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Saturday, December 20, 2014

A last look at Ratmansky's Nutcracker

I first saw Alexei Ratmansky's Nutcracker at the at its premiere four years ago. I remember it being an exciting, expensive event -- seats in the upper reaches of BAM's claustrophobic balcony were nearing triple digits. Since then I've never been back, because despite the charms of Ratmansky's take, it didn't feel as magical as Balanchine's version for the NYCB. But this year it was announced that Ratmansky's Nut would be moving out of BAM forever (!!!). A look at ticket sales a few weeks before the performance hinted why: even with heavily discounted tickets, tickets were easy to get. In short, it was critically lauded but poor box office. So last I went back to get a last look at this Nutcracker. I'll probably never see it again.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Marina Rebeka


I heard the fairly amazing Decmeber 16 performance of La Traviata and found a new soprano to follow -- Marina Rebeka. My review for parterre box is here. Besides Rebeka, the revival is well-worth seeing for baritone Quinn Kelsey.

An excerpt from my review:

Rebeka has an energy and spirit that resembles the hearty lasses in Littlefinger’s whorehouse rather than delicate flower Marie. But to her credit, she didn’t aim for that weak frailty—there was no overdone coughing or making the voice paper-thin for Act Three. It was a straightforward, well-sung Violetta and she had a lot of horsepower for the big moments.
In the Act Two concertato you heard her firm, bell-like sound ride over the chorus and orchestra. She was able to swell her voice for “Amami Alfredo” and the final “Oh gioia!” If she didn’t quite convince you that she was wasting away from a terminal illness, she wasn’t pretentious either, and it was never difficult or unpleasant to listen to her. She got a well-deserved standing ovation at the end of the opera.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The FAB-ulous Boheme!

Omg omg omg. This will be brief since I have to write the Parterre Box review. But tonight I saw the unexpected (but totally FAB-ulous) role debut of Michael Fabiano as Rodolfo at the Met, as well as the return of grand diva Angela Gheorghiu. It really was one of those amazing nights and I did one of my rare stage door groupie trips. Amazing cast, amazing performance.

Update: my review for parterre box.



What a diva, just ignore the tiny face next to her. Seriously, Angela is as larger-than-life offstage as she is onstage. She was traveling with an entourage of like 20 people and enough flowers to fill a wedding. Notice the fabulous matching gloves and the completely new stage makeup.



Stage door people were calling him Mr. Fabulous. I think this name will stick. Personally, I warned him that I'm turning into a groupie. Be afraid. Be very afraid.



 The very nice, handsome David Bizic, who is one of those people who is 1000x cuter offstage than onstage. And his beautiful wife is as beautiful as ever. 



Susanna Phillips, and yes, she's as adorable and charming as she looks in this photo. 


Matthew Rose, who is about 7 feet tall, so this photo is all optical illusion. But seriously, great voice.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Guglielmo Tell

I'll be honest: for the longest time I didn't know much about Rossini's William Tell except that its famous overture was the "Lone Ranger" theme. I also knew the tenor part was so murderously difficult that almost no one can sing it and it's supposed to be almost five hours or so uncut. This afternoon's rousing performance of Guglielmo Tell (thus called because the Italian translated version was used) at Carnegie Hall was my first live experience of this wonderful opera. It was one of those happy, music-affirming, life-affirming experiences that left the audience giddy with joy.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Recent Russki stuff I've seen

Before Thanksgiving break I saw two works which really represent the polar opposites of "Russian art." The Mikhailovsky Ballet closed out its tour with performances of that old warhorse Don Quixote, while over at the Metropolitan the "hot" ticket was Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, a work that so offended that aesthete Josef Stalin that the work was banned for decades.

Don Quixote is a merry spin-off of one of the episodes in the Cervantes novel, but really, it's an excuse for Russian ballet companies to show off the virtues of Russian ballet companies. Their "the show must go on, otherwise I'm getting sent to a gulag" spirit is very much alive -- in the two performances of Don Quixote that I saw, every variation and character dancer seized the spotlight with an eagerness that was endearing. They made every sashay of the skirt or swing of the fan wonderfully vibrant. The way they beam at the audience after a well-danced solo turn is enough to warm the heart of the worst curmudgeon.