It was an evening of unions shattered. No one could have predicted such a disastrous outcome of a commitment so strong that it was valued more than life itself.
CNN Reporter: Mr. Shakespeare, what say you about the vote on EU?
Mr. Shakespeare: They goest into a fool’s paradise to protecteth their property. Tempt not the desperate man with a chance to retreat to another time.
Oh yes, we were tempted. And oh yes, we retreated to another time. Perhaps it was not the most perfect of performances, but it was, to put it bluntly, our most worthwhile evening in the theater in years.
Alessandra Ferri, ABT’s and perhaps Kenneth MacMillan’s most convincing and honest interpreter of Shakespeare's Juliet, relived her role last night with depth and emotional commitment that left the audience simultaneously devastated and euphoric. Her measured approach in which she created drama out of stillness and still more of it by intelligently resisting exaggeration or contrived acting yielded another one of her prized performances.
As the 53-year-old carefully navigated her solo steps on pointe early in Act I, she may have been thinking, “Oh, Juliet. You should have done more single foot releves and butt squeezes to prepare for this.” Perhaps she should have, but nevertheless, her early tentative wade into Juliet’s choreography gave way to a head-first dive into the drama that was perfectly detailed and block-by-block built to the point that there was no question as to the rightness of Juliet's final choice.
But age was not Ferri’s only obstacle. A look back over her past Romeos revealed a strong list of passionate, able partners. Her partner last night, Herman Cornejo, was perhaps the shortest Romeo with whom she has ever danced and is not known for always being Johnny on the Spot in the Partnering Department. Compromises had to be made. During the Balcony PdD when she ran to him, rather than jumping and turning away from him so that he could catch her in mid-air and lift her, she ran to him, turned while still on the floor and then he lifted her up. But this was not a jumping Juliet, anyway – something the viewer wouldn't have known given the spacious, beautiful supported jumps which she delivered while dancing with Paris.
The corpse PdD in Act III was maybe half of what it should have been. Rather than observing Romeo’s struggle in coming to grips with what seemed to be her death, we saw the dancer’s struggle with the choreography. Ferri could not risk indulging in the abandonment as Bocca, Bolle, and Corella had invited her to do in the past, but she seemed content to give that up for the opportunity to dance this role with Cornejo. While these partnering shortcomings were present, they hardly diminished Cornejo’s fine theatrical and technically brilliant performance. In anticipating this performance over the past many months, we thought perhaps we might see Cornejo’s best dramatic effort for a variety of reasons, and we think we did. We felt Romeo's love for Juliet, his desperation, his crisis, his indecision, his commitment, and the pain of his death.
Heavyweight performances by Stella Abrera, Victor Barbee, and Roman Zhurbin as Lady & Lord Capulet and Tybalt convinced us of the suffocating atmosphere of the times. What a lasting memory Sterling Baca as Paris made for himself last night ushering this most famous Juliet about on his arm. Each time he gently and gentlemanly tried to kiss her hand, she pulled it away – first as flirtatious and innocent, then ultimately as rebellious and loathing.
Craig Salstein as Mercutio and Joseph Gorak as Benvolio gave strong performances of clear dancing and clear dramatics.
Our Three Harlots (Luciana Paris, Christine Shevchenko and Melanie Hamick) were spot-on as impertinent strumpets with spunk.
Our Mandolin Dancers had a much better night but the mixing of the teenie with the tall meant that legs, arms and torsos started at different times in order to try to finish on the same exact count.
To finish, we must talk about the end. Juliet may as well have stuck the knife in old Haglund, because he felt it in his gut anyway. Ferri’s honesty in this final scene may forever be unsurpassed. She made the viewer not only consider what was happening at the moment but flash back through everything that had happened that brought us to this tragic point. She took her final breath quietly as the weeping final note from the strings expired.
The HH Pump Bump Award, a beautiful illustration of less is more, is bestowed upon Alessandra Ferri. There really is nothing more we can say.