Parent Category: Film and the Arts
Published on Thursday, 30 May 2019 13:03
Written by Jack Angstreich
Scene from The Seasons. Photo: Marty Sohl
The second week of the new season of American Ballet Theater at the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center thrilled with a program entitled “Ratmansky Trio”—three works commemorating the tenth year as Artist in Residence of the outstanding choreographer, Alexei Ratmansky—which I attended on the evening of Tuesday, May 21st.
The first piece, Songs of Bukovina—commissioned by Ballet Theater and premiered in 2017—is set to excerpts from “Bukovinian Songs [24 Preludes for Piano]” by the distinguished contemporary Russian composer, Leonid Desyatnikov, who has collaborated with Ratmansky several times. The terrific lead couple consisted of Isabella Boylston and Blaine Hoven, with strong support from eight other dancers, including notably Joo Won Ahn.
Even more exciting was Ratmansky’s brilliant reinvention—commissioned by Ballet Theater and premiered at the Metropolitan Opera House in 2009—of Sergei Prokofiev’s wonderful On the Dnieper—superbly conducted here by Ormsby Wilkins—with a libretto by the composer and the eminent Serge Lifar, originally commissioned by the Paris Opera and premiered in 1932. The fine cast was led by Cory Stearns as the soldier Sergei, brilliantly paired with two fabulous dancers: Hee Seo as Natalia, his former love, and Christine Shevchenko, as Olga, his former love. James Whiteside excelled as Olga’s fiancé while the always admirable corps de ballet was again in superior form.
Most astonishing of all, however, was the world premiere of the magnificent, new The Seasons, one of Ratmansky’s supreme achievements, set to a glorious score by Alexander Glazunov—dazzlingly conducted here by David LaMarche—composed for the legendary Marius Petipa for a 1900 divertissement, one of his final productions. Ratmansky says about the production, “The Seasonsis a celebration of American Ballet Theater and its dancers. It is a declaration of love, expression of gratitude and gift to the company that has been my home for the last decade.” The striking costumes were designed by Robert Perdziola, with effective lighting by Mark Stanley.
The ballet featured a large, extraordinary cast. In the “Winter” section, Ahn personified the season, along with Zhong-Jing Fang as Frost, Devon Teuscher as Ice, Courtney Lavine as Hail, and Betsy McBride as Snow. For “Spring,” Thomas Forster excelled in the role of Zephyr, together with Cassandra Trenary as The Rose and Breanne Granlund as The Swallow.
The lovely Stella Abrera was marvelous in the “Summer” episode, with Hoven replacing an injured Herman Cornejo as The Faun, and Tyler Maloney and Gabe Stone Shayer as the Satyrs. Finally, in the “Autumn” portion, Calvin Royal III played Bacchus, partnered by Catherine Hurlin as Bacchante. Again, the corps de ballet enchanted. There is more Ratmansky to look forward to in this already impressive season!