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New York City Ballet: La Source, Prodigal Son, The Magic Flute
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New York City Ballet: La Source, Prodigal Son, The Magic Flute

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

La Source
Prodigal Son
The Magic Flute

Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers: George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children’s Ballet Master, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Fayçal Karoui
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects, Robert Daniels
Manager, Media Relations, Katharina Plumb
Assoc., Communications &Special Projects, Caitlin Gillette
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 8, 2011

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Clotilde Otranto

La Source (1968): Music by Leo Delibes (from La Source and Naila), Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Andrew Veyette, Ana Sophia Scheller, and the Company. “La Source” uses music from Delibes’ ballets, “Naila” and” Sylvia”. Delibes also composed the music for the ballet, “Coppélia”. (NYCB Notes).

Ashley Bouder, in a pink tutu and flowered white hairpiece, was all confection, elegantly and expertly partnered by Andrew Veyette. Ms. Bouder exudes dynamic daring in a role I’ve seen Jenifer Ringer dance more demurely. This is why I like to see different casts in revolving roles, for a fresh take, an improvised gesture. Mr. Veyette created some bracing leaps with psychic energy, a splendid partner for Ms. Bouder. My only concern was that his rear leg lifts weren’t as high as usual, maybe a bit stiff, but he’s been one of the most exciting male principals this past season.

Ana Sophia Scheller led the very youthful Corps in Balanchine's effervescent choreography. Ms. Scheller is spritely and enthused in every motion, every turn. Karinska's tulle tutus were so pleasing to the eye, as one imagined Degas' dancers preparing in the wings. La Source is inherently romantic and rapturous, although structured and plotless. Kudos to Maestro Otranto for the orchestral ambiance to suit this lovely mood.

Prodigal Son (1950) Ballet in Three Scenes: Libretto by Boris Kochno, Music by Sergei Prokofiev, Choreography be George Balanchine, Décor by Georges Rouault, original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Sean Suozzi as The Prodigal Son, Sara Mearns as The Siren, Ask la Cour as Father, Devin Alberda and Vincent Paradiso as Servants to The Prodigal Son, Marika Anderson and Likolani Brown as The Sisters, and the Company as Drinking Companions. Balanchine, the 24 years old and Diaghilev's last Ballet Master, choreographed this work three months prior to Diaghilev's death. Rouault created the décor, and this ballet was premiered in 1950 for NYC Ballet. (NYCB Notes).

Sean Suozzi has the taut muscularity and intense emotional drive to carry the role of Prodigal Son, which he’s backed up for so many years as the Servant. He presented elevation, characterization, gesture, and some surprises. One surprise was his agility in the duo with Sara Mearns, new in the role of The Siren. She intertwined her limbs about Mr. Suozzi and cradled him in her lap. He has left home, in a burst of kicking fury, and he meets The Siren and her Drinking Companions, who use him and abandon him, taking his clothes, shoes, and almost his life. Prodigal Son has some of the stomping pulse of Les Noces, a work of Nijinska and also of Robbins; Prokofiev evoking Stravinsky.

Ask la Cour is a severe, tall, and mesmerizing Father, who sees his son leave and return in contrasting emotions. Devin Alberda and Vincent Paradiso were also new to their roles, a delightful surprise in itself. They gathered jugs and rushed about Mr. Suozzi as needed. Marika Anderson and Likolani Brown were sentimental sisters. Georges Rouault designed the darkly outlined backdrops, the fence that’s also a table, wall, and surreal sailboat, and the doors that open for the very tall Father. Ronald Bates and then Mark Stanley provided the shifts in light that were so requisite to Balanchine’s masterpiece. Kudos to George Balanchine.

The Magic Flute (1981): Music by Riccardo Drigo, Orchestrated by Robert Irving, Choreography by Peter Martins, Scenery by David Mitchell, Costumes by Ben Benson, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Adam Hendrickson as The Marquis, Henry Seth as The Farmer, Marika Anderson as The Farmer’s Wife, Tiler Peck as Lise, Their Daughter, Joaquin De Luz as Luke, a Young Peasant, Devin Alberda as The Marquis’ Footman, Elizabeth Wallace as Goddess, Christian Tworzyanski as The Sheriff, Andrew Scordato as The Judge, Ralph Ippolito as The Judge’s Clerk, Sara Adams, Callie Bachman, Kristen Segin, Mary Elizabeth Sell as Lise’s Friends, the Company as Peasants and Policemen, and Students from SAB as Children.

Peter Martins’ recently restored and restaged 1981 The Magic Flute, to a Riccardo Drigo score, has a plot somewhat like Fille Mal Gardée, with a peasant girl, named Lise, daughter of a farmer, and a peasant boy, named Luke. The father wants Lise to marry a bumbling Marquis, but Lise is in love with Luke. The story line is simple, clear, and sequential, also perfect for children. There’s a mythical stranger, Oberon, a flute that resolves all, The Farmer parents, the young lovers, the jilted Marquis, his Footman, a Sheriff, a Judge, a Clerk, Friends, Peasants, Policemen, and Children. The music, by Riccardo Drigo, of Le Corsaire rhythmical fame, lends itself to buoyant choreography. Ben Benson’s costumes are bright, with a storybook quality. David Mitchell’s sets are designed like those he created for City Ballet’s 1991 The Sleeping Beauty, also choreographed by Mr. Martins, with the stage looking like a children’s pop-up book..

Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz again (I had seen this shortly after its restored Premiere in the fall of 2010) led the cast as Lise and Luke, with joyful abandon, wild spins and pirouettes, leaps, tosses, and charming theatricality. They’re a seasoned duo, with wit, chemistry, and total trust, as Ms. Peck takes wild lunges into Mr. De Luz’ arms. The pantomime inherent in most scenes is outsized enough to hear children’s laughter, although there were few at this evening’s performance. I also enjoyed seeing the expansive School of American Ballet ensemble, which Mr. Martins directs, scampering and dancing in synchronized fashion.

In today’s cast, once again, Adam Hendrickson was a witty, engaging Marquis, with Devin Alberda as his head-shaking Footman, both cartoonish and adorable. Elizabeth Wallace was the goddess in and out of disguise, with dramatic flair, while (once again) Christian Tworzyanski, Andrew Scordato, and Ralph Ippolito danced the respective roles of Sheriff, Judge, and Clerk. Henry Seth and Marika Anderson, from the Corps, were well suited again to the roles of Lise’s parents. I’d like to see this restored ballet with fresh casting for a different experience. This is why balletomanes go to two or three Swan Lakes in one season, to see different interpretations, different dance relationships and partnering, different theatricality. Seeing the exact same work two times with the exact same leads can be dry. Kudos to Peter Martins.

Sara Mearns and Sean Suozzi
in Balanchine's "Prodigal Son".
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik.

Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz
in Peter Martins' "The Magic Flute".
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik.

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