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Strauss' Fanciful "Whipped Cream" Staged by the American Ballet Theatre

Daniil Simkin in Whipped Cream. Photo: Gene Schiavone.
A terrific season at American Ballet Theatre at the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center continued marvelously on the evening of Tuesday, May 28th, with Whipped Cream—one of the finest productions in the company’s repertory—beautifully choreographed by Artist in Residence, Alexei Ratmansky, and set to a wonderful, underrated score from 1924—here excellently conducted by Charles Barker—by the great Richard Strauss, who also penned the original libretto. The current production was commissioned by Ballet Theater, premiering in 2017, with outstanding sets and costumes designed by Mark Ryden and effective lighting by Brad Fields.
The performance I attended was graced by a superb cast, with the astonishing Daniil Simkin brilliantly recapitulating the role he created and was born to play: the Boy. His delightful partner was Sarah Lane as Miss Praline, also repeating a role she originated. The riveting Stella Abrera recreated her role as Princess Tea Flower, effectively partnered by Calvin Royal III as Prince Coffee, in a part originated by the incomparable David Hallberg.
Thomas Forster—who has shone this season—and Luis Ribagorda together thrilled as Prince Cocoa and Don Zucchero respectively. Catherine Hurlin dazzled as Mademoiselle Marianne Chartreuse, complemented with enchanting comic aplomb by Duncan Lyle as Ladislav Slivovitz and Marshall Whiteley as Boris Wutki, the personification of vodka. Alexei Agoudine was perfect in the dual role of the Chef and the Doctor. Again, the exquisitecorps de balletwere immensely charming.
Strauss’s neglected ballet was not a success in its time and one can only be awed by Ratmansky’s ingenious reinvention, which ranks among his supreme achievements and which deserves to become a classic.

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