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June 07, 2012

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I loved, loved, loved this post Haglund--especially your comments about the NYT reporter!! I couldn't agree more about the NYT reviews. I don’t even bother reading them anymore because I know that the NYT automatically dismisses everything that ABT does.

I went to Thursday evening's performance with Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes. To tell you the truth, this was not one of the ballets I was really looking forward to this season. I saw this 10 years ago, the last time ABT performed Onegin, and I honestly don't remember much about it. Obviously, it didn't make much of an impression on me back then. But I was blown away by Diana and Marcelo on Thursday, and even Natalia (who toned it down from her usual theatrics). Everyone gave it their all, and Diana appeared emotionally exhausted at the end. My only complaint was the dark stage--I get that the atmosphere is supposed to be moody, but the lack of lighting made it hard to see some of the finer points. Nonetheless, I’m glad I saw this. In fact, I’m seeing it again on Saturday evening.

Keep up the great blog, Haglund. I check it out almost daily. (And maybe the NYT should hire you instead??)

Hi B. Thanks for reading H.H.

Agree about the lighting. I'm sure it's a difficult compromise in the Met, given its size. But they should err on the side of brightness, IMO.

The New York Times should definitely hire Haglund! What is so astonishing, although I shouldn't be surprised by now, is how completely divergent the two reviews are. I didn't do a line-by-line comparison, but my impression is that everything that Haglund liked Mr. Curmudgeon disliked. I think he writes his reviews BEFORE he sees the actual performances. In addition to sins of commission, he commits sins of omission, as in reporting on no fewer than five performances of Bayadere without so much as a mention of Veronika or Stella. Since he doesn't have a good word to say about those two glorious dancers, it's probably just as well that he didn't mention them. But still.

Hi Angelica.

To see just how far off Macaulay can be, it's often an amusing exercise to go back and see what other Times critics have said.

Kisselgoff wrote that Onegin was "the embodiment of ballet as a new form of opera-house spectacle, a mix of prettiness and passion clearly and boldly telegraphed."

Clive Barnes called it masterly and original.

Of course, European critics have been even more complimentary.

Macaulay is so seriously handicapped by not having any applied technical knowledge that anything he says must be taken with a grain of salt. He quite simply doesn't know what he is talking about, but he can do a lot of harm to the art form and to artists with his prickly prose. Most people read him in order to have a chance to mitigate his negative impact on the art form. Very few read him out of respect. It's very sad that the NYT culture pages have sunk to such depths.

Hi Haglund! I also found a certain ex-Bolshoi dancer to be rather irritating, and much preferred Maria's Olga (and Maria and Jared together).

I wish you had been there to see Diana and Marcelo's heart-pounding performance on Thursday night--as B has already commented, they were incredible!

But I was reminded of a post you wrote last year after their equally mind-blowing performance of "Lady of the Camellias"--someone needs to give Marcelo a BIG, dramatic character to play, either in "Mayerling" or something new--and preferably with Vishneva. They simply seem to bring out the best in each other...

Looking forward to your future posts!

Hi Batsuchan! Oh man, don't get me started on Mayerling. It's criminal neglect that this is not in ABT's rep.

Hi Haglund, The biggest problem I have with Macauley is that I fear he is keeping audiences away, people who don't know a whole lot about ballet but who might have attended Onegin, say, had Macaulay given it the "must see" review that it deserves. IMHO, one of the jobs of a ballet critic, at least a critic at THE major newspaper in New York, is to encourage the art form and educate audiences. Macaulay is so far off the mark that he ends up doing the opposite.

I did a double-header yesterday, and thought that the Seo-Hallberg Kajiya-Gorak cast was exceptional. It was the first time I'd ever seen Onegin and I think it's a masterpiece. That's what I'd tell readers if I were the critic at the NYT!

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