Tuesday, June 28, 2016

ABT 2016 - The Sleeping Beauty

It seems like only yesterday I was going into the Met excited about the first ballet of the season. Time flies by too quickly, especially during ballet season:  last night, I saw my last ballet for the summer. It's a sad thought, but at least my season went out with a bang.  I simply adored last night's The Sleeping Beauty.  I saw this new production last year and was really looking forward to seeing it again. There is so much detail and so much loveliness that it was hard to take in during one viewing.  I think I enjoyed myself even more last night, I really felt the music and the dance and the costumes just made a perfect whole; I was completely and utterly enchanted from start to finish.

I don't remember, but maybe I did a little changing to my season tickets, because last night's seat neighbors were new to me.  I wonder if cranky lady to my left will miss me. Anyway, there was a new cranky lady to my left, but she mainly kept to herself.  The gals on my right were tourists from Louisiana who had never seen a ballet before.  I think you can imagine how excited I was to fill them in on what wonderfulness was in store for them! They really seemed to enjoy themselves, which is always nice to see.  Maybe they'll become subscribers in their hometown!  I hope so.
speaking of chandeliers...

When I entered the theater, I made sure to ask an usher about the chandelier situation (if you recall, in my first ballet post of this season, I mentioned that I was disappointed that the lights didn't raise before the show started.  they didn't raise all season).  He smiled, as if he had gotten this question 137, 243 times before and told me the chandeliers were being repaired and they should be working again next summer.  Woo hoo! Something more to look forward to!  As if I needed something more to look forward to with regards to ABT...

Back to The Sleeping Beauty.  You can see my review from last year's performance HERE. That post will remind you about the impetus behind updating ABT's production and what kinds of changes Alexei Ratmansky made.  I'll just talk about everything I loved.  I'm a seriously big fan of the way the choreography emphasizes and extends the storytelling. I'm all for dances that take us out of the plot, but it's also nice to see everything drive the story and emotion.

The sets and costumes are simply glorious, and there are more wigs than I've ever seen before!  When I used my binoculars to get better looks at all that beauty, I did notice that a few of the gals had a hard time getting those blonde wigs over their dark hair, but it wasn't really distracting.  And the Queen's wig still rather does look like the Bride of Frankenstein, but the beautiful lady wore it well.  

During the prologue, the fairies were all so lovely and unique.  Veronika Part was exquisite as the Lilac Fairy and one of my favorites, the sparkly Skylar Brandt, made an enchanting Canary.  I did notice one Lilac Fairy attendant who had, I think, an extreme and unfortunate sunburn.  It looked painful.  I can only hope she got some aloe on it after the show and it cooled down for her.  My ABT MVP, Roman Zhurbin, was again commanding and regal as the King (I saw him last year, too) and he's added a touching paternal quality.  At one point, his queen almost tripped on her enormous dress, and he gallantly took her arm and steadied her, then patted her hand as if to say, 'no worries, my dear.'  I just love him. And Marcelo Gomes was perfection as the evil fairy Carabosse, with crystal clear miming and terrific comic (and terrifying) timing.  He was grand, as always.  

photo credit: Gene Schiavone
After the prologue, I was happy to see that the Garland Waltz seemed much less crowded to me, and it was perfectly in unison, so that was delightful. Isabella Boylston, who I enjoyed so much as Juliet last week, was an enchanting Aurora.  She made her entrance practically on wings, she was so quick and airy.  She showed great affection for her parents, excitement at every new thing happening at her birthday, and her dancing in the Rose Adagio was exquisite.  If it were me, I would've definitely picked the Spanish Prince immediately, since he was danced by Calvin Royal III, but hey, I get that she has to save herself for her handsome prince in act two.  :) She was also quite touching after she swooned for the first time, trying to get up and dance so her parents wouldn't worry, before falling to the ground for her very long sleep.

photo credit: MIRA

Speaking of our handsome prince, my god was Joseph Gorak the epitome of handsome prince-ness.  He was supremely princely, with regal carriage, good breeding and a lovely remoteness.  His dancing, as always, was exquisite - expansive and engaging.  He showed such delight in dancing with his princess, both in the vision scene and in the wedding pas de deux. I was practically swooning (as was my seat neighbor from Louisiana).  He even made that goofy Revolutionary War costume look good.  He had a great rapport with Isabella, so I truly felt the love and romance whenever they were on stage together.

I love how, in this version, the wedding celebration doesn't seem like filler or an afterthought, but a true celebration of love and marriage.  Each of the fairies here were deilghtful, especially Christine Shevchenko as the Diamond Fairy, and Cassandra Trenary and Daniil Simkin were amazing in the Bluebird variation.  

Obviously, I loved every minute of The Sleeping Beauty and I hope they leave it on the program for years.  It can't be an inexpensive ballet to produce, I admit, because it's a cast of thousands who all must wear at least three wigs apiece, but still.  It's just gorgeous ballet at its best, with a clear throughline from beginning to end and a charm and ease that's a delight.  There are performances all week, so you should get yourself over to the Met to see for yourself. Me, I'll be dreaming of what's on the bill for ABT's fall season...

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