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ABT 2019 Met Season

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Oh could be. Thanks for information.  I was too lazy to look it up. I did note that the opera has replaced Monday evening performances with Sunday matinees for 2019-20. 

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2 minutes ago, California said:

I confess that when I first saw this information, I guessed that she just couldn't get the choreography and bailed. "Schedule conflict" is a more face-saving way to explain that than technical inability to do the steps (especially after the fouette embarrassment last year). Much of Ratmansky's choreography is fiendishly difficult -- the long series of hops on pointe, e.g. -- and a year or two ago, many on this board noted how much difficulty she was having with the steps. I doubt Ratmansky would have been happy letting her change/simplify his work. 

A "schedule conflict" is face-saving to some people, but clearly not to her fans and others who know full well that a scheduling conflict, if it is indeed that, is completely avoidable. Her posting this on her Instagram only two days before her originally scheduled show is disrespectful to her legions of fans, and clearly many of her fans don't check, or know to check, ABT's website for casting changes. As mentioned upthread, this recasting happened by May 14 at the latest. Sure, they still couldn't have gotten their money back for their tickets, but a week and half's notice is MUCH better than two days, allowing for people to at least change their travel plans for a long, holiday weekend (and maybe get a refund/credit for that).

I don't think I believe this was some marketing ploy by ABT, but they should have re-cast it sooner if it was decided the role was too much for her with everything else on her plate. As noted above, Princess Praline's choreography (like much of Ratmansky) is very difficult. Is it any wonder why she isn't appearing in any of his works this season, including his premiere? 

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5 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

 As noted above, Princess Praline's choreography (like much of Ratmansky) is very difficult. Is it any wonder why she isn't appearing in any of his works this season, including his premiere? 

Bingo.  You hit the nail on the head.  Ratmansky is powerful, and he does not permit his choreography  to be altered.

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1 minute ago, abatt said:

Bingo.  You hit the nail on the head.  Ratmansky is powerful, and he does not permit his choreography  to be altered.

Which begs the question, why wasn't she re-cast sooner? Or better yet, why was she cast at all? She's appearing in enough already for "ticket sales", however, with the exception of  Swan Lake, none of her other shows sell out anyway (or are even close to as of right now), so that's why I doubt the purposeful bait and switch. It doesn't make sense.

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1 hour ago, ABT Fan said:

Which begs the question, why wasn't she re-cast sooner? Or better yet, why was she cast at all? She's appearing in enough already for "ticket sales", however, with the exception of  Swan Lake, none of her other shows sell out anyway (or are even close to as of right now), so that's why I doubt the purposeful bait and switch. It doesn't make sense.

I don't think Copeland would risk alienating her fans with a bait and switch. I think this could be a case of extreme wishful thinking on the part of ABT, kind of like when they "cast" Osipova in the Ratmansky Sleeping Beauty. Certainly much of Hallberg's post-injury casting falls into this wishful thinking category, I think. 

Edited by fondoffouettes

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1 hour ago, California said:

In fairness, it's possible this is a schedule conflict -- but if it were something like a family emergency or funeral, why not say that? 

I want to be generous, but "scheduling conflict" is pretty weak sauce this late in the day for a company that announces its cast lists months and months in advance. If Copeland genuinely wants to be a role model for aspiring dancers (and I take her at her word that she does) the better part of valor might have been honesty. If it's a personal matter, one can say so tactfully in a way that preserves her privacy or the privacy of whoever else might be involved. If she's concerned about sustaining an injury or worsening an already existing one by tackling particularly challenging choreography at this point in time, she could make a teachable moment out of it and observe that sometimes you have to scrub a performance in the interest of your health and well being. If she's struggling with the choreography, she could probably be honest about that too and still be beloved by her many fans. Since she's danced the role before, it's not as if she has to say "OMG these steps are too hard for me!" She could be honest about the way in which they're presenting a challenge right now, and what, if anything, she's doing to overcome that challenge so she can dance the role again in the future, and then tie it up with a bow by reminding her young fans that sometimes you have to take a step back and rebuild your strength so you can do honor to the choreography and your colleagues. 

I do wonder if she might have had some hesitation about dancing the role this season, but got pressured into it by a management that feels keenly the need to put butts in seats. 

 

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell

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2 hours ago, abatt said:

What does it say about ABT that Paris, who I believe is the same age or older than Copeland, is able to do the work?

And who just had a baby a year ago.

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Why are we assuming that Misty can’t dance Princess Praline?  I have seen Copeland dance Princess Praline unlike most of the commenters on this thread. She danced it perfectly well and had lots of warmth and charm.  The choreography is a lot of quick intricate petite allegro but not much jumping or sustained turns or balances.  So Misty is fine, I probably liked Sarah Lane better overall, but I saw no gaffes or compromises with Misty.  

I have no idea what “scheduling conflicts” caused Misty to cancel and I don’t have tickets for any “Whipped Cream” performance as of now.  But there is a lot of projecting and supposition going on here. 

Edited by FauxPas

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In other casting news... Cassandra Trenary posted a story to Instagram today advertising the Tharp strip program next week with the caption “Me and @HermanCornejo wanna see y’all at the Met Opera House” with a photo of the two of them dancing In the Upper Room. Not exactly a confirmation that his injury isn’t serious, but cause for hope, maybe, that he’ll be dancing next week. 

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Faux Pas is right that there is a lot of speculation and projecting regarding the Misty cancellation.  However, I think that since the schedule conflict explanation defies credulity, it automatically leads to speculation.

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Really wonderful performance of the Ratmansky program last night -- what a great mix of pieces in one program, from folky to Petipa-inspired.  I loved everything about the Seasons except for the clashing color palette of the costumes (bright red and lime green look horrible together). Winter was especially gorgeous and impeccably danced, with the Ball/Seo/Williams/Hurlin/Paris cast. On the Dnieper was lovely. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea but I enjoyed the drama and distinctive "Russianness" of it all. I appreciate how well it conveys the story in such a short time, with particularly effective use of a "chorus" of corps dancers. 

Overall it was Hurlin who stole the show, as Olga in On the Dnieper and then in Winter. She has the whole package: technique, speed, energy, long lines, and fluid upper-body movements. She would make a great swan. 

The house was far from sold out but it was quite full (especially the orchestra) and had a lot of energy. 

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I was at the triple bill on Wednesday night.  I went specifically to see On the Dnieper, as I loved it the one other time I saw it.  The name of this company is American Ballet Theatre and one of my complaints is that the company forgets about the theatre part.  I fell in love with ABT 45 years ago because of all the terrific 1-act pieces with storyline that they did at that time.  (First time at ABT was Three Virgins and a Devil, two different pas de deus, and Les Patineurs.  I was totally hooked.)

I sat in the Grand Tier.  The center sections were not completely filled and the side sections were empty.  I have never seen the Met this empty for anything.  The audience was receptive and enthusiastic though.

Biggest revelation for me was how well James Whiteside is dancing this season.  I've never been a fan, but his Harlequin last week was terrific and his turn as Olga's fiancee was outstanding this week.  I'm now thinking of getting a ticket to Jane Eyre to see Whiteside's Rochester.  I'm at last becoming a Whiteside fan.

Unfortunately, I'm not so on the bandwagon for Forster this season.  I thought his Pierrot was bland last week and I thought his turn in Seasons was bland also.  After all the attitude and swagger he displayed as Espada in Don Q, I was hoping for more projection from him in other roles.  I'm not seeing it at the moment.

I enjoyed Seasons, but I did not like the costumes.  The color scheme didn't work for me and the costumes just seemed a mixed bag of I don't know what.

I also think Blaine Hoven is really coming into his own.  He was topnotch in Songs of Bukovina and then held it together taking over for the injured Cornejo in Seasons.

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51 minutes ago, Needlepoints said:

Unfortunately, I'm not so on the bandwagon for Forster this season.  I thought his Pierrot was bland last week and I thought his turn in Seasons was bland also.  After all the attitude and swagger he displayed as Espada in Don Q, I was hoping for more projection from him in other roles.  I'm not seeing it at the moment.

I like Forster very much but I didn't think he looked as comfortable in The Seasons as did Whiteside in the alternate cast.

That said, he was fantastic as Sergei in on the Dneiper in the cast you didn't get to see. I thought far superior to Stearns in the role.

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1 hour ago, Needlepoints said:

 The color scheme didn't work for me and the costumes just seemed a mixed bag of I don't know what.

I quite liked some of the sketches Robert Perdziola posted, but I'm less fond of the finished products (based on photos alone), which look a bit garish and cheap. All of his other work I can find online seems to be very traditional/historicizing, so maybe these Seasons costumes were a departure for him. Some of them do have a sort of modern-day Ballet Russe vibe to them, though, so I'm guessing he may have still been drawing upon some historical references. 

 

 

Edited by fondoffouettes

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1 hour ago, aurora said:

I like Forster very much but I didn't think he looked as comfortable in The Seasons as did Whiteside in the alternate cast.

That said, he was fantastic as Sergei in on the Dneiper in the cast you didn't get to see. I thought far superior to Stearns in the role.

Stearns is another blander than bland for me.  I'm sorry I missed Forster as Sergei, but I'm really pleased I saw Whiteside as Olga's fiance.  That's another issue with ABT.  Where is the cast where everyone is good and perfectly cast?  Getting it half right isn't good enough these days.

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I didn't want to use the "C" word but, as others have used it...yes, the designs for The Seasons looked totally Le Cheapo.  It hurts to write this, as I'm a big fan of other theatrical designs by Robert Perdziola, including those for Harlequinade. I'm guessing that ABT had to low-ball the budget, using less-expensive fabrics and techniques. One thing is the design; another is the execution.

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7 minutes ago, Needlepoints said:

That's another issue with ABT.  Where is the cast where everyone is good and perfectly cast?  Getting it half right isn't good enough these days.

This is an ABT problem? I think NYCB, for instance, is an overall stronger company right now, but quite regularly when I see programs there I think some of the dancers are "good and perfectly cast" and others not so much. Isn't that pretty common?

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20 minutes ago, Roberta said:

I didn't want to use the "C" word but, as others have used it...yes, the designs for The Seasons looked totally Le Cheapo.  It hurts to write this, as I'm a big fan of other theatrical designs by Robert Perdziola, including those for Harlequinade. I'm guessing that ABT had to low-ball the budget, using less-expensive fabrics and techniques. One thing is the design; another is the execution.

I particularly disliked the costumes for the JKO students. The red dresses with black tights made them look like saloon girls, it wasn’t until I checked later that I saw they were supposed to be poppies.

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The costumes for The Seasons were indeed rather low-budget, and there was no set, but throughout the entire performance I couldn't have been happier. It was 40 minutes of non-stop ballet heaven. Only Balanchine, in my experience, has so filled a ballet with such wonderful dancing, leaving not a moment wasted. It was truly a gift to the company, with so many dancers getting great opportunities to stand out. I've never liked Hee Seo or James Whiteside so much. Catherine Hurlin, as others have said, was fantastic, in both this and On the Dnieper. Sarah Lane was at her best.

I loved all the different configurations: four female variations overseen by Winter; a PDT with solos for Zephyr, Rose and Swallow; a prima solo variation; a corps waltz; a Faun solo (Gabe Stone Shayer filled in for Blaine Hoven) with two Satyrs for backup; a bacchanale led by Bacchus (Blaine Hoven in turn filled in for Calvin Royal) and Bacchante; an adagio PDD for Corn and Zephyr. It had everything.

Only Isabella Boylston was disappointing to me; I so wished I were seeing Stella Abrera. (Watching the choreography, I could just picture her.) Isabella, as often, was lacking in grace and refinement (I guess the "Spirit of the Corn" is suppposed to have those qualities? the choreography, at least, made me think so), and there were some stumbles.

Songs of Bukovina, in my opinion, was a mistake for the Met — far too subtle and small-scale. It was swallowed by the space, both visually and aurally. Not a good start to this program.

Tom Forster was quite good in On the Dnieper — I'm excited for his Rochester, and I wish I'd seen his Zephyr. The four principal roles were, indeed, all well-cast and very well-danced. Natalia fits Devon Teuscher's coolness, allowing her to be emotionally affecting in a way that really works for her. Catherine Hurlings was again superb as Olga. And I don't think I've ever seen Alexandre Hammoudi dance so well as in his Scene 2 solo. I truly did not know he had that in him!

Overall, the evening just got better and better, and I left feeling like this Met season might just turn out okay after all.

ETA:  I know this has been covered before on BA, but looking at the program I was struck again by the current state of the principal roster, especially on the male side. Setting aside Bolle, Hallberg and Simkin as part-time principals (at best), there are three: Cornejo, Stearns and Whiteside. With Cornejo injured, that leaves two. That's nuts.

Edited by nanushka

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I saw the "Ratmansky Trio" on Thursday night.  I think the complaints from critics and people on the board that "The Seasons" is too busy  and overstuffed has to do with the number of dancers in the piece and the visual busyness of the costume design.

Every five or ten minutes we seem to get a whole new crew of dancers with multiple soloist parts - each danseur has to partner two or three or four ballerinas.  They all are wearing color clashing costumes that do not blend or match.  The dead looking drop with changing colors behind them and flat lighting don't help matters.  I think Ratmansky's choreography is superb, absolutely superb.  But as brilliantly specific as Ratmansky's movements are, it can get difficult to figure out who is who and what they represent.  For example, Catherine Hurlin has one drop dead brilliant solo as "Hail" in the Winter section - we get involved and start watching for her to do something else.  But then other ballerinas come on with other solos and then BOOM! - it's Spring with three other dancers and different costumes.  Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside get a pas de deux but then no solos and coda when we are expecting htem.  The speed with which hordes of dancers come on and off and the amount of people and children dancing makes it a lot to absorb.  The Spirit of the Corn ballerina role (danced by Abrera or Boylston) is the closest we get to a solo lead and even she comes and goes very quickly.  No individual dancer gets quite enough to develop into a major role.  I loved it but I agree that the drab "set" and garish and uncoordinated costumes did it (and the dancers) no favors.

I saw the Forster/Hurlin/Hammoudi/Teuscher cast of "On the Dnieper" and totally concur with Nanushka's review of it.  Hammoudi acted and danced well with real force in a role that isn't well enough defined by the libretto and choreography.  Where is all that frustration and anger coming from?   Teuscher's spare and restrained acting avoided bathos as Natalia.  Hurlin's wide-ranging and energetic movements as Olga showed the free spirit that enticed Sergei.  As Sergei, Tom Forster made a perfect dance antihero - I would love to see him dance the title role in Cranko's Onegin and look forward to his Rochester.  It was interesting to see "On the Dnieper" again but now I know why I wasn't enthusiastic to check out the second cast in 2009 with Diana Vishneva.  The ballet and the characters leave me cold.

"Songs of Bukovina" indeed looks lost on the Met stage - it would be perfect for the Joyce.

The evening reminded me that Alexei Ratmansky's choreographic output for ABT has been artistically uneven with very few total home runs like "The Seasons".  Even successes like "The Seasons", "Whipped Cream" or "Serenade After Plato's Symposium" have their detractors.  Critics seem to like "Seven Sonatas" but I find it sort of inoffensive/bland/derivative/conservative.  For every "Whipped Cream" we got a "Dumbarton" or "The Tempest".  "The Bright Stream" was wonderfully danced by ABT but it was not a company premiere and the production was a cheap borrowed one and not as lavish as the Bolshoi original.  "The Nutcracker" has really grown on me since its first season but was not the cash cow (at least in New York City) that ABT was hoping for.  Ratmansky's "Firebird" I thought was a dud nonpareil when I first saw it but it has also grown on me in the succeeding revivals.  "Sleeping Beauty" also is uneven and suffers from design that doesn't exactly gel or come off as luxe as was intended.  I think the best work overall is the Shostakovitch Trilogy  but I don't know if ABT has the dancers currently to do it justice.  

 

Edited by FauxPas
remembered something

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51 minutes ago, FauxPas said:

I think the best work overall is the Shostakovitch Trilogy  but I don't know if ABT has the dancers currently to do it justice.  

 

Me too.  The Trilogy is a masterpiece. 

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1 hour ago, FauxPas said:

I saw the "Ratmansky Trio" on Thursday night.  I think the complaints from critics and people on the board that "The Seasons" is too busy  and overstuffed has to do with the number of dancers in the piece and the visual busyness of the costume design.

Every five or ten minutes we seem to get a whole new crew of dancers with multiple soloist parts - each danseur has to partner two or three or four ballerinas.  They all are wearing color clashing costumes that do not blend or match.  The dead looking drop with changing colors behind them and flat lighting don't help matters.  I think Ratmansky's choreography is superb, absolutely superb.  But as brilliantly specific as Ratmansky's movements are, it can get difficult to figure out who is who and what they represent.  For example, Catherine Hurlin has one drop dead brilliant solo as "Hail" in the Winter section - we get involved and start watching for her to do something else.  But then other ballerinas come on with other solos and then BOOM! - it's Spring with three other dancers and different costumes.  Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside get a pas de deux but then no solos and coda when we are expecting htem.  The speed with which hordes of dancers come on and off and the amount of people and children dancing makes it a lot to absorb.  The Spirit of the Corn ballerina role (danced by Abrera or Boylston) is the closest we get to a solo lead and even she comes and goes very quickly.  No individual dancer gets quite enough to develop into a major role.

This busyness is exactly what I loved most about the piece, and I think it's quite purposeful. It fits the concept, and it fits the music. Glazunov's seasons aren't four distinct movements; they run one into the next — as do the seasons of nature, overlapping and mixing. There's no place in the concept for a single solo lead — there are dominant elements and subordinate elements, relations and cross-relations, dependencies and juxtapositions. It's a company piece, allowing the company to work both as a company and as distinct elements, with particular stand-out features. It has wonderful energy.

Edited by nanushka

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BTW this conversation belongs in the “Gala/Ratmansky Trio” thread but I will continue it here. The “company ballet” aspect of “The Seasons” may reflect the current state of the company which no longer has stars on the level of Vishneva, Ananiashvili, Malakhov, Osipova, Corella, Jaffe, Bocca, Ferri, Gomes and Stiefel.  

I generally like the Perdziola designs in Harlequinade except for the dingy larks corps costumes in Act 2.   I saw the design sketch for those costumes and it looked lovely (like that Seasons bacchante design) but the finished costumes onstage look dull and the design colors come off badly from a distance.  

I don’t know who is building those costumes but I now know why Balanchine depended on Karinska and a lot of Broadway costume designers insist that Barbara Matera Studio must execute their designs.  As fondoffouettes noted, a lot can get lost between the sketch and the stitch in the execution.  

Edited by FauxPas

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