Opening Night of Giselle in NYC: July 20th, 2001
Hmm...a little bit of mixed feelings....Overall, however, I enjoyed the performance and I would like to say that I buy her talent, her effort, and her determination as a great artist. In other words, I understood her philosophy towards this new Giselle.
I was a bit perplexed in the scene changes at the beginning of the First Act (sort of reminded me of the LES MIS style...), but as the story progressed, I gradually began see that the rural, modern setting worked. You could see that she was really trying to create a theatrical piece, as she said in her program commentray. There was even live music ON stage during the pdd solos and Giselle's solo. So if some people were disappointed in her rechoreography and her modern setting, well then, in her words, it really isn't what she wanted the audience to look for in her nouveau Giselle. It WAS meant to be completely different.
I've always thought Murru had a lot of potential since his many guest appearances in Japan, and tonight, I realized that he has developed into a even stronger artist than before. He's not the masculine, powerful, aggressive type , but he likes to present himself in a simple manner, that is, he doesn't like to over-do his acting. I personally liked his elegance, his youthfulness, and especially his *classiness* on stage. He works pretty well with Guillem, even though they've yet to establish the kind of partnership that she has with Cope, but he's gettin' there...(I've read that he'll be dancing with her again in Ashton's A Month in the Country at RB next month). He's an artist that I would like to see more often in the future, particularly in pieces that require strong acting skills because I think he posesses great potential for improvement.
I won't keep this too long, but choreographically speaking, I thought Guillem's fine musical instincts were strongly presented in her reconstruction of the First Act, particularly in the peasant waltzes and the peasant pdds. I especially liked the more youthful, playful qualities that she added to the peasant pdd. Her solo was set to the one peasant pdd solo that Ashton had choreographed, and I'm still not sure why she didn't keep the traditional variation, but I think part of it had to do with the fact that she wanted to display her original technical facilities.
If I was working closely with Guillem for this production's costumes, I probably would've made some suggestions. I've read that you could barely see any dancing with the brown socks and the long skirts -- this wasn't too problematic for me in the First Act, as I knew that she wanted more focus on the acting and the drama of the First Act, but I really wish that the wilis could have had more of a spiritual representation. Guillem sort of reinterpreted the characterization of the wilis by giving each one of them an identity (they all wore different wedding dresses) -- she gave them the femininity, womanhood -- the qualities that she felt vital to the portrayal of each of the wilis.
Anyway, my point about the wilis is that, again, I would've liked to see a more spiritual side to them as well, and this, I think could've been done (perhaps) with lighter skirts (closer to the costumes that's always been used for the traditional version) .
Lastly, I think La Scala really does have some nice men. Both the peasant pdd dancer and Hilarion were dancers of the corps de ballet (peasant: Antonino Sutera; Hilarion: Andrea Volpintesta); and they executed their refined technique appealingly. Generally speaking, I think La Scala's men are much stronger than their women.
Lastly, the audience went WILD at the end. There was a HUGE standing ovation, and Murru and Guillem both seemed completely thrilled. (Even Murru had some tears in his eyes...)I was happy for them that they received such a warm welcome in NY!!