Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

2017 Season - Frankenstein


Recommended Posts

Casting is up for the first four performances of Frankenstein (https://www.sfballet.org/season/casting):

 

PROGRAM 03 - FRANKENSTEIN

Friday, February 17, 2017 - 8 pm

...

Choreography: Liam Scarlett
Music: Lowell Liebermann
Conductor: Martin West

Victor Frankenstein: Joseph Walsh*^
Elizabeth Lavenza: Frances Chung*^
The Creature:  Vitor Luiz*^

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Saturday, February 18, 2017 - 2 pm

Choreography: Liam Scarlett
Music: Lowell Liebermann
Conductor: Martin West

Victor Frankenstein: Aaron Robison*^
Elizabeth Lavenza: Dores André *^
The Creature: Luke Ingham*^

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Saturday, February 18, 2017 - 8 pm

Choreography: Liam Scarlett
Music: Lowell Liebermann
Conductor: Martin West

Victor Frankenstein: Max Cauthorn*^
Elizabeth Lavenza: Lauren Strongin*^
The Creature: Taras Domitro*^

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sunday, February 19, 2017 - 2 pm

Choreography: Liam Scarlett
Music: Lowell Liebermann
Conductor: Martin West

Victor Frankenstein: Joseph Walsh
Elizabeth Lavenza: Frances Chung
The Creature: Vitor Luiz

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Denotes premiere in role for current production.
^Denotes premiere in current production.

 

Link to post
1 hour ago, pherank said:

This debut for Max Cauthorn is a nice surprise. Good for him.

I know - I was pretty surprised to see that! Delighted though, as I've always enjoyed watching him, and that's the performance I'll be attending. Am also seeing Lauren Strongin in a lot of principal sort of roles so far this season. Wouldn't surprise me if (when?) it happens. 

 

It's all a little disorienting, though. I feel like the company is undergoing quite a changing of the guard. Haven't seen Sarah VP since her return from maternity leave. Nor Vanessa, since opening night of Nutcracker. Nor YY, at all. Ah well, the season has just begun.

Link to post
24 minutes ago, Terez said:

 

It's all a little disorienting, though. I feel like the company is undergoing quite a changing of the guard. Haven't seen Sarah VP since her return from maternity leave. Nor Vanessa, since opening night of Nutcracker. Nor YY, at all. Ah well, the season has just begun.

 

All of those dancers have been on the stage this year though, so I'm sure you will get your opportunity. The many retirements are an unfortunate but inevitable change. Dance is one art form in which time is an especially precious commodity. The SFB principals are mostly all in the last years of their careers. And dance is hard on the body, so some have to leave before their time for health reasons (for example PNB's Carla Korbes or NYCB's Janie Taylor). The assumption is that dancers can last until they are about 40, but given the number of years that many of them have been dancing, that's often asking too much. Sarah Van Patten has danced professionally since she was 15. And Sofiane Sylve started at 14. They're both still dancing as if they don't want to do anything else, but I know that their retirements aren't far off.

 

From the NYT:

'Patricia Neary, a principal dancer who exemplified the bold expansive style of Balanchine's City Ballet in the 1960's, is one of the foremost experts asked by the Balanchine Trust to stage his choreography. She discovered Ms. Sylve at 15 in the Karlsruhe Ballet, a provincial German company in the Black Forest.

A seasoned entrant on the French junior ballet-competition circuit, Ms. Sylve had been snapped up at 14 by the Karlsruhe troupe. "I was invited to stage a Balanchine evening," Ms. Neary recalled in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. "Thank God Sofiane was there. She was a baby but had glorious technique. I cast her in everything: the lead in 'Allegro Brillante,' in 'Four Temperaments' and 'Who Cares?' It was unbelievable to see such maturity, musicality and natural ability. She carried the whole evening."

"To do Balanchine ballets," Ms. Neary continued, "you have to be at ease so that the public can enjoy them. There is real 'nonfear' in her dancing. I love dancers who don't analyze. She just dances."

Ms. Neary, a former director of the Geneva Ballet, with Balanchine as her adviser, added: "She is a Balanchine dancer. Perhaps in a European way. But he loved European dancers."'

 

 

Link to post

Maybe this is a dicey question, but what is the rhyme/reason to being promoted from soloist to principal? I was thrilled that Sasha got promoted, although right after Nutcracker when she and all of the other soloists were dancing the same lead roles seemed a little odd. Seeing the Elizabeth casting, now I wonder why Lauren Strongin hasn't been promoted. She stepped in for Mathilde in the initial programs, and seems to dance similar "important" roles to Sasha. Any thoughts? Am I missing something re: ballet politics? 

Link to post
On 2/13/2017 at 10:54 AM, PeggyTulle said:

Maybe this is a dicey question, but what is the rhyme/reason to being promoted from soloist to principal? I was thrilled that Sasha got promoted, although right after Nutcracker when she and all of the other soloists were dancing the same lead roles seemed a little odd. Seeing the Elizabeth casting, now I wonder why Lauren Strongin hasn't been promoted. She stepped in for Mathilde in the initial programs, and seems to dance similar "important" roles to Sasha. Any thoughts? Am I missing something re: ballet politics? 

 

I think it's only "political" at SFB (with regards to promotion) in the sense of management needing to show loyalty, and sensitivity, to the dancer's sacrifices over time. Sasha, and Dores André before her, have been work-horses for the company, and proven themselves over the years. But ballet companies generally need to bring in a few 'stars' from the outside (Europe, Asia, etc.) to keep things fresh and exciting for the audience. Budget absolutely plays into what can be done in a single year.

 

On the subject of Frankenstein, there is a one day sale on tickets - today, Valentine's Day only:

https://www.sfballet.org/valentine

 

(But I won't be shocked if SFB decides to extend the sale)

 

Link to post

Enjoyed seeing this more than I thought I would. Narrowly focused version of Frankenstein. Some Oneginish traces. At times it seemed like the revenge of Victor Frankenstein's Id, or dark side – at others only that some worrisome past indiscretion was the problem.

 

But beautifully dressed and danced and dramatically effective in parts. Hinged on the personalities of Joseph Walsh, Frances Chung and Angelo Greco to hold things together so nicely throughout.

 

Score very smoothly done, heard bits of Ravel and Stravinsky Violin Concerto in the last act waltzes, someone said Prokofiev Cinderella in the bordello scene – never know if that's a plus or a minus anymore.

Edited by Quiggin
Link to post
33 minutes ago, Quiggin said:

Enjoyed seeing this more than I thought I would. Narrowly focused version of Frankenstein. Some Oneginish traces. At times it seemed like the revenge of Victor Frankenstein's Id, or dark side – at others only that some worrisome past indiscretion was the problem.

 

But beautifully dressed and danced and dramatically effective in parts. Hinged on the personalities of Joseph Walsh, Frances Chung and Angelo Greco to hold things together so nicely throughout.

 

Score very smoothly done, heard bits of Ravel and Stravinsky Violin Concerto in the last act waltzes, someone said Prokofiev Cinderella in the bordello scene – never know if that's a plus or a minus anymore.

 

Thanks for the report, Quiggin. The Onegin comparison makes sense.

 

Anne Murphey (for the Mercury News) seems to agree with your assessment:

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/02/18/san-francisco-ballets-frankenstein-compelling-but-flawed/

 

"The questions: Is it new? Different? Daring? The answer: sometimes.
The first image of the production is arresting. On the drop curtain there’s a giant skull viewed from the side, a spinal cord and what appears to be a trachea at a disturbing remove from the spine. When that curtain rises, a three-act, nearly three-hour, visually compelling but choreographically flawed ballet starts unfolding."

Link to post

Pherank, thank you for the lovely shout-out! Much appreciated. The review was a bit longer than Bachtrack allows me (only 800 words) and that's one advantage of a blog review - you can really stretch out and offer thoughts about the mood, and such. Quiggin, like you, I enjoyed the production more than I'd expected I would. I was just crazy about Taras Domitro's performance, the raw emotion in it. Like I said in my review, the Creature was a being you could almost love, certainly feel a whole lot of sympathy for. I noticed in other reviews how more than one reviewer brought up how the story paralleled (or should have) today's technology and the "monster" we might be creating with artificial intelligence. No one brought up how the story relates to the way the "undesirables" of the world, those homeless wrecks you see on the streets of SF and go out of your way to avoid any contact with. There was this utterly brilliant moment during the Creatures early days of reanimation, where, through the scrim and a spotlight, you see him wandering the streets (sorta), being pushed and shoved and despised. It was fleeting, but just a brilliant way to encapsulate how he fared in that post-reanimation period. I thought Scarlett's production made the character wonderfully sympathetic. Those two pas de deux at the end, between Victor and The Creature, and the latter with Elizabeth - were so very, very good, both in performance and choreography. Such "love me - please!" yearning. Domitro didn't hold anything back. I remember being dazzled by his performance in Swimmer last season for the same reason. What a great dramatic artist he can be.

 

I was thrilled to see Cast 2 perform and thought Max, Lauren, Taras, Julia Rowe and Angelo Greco did amazingly well. Was so hoping we'd hear news of a backstage promotion to soloist for Max, the way we heard of Jennifer Stahl getting promoted after Rite of Spring. Speaking of whom, she performed very well as Madame Moritz (?) the housekeeper. I didn't even recognize her; I had to check the name on the cast sheet at intermission.

 

I heard Prokofiev's "Cinderella" in the final waltz scene (but not the bordello scene) - I was so relieved the score was more traditional than innovative. The ballet itself, or its libretto (is that what it's called in a ballet vs an opera?) was plenty innovation for me. I didn't need another Sufjan Stevens or Thom Willems score pushing me out of my comfort zone.

 

Enjoyed your comments on the production, Quiggin. Anyone see Cast 3? Josette, I hope you enjoy the Sun matinee - do report in, if you can, on how Wei Wang did as The Creature. I imagine he'll do fine with it. 

Link to post

Anybody know, BTW, why we've seen nothing of WanTin Zhao in recent programs? Or maybe it's just been luck of the draw and she hasn't performed in the three performances I've seen in the repertory season to date. 

 

And Pherank, I never got the chance to thank you for your comments on my last query about absent dancers. Yikes, I hope Sarah VP and Sofiane aren't thinking retirement any time soon. They dance so "young" in my mind. Crazy to hear that Sofiane started professionally at 14. Wow.

Link to post
2 hours ago, Terez said:

I heard Prokofiev's "Cinderella" in the final waltz scene (but not the bordello scene) - I was so relieved the score was more traditional than innovative. The ballet itself, or its libretto (is that what it's called in a ballet vs an opera?) was plenty innovation for me. I didn't need another Sufjan Stevens or Thom Willems score pushing me out of my comfort zone.

 

Enjoyed your comments on the production, Quiggin. Anyone see Cast 3? Josette, I hope you enjoy the Sun matinee - do report in, if you can, on how Wei Wang did as The Creature. I imagine he'll do fine with it. 

 

I had the idea that Prokofiev would have been a good choice for composer of a Frankenstein ballet. But of course that never happened. The story-line of a ballet can be referred to as a libretto, yes.

 

I've been wondering if anyone saw the Robison, André and Ingham casting. People have complained previously that they haven't seen anything of Aaron Robison. Hopefully we will hear from someone who was in the audience.

 

"I hope Sarah VP and Sofiane aren't thinking retirement any time soon. They dance so "young" in my mind. Crazy to hear that Sofiane started professionally at 14. Wow."

 

Sofiane is either now 40, or about to turn 40 this year, so the inevitable is fast approaching. I really hope she can be another Sylvie Guillem, and continue to make appearances for the next 10 years(!). But that depends on her body and health. She remains very flexible, and enthusiastic, that's for sure.

Something that is little talked about, or advertised, is that she has been teaching steadily at the SFB school, and she is putting in a lot of time as a coach. Froustey and Di Lanno, for example, have been coached by her a number of times. I still want to see her considered for A.D. when Tomasson retires - she is a very intelligent person, and has the right mix of interests to champion both contemporary and classical productions. EDIT: [I just came across an article in the Guardian from 2007 that actually states her birth year as being 1976. So she is 40 or 41 at present]

 

SVP is more of a mystery - I didn't expect her to come back so quickly after having her first child, so she obviously cares a great deal about her connection to the company. But family takes a lot of time and energy. She hasn't been dancing enough lately for me to tell if she's dancing at her highest level still, and if she cares to maintain that. Everything changes when children come along.

Edited by pherank
Link to post

Pherank, I saw Aaron Robison during the Nutcracker run, and was impressed with his strong technique, engaging presence, and virile, expressive dancing. He will be a particular asset to the company, particularly with Karapetyan's retirement. 

 

Link to post
2 hours ago, Drew said:

There are ballerinas who, after having babies, have continued dancing at the same level as before . . .  and better.

 

I was thinking more of the mental, rather than physical, struggles of staying on top. SVP is apparently only 33, even though she's been with various ballet companies for a total of 19 years, so as long as she stays healthy, she may be around a while longer.

 

EDIT: I just discovered that SVP has a Neary connection too - Sofiane was 'discovered' by Patricia Neary, and SVP by Colleen Neary:

 

Sarah Van Patten: My teacher was Jacqueline Cronsberg, and she owned a school, Ballet Workshop of New England, that then had a youth company, Massachusetts Youth Ballet, and I was a part of this. It was a relatively small school. Her daughter, Sandra Jennings, danced with New York City Ballet and is a répétiteur for the Balanchine Trust, and she set many Balanchine ballets on us…

Time Out New York: What happened? Sandra was staging a ballet in Denmark, and she took you along?

Sarah Van Patten: Yes. Colleen Neary and her husband [Thordal Christensen] were the directors of the Royal Danish, and because Colleen was a NYCB dancer — I want to say Sandy was setting a Balanchine piece on the company. There was some talk that the school at the time didn’t necessarily have apprentice-kind-of-dancers coming up; three of us flew over, and Jackie came with us.

https://www.timeout.com/newyork/dance/sarah-van-patten-talks-about-san-francisco-ballet

 

 

1 hour ago, Josette said:

Pherank, I saw Aaron Robison during the Nutcracker run, and was impressed with his strong technique, engaging presence, and virile, expressive dancing. He will be a particular asset to the company, particularly with Karapetyan's retirement. 

 

 

Thanks Josette. SFB needs to replace quite a few 'un-replaceable' danseurs. I'm actually glad that Tomossan is recruiting from outside the company too - Walsh, Greco, Di Lanno and Robison are all excellent finds.

Edited by pherank
Link to post

I attended the final Frankenstein on Feb. 26, managing to get a front-row seat, so I could watch faces.  I have reservations about parts of the ballet, which have been commented on elsewhere: mainly about Scarlett's choreography for groups being his weak spot; the first act had a scene with the medical students that went on too long and the following scene in a tavern could be cut, please.  Once we got through the tavern scene, which seemed like a lot of clutter, things picked up.  The pas de deux were choreographically the high points. 

 

But I was there for the performances and was very happy with everyone.  SFB does not do many obvious narrative ballets such as the McMillan ballets, so it was terrific to see the dancers succeed so convincingly as expressive dance/actors. My personal favorites were Julia Rowe as Justine and Wei Wang as the Creature.  Rowe, who always stands out for the quality of her movement, delivered a performance of great poignancy. I had hoped to see Taras Domitro as the Creature, but Wei Wang, from the moment he began breathing when he came to life, floored me. His Creature was grotesque on the surface, but his dancing was so extraordinarily graceful, his port de bras and hands so without tension, and his line so fluid and beautiful, that his Creature was the opposite of monstrous. Because of his expressivity, for me, his Creature was someone gentle, craving love desperately, and no one could see who he really was - making his rejection all the more tragic. 

 

 Max Cauthorn, who has been with the company for two or three years, was also exceptional for his concentration and his partnering skills; he did not for a moment look like a junior member of the company.   Lauren Strongin had a lovely vulnerability; she is a beautiful, finished dancer with better port de bras and classical line than the majority of the female dancers in the company. 

Link to post

Loved your comments here, Josette - especially your description of Wei Wang as The Creature. I'm nodding over your comments that his Creature was the opposite of monstrous. I felt the exact same way about Taras Domitro in his interpretation. So much empathy arose in me, watching him, and yes, the rejection he keeps receiving felt so sorrowful. Am so glad the role and its interpretation was so nuanced and polished. (And it doesn't help that these men have superb, beautiful, can-stare-at-endlessly bodies, LOL!)

Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...