New York City Ballet - The Four Seasons, Stabat Mater, Symphony in C
-Onstage with the Dancers
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Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children's Ballet Mistress, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Andrea Quinn
Manager, Press Relations, Siobhan Burns
New York State Theater, Lincoln Center
Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
April 30, 2004
The Four Seasons (1979): Music by Giuseppe Verdi, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Scenery and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow, Performed by Jason Fowler as Janus, Andrew Veyette as Winter, Dana Hanson as Spring, Ashlee Knapp as Summer, Henry Seth as Fall, Antonio Carmena, Ashley Bouder, Sean Suozzi, Jenifer Ringer, Edwaard Liang, Rachel Rutherford, James Fayette, Alexandra Ansanelli, Damian Woetzel, Daniel Ulbricht, and the Company, including Saskia Beskow, DanskinSpokesperson. Verdi was known as a prolific composer of opera and was active in Italian politics. The Four Seasons draws upon Verdi's operas, I Vespri Siciliani, I Lombardi, and Il Trovatore. (Program Notes).
No Vivaldi here, this Four Seasons has a magnificent operatic score by Verdi, with so many visual and musical layers to enjoy. Jerome Robbins has fashioned classical choreographic regality, with a single figure in seasonal color and texture, and Santo Loquasto's castle backdrop and exquisite props and costumes are memorable and monumental. Maurice Kaplow led the orchestra, Winter through Fall, against tiny white lights of falling snow, budding trees, sensational sunshine, and windy leaves. Jason Fowler as Janus opened the dance with mesmerizing, mythological mystery.
Ashley Bouder led Mr. Carmena and Mr. Suozzi in Winter, through their snowy white figures, as the Corps shivered onstage in illustrative ice. The feathery coldness of winter melted with Ms. Bouder's ever-present warmth and charisma. Her spins and leaps were breathless and characteristically challenging. Mr. Carmena has sharpness and clarity of style, and he commands deserved attention in solos and partnered passages. Spring was a display of sprouting, pale green dancers, with adorable leaps and kicks, like precious little plants. Edwaard Liang, a new figure onstage, undulated his hips in expressive sensuality, as he led Ms. Ringer through breezy and blossoming brilliance.
Ms. Rutherford and Mr. Fayette were Summer hot, in yellows and oranges, and Ms. Rutherford's rarified elegance and willowy form were well cast for this seductive season. Fall brought out Ms. Ansanelli and Mr. Woetzel in a show-stopping duet that could only be upstaged by Mr. Ulbricht's muscular goat, as he leaped in cute and clever mannerisms across the entire stage. State Theater roared with delight, as these three virtuosic figures created such a chemical connection between each other, the Corps, and the NYC Balletomanes. With tonight's cast, this is a must-see-again ballet, with its multi-layered textures and tremendous entertainment. Kudos to Jerome Robbins.
Stabat Mater (1998): Music by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Choreography by Peter Martins, Scenery and Costumes by Alain Vaes, Costumes executed by Barbara Matera, Ltd., Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrea Quinn, Soprano: Amy Burton, Countertenor: David Walker, Performed by Yvonne Borree, Benjamin Millepied, Darci Kistler, Jock Soto, Miranda Weese, and Nilas Martins. The Latin hymn, Stabat Mater (the mother was standing) was created in the 13th Century to tell the story of the Virgin Mary at the cross. This hymn inspired composers to create choral works. This ballet is not about religion, but about images of a journey from sorrow to comfort. Pergolesi wrote Stabat Mater just before his death at age 26. (Program Notes).
This work, with its mournful and moody motif, choreographed by none other than Mr. Martins, seemed lengthy and weighty, yet calming and nurturing. It required an enormous shift of expectation, as the ever-so-slow choreography progressed, partner-to-partner, walking and sitting, around and on Mr. Vaes' evocative sets. It was wonderful to see Ms. Kistler and Mr. Soto again, as well as Mr. (Nilas) Martins and Mr. Millepied, early in Spring Season. Ms. Kistler and Mr. Soto, seasoned NYC Ballet Principals, are in fantastic shape, par habitude. The ecstasy of this elegant duo is tremendously satisfying to experience, with Mr. Soto's solid muscularity always supporting Ms. Kistler's fragile, classical, exquisite form.
Mr. Martins is so very charming, even in this sorrow-filled work, and his presence onstage is warm and welcome. His balance and landings were energetic and youthful. Mr. Millepied seemed a bit miscast, without the depth of demeanor necessary for such a heavy work. His partner, Ms. Borree, as well, is better cast in lighter, more lyrical pieces. Their Coppélia last Season was wonderful. Ms. Weese was well partnered with Mr. Martins, and their chemistry grew as the music expanded. The dimly lit stage, golden limbs, and chiffony costumes, created a mystical mood that saturated the stage with occasional eeriness or ethereal sensations. Kudos to Amy Burton and David Walker for their vocal enhancement of the profound, Pergolesi score.
Symphony in C (1948): Music by Georges Bizet, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrea Quinn, Performed by Jenifer Ringer, Nilas Martins, Maria Kowroski, Charles Askegard, Ashley Bouder, Joaquin De Luz, Carrie Lee Riggins, Arch Higgins, and the Company. On revisiting this work in a new Season, I focused on the rhythm and structure, so very Bizet, so very Balanchine. Mr. Martins, once again, was focused and driven, as Allegro Vivo found him entering the stage with the male dancers to the signature orchestral horns. Ms. Bouder and Mr. De Luz were lyrical lightning, as they flew en air in Allegro Vivace, and vivacious they were. Ms. Riggins and Mr. Higgins were much too stiff for the finale of such an electrifying work, and especially for the finale of such a powerful program.
Kudos to Andrea Quinn, as she brought out the best from her virtuosic orchestra.