Last night we got to see a mixed repertory bill from the American Ballet Theatre comprised of The Dream and Firebird. These two ballets connected nicely to each other as they both featured supernatural happenings. Where the two diverged is that The Dream was comedic while Firebird was more dark and foreboding.
The Dream is a streamlined version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (streamlined in that the ballet takes just about an hour). We got to see a great cast in this production. Cory Stearns, a major favorite of mine, was in the role of Oberon and he was outstanding. Herman Cornejo was amazing as Puck. As you can imagine, with Puck being rambunctious, there is a lot of very physical dancing and Cornejo was extraordinary.
Xiomara Reyes was delightful as Titania, the woman who causes Oberon to set the evening hijinks into motion. Alexei Agoudine was hysterical as Bottom (I’m really not sure how he pulled off dancing effectively while wearing a donkey head). The other principal lovers in the story–Helena (Maria Riccetto), Hermia (Stella Abrera), Demetrius (Sascha Radetsky) and Lysander (Jared Matthewsa)–were wonderful as well as they went through their various pairings as they were subject to Oberon and Puck’s whimsy.
Meanwhile, Firebird is based on a Russian fairytale and tells the story Ivan searching for his lost love when he stumbles upon a flock of firebirds. He captures one and before she breaks free she leaves him a magical feather that will summon her in times of danger. That danger comes with a bunch of maidens appears who are under the control of the evil sorcerer Kaschei. Ivan summons the firebird and she lulls the maidens to sleep and then battles with Kaschei. Ivan finds his love among the entranced maidens and the firebird shows Ivan how to break the spell and destroy Kaschei, which reunites Ivan and his love as well as the maidens with their loves.
This production of Firebird is brand new to ABT this year having made its debut in March in California (the ballet itself dates back to 1910). We were lucky enough last night to see it’s premiere cast with Natalia Osipova as the Firebird, Marcelo Gomes as Ivan, Simone Messmer as the Maiden and David Hallberg as Kaschei. Making this extra special for us is it was the first time we’ve seen Hallberg dance with ABT.
Firebird is unlike anything I’ve seen from ABT, with a very modern design and use of projections to enhance the scenic design. The choreography was very modern as well and seemed to blend classic ballet moves with contemporary dance (at least that’s how my untrained eye saw it). It was all quite entrancing.
Next week we go very classical with Swan Lake.