way around the job of casting a work so different from MCB's usual repertoire. No one "had it all."

As Kitri, Catoya had the attack and technical brillliance. Kronenberg had the charm, believability and sexual appeal. But Kronenberg was actually stronger as Mercedes, in the alternate cast. Can you imagine a thrilling and compelling ... Mercedes? Magically, Kronenberg created a real character: experienced, sexual, glamourous, plush. She was sympathetic to Kitri, but somehow amused and above it all. She'd been there and she had moved on.

Jeanette Delgado, a first year soloist, was just a few years away from Student Apprentice. Her Kitri had youth, personality, vivacity, and a kind of thirst for discovering LIFE. Wonderful jumps and turns were undercut by a certain slowness and imprecision in the footwork. Delgado has grown remarkably in these areas in the past two years. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing her Kitri and hope that Villella gives her a second shot.

Here are the main roles in some of the casts from that time. (* = No Longer with Company).

Kitri: Mary Carmen Catoya

Basilio: Luis Serrano *

Mercedes: Deanna Seay

Espada: Daymel Sanchez *

Amor: Charlene Cohen *

Queen of the Driads: Haiyan Wu

Kitri: Jennifer Kronenberg

Basilio: Carlos Gerra

Mercedes: Callie Manning

Espada: Daymel Sanchez *

Amor: Sara Esty

Queen of the Dryads: Tricia Albertson

Kitri: Jeanette Delgado

Basilio: Luis Serrano *

Mercedes: Jennifer Kronenberg

Espada: Carlos Gerra

Amor: Tricia Albertson

Queen of the Dryads: Deanna Seay

How about Andrea Spiridonakos for an alternate Mercedes? Or Patricia Delgado?

Seay definitely for Queen of the Dryads: she has the serenity and authority.

I'd love to see Rolando Sarabia as Espada. As for Basilio: how about Daniel Sarabia, who impressed so much in Program II, or young corps dancers like Carlos Quenedit and Amer Yogiv?

But what is there in Don Q for most of MCB's males --wonderful dancers like Cox, Wong, Bramaz, Spielberger, Dufaur, Zou? Not much. "Toreadors" and "Gypsies"? "Kitri's Father"? Jeremy Cox was stuck alternating Gamache and Sancho Panza last time around!!!! It's like squandering caviar on chili. Baker might be an interesting Basilio, as you suggest. He could certainly dance the part. Would he able to portray the Spanishness of the character?

Amor: Sara Esty and Leigh-Ann Esty.

The Don: why not Villella himself? At last for a few performances? Well, maybe not, considering all that sitting around and witless smiling he'd have to do in Act III.

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Thanks for that info, Figurante. I'd love to hear what you think about the process of preparing dancers trained for the Balanchine and "children of Balanchine" repertoire for this kind of work. Obviously the presence of Cuban and other Latin American dancers who have grown up with it helps. My imaginary casting tends to focus on them. ARE there roles in this ballets for someone from a more North American, Balanchine-based background.

(Incidentally, I LOVED the women in Act II, which is not "Spanish" at all, or at least doesn't seem so. I wonder if Balanchine also loved this act's choreography?)

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Well, well...tomorrow is opening night of the Don. As per tonight-(if I finally catch up with my Hematology books :lightbulb: )-I will be watching my Cuban version, to refresh my ideas...

Can't wait!-(damn, and after all my private investigations, still not a clue on the casting... :D )

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I'm delighted to hear that, Cristian. Sounds like you had a good time. :) .

The first time they performed this, several dancers had the technique to perform the part, and a good deal of the charm. But not the real spark. I can't wait to hear your detailed review and to see her myself in a few weeks. I'd especially enjoy hearing your thoughts about the way Delgado does and does not reflect the Cuban style which you know so well.

[mod beanie on]: I changed the name of this thread, deleting the "Let's get ready for ... " We don't have to get ready any more -- it's here! And this is the place to post your reviews. [mod beanie off]

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Don Quijote had only two castings. On Friday night and Sunday matinée Mary Carmen Catoya was given the Kitri and Renato Panteado Basilio. Jennifer Kronemberg and Carlos Guerra were Mercedes/Espada Friday and Sunday, Ernesto Quenedit and Amanda Weingarten-(please Liebling correct me if I’m wrong on this, cause I didn’t get Mercedes' substitution, but she looked to me like Weingarten )-the second night. On Saturday night my heart was stolen by Jeanette Delgado’s Quiteria, which was paired with Guerra’s Basilio . Amor had Tricia Albertson on Friday and Saturday night. Today Jeanette carried the platinum short wig-(hate that thing). Trouper Deanna Seay danced Queen of Dryads the three days.

I need to start with the fact that I truly loved both Catoya and Delgado in the role. It’s been many years since I saw my last Quijote live-(Havana), and I should confess I avoided seeing the production here last time they did it, out of some XIX Century-grieving process I was going thru after my last unsuccessful Giselle experience with the Company.

But hey, this was a very very different story. The whole thing was happy, energetic, vital.

First things first. The winner of this season is without a doubt Jeanette Delgado. Oooh, what a beauty, what grace. I can’t really describe it. Right at the very second she stomped out to the stage, she BECAME Quiteria. I hadn’t seen such power and “salsa” in a long, long time-(sorry, I can’t come out with a proper translation). If this helps a little, just think of the similar approach of that of Viengsay Valdes-(Don Quijote DVD, CNB). It’s just that they really have that extra “something” that makes one really believe in this flirty, RADIANT, spicy hot blooded girl-(well, at the end, THEY REALLY ARE!)

The other Quiteria, Mary Carmen Catoya, only proved one more time that it will be a tough game to try to get the “Top Company Star” title out of her petite hands. Catoya’s portray was different, but as magnetic as Delgado. Catoya is more shy, but this shyness gives her Kitri a little more edgy look. I had the sense as if she was a teen trying to sneak out of her sheltered life to be with her first love. Delgado tells the story of a more experienced young woman, one that goes right where she wants when she wants. Both were exquisite, and both received ovations. For some reason Catoya, unlike Delgado, decided to make a substitution in her Act III harp variation: instead of the diagonal of spring points-(or “la escalera” as it is known in Cuba)-she came out with a diagonal of pirouettes/chainees series, which was great, but didn’t do it to me as the folk/flavored “escalera”.

Ok, So Renato Panteado did GREEEEEEEEEEAT too as Basilio. Beautiful jumps, exquisite tours en l’air, impressive one hand lifts. Guerra’s Espada was all virility, his cape handling beautifully done, his Mercedes-(Kronemberg)-looking adorable as ever. Newbie Carlos Quenedit showed knowledge in the role-(he had done it in the demanding Alonso’s production right before defecting from Cuba, and this really shows). His Mercedes-(Weingarten?)-was fresh, musical…very pretty. Tricia Albertson’s Amor could have been more vivacious, with more accents. That hideous platinum wig needs to go. Deanna Seay looked very elegant as the Queen of Dryads. Jeremy Cox’s unique personality did the best of his Gamache.

If anything, I just have to say that Eddie’s Company could have handled a more complex/technically demanding choreography, both to the principals and the Corps-(The gypsy scene the best example). I was also a little confused with the dream scene, as in Cuba Amor’s variation is danced with what I saw here as Kitri’s Dulcinea. (I had never seen the one was done). As per Kitri’s role here, I missed the longer dancing sequence that Alonso gives her, along with the Adagio danced by her and the Don, with that great jetes-permeated coda. Also Alonso’s version goes more into the “ballet blanc” spirit…the Dryads tutus are long, white and the poses are more romantic-inspired. Another miss that I noticed is the way they showed the Dulcinea/Kitri ordeal in this scene. For someone who’s not that used to the ballet it would have been kind of hard to understand what was going on-(Alonso’s version has Dulcinea appears, just to suddenly disappear with Kitri standing in her place with the same dress in a shorter version). Then one realizes that this change has happened in the Don’s confused eyes-(or mind).

Many details, and I could go on and on forever, as this is a ballet that I got to see a lot and love a great deal-(it is played every single year in Cuba, like Giselle and SL), but I really have to say that the whole Company danced with a lot of brio and passion. Orchestra is gone, and economical challenges are affecting its running, but the boys and girls really did a great job.

Congratulations to all!!! :)

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Cristian, I was just about to post asking for a full and detailed review -- and I discovered that you POSTED IT ALMOST A WEEK AGO! How I missed that, I will never know. :huh::huh::huh: My apologies!

Thanks for your comments. I can visualize quite clearly much of what you describe. It will ldefinitely help me when MCB brings the program to West Palm next weekend -- especially the differencees in the characterizations (and choreographic details) by Catoya and J. Delgado. Thanks!

I can't wait to see Quenedit. Penteado grows stronger technically. He still has a tendency to look tense (clenching of teeth in the serious parts, alternating with rictus grin in the lighter parts.), so it's good to see that the new "freer" Penteado is on stage in Don Q.

You don't mention Katia Carranza, a Kitri last time around. I thought she was back from Mexico for Programs II and II. Did she dance at all?

Does anyone know the sources of MCB's version for the Dream Sequence? Or -- to approach it from another angle -- which version (MCB's or Ballet Nacional de Cuba's) is closest to the original?

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Maybe not, cahill. I'm sitting this one out. My thoughts are that, if I lived in south Florida, I might try one performance -- "happy, energetic, vital" I'm sure they are, as Cristian says -- but I react pretty strongly against Minkus's music, even in small doses, and what little else I've picked up about that "Don Q" is that it's basically a variety show which doesn't hang together very well. In other words, it's a weak draw for me, not enough to pull me from my other life here in the land of extreme weather and politics to match. (I expect to return to Florida for Program IV in mid-March.)

And I still remember more if I see less, although to a lesser extent than decades ago, when I was even more selective. I'm still buoyed up by memories of MCB's New York City Center run, and I want to continue to relish that.

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I'm with you on Minkus, Jack, and share a good deal of your feelings the classic Don Q. (Much prefer the Balanchine. If only it weren't saddled with that Nabakov score.)

Nevertheless, I'm signed on for 3 performances (out of 4) in West Palm. Following Cristian's wonderful reviews, I definitely want to see BOTH Catoya and Jeanette Delgado -- and want the chance to see Carlos Quendit, for the first time in a major role since he came to MCB. Jennifer Kronenberg's Mercedes is a bonus.

I'm also looking for improvements in the corps. They danced well last time around, but hadn't yet learned how to respond with conviction and vivacity to actions and dancing by others. In ballets like this, a corps that is totally engaged, even when not dancing themselves, can often be a key element determining whether or not YOU care about what is going on.

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Any reviews from this weekend in Ft. Lauderdale?

Last Saturday I almost made it for the III Act at the night Performance, but at the end it didn't happen. (Would I had known that Delgado was doing it, I could have made an extra effort...). Verbatim from a friend who went: Kronemberg was given one performance, which he loved. Delgado the best...

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Just back from the West Palm opening: Catoya and Penteado. The feel of everyone's performance is so much freer and more confident than the last time they did Don Q, a couple of seasons ago. Everything -- from the fan work to the corps to the character dancing to the relationship between the two lovers -- is more alive.

In 2006, West Palm was the first time they'd ever done it in public. This time round, we were the last in a tour of 4 cities. What a difference!

I'll talk more about Catoya and Penteado when I've seen all casts. It's enough to say that they did a remarkable job and got a huge round of applause at the end.

Cristian, are you raising the hope that West Palm may get a chance to see Jennifer Kronenberg and (I assume) Carlos Guerra in the leads? Her Mercedes is still the sexiest, most glamourous and wittiest I could imagine. :) Guerra was a dashing Matador. Daniel Sarabia was electric as the Gypsy Leader. Jeanette Delgado, as the Lead Bridesmaid, was technically marvelous and full of joy.

The lack of a live orchestra had more than the usual drawbacks. There were some problems of timing -- especially in those big TA-DAH! moments at the end of phrases (usually bass drum and cymbals in Minkus). It makes me realize just how important the musical responsiveness of Conductor Francisco Renno and the Opus One orchestra had been.

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bart, what about "Reina de las Driadas"...?, Seay?...and Amor...?-(Albertson, I bet).

Cristian, are you raising the hope that West Palm may get a chance to see Jennifer Kronenberg and (I assume) Carlos Guerra in the leads?

Well, thanks to that habit of not announcing casting in advance I didn't get the info on time about Kronemberg's lead in Broward. :) -(Which I would have done something to be there. Now I KNOW that I have to maintain my older, more reliable sources ...definitely. But yes, you guys are supposed to get Jennifer. Let me know, ok..? :foot:

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bart, what about "Reina de las Driadas"...?, Seay?...and Amor...?-(Albertson, I bet).

Yes. And yes. Seay was lovely, quite serene and gentle -- more a sylph than a Queen. I liked Albertson, though I'd prefer someone smaller and faster in this role. I usually like more contrast among the women in this scene -- Kitri, Queen, Amor -- as they enter and depart like waves on a beach.

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I checked the pdd from the Terekhova/Ruzimatov Kirov dvd -- just to compare.

I've referred to Catoya appearing tired by the end of the pdd. One reason may be the very fast tempi imposed on her by the recording. In the dvd, Terekhova is given much slower tempi for certain sections: a diagonal series of pique pirouettes comes to mind. I fast-fowarded that section and found that she was dancing -- in fast forward --not all that much faster than Catoya had to dance last nsight on stage, in the same section. :)

In general, the Kirov dvd plays around with tempo to assure maximum impact from the dancers. In slower sections it's S-L-O-W, which creates much greater drama.

I wonder where they get the recordings they play at performance's like MCB'? Does anyone at the company edit them? What role does tempo play in the choice of what they use?

P.S. Terekhova's fouettees are pretty much one/two/double/one/two/double all the way through. I admire Catoya for performing a more difficult sequence at what appears to be greated speed. They're not as incredibly fast as Ananiashvili's on the Perm video -- who is? But they're strong, clean, quick, and ... to be honest ... pleasantly surprising from a company which doesn't get to practice this kind of trick very often.

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I think ballet companies typically patch their discs together from different recordings -- sometimes there's no other reason I can think of for different sound quality in different numbers. Some may be thin and shrill, others in the same ballet will be smooth and sweet. Just as a music listener at home, I've been able to ameliorate the worst problems by fussing with the controls on my playback equipment, but this takes time, and in the ballet-company context, time is money, and...

As for tempos, though, I'm told by a reliable source that it's now possible to adjust the tempos of a recording without affecting the pitch. Aside from knowing my source for this, my lowly DVD player will play back at double speed without changing the pitch, as yours probably did, bart, when you were trying that comparison of Terekhova and Catoya, so I believe it. (Maybe for some, nothing here needs proof, but I'm such an old guy, I still tend to think in terms of analogue technology, which didn't make miracles like we can today.) The point of all of this is that if Catoya's tempos were adjustable (in principle), then MCB may have thought they were appropriate.

And since it was opening night, she wouldn't have been tired by a matinee, the only time I've seen her falter for an instant in an evening performance of Ballet Imperial. Maybe they just traveled up the coast that day. Maybe -- hey, you know what? I just remembered! These wonderful creatures, these dancers, they're only human! It's so easy to forget that...

BTW, I'm enjoying this discussion, without having to go to the trouble of traveling and putting up with Minkus! Yeah, I can imagine Kronenberg doing sexy. Warm sexy, I gather, not cool, dominant sexy, like her Siren in Prodigal?

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