The rooster may have laid a big egg last week, but this week the swans are a-swimming with smooth grace.
ABT opened its week of Swan Lakes with a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer performance starring Gillian Murphy and Marcelo Gomes.
Charlton Heston could not have brought more to the role of Prince Siegfried in this Greatest Show on Earth than Marcelo who somehow recovered his 90 degree arabesques and flaunted his grand allegro. Wolfgang: “How long do you think this can go on before something happens?” Siggy: “It’s circus, isn’t it?”
Greta Garbo could not have surpassed the melancholic misery of last night’s Odette: “I want to be alone. No. Yes, I just want to be alone.” Here is some footage of it that we caught with our iPad camera last night as did many others who were blissfully filming while totally out of reach of the ushers – this crowd was particularly hungry for its classical ballet.
Then our beautiful Odette turned into Bette Davis as Odile. Oh, those scheming flashing eyes, the hint of sharp teeth under pouting lips: “There is evil in this house, but it was here before I came. It was not I who brought it.” All This and Heaven, Too in the form of notoriously evil, reckless, spit-in-your-face 32 counts of fouettes that took Bette to the edge of no return and back time and time again. Oh. My. Goodness.
Yes, people. It was that good.
Cory Stearns as Von Rothbart had plenty of seductive evil to go with a pretty solid technical night. With Machiavellian charm, he launched his plot to trick Siggy and spoil the party. His Von Rothbart’s currency was nuance rather than melodrama. Great nuance, but unfortunately, little of it could be read past the first few rows of orchestra.
The energy on stage and the energy in the audience was catapulted into the stratosphere by the lightning fast tempi courtesy of David LaMarche. He took us to the intermission about two minutes early. No dragging, Vitamin B deficient tempi on this particular night - for which we are grateful.
We must remark on the spectacular dancing of the supporting cast.
Sarah Lane, Skylar Brandt, and Joseph Gorak offered a superb Pas de Trois full of sparkling, blissful, big, big dancing that was executed with technique that was diamond cut & polished. It is years past time for Sarah Lane to be promoted to principal. Years. She has nothing left to prove in or glean from these little soloist outings. It is absolutely criminal that we are in another year where she has not been cast as either Odette/Odile or Juliet, especially considering the junk that has been cast.
Devon Teuscher and Melanie Hamrick were the Big Swans. Melanie has some kind of a grand jete these days; that front leg shoots up like a missile. We’re really tired of not seeing her featured in career-growing roles.
Catherine Hurlin as the Flirt Girl in Act I made Haglund notice the dancing of the Flirt Girl for the first time. Zhong-Jing Fang was superb with Alexei Agoudine leading the Czardas.
The Corps de Ballet had its work cut out for it keeping up with LaMarche’s tempi; but they did it splendidly, and looked absolutely beautiful while no doubt suffering. It's too bad that they don't have the opportunity to shine in a legitimate Act IV of an otherwise fine production. How much effort would it take to fix up the last twenty minutes of this ballet to make it whole?
In a performance filled with first rate performances from most everyone, we have to bestow the HH Pump Bump Award on the Corps de Ballet. Without them, no one would bother to come to Swan Lake.