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New York City Ballet: Darci Kistler Farewell: Monumentum Pro Gesualdo, Movements for Piano and Orchestra, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Danses Concertantes, Swan Lake
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New York City Ballet: Darci Kistler Farewell: Monumentum Pro Gesualdo, Movements for Piano and Orchestra, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Danses Concertantes, Swan Lake

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Darci Kistler Farewell
Monumentum Pro Gesualdo
Movements for Piano and Orchestra
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Danses Concertantes
Swan Lake

Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers: George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief: Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress: Rosemary Dunleavy
Assistant to the Ballet Master in Chief: Sean Lavery
Guest Teacher: Merrill Ashley
Children’s Ballet Master: Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director: Fayçal Karoui
Chairman of the Board: John L. Vogelstein
Managing Dir. Communications and Special Projects: Robert Daniels
Manager, Media Relations: Katharina Plumb
Assoc., Communications and Special Projects, Caitlin Gillette
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 27, 2010

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Clotilde Otranto

Monumentum Pro Gesualdo (1960): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Darci Kistler, Charles Askegard, and the Company. Stravinsky's homage to Don Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa re-composes the madrigals into instrumental voices. (NYCB Notes).

Today was the final program for City Ballet’s Spring Season, the final dance performance of Principal Darci Kistler, and the final Farewell of five (four Principals and a Conductor). What a Season! So much celebration, with seven World Premieres, newly commissioned scores, Farewells, and a superb lineup of Balanchine and Robbins favorites. When the curtain rose today, there was Ms. Kistler, the last dancer in the Company hired and trained by George Balanchine himself. Ms. Kistler also happens to be the wife of Peter Martins, Ballet Master in Chief. Mr. Martins, as it happened, was proudly sitting mid-orchestra today, a more close-up location than his usual seat, and the air in the hall was thick with anticipation and pride.

The two- part Balanchine work that opened the program is atonal and slow-moving, yet filled with grandeur and reverence. Ms. Kistler moved with glowing presence and determined steps, partnered by Charles Askegard in this first part. The audience was breathless, enveloped by the importance of today. Mr. Askegard gazed adoringly at Ms. Kistler, for their last brief dance. Ms. Kistler’s turns and leg extensions were as studied and elegant as always. One could sense a special seriousness of purpose in today’s corps ensemble, and Stephanie Zungre and Daniel Applebaum caught my eye.

Movements for Piano and Orchestra (1958-59): Music by Igor Stravinsky (Movements for Piano and Orchestra), Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano Solo: Cameron Grant, Performed by Darci Kistler, Sébastien Marcovici, and the Company. This piece is divided into five sections, and Balanchine paired this work with the previous one for performances. (NYCB Notes).

For this second part of the two-part Balanchine ballet, that resumed after a pause, Ms. Kistler was joined by another of her longtime partners, Sébastien Marcovici, who seems to have a leaner, more muscular look this season. He, like Mr. Askegard earlier, was acutely attentive and showcased Ms. Kistler in Mark Stanley’s warm glow. This would be Ms. Kistler’s next to last Balanchine choreography for her Farewell. In the corps ensemble of six females, Gwyneth Muller and Dara Johnson caught my eye.

A Midsummer Night's Dream (Excerpt, 1962): Music by Felix Mendelssohn, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by David Hays, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Darci Kistler as Titania and Henry Seth as Bottom.

Today’s excerpt of Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream brought out Ms. Kistler in one of her favorite roles, that of Titania, with Henry Seth in a donkey costume as Bottom. Ms. Kistler arrives in a feathered shell, and the duo exuded all the charm of a delicious dream. Mr. Seth and Ms. Kistler obviously had a history in these roles, and Clotilde Otranto, today’s featured Conductor, made the Mendelssohn score come alive. I also noted that this was Ms. Kistler’s final role in a Karinska costume, and she wore it with a broad smile and persuasive personality. With the magic rose and the magical ambiance, Ms. Kistler and Mr. Seth kept the moment smooth and surreal.

Danses Concertantes (1972): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery and Costumes by Eugene Berman, Scenery Recreation Supervised by David Mitchell, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Megan Fairchild, Andrew Veyette, and the Company.

It was in this third of three works (counting the first two as one) that Ms. Kistler took a well-deserved break. Andrew Veyette and Megan Fairchild, two dancers of strikingly different heights, partnered for some virtuosic entertainment. This piece served as a buoyant interlude in a celebratory day. The Stravinsky score (two of the three individual and combined ballets were scored by Stravinsky) was somewhat atonal but so full of life. The Eugene Berman costumes, with look-alike color coding for each duo or trio, as well as Mr. Berman’s fanciful backdrop design, add extra pizzazz. Ms. Fairchild was bubbly and coy, rapid and electric. Mr. Veyette kept his eye on his doll-like partner but also showed off some dizzying spins and jumps. The Company, in rolling-arms motion, chased about with abandon. Two trios, one with Marika Anderson, Gwyneth Muller, and Christian Tworzyanski, and the other with Faye Arthurs, Ashley Laracey, and Daniel Applebaum, were particularly dynamic and engaging.

Swan Lake (Act IV, 1999): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by Peter Martins after Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, and George Balanchine, Scenery and Costumes by Per Kirkeby, Costumes realized by Barbara Matera, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Darci Kistler as Odette, Jared Angle as Prince Siegfried, Henry Seth as Von Rotbart, and the Corps as Swans.

Here it was, Ms. Kistler’s final Act - Act IV of Peter Martins’ own Swan Lake. She was Odette, Jared Angle, who has seemed to be her favorite recent partner, was Prince Siegfried, and Henry Seth, once again onstage, was Von Rotbart. The full female corps was Swans, both black and white in this iconic story version. Act IV is not one for pyrotechnics, but rather one for dramatic mime and emotional expression. Ms. Kistler retold the story of her sealed fate as a forever Swan, and Mr. Angle, as Mr. Martins’ version goes, is left alone by the Lake to suffer and repent forever, for his lapse in love. The story book quality of this version is tempered by the sight of the haunting black Swans, mingling with the ingénue white Swans. Mr. Angle, like all of Ms. Kistler’s partners today, exuded attentive ardor and a desire to keep her front stage and in stylized, lifts and spins. There was joy mixed with the drama, and many curtain calls ensued.

As is custom in these Farewells, Ms. Kistler was joined by the entire Company, previous partners (like Jock Soto), and family as well. Her daughter, brothers, and husband were all on hand to add energy and memories, as she bowed to her fans. Endless floral presentation bouquets, long-stem roses from the Corps, streamers, and confetti were abundant. The curtain lifted and fell, numerous times, with the Company even returning to the stage to clap and cheer one more time. Kudos to Darci Kistler, and kudos to Maestra Clotilde Otranto, who, with City Ballet Orchestra, kept today’s music extraordinary.

Darci Kistler and Sébastien Marcovici
in George Balanchine's
"Movements for Piano and Orchestra"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Darci Kistler and Jared Angle
in Peter Martins' "Swan Lake"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at