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American Ballet Theatre: Swan Lake 2008

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American Ballet Theatre

Swan Lake 2008
Metropolitan Opera House

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters:
Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova, Georgina Parkinson
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 2, 2008

(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).

May 29, 2008: Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins, Nina Ananiashvili as Odette-Odile, Marcelo Gomes as Prince Siegfried, Maria Bystrova as The Queen Mother, Kirk Peterson as Wolfgang, Gennadi Saveliev as Benno, the Prince’s friend, Vitali Krauchenka and David Hallberg as von Rothbart, Melissa Thomas, Simone Messmer, and Gennadi Saveliev as Pas de Trois, Gemma Bond, Sarah Lane, Anne Milewski, Renata Pavam as Cygnettes, Kristi Boone and Veronika Part as Two Swans, Kirk Peterson as Master of Ceremonies, Zhong-Jing Fang as The Hungarian Princess, Jessica Saund as The Spanish Princess, Anne Milewski as The Italian Princess, Sarawanee Tanatanit as The Polish Princess, Kristi Boone and Roman Zhurbin as Czardas, Melanie Hamrick, Alexei Agoudine, Luciana Paris, and Grant DeLong as Spanish Dance, Aaron Scott and Mikhail Ilyin as Neapolitan, and the Company as The Aristocrats, The Peasants, Swans, Czardas, and Mazurka.

June 2, 2008: Conductor: Charles Barker, Nina Ananiashvili as Odette-Odile, Angel Corella as Prince Siegfried, Georgina Parkinson as The Queen Mother, Kirk Peterson as Wolfgang, Blaine Hoven as Benno, the Prince’s friend, Isaac Stappas and Jared Matthews as von Rothbart, Melissa Thomas, Simone Messmer, and Blaine Hoven as Pas de Trois, Karin Ellis-Wentz, Marian Butler, Anne Milewski, and Renata Pavam as Cygnettes, Karen Uphoff and Veronika Part as Two Swans, Kirk Peterson as Master of Ceremonies, Misty Copeland as The Hungarian Princess, Luciana Paris as The Spanish Princess, Gemma Bond as The Italian Princess, Isabella Boylston as The Polish Princess, Marian Butler and Patrick Ogle as Czardas, Melanie Hamrick, Alexei Agoudine, Jessica Saund, and Grant DeLong as Spanish Dance, Carlos Lopez and Craig Salstein as Neapolitan, and the Company as The Aristocrats, The Peasants, Swans, Czardas, and Mazurka.

There is no ballet more anticipated each Spring ABT Season than Swan Lake, and no cast more anticipated now than the Georgian-born Nina Ananiashvili and the Spanish-born Angel Corella. A few years ago, that anticipation was fueled by the casting of Ms. Ananiashvili and Julio Bocca, but Mr. Bocca retired, and Mr. Corella has become the premier danseur of this iconic ballet. On May 29, however, another casting was to have brought Diana Vishneva together with Marcelo Gomes as Odette/Odile and Prince Siegfried. Ms. Vishneva was injured, and Ms. Ananiashvili, a prima ballerina on the greatest scale, was cast as her replacement. Mr. Gomes and Ms. Ananiashvili did not seem to have time in rehearsal to fully connect physically or in the requisite Act III Black Swan Pas de Deux. Mr. Gomes was nurturing and nuanced, but his balance seemed off in the bravura spins and leaps. (Mr. Gomes, as Prince Siegfried, in remaining pas de deux and solos, was filled with musical momentum and physical intensity.) Ms. Ananiashvili, as well, seemed slightly off her stride in her Act III solo, as she usually executes multiple fouettés, with ease and confidence.

Yet, on June 2, Ms. Ananiashvili and Mr. Corella were on mark - propulsive, impassioned, and feeding off each other’s electrically charged performances. In Act III, Ms. Ananiashvili spun 32 fouettés, grinning, and taking in the audience accolades. Mr. Corella was never in better form, with split-timed turns that seemed surreal. Having commented on the Act III Great Hall Pas de Deux, the two performances were both visually enchanting, as always, with Kevin McKenzie’s 2000 unique production. Part of that uniqueness is the dual nature and dance of von Rothbart, with one von Rothbart as the lakeside conjurer of swan control, and the other as the Great Hall escort of Odile, the Black Swan seductress. On May 29, David Hallberg excelled in spellbinding form, first seducing the Queen, who offers her son’s hand to a Princess, and then helping to seduce the Prince into thinking that the false Odile is also the pure Odette, in another incarnation. Mr. Hallberg seethes with smoothness, muscularity, and sensuality. Jared Matthews, on June 2, exuded the level of conniving that’s built into the role, but he did not seem as riveting. However, his Great Hall solo was equally enthralling. On May 29, Vitali Krauchenka was a persuasive lake-side von Rothbart, as was Isaac Stappas on June 2.

The other star of Swan Lake is always the corps. In the corps ensembles of all three Acts, the choreography was eloquent, elegant, tightly synchronized, and replete with personality, although as a group, not as individuals. When Prince Siegfried approaches the swans, they all move their arms in self-protection in a single moment. On both nights, the four Cygnettes were well received. Kirk Peterson was Wolfgang and Master of Ceremonies on both nights, with strong presentation, and Maria Bystrova and Georgina Parkinson were Queen Mothers on respective nights. Ms. Parkinson seemed more suited to the generational role, but both Queens were regally possessed. As Benno, and as the male dancer in Pas de Trios, Gennadi Saveliev and Blaine Hoven used differing techniques with equal persuasion. Among the Great Hall featured dancers, Zhong-Jing Fang was a radiant Hungarian Princess on May 29, when Kristi Boone and Roman Zhurbin also led sinuous Czardas across the stage. On June 2, Misty Copeland was an enchanting Hungarian princess, while Marian Butler and Patrick Ogle led the ethnically infused Czardas.

Charles Barker and Ormsby Wilkins enhanced the mesmerizing orchestral solos during exemplary conducting of this Tchaikovsky score, plus the Act III driven dynamics by full orchestra. Kudos to Kevin McKenzie, and kudos to the two casts.

Nina Ananiashvili and Angel Corella in Swan Lake
Photo: MIRA

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