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American Ballet Theatre: Romeo and Juliet 2009
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American Ballet Theatre: Romeo and Juliet 2009

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American Ballet Theatre
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Romeo and Juliet 2009

At
Metropolitan Opera House
www.lincolncenter.org

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Alexei Ratmansky, Artist in Residence
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters:
Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova, Georgina Parkinson
Clinton Luckett, Nancy Raffa
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Susan Morgan, Press Associate



Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 10, 2009


(Read More ABT Reviews)

Romeo and Juliet (1965, Royal; 1985, ABT):. Choreography by Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Staged by Julie Lincoln, Music by Sergei Prokofiev, Scenery and Costumes by Nicholas Georgiadis, Lighting by Thomas Skelton. This ballet was originally commissioned by Leningradís Kirov Ballet in 1934, but then this commission was cancelled. However, after Moscowís Bolshoi Ballet also rejected the music as un-danceable, it was mounted in Czechoslovakia by the Yugoslav National Ballet of Zagreb in 1938. MacMillanís version was originally performed in 1965 by Nureyev and Fonteyn for the Royal Ballet. Yet, it is a ballet for young couples, as this Shakespearean duo was conceived as youthful and lyrical. (ABT Notes).

Cast on July 9, 2009:

Conductor: Charles Barker
Performed by Cory Stearns as Romeo, Hee Seo as Juliet, Craig Salstein as Mercutio, Gennadi Saveliev as Tybalt, Daniil Simkin as Benvolio, Alexandre Hammoudi as Paris, Roman Zhurbin as Lord Capulet, Kristi Boone as Lady Capulet, Alexei Agoudine as Prince of Verona, Melissa Thomas as Rosaline, Kelley Boyd as Nurse, Frederick Franklin as Friar Laurence, Amanda McGuigan as Lady Montague, Vitali Krauchenka as Lord Montague, Misty Copeland, Stella Abrera, Sasha Dmochowski as Three Harlots, and the Company as Rosalineís Friend, Julietís Friends, Mandolin Dance, and Ballroom Guests and Townspeople.

Cast on July 10, 2009:

Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins
Performed by Herman Cornejo as Romeo, Xiomara Reyes as Juliet, Carlos Lopez as Mercutio, Isaac Stappas as Tybalt, Daniil Simkin as Benvolio, Gennadi Saveliev as Paris, Victor Barbee as Lord Capulet, Stella Abrera as Lady Capulet, Alexei Agoudine as Prince of Verona, Luciana Paris as Rosaline, Kelley Boyd as Nurse, Alexei Agoudine as Friar Laurence, Amanda McGuigan as Lady Montague, Roman Zhurbin as Lord Montague, Isabella Boylston, Anne Milewski, Sasha Dmochowski as Three Harlots, and the Company as Rosalineís Friend, Julietís Friends, Mandolin Dance, and Ballroom Guests and Townspeople.

Romeo and Juliet is a ballet that requires a youthful, un-seasoned cast. The original Shakespearean characters were in their early teens, so when practiced Principals assume these roles, the drama is not credible, not riveting. I chose these two casts for their youthful zeal and of course the essential debuts of Hee Seo and Cory Stearns, Corps and Soloist. Xiomara Reyes and Herman Cornejo are fairly recent partners in the full story ballets, and, clearly, Mr. Cornejo and Ms. Reyes were ripe and resonant in the expanse of their roles to bring the audience to energized accolades. What a fitting finale to the Spring Season. On July 9, Ms. Seo was refreshingly innocent, bashful on meeting Paris, more the obedient daughter in the initial dances and encounters with the arranged marriage. Her first encounter with Romeo at the Capulet Ball was authentic and charming. In the Balcony Scene, she tossed about against Mr. Stearns with a flurry of infatuation. There, in that moment, there seemed to be budding but not bountiful chemistry, for this duo, and I longed for the rapture that Iíd anticipated prior to the scene.

Mr. Stearns was an impulsive, devil-may-care Romeo, with a playful, coy side. His attitude and technique were focused and fascinating, and his Balcony Scene dramatics and partnering showed potential for emotional depth and texture. I found him more magnetic in Sylvia, in the fiery role, than here, in the amorous role. Yet, Mr. Stearns is an artist to watch, and he will mature and ripen, as he explores the depths of his theatrical capacity. In contrast, Mr. Cornejo was magical, impassioned, propulsive. His virtuosic technique here translated into an almost surreal Romeo, one who transcended the stage, an apotheosis of the character. The chemistry between Mr. Cornejo and Ms. Reyes, from Argentina and Cuba, is palpable and fully projected. They did not dance the roles; they became the roles. They transformed the stage to Opera-Ballet, fitting for The Met. When Mr. Cornejo held Ms. Reyes in the Tomb Scene, my heart almost stopped. When Ms. Reyes was abandoned in the Bedroom Scene, and when she dashed to Friar Laurence for the sleep potion, she exuded urgency and immediacy, while firing imagination. The audience was breathless in the final scene at the Tomb.

As Tybalt, Gennadi Saveliev (July 9) and Isaac Stappas (July 10) were equally demonic, determined, and dastardly. Mr. Saveliev used more dance flourish, while Mr. Stappas used more showmanship. Their fencing prowess and Death Scenes were replete with edge. It should be mentioned that on July 9, there were serious Orchestral issues, with Charles Barker eliciting atonalities where melodies belong, and the horns, in particular, were un-practiced and off-key. On July 10, the same Orchestra, under Ormsby Wilkinsí baton, kept my ear riveted to the sumptuous, renowned score. Certainly, inferior orchestrations affect the dramatic potential of such a tragic ballet. Tybaltís Death Scene is one such iconic example of the meshing of percussion and plot. As Mercutio, Craig Salstein (July 9) was campy and charismatic, then eloquent in his own Death Scene. Yet, what a difference the music would have made on that night. On July 10, Carlos Lopez played the role with more serious charm, less wit, more wile. Daniil Simkin, as Benvolio both nights, was a true star, constantly drawing attention and accolades, adding theatrical nuances, even when side stage. When he taunts the Capulets, he exudes just that youthful dare-devil affect that brings the plot to life.

Frederic Franklin turned 95 recently, and his appearance here as Friar Laurence (July 9) was met with sustained applause. He was just as spiritual and confident as I remember him for quite some time. At the curtain, he had flowers, balloons, confetti, and a full, solo stage bow. He seemed overjoyed and overwhelmed. On July 10, Alexei Agoudine used the visual theatrics that add nuance to the role. As Paris, Alexandre Hammoudi (July 9) was suitable, while Gennadi Saveliev returned the night after he danced Tybalt (July 9) to dance Paris (July 10). Mr. Saveliev was a vulnerable, troubled, and competitive Paris, and he showed his adaptable facility in shaping his demeanor and disposition to the role of the evening. Among the roles of the Capulets and Montagues, Victor Barbee added maturity and stage presence to the Capulet Ball. In fact, with the music more resplendent on July 10, the Capulet Ball was driven, gripping, stylized. Kelley Boyd was the Nurse both nights, nurturing, flustered, then troubled. Melissa Thomas was the more persuasive Rosaline (July 9), and, of the Harlots, Misty Copeland (July 9) used the most personality skill. Alexei Agoudine was Prince of Verona both nights in suitable persona.

Nicholas Georgiadisí sets and costumes are dark, detailed, and replete with retro Italianate design. Thereís a heavy, luxurious sense to the visual ambiance. The fencing scenes are incredibly timed, matching swords to rhythms; the fencing coaches deserve kudos for precision. Kudos to Sir Kenneth MacMillan, and kudos to American Ballet Theatre for another superb Spring Season. Iím already anticipating Spring Season 2010.



Hee Seo and Cory Stearns
in ABT's "Romeo and Juliet"
Courtesy of John Grigaitis




Hee Seo, Cory Stearns, Frederic Franklin
in ABT's "Romeo and Juliet"
Courtesy of MIRA




Xiomara Reyes and Herman Cornejo
in ABT's "Romeo and Juliet"
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone




Xiomara Reyes and Herman Cornejo
in ABT's "Romeo and Juliet"
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone




For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net