If on Saturday morning anyone wonders why the traffic in the city is so bad, it's because Diana Vishneva, Marcelo Gomes, and Veronika Part collectively held the power to put a lot of people's Memorial Day Weekend plans on hold. Nobody was about to leave town Friday night when these three were scheduled to open Giselle Week at the Met Opera House. They also close the Giselle run next Thursday - good luck getting a ticket.
It was quite the overwhelming night at the ballet. Vishneva and Gomes together are so much more than Vishneva and Gomes dancing with other people. They seem to embolden each other to take the drama to new levels and to hurl themselves into whatever direction their hearts tell them to go.
At times, Gomes looked like he was making it up as he went along. He very nearly had his own "mad scene" when Giselle lost her mind and died of a broken heart at the end of Act 1. In Act II when he grovelled at Myrtha's feet pleading for mercy after executing a blistering series of entrechat six, it was so hard to see how she could resist him. You always clearly understood his every "word" of mime. Gomes had an impressive night from a technical standpoint as well. Everything he did was huge, and judging from the audience's reaction, he registered in the back rows of the Family Circle. His overhead lifts of Vishneva to the horizontal were stunning - the draping curve of her tulle skirt while she was aloft in the first lift was simply perfect.
Vishneva - whose very beautiful mother, by the way, was mingling around on the Grand Tier at intermission - gave a performance so much richer than the one Haglund saw her give with the Mariinsky in Washington DC a few months ago. Her dramatic interpretation of the young, simple girl who evolves into the forgiving wili was intense, and her Act I was far more than just sweetness. All night long, her balances were perfect and executed without being showy. Her hops on pointe in Act 1 were performed to please Albrecht tonight. Her feet were quiet and of a nice shape. During her Act II variation with the diagonals of entrechat quatre that move upstage while her head and eyes focused downward, Haglund wished for a repeat of the snafu a few years ago when the top layer of tulle flew into her face during the first several entrechat quatre making her truly ghost-like. It didn't happen tonight, but maybe someday they'll write it into the part.
Speaking of Part, Veronika's Myrtha may have been mean and spiteful, but she melted the hearts in the theater. Many of the men in the audience tonight will happily dream about being the object of her retaliation - with or without her long-stemmed switches. Soaring leaps, perfectly arched feet and tapered pointes, gorgeous epaulment, long arabesques, and dramatic depth marked her performance tonight. Myrtha was out for revenge but only because she still hurt so much from being jilted by a cad many seasons ago. As Albrecht lay motionless on the stage totally exhausted from nearly dancing to death, Myrtha circled around behind her prey. Just as she threw all the force of her arm, hand, and pointed finger to wili him off to his demise, the clock struck Four, and he was saved. It was very close tonight; she almost got him.
Myrtha had help tonight from her well-drilled band of Wilis. They each just have to know how much the audience eagerly anticipates their arabesque formations that crisscross the stage. Truly beautiful tonight.
Isabella Boylston and Yuriko Kajiya as Moyna and Zulma were exceptional.
Maria Riccetto and Jared Matthews took charge of the Peasant PdD in such a way that it makes Haglund all the more excited to see their upcoming debuts in Coppelia. (Get your tickets here.) Haglund saw Jared as the Act 1 Hilarion at today's dress rehearsal, and he was fantastic! It's hard to know when he will perform it, however, because ABT doesn't post its secondary casting. Too bad, it would sell more tickets. Jared is not as consistent as he will be, because he is always pushing his limits and trying to get to the next level. But he is very exciting to watch in the same way as Joseph Phillips who Haglund watched perform the Peasant PdD at today's rehearsal with Kajiya.
Gennadi Saveliev as tonight's Hilarion was full of energy and danced very well. His acting was strong and Haglund thought he made very compelling arguments for Giselle to stay with him instead of running off with Albrecht.
The packed house tonight at the Met made it pretty clear that the ballet ticket buying public wants to see ballet classics danced beautifully - not mediocre modern and muddy choreography that the faux critics of the old gray lady keep trying to bully audiences into watching instead of the classics. Giselle will always be bigger than all the works of Wheeldon, Millepied, and Ratmansky combined. It's the story.
So many spectacular performances tonight, but the Polyvore flowered Pump Bump Award goes to Marcelo Gomes because, quite simply, he adds so much value to everything in which he performs.