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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
American Ballet Theater
Performance Reviews
Lincoln Center
American Ballet Theatre
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

American Ballet Theatre: Romeo and Juliet 2007

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 23, 2007
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
140 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023

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American Ballet Theatre
American Ballet Theatre (office)
890 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

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American Ballet Theatre

Romeo and Juliet 2007
Ballet in Three Acts
Alessandra Ferri's Farewell
Metropolitan Opera House

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters:
Wes Chapman, Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova,
Georgina Parkinson, Clinton Luckett
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Susan Morgan, Press Associate
(Read More ABT Reviews)

Romeo and Juliet (1965, Royal; 1985, ABT): (See July 15, 2006 Review). 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 Leningrad's Kirov Ballet in 1934, but then this commission was cancelled. However, after Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet also rejected the music as un-danceable, it was mounted in Czechoslovakia by the Yugoslav National Ballet of Zagreb in 1938. MacMillan's 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).

June 19, 2007: Conductor: David LaMarche, Performed by Marcelo Gomes as Romeo, Paloma Herrera as Juliet, Craig Salstein as Mercutio, Gennadi Saveliev as Tybalt, Sascha Radetsky as Benvolio, Cory Stearns as Paris, Roman Zhurbin as Lord Capulet, Carmen Corella as Lady Capulet, Alexei Agoudine as Prince of Verona, Melissa Thomas as Rosaline, Sasha Dmochowski as Nurse, Clinton Luckett as Friar Laurence, Elizabeth Mertz as Lady Montague, Vitali Krauchenka as Lord Montague, Luciana Paris, Anne Milewski, Sarawanee Tanatanit as Three Harlots, and the Company as Rosaline's Friend, Juliet's Friends, Mandolin Dance, and Ballroom Guests and Townspeople.

June 23, 2007 (Alessandra Ferri's Farewell): Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins, Performed by Roberto Bolle as Romeo, Alessandra Ferri as Juliet, Herman Cornejo as Mercutio, Isaac Stappas as Tybalt, Jared Matthews as Benvolio, Gennadi Saveliev as Paris, Victor Barbee as Lord Capulet, Georgina Parkinson as Lady Capulet, Wes Chapman as Prince of Verona, Maria Bystrova as Rosaline, Susan Jones as Nurse, Frederic Franklin as Friar Laurence, Jennifer Alexander as Lady Montague, Roman Zhurbin as Lord Montague, Carmen Corella, Stella Abrera, and Kristi Boone as Three Harlots, and the Company as Rosaline's Friend, Juliet's Friends, Mandolin Dance, and Ballroom Guests and Townspeople.

For days, this haunting Prokofiev score lingered and swirled in my mind, such passionate music, and such a passionate series of performers. Nicholas Georgiadis' sumptuous sets and red/gray, brown/beige costumes, Thomas Skelton's evocative lighting, Julie Lincoln's split-timed staging, and MacMillan's captivating choreography of this ballet have been set forth numerous times in this magazine, but, on each viewing, new textures, gestures, colors, nuances, appear anew, fresh and riveting. In fact, what would be spring in New York without ABT's Romeo and Juliet? For balletomanes, this Romeo and Juliet series was bittersweet, with the impending retirement of Alessandra Ferri on June 23rd, the final performance of the series. I caught two casts, including Ferri's Farewell.

On June 19th, Paloma Herrera was no ingénue, but, rather, a rebellious, strong Juliet, vulnerable as her father tried to force Paris into her space, and impetuous in the balcony scene pas de deux with Romeo. Marcelo Gomes is a perfect Romeo to Ms. Herrera's Juliet, muscular, mesmerizing, theatrical, and strong-willed. In fact, Mr. Gomes has fast become one of the most exciting male principals in Ballet Theatre, so connected to the audience and especially to his partners. Mr. Gomes is perhaps one of the few principals in the company who can toss Ms. Herrera lifelessly, as he did in the tomb scene. She was amazingly limp and seemingly weightless.

Gennadi Saveliev, as Tybalt, was menacing, brooding, dark, and demonic. When he sparred with swords, before and during Mercutio's marketplace death scenes, I thought Mr. Saveliev would literally slay Craig Salstein (a superb Mercutio). The tension was tremendous. Mr. Salstein is driven into internalized interpretations of his roles, and he menaced and baited Tybalt to distraction. In a new twist on the death scenes, Mr. Saveliev pretended to accidentally slay Mercutio and then to congratulate himself, the stuff of Shakespeare. Soon after, when Romeo felled Tybalt, his sword was deliberately placed, full- square, as revenge for his friend, Mercutio.

Previously, in Mercutio's mandolin dance, Mr. Salstein and four male corps dancers were particularly dynamic. Carmen Corella as Lady Capulet also wins accolades for her extreme sense of drama and acute abandon. Her flailing arms exuded maternal trauma, both at Tybalt's death and Juliet's death-like sleep. Roman Zhurbin, as Lord Capulet, is always regal and possessed of detailed gesture. His paternal angst stopped short of physical force. Sasha Dmochowski was a lovable, bumbling nurse, and Sascha Radetsky was a buoyant companion, Benvolio. Clinton Luckett was a more passive Friar Laurence, spiritual but detached. Melissa Thomas as Rosaline, and Luciana Paris, Anne Milewski, and Sarawanee Tanatanit, as Three Harlots, added zest and spice to the marketplace, especially when Romeo was receiving Juliet's note of acceptance to his quick proposal.

Cory Stearns was a bland, "pretty" Paris, probably intentionally, as Paris is innately bland and "pretty". He exuded sadness and vulnerability in rejection. The corps, in the various ballroom scenes, especially the dance of the Capulets, continues to outshine itself, as it perfects MacMillan's angular posture and positions. I could watch this dance over and over, for the fusion of rhythm, motion, costume, and mood. David LaMarche and the ABT Orchestra kept this music momentous.

On June 23rd, there was excitement and tension in the air, as Alessandra Ferri and Roberto Bolle, her Italian imported Romeo (a favorite partner from La Scala Ballet), would emotionally unfold and mentally imprint Ms. Ferri's Farewell ballet. She performed with ABT for 22 years, and I have seen her dance Juliet with numerous partners, most memorably Julio Bocca (who was in attendance tonight and onstage for the curtain call festivity). Also in attendance were other ABT retirees, such as Susan Jaffe, and most of Ms. Ferri's current ABT partners. VIP's included Ms. Ferri's husband, Fabrizio Ferri, who has gorgeously photographed the ABT dancers, and even Peter Martins and Darci Kistler of NYC Ballet, as well as many of the City Ballet dancers. Numerous Italian fans and Ms. Ferri's contingent of ballet critics and balletomanes attended as well.

Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director, led the orchestra and a star-studded cast included Victor Barbee (Assoc. Artistic Dir.) as Lord Capulet, Wes Chapman as Prince of Verona and Susan Jones as Nurse (Ballet Masters), and Frederic Franklin (93 year old coach and former dancer of Ballet Russe). Ms. Ferri's Juliet blossomed with her palpable passion for Roberto Bolle, and their balcony scene and bedroom scene were even more dynamic and exciting than were their pas de deux the week before in Manon. Roberto Bolle moves slowly, like a panther, while Ms. Ferri leaps effortlessly into his arms, like a wildcat. Theirs is a dynamic partnership, one that could have been experienced more often in New York. Their Shakespearian story became lyrical, luscious, lovely, and, in a strange way, realistic. The chemistry spread contagiously, drawing the audience into the drama. Being Ms. Ferri's Farewell, she seemed liberated to add nuance here and there, extra flourishes and devices, and Mr. Bolle seemed to anticipate her every thought. This was Shakespeare in real time.

Isaac Stappas was an incredibly wild Tybalt, threatening at every step. His death scene split the air. Gennadi Saveliev, as the smooth, silent Paris, on the heels of his tortured, manic Tybalt performance (see above) was illustrative of his extensive theatrical skills. Frederic Franklin is an institution, and I happened to see him in attendance in the audience on another night. His is an amazing story, and, as Friar Laurence, he kneeled, nurtured, and prayed with the dynamism of the surrounding youth. Herman Cornejo was externalized as the daring Mercutio, while Mr. Salstein on the 19th was less predictable. Mr. Cornejo is always monumental and engaging, an electric, aerodynamic performer. Susan Jones, my all-time favorite Nurse, had the rotund capacity to envelop Juliet at a moment's notice. She seemed truly in despair at Juliet's death-like sleep.

Jared Matthews, as Benvolio, is a dancer to watch, as he assumes more and more solo roles. Georgina Parkinson, as Lady Capulet, possessed the maturity and maternal instinct intrinsic to the role. She seemed truly in mourning without over-dramatizing. Victor Barbee, as Lord Capulet, commanded presence and power, in the patriarchal bedroom scenes, as his desire for a Juliet-Paris match were thwarted, then opaquely rewarded. Maria Bystrova was a sassy Rosaline, and Wes Chapman was a commanding Prince of Verona. The corps seemed notably aware of this historical and high-profile night, and their ballroom dance and marketplace scenes exploded with mental and physical force.

There were numerous, lengthy curtain calls, both for Ms. Ferri and Mr. Bolle, as well as for Ms. Ferri herself. She stood in the curtains' spotlight, quietly, hair streaming down, spent, as it were, from one of the most driven death scenes at the tomb, falling slowly onto her back, reaching her arm down to Mr. Bolle in one final, lasting image of life onstage. Amidst the solo curtain calls, Ms. Ferri wrapped her arms about her two young daughters, dressed in red, surrounded by the mountains of flowers and confetti that finally stopped falling and flying. Julio Bocca, who retired last spring, appeared at the curtain and lifted Ms. Ferri with Mr. Bolle, a trio of joy. Her fans did not let her go easily or quietly. The accolades were vocal and sincere. Kudos to Alessandra Ferri.
ABT's Paloma Herrera and Marcelo Gomes in 'Romeo and Juliet'

ABT's Paloma Herrera and Marcelo Gomes in "Romeo and Juliet"

Photo © & courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor

ABT's Alessandra Ferri and Roberto Bolle in 'Romeo and Juliet'

ABT's Alessandra Ferri and Roberto Bolle in "Romeo and Juliet"

Photo © & courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor

Alessandra Ferri Farewell

Alessandra Ferri Farewell

Photo © & courtesy of Tommy Ng

Alessandra Ferri Farewell

Alessandra Ferri Farewell

Photo © & courtesy of Tommy Ng

Final Curtain, Alessandra Ferri and Roberto Bolle

Final Curtain, Alessandra Ferri and Roberto Bolle

Photo © & courtesy of Tommy Ng

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