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American Ballet Theatre: Swan Lake 2010
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American Ballet Theatre: Swan Lake 2010

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American Ballet Theatre
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Swan Lake 2010

At
Metropolitan Opera House
www.lincolncenter.org

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Alexei Ratmansky, Artist in Residence
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters:
Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova,
Clinton Luckett, Nancy Raffa
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Susan Morgan, Press Associate


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 26, 2010


(Read More ABT Reviews)

Swan Lake (1877, Moscow; 2000, ABT): Choreography by Kevin McKenzie after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, Set and Costumes by Zack Brown, Lighting by Duane Schuler. Swan Lake was first produced in 1877 by the Russian imperial Ballet at Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre. In 1895, the Petipa/Ivanov choreography was introduced in St. Petersburg, and in 1940 ABT staged Act II, followed in 1944 by the premier of the Black Swan Pas de Deux at the Metropolitan Opera House. In 1988 Mikhail Baryshnikov staged a new version for ABT, and in 1993 Kevin McKenzie re-staged this piece for ABT and again newly produced Swan Lake in 2000. (Program Notes).


Cast on June 21, 2010:

Conductor: David LaMarche
(See an Interview with David LaMarche on the Season’s Ballet Scores)

Veronika Part as Odette-Odile, Cory Stearns as Prince Siegfried, Nancy Raffa as The Queen Mother, Frederic Franklin as Wolfgang, Jared Matthews as Benno, the Prince’s friend, Vitali Krauchenka and Gennadi Saveliev as von Rothbart, Sarah Lane, Yuriko Kajiya, Jared Matthews as Pas de Trois, Gemma Bond, Renata Pavam, Anne Milewski, Maria Riccetto as Cygnettes, Hee Seo and Stella Abrera as Two Swans, Victor Barbee as Master of Ceremonies, Misty Copeland as The Hungarian Princess, Luciana Paris as The Spanish Princess, Anne Milewski as The Italian Princess, Isabella Boylston as The Polish Princess, Simone Messmer and Alexei Agoudine as Lead Czardas, Maria Bystrova, Roman Zhurbin, Karen Uphoff, and Alexandre Hammoudi as Spanish Dance, Joseph Phillips and Craig Salstein as Neapolitan, and the Company as The Aristocrats, The Peasants, Swans, Czardas, and Mazurka.

Cast on June 26, 2010:

Conductor: Charles Barker

Gillian Murphy as Odette-Odile, Jose Manuel Carreño as Prince Siegfried, Maria Bystrova as The Queen Mother, Victor Barbee as Wolfgang, Jared Matthews as Benno, the Prince’s friend, Isaac Stappas and Sascha Radetsky as von Rothbart, Sarah Lane, Yuriko Kajiya, Jared Matthews as Pas de Trois, Karin Ellis-Wentz, Nicole Graniero, Anne Milewski, Luciana Paris as Cygnettes, Simone Messmer and Nicola Curry as Two Swans, Victor Barbee as Master of Ceremonies, Misty Copeland as The Hungarian Princess, Luciana Paris as The Spanish Princess, Anne Milewski as The Italian Princess, Isabella Boylston as The Polish Princess, Kristi Boone and Roman Zhurbin as Lead Czardas, Jennifer Whalen, Thomas Forster, Sarah Smith, and Grant DeLong as Spanish Dance, Joseph Gorak and Jeffrey Golladay as Neapolitan, and the Company as The Aristocrats, The Peasants, Swans, Czardas, and Mazurka.

It would not be spring without Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake, and yes, balletomanes are surviving this season without Nina Ananiashvili, its star attraction, who retired last June. For this season, I chose two performances, and, on June 21, Veronika Part and Cory Stearns (sadly replacing Marcelo Gomes) took the leads. Ms. Part and Mr. Gomes have formed a dramatic and strikingly powerful partnership of late, with larger than life dynamic and tall, muscular, impassioned personas. Cory Stearns, who seems over-extended as a dancer, a work in progress, was clearly not up to the physical demands of this high-stamina role. In Act I, Prince Siegfried’s Birthday Party, choreographer/Artistic Director, Kevin McKenzie has created multiple star-turning solos for the twenty-one year-old Prince, as he receives the Queen, his friends, and the palace’s local peasants. Mr. Stearns, throughout Act I, took time to greet the ballet audience, but those greetings were presumptuous and premature.

In Act II, at the Lakeside, the inherent drama of meeting Odette, the White Swan, whose fate was sealed by the evil von Rothbart, seemed to elude Mr. Stearns, but, to be fair, he was “filling the shoes” of a star. Gravity is a requisite attribute in this iconic ballet, and Mr. Stearns was overly sophomoric. The Act III Great Hall scene, with Siegfried facing Odile, the seductress swan who’s a double for Odette and the daughter of the showy von Rothbart, the monster’s alter ego, Mr. Stearns’ job was to fire up the crowd and especially fire up Ms. Part. Unfortunately, his multiple turns were slow and unbalanced, he seemed to lack confidence, and, most importantly, he lacked fire. Ms. Part, who needed to feed off Siegfried’s energy, especially in the athleticism of Odile’s Act III, Black Swan’s 32 fouettés, executed her turns, but without the doubles, triples, and even quadruples of some of her peers. Yet, Ms. Part was eloquent throughout, especially in the Act II Lakeside scene, as she tells her sorrowful story to Siegfried, about the lake that’s filled with her mother’s tears.

At the June 26 matinee, in the company of my six year-old niece on her debut as a Swan Lake fan, we were lucky to catch the thrilling duo of Gillian Murphy and Jose Manuel Carreño. Ms. Murphy is one of the most reliable principals in the Company, in theatricality, in athleticism, in elegant ornamentations, in surprises for the audience, and in chemistry with her partner. The audience knew her Act III Black Swan fouettés would be thrilling, with at least one added surprise, and we got two: She lifted her arms above her head on many of the fouetté turns, and she delivered rapid quadruples, yes, four to a beat. The Met was screaming. Her partner, Mr. Carreño, a seasoned Siegfried for decades, although a bit past his prime, still wowed his fans with his broad smile, backward lunges and leaps, and over-the-top showmanship. In fact, Mr. Carreño had multiple curtain calls on his own, because his fans have long memories. They cheer him for all that he’s done, not just what he did today.

On June 21, the nonagenarian Frederic Franklin appeared as Wolfgang and received an enormous ovation, with Victor Barbee taking the second theatrical role of Master of Ceremonies. On June 26, however, Mr. Barbee took both, and his nuanced acting and stage gestures are striking. Also appearing on both dates, Jared Matthews was Benno, Siegfried’s friend, and his Pas de Trois partners were also repeated, Yuriko Kajiya and Sarah Lane. I must note that Ms. Kajiya is one of the most engaging, inspired dancers in the Company today. I hope she’s offered some more prominent roles soon. Mr. Matthews made a gallant effort, and Sarah Lane was seamlessly radiant in the trio. Nancy Raffa and Maria Bystrova were respectively Queen Mother, with Ms. Raffa more suited to the generational authenticity. The double role of von Rothbart, first as the lake monster and second as the dashing, devilish father of Odile, is given to two male dancers on each performance (the costumes and makeup are complex). On June 21, Vitali Krauchenka and Gennadi Saveliev took the roles, with Isaac Stappas and Sascha Radetsky in the roles on June 26. The June 21 pairing was far more gripping, with Mr. Krauchenka a wild, daredevil monster and Mr. Saveliev a wily demonic dancer.

The syncopated four Cygnettes were perfectly together, with the sideways head swirls so anticipated in the scene. Of the groupings, the June 26 ensemble of Karin Ellis-Wentz, Nicole Graniero, Anne Milewski, and Luciana Paris was most stunning. Also on June 26, Simone Messmer and Nicola Curry were sublime as Two Swans. In the Great Hall, prior to the Black Swan Pas de Deux, there are introductions to the international dances by the country’s Princesses, and Misty Copeland was an impressive Hungarian Princess on both dates. Simone Messmer was a rapturous lead Czarda on June 21, with Roman Zhurbin especially dashing on June 26. I’d like to see these dancers paired in a future ballet. In the Spanish Dance, the June 21 quartet of Maria Bystrova, Roman Zhurbin, Karen Uphoff, and Alexandre Hammoudi caught my eye, while, in the Neapolitan dance, with striped costumes enhancing daring vivacity, Joseph Phillips and Craig Salstein, on June 21, were enthralling. Zack Brown’s sets and costumes bring the lake to life, and my niece was in awe of the rising sun, carrying Odette and Siegfried to the after-life. Duane Schuler’s nuanced lighting brings warmth to the palace and sheen to the glade. David LaMarche and Charles Barker brought out the most of the grandiose, luxurious score. Kudos to Tchaikovsky, and kudos to both casts.



Veronika Part in "Swan Lake"
Courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor


Gillian Murphy in "Swan Lake"
Courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor


Jose Carreño in "Swan Lake"
Courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor



Camille at the Stage Door
with Gillian Murphy
Courtesy of Tommy Ng


Camille in a Ballet Pose
Courtesy of Tommy Ng


Camille at the Stage Door
with Yuriko Kajiya
Courtesy of Tommy Ng



Tommy, Adam,
Madeline, Camille
at The Met Stage Door
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


Camille with Yuriko Kajiya,
ABT Soloist
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


Gillian Murphy Signs for a Fan
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


Camille with Gillian Murphy,
ABT Principal
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net