"Harlequinade" Revival From the American Ballet Theatre Dazzles

The new season of American Ballet Theater at the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center opened magnificently with the revival of last year’s exquisite production of the breezy Harlequinade, one of the most delightful works in the company’s repertory, which I attended on the evening of Thursday, May 16th. This ballet, an hommage to the commedia dell’arte, is a scholarly reconstruction, staged with additional choreography, by the celebrated Artist in Residence Alexei Ratmansky of the original version by the legendary Marius Petipa, set to an enjoyable score by the underrated Riccardo Drigo, here effectively conducted by Ormsby Wilkins. The scenery and marvelous, colorful costumes were created by Robert Perdziola after the original 1900 designs by Orest Allegri and Ivan Vsevolozhsky.
The outstanding primary cast was led by the fabulous Daniil Simkin—as Harlequin—who has come into his own as one of the greatest male dancers in the company, alongside David Hallberg and Herman Cornejo. Simkin brought down the house in his astonishing solo amongst the divertissements that conclude the second act. He was excellently partnered by the accomplished Skylar Brandt as Columbine, who also had an extraordinary solo in Act II. Tremendous, too, was Hee Seo, one of the finest ballerinas in the company, as Pierrette, here beautifully partnered by Alexandre Hammoudi as the iconic Pierrot.
Tatiana Ratmansky portrayed the providential Good Fairy, while amusing in comic pantomime roles were Alexei Agoudine as Cassandre, Columbine’s Father, and Duncan Lyle as Léandre, her wealthy, foppish suitor. Amongst the secondary cast, one could appreciate the brilliant talents of many of the more notable members of the company, such as, to name a few, Thomas Forster, Joseph Gorak, Calvin Royal III, and Arron Scott. The admirable corps de ballet were characteristically superb. One can only hope that this glorious ballet becomes a staple of future seasons.