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NBC Butterfly

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Has anyone seen the National Ballet's Madame Butterfly in Toronto? My room-mate's busy, so I'm trying to decide whether to go see it by myself or go to ballet class that evening. ps sorry if this is in the wrong forum, please move the thread if it is.


um, moderators: are images allowed? I know they eat up a lot of space.

[No, sorry, see my post below; I deleted it.]

[ 05-05-2001: Message edited by: syncopation ]

[ 05-05-2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]

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Paquita usually fills us in on Toronto doings. I hope she, or someone else, can answer your question.

I"m sorry, but I have to nix images for space-eating reasons. Also, they slow down sites to a crawl if everybody starts doing them. So, sorry, but I'm going into your post and delete that one.

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I wish I could help you here...but I won't see the performance myself until the 10th. I had to change my regular ticket (last Sunday).

My daughter went to the mixed program today...I was away at her sister's performance so didn't go. Word was that the performance was enjoyed.

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I'm going this friday, and am looking forward to it. Chan Hon Goh and Geon Van der Wyst are the principals, so I can get my first real look at him ( I saw him in a Delicate Battle but it's not a big role).

My teacher went last week and said it was absolutely beautiful. Serenade should be good too :D

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I saw it on friday night, and the students from grade 5-10 from the National Ballet School were also there. They were all screaming at the curtain calls!

It was a lovely evening of dance, Serenade and Madame Butterfly.

SERENADE ( Balanchine, Tchaikovsky)

Xiao Nan Yu danced the waltz girl, Greta Hodkinson the Russian girl, and Julie Hay was the dark angel. All three were absolutely stunning. Nan has one of the most gorgeous arabesque's in the company, and her long lines make for beautiful adagios and pdds ( partnered by Rex Harrington and Geon van der Wyst on friday). She brings such depth to each role she dances, and relishes in every step. Greta was phenomenal and has really entered her prime. She danced with such ease and weightlessness, everything she does is polished to perfection. And corps member Julie Hay was also stunning in her debut. I loved the part where she's in arabesque and the man turns her around 2 or 3 times, such balance required for that!

But I really have to hand it to the female corps. This was the best I've seen them all season. They were so together, it made the overall mood and effect much more powerful. Each step was performed in style, and it was great.

Rex stuck to what he does best, which is partnering. When he would have a grand jete or something, he would look much more tense. He'd rather be lifting Xiao Nan Yu over his head!

Just a stunning ballet, danced very well. I was sitting there thinking was a genius Balanchine was.

MADAME BUTTERFLY ( Stanton Welch, Puccini- Ballet in 2 acts)

I was lucky enough to watch the first cast, Chan Hon Goh and Geon van der Wyst as Butterfly and Pinkerton. Both were perfectly suited to their roles. Chan’s delicate naïveté and superb dramatic skills, and Geon’s American poster boy good looks ( you can bet those NBS students were smitten!) and commanding presence. Chan’s pointework was so light and clean, she would do high grand jetes and land without a sound. Geon’s landings were heavier, especially after double tours, but as the ballet progressed he gained better control. His acting was very dramatic, on occasion over the top, but it was heartfelt and he held nothing back. He was Pinkerton. He truly loved Butterfly, but didn’t know what he was getting himself into. Much like Albrecht. At one point, he gave so much, he slid! But he managed to recover just in time to lift Chan gracefully. Her interpretation was transcendent, with rare sensitivity. The romantic pdd at the end of Act 1, after they get married, was breathtaking. Everyone walked out to the intermission just silent. Otherwise, fumbling for words, “Wow!…uh…Wow!”

Stacey Shiori Minagawa was equally excellent as Suzuki, Butterfly’s most loyal friend and servant. Of course physically, she suits the part because she is Japanese! But also in her acting, her attention to details, the ballet had more depth. Her dancing was clean, not flashy, as Suzuki is very humble. But the dancing still shone, everything was so polished. Stacey is very light- it’s not ballon in the jumps that I mean, it’s being “pulled up” all the time.

Drama and dancing continued to escalate in the 2nd Act. Pinkerton’s betrayal is tragic, and when Kate ( by Martine Lamy) comes for the child the sorrow is shown on Butterfly and Suzuki’s faces. The last bits of dancing by Chan Hon Goh, before Butterfly commits suicide, were so passionate. I was brought to tears, which has never happened to me at the ballet!

Anyways, as a whole it is a beautiful production- lovely sets and costumes, and of course, great music! Stanton Welch has done an excellent job in translating the opera into a ballet.

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Guest Butterfly

Sorry my first post did not go through.

Last Thursday we went to see the afternoon

performance of Serenade. Congratulations

to the Corps. They danced beautifully. As

the curtain rose they were a wonderful sight

to behold.

Sonia Rodriguez danced the role of Butterfly

and Aleksandar Antonijevic danced the role

of Pinkerton.

Puccini's music is very haunting. I felt

all the emotions of Butterfly as portrayed by Sonia. I felt no sympathy with Pinkerton. However Antonijevic danced the role very well. He has wonderful lines,

My favourite scene was where Suzuki and Butterfly prepare for Pinkerton's arrival. The set was simple and uncluttered and

complimented the sweet and haunting music of Puccini. Looking forward to next year's season

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Thanks to all for posting about NBOC! Paquita has been faithfully keeping us posted on the company for quite awhile now, and she must have felt a bit lonely, as we very seldom had anyone else join in. So thanks, helga -- mom2 and syncopation, if you went, please chime in :D

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Well, I did see Butterfly, on the Tuesday. I thought about posting, but then I saw Paquita's detailed and perceptive post and just sat there gaping in awe for a while. (I didn't even see a fraction of what she saw in the performance!)

I loved Serenade. We were in the balcony, and enjoyed the view of the formations--the only benefit of cheap seats. What I noticed the most was how graceful the dancers' arms were, fluid and as much a part of the expression as the footwork, and yet separate... it's hard to explain. In pictures (and even in class), you see how the arms should be held, but it's static and affected.

I was particularly looking at the corps a lot of the time, to see if they really did move in unison. A lot of the time, they didn't, and I wondered if that was intentional. Slight differences in timing and angles, nothing very major. I wish that the program would list the names of all the dancers in the corps; there was one in the back row, stage right, that I was particularly impressed by. Gorgeous extension and she seemed to float throughout.

The turns in arabesque in the second (?) movement were breathtaking. My program says the cast was Chan Hon Goh, Martine Lamy, and Tiffany Knight, and also Rex Harrington and Aleksandar Antonijevic. No Geon van der Wyst, alas. There's been a lot about him in the papers (mostly about his smouldering good looks), so I was a little disappointed that I didn't get a chance to see him. Maybe next season.

The lighting was very effective. There was a dramatic door of light in the last movement of Serenade, and beautiful lacy gobos in the ballroom scene of Butterfly (where Pinkerton reminisces about his fiancée who has written him a letter). The costumes in that scene were lovely, very extravagant jewel coloured ballgown confections, and a contrast to the simple lines and plainer colours of the Japanese characters.

I found Butterfly overwhelming at times. In the opening scene, there were a lot of characters on stage, and more kept coming in and none of them ever left the stage. That made it confusing to watch. I wonder who writes the program notes. The line "slowly she abandons her innocence and they lie down beneath the stars" I found quite amusing.

Some interludes were set behind a paper screen, so you could see the silhouetted shadows as Butterfly and Suzuki mimed the action.

There were also huge white sails (kites? ghosts?) that formed part of the backdrop at the beginning. The light came on to display an imposing woman dressed in a kimono, absolutely still. The whole audience gasped audibly, then the light went out, and one could hear the rustling of the sails as the stagehands rushed them across the stage. The sails also made their appearance at the beginning of the second act, and then again rustled at the end, framing the work.

Not much detail on the dancing in my report, I'm afraid. I enjoyed it immensely, though, and perhaps in time I will gain more technical knowledge to explain my enjoyment in more precise terms. (Now scroll back up and read Paquita's post again!)


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We went to the Thurs. mat performance...the same one Helga attended. My older daughter was there with her ballet school...Ryan Boorne, who danced Pinkerton's friend, is a graduate of her school...so it was nice for them to get to see him. He has matured considerably in his dramatic abilitiesover the last couple of years.

Serenade was wonderful, and I thought there were very few lapses in unison.

We all loved Butterfly! I think that this ballet truly allows the dancers to be actors, and they all fulfilled the expectations wonderfully. Sonia Rodriguez is of course technically brilliant, but this was the first time I had seen her portray so much emotion on stage. Her husband, skater Kurt Browning, was in the audience by the way...

I read a review on another board by someone who is much more adept with written expression than I seem to be - he talked about the "busy-ness" of the first couple of scenes. This was something that I had noticed too, and bothered me a bit; it was hard to take everything in visually. He was then struck by how this "busy-ness" might very well parallel an Englishman's experience of Japan, and that the choreography may very well be an attempt to depict that feeling...now why didn't I think of all that?

Overall I have to say that I was quite encouraged about the state of NBOC after watching this performance. This was NOT a feeling I had after watching the Comforts of Solitude, one of the offerings in February.

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Thanks syncopation and mom2 for your comments! I was feeling kind of like the lone Canadian here!

I laughed too, when I read the program:

"slowly she abandons her innocence and they lie down beneath the stars". That's one way to put it...

mom2, I agree, the company looked much better in this new work, rather than the Comforts of Solitude. They should have scheduled Butterfly, such a romantic ballet, for Valentine's Day instead of the cold modern work.

I think you're right, the busy-ness in the first scene gives the audience that impression of Japan. I've been there once, and I think time goes by 10 times faster in Japan! Everything is so quick and efficient, it has to be with so many people in such small space! I think the ballet was quite acurate in terms of depicting Japanese culture and values at the time. Especially at the end, the principle and importance of dignity.

Did anyone see RWB's Butterfly? Curious about that...

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