Paloma Herrera, Roberto Bolle, and Michele Wiles led the Memorial Day cast of Giselle at the Met. Gennadi Saveliev substituted for Sascha Radetsky in the role of Hilarion. Misty Copeland substituted for Hee Seo in the Peasant PdD with Blaine Hoven. Zhong-Jing Fang substituted for Kristi Boone as Zulma while Stella Abrera danced Moyna as scheduled. Haglund thinks he may have spotted a little Nutcracker mouse atop the wheeled cart during the Harvest Festival.
There was something missing in tonight's performance. It's hard to say exactly what, but less than full development of Giselle's character is a good place to start. Paloma danced the steps beautifully and executed the mime correctly. Her pointes met the floor like they were magnetized. Her hops on pointe were the most sustained and controlled on the planet Earth. Her Act II variations and adagio were accomplished from a technical standpoint. But from a character development standpoint, the Act I Giselle could have been Herrera's Kitri and her Act II Giselle could have been her Odette. It's not that Paloma's characterizations are monochromatic; it's that they're grayscale.
Giselle is a sufficiently grand role that there is room for a variety of interpretations; but it still requires some interpretation. One cannot simply come out on stage with the same smile that one uses for every performance and expect it to be sufficient as character development. In the Saturday matinee, Irina Dvorovenko carved out a most detailed, thoughtful character in Giselle. It looked like no other role that she dances. Ditto with Diana Vishneva on Friday night. Ditto with the much missed Nina Ananiashvili's Giselles. And Ferri's Giselles. The good examples are there for the taking and copying.
Overall, Roberto Bolle danced well and acted well, but it was not among his better performances at the Met. Rarely does a dancer get through a principal performance without missing a turn or miscalculating a balance or having some little thing go wrong. Unfortunately tonight, those little errors happened at big points in the ballet, so they were more noticeable.
Gennadi Saveliev's performance as Hilarion was as strong as on Friday night in the Vishneva/Gomes Giselle - maybe even stronger.
Michele Wiles' Myrtha can be a little odd. For most of tonight, it was a strong and calculated performance. Michele's lack of flexibility in her torso was evident in her variations; her head bent from side to side, but her torso did not. And what's with the nasty grinning? Myrtodile doesn't work for Haglund. The artistic license taken with Myrtha should be revoked immediately.
Misty Copland and Blaine Hoven looked like they were performing the Peasant PdD after a pressure-filled day of rehearsing – other things. Either Blaine's variation was a little fast or he didn't have his customary leg power. Misty was nearly perfect throughout but there was a stressfulness present as well.
Zhong-Jing Fang and Stella Abrera were a mismatch as Zulma and Moyna. Fang's energy sometimes manifests itself in sudden jerks of the head or an extra tense arm whereas Abrera more than ever resembles a Giselle.
Tonight's performance was like a vehicle on the wrong wheels.