Showing posts from October, 2022

The Dream Wars

Suzanne Farrell as Titania, photo @ Martha Swope In 1962, George Balanchine premiered a full-length ballet adaptation of Shakespeare's  A Midsummer's Night Dream , set to Felix Mendelssohn's evergreen score. Two years later, Sir Frederick Ashton created his own adaptation of the Shakespearean comedy. His was entitled  The Dream . Ballet fans have been arguing over which adaptation is better ever since. This year I got to see both the Balanchine version (done by NYCB in their spring season) and the Ashton version (ABT is dancing this in their fall season). And I must admit, I'm as flummoxed as anyone else about which version is better. Titania and Oberon in The Dream, photo @ Andrea Mohin Both choreographers are working from a place of love for the Shakespeare play. They both tell the story, and tell it with palpable affection. Which version you prefer probably depends on which version you encountered first. I first saw Balanchine's MSND, and loved it right away. Lat

Peter Grimes - A Story in Shades of Sea Gray

Allan Clayton, photo @ Richard Termine There are times when the Met is half-empty and the audience is tepid and I understand why. I've been to my share of tired warhorse revivals where everyone onstage looks like they are waiting for direct deposit to clear. And then there's times when the half-empty houses are depressing, because what is happening onstage is absolutely worth seeing. Last night was one of those nights -- the revival of Britten's Peter Grimes (the Met's first revival since the 2008 inauguration of the John Doyle production) was gripping from curtain to curtain.  Allan Clayton was tremendous in the title role. He's a beefy, burly guy who looks the part of a blue collar fisherman. His Grimes' is obviously a troubled man -- his eyes are always darting around the stage, his body language both terrifying and terrified. But his voice is surprisingly dreamy and luminous, so when he sings "In Dreams I've Built" you truly believe this Grime

Opera Diaries: Women Who Kill

Radvanovsky as Medea, photo @ Marty Sohl This fall has been very busy. I spent much of September and October at NYCB's fall season, where I continue to write reviews for bachtrack . It was only last weekend that I attended any opera at all, but I saw both Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Medea . Both focus on angry, desperate women who kill. Both treat those women with a degree of sympathy. And both were lights-out vehicles for the starring sopranos. Medea and Neris, photo @ Marty Sohl Sondra Radvanovsky's Medea got more publicity and critical praise. It's the first production of Luigi Cherubini's opera for the Met, and it's an opera that is still rarely done. In part, it's because the role was so closely associated with Maria Callas that it's hard for other sopranos to tackle the challenge. But also, the role is extremely long and punishing. Medea comes onstage towards the end of Act One and then never leaves. Constant singing, very emotionally charged. And the