MISSION

We are here to encourage the development of gifted young singers and to stimulate the growth of New York City's invaluable chamber opera companies. But we will not neglect the Metropolitan Opera either. Get ready for bouquets and brickbats.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

THAT SCOTTISH OPERA

Mary Ann Stewart as Lady Macbeth (photo by Brian Long)
Dell'Arte Opera Ensemble's "Summer of Shakespeare" is providing an oasis of opera for thirsty opera-lovers in the midst of summer's desert.  We have only good things to say about the production of Verdi's Macbeth which was given some admirable direction by Myra Cordell.  We favor the traditional and Ms. Cordell hewed closely to period, place and dramatic intent.  (The last Macbeth we saw at the Met involved some peculiar artistic choices so we were especially pleased with this production.)  One coup de theatre that we appreciated -- when Banco is murdered, his body is left on the floor, only to rise as his ghost in the banquet scene.

Musical value were excellent all around.  Maestro Christopher Fecteau marshaled the forces of his twenty excellent musicians and from the very first oboe solo we knew that they and we were in good hands.  The strings were situated to our left and the winds and percussion at the rear of the playing area, leading to a most interesting stereophonic effect.  We particularly liked Ellen Hindson's English Horn; Barbara Allen made some interesting sounds for the witches sabbath.

Mary Ann Stewart, a winner of the Osgood/Dell'Arte Opera Ensemble prize. just about stole the show with her riveting performance as Lady Macbeth.  Her sizable soprano was used effectively with notable skill in the coloratura embellishments that lingered from Verdi's bel canto predecessors.  Moreover, her acting was first-rate as she rotated through encouragement, importuning, shaming and manipulation to get Macbeth to do her bidding. Her "Vieni! t'affretta" in Act I was a real show-stopper.

As the eponymous (anti)hero, tenor Jason Plourde was equally convincing as the weak Thane who becomes greedy for power at the behest of his wife.  One could almost feel sorry for him as he was seduced by the predictions of the witches.

The three witches were outstanding. Soprano Monica Niemi's voice rang out in clarion tones with mezzo-sopranos Elizabeth Bouk and Jackie Hayes in fine collaboration.

We are always delighted to hear new voices in small roles that we hope to hear more of in the future.  Tenor Marques Hollie sounded just grand as Malcolm; we noticed his beautiful sound earlier in the evening as part of the ensemble.  Isaac Assor, reviewed twice before at the Manhattan School of Music Summer Voice Festival, also stood out with his fine full sound.

Milica Nikcevic always gets our attention; she won the Osgood/dell'Arte Opera Ensemble prize in 2013.  And bass Hans Tashjian excelled as Banco, sounding better than ever.

With minimal resources, Nina Bova created costumes that were simple but effective.  The three "weird sisters" wore tattered capes over tights and sported wild hair and gruesome makeup.  The men wore sashes of their respective clans and Lady Macbeth a long dun-colored dress with impressive jewelry around her neck.

Karen Tashjian's simple scenic design comprised a low platform upstage, flanked by slender tree trunks.  Lighting designer Scott Schneider cleverly produced a cauldron substitute into which the three witches could throw their nasty bits.


There will be two more performances on 8/22 and 8/24.  We hope there will still be a couple seats available.

(c) meche kroop

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

HOJOTOHO! HEIAHA!

Scene from Die Walk├╝re--Santa Fe Opera Apprentices-Photo by Ken Howard
Ensemble from Il Viaggio a Reims--photo by Ken Howard

The second and final recital of opera scenes by the Santa Fe Opera Apprentices left nothing to be desired.  The packed house greeted these promising young artists with an avalanche of appreciative applause.  Everyone benefits since the apprentices thrive on onstage experience and profit by learning new roles.  No expense is spared in terms of production values: direction, costumes, staging and accompaniment are all first rate.  The only thing missing is the orchestra.

That was an advantage, not a deficit, in the strong opening number "Ride of the Valkyries" since the young singers were not obliged to shriek over massive orchestral forces. Clad in fabulous steampunk inspired costumes by Kelsey Vidic, the lovely ladies entered through the aisles and terraces (direction by Shawna Lucey) and joined voices for Wagner's thrilling music.  Alexandra Loutsion, Rebecca Witty, Sarah Larsen, Daryl Freedman, Bridgette Gan, Allegra De Vita, Katherine Carroll and Annie Rosen were the glamorous warrior maidens.  Manuel Jacobo and Amanda Clark were responsible for the stunning wigs and makeup design.  WOO!

That was a tough act to follow but soprano Amanda Opuszynski was a lovely Lucia in Donizetti's masterpiece Lucia di Lammermoor, effectively negotiating the scale passages and acting up a storm in the scene with her brother Enrico, beautifully portrayed by baritone Joseph Lim.  The two succeeded in showing various sides of their characters and eliciting our sympathy-- both for the panicky Lucia who does not want to marry her brother's choice and for Enrico who is desperate for this political marriage to save his own hide.

Hearing baritone Ricardo Rivera and mezzo-soprano Annie Rosen animate the characters of Robert and Kitty Oppenheimer in John Adams' Doctor Atomic was a special treat.  We didn't relate at all to the production at the Met and we were surprised and happy to change our opinion.  Sung English is often difficult to understand but their diction was perfect and we didn't miss a word.  Vocally and dramatically the scene was a hit.  Kathleen Clawson directed.

Alone among the eight scenes, the one from Mozart's La finta giardiniera was updated to the mid 20th c. and made no sense at all. What director Michael Shell seemed to be going for was the awkwardness of waking up in bed with a "one-night-stand".  The audience laughed but the libretto could not be believably bent into that situation and was not what Mozart and his librettist intended.  Nonetheless, the singers sounded lovely and did what was asked of them.  Soprano Jenna Siladie was the disdainful hussy Arminda, smoking under a lamppost.  Mezzo Emma Char portrayed the importuning Ramiro.  As the two "hookups" soprano Abigail Mitchell and tenor Rexford Tester did justice to Mozart and had the audience in stitches.

The opening scene of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra, directed by Bruce Donnell, took us back to more traditional territory with Rebecca Witty's lovely soprano convincing us as Amelia who believes she is an orphan.  As her lover Gabriele, tenor Daniel Bates was soulful and ardent.  Erin Levy's costumes were appropriate as to time and place.

In the trio from the final act of Puccini's Madama Butterfly, we were impressed by Joshua Conyers' firm baritone and sympathetic portrayal of Sharpless.  Julia Dawson sang Suzuki and Christopher Trapani portrayed the remorseful B. F. Pinkerton.

William Walton's Troilus and Cressida was a strange choice.  This is not an opera we would care to hear in toto but the scene from Act I was well directed by Shawna Lucey who seems to have a knack for placing singers where they ought to be.  Tenor Jubal Joslyn sang the role of Troilus and mezzo Sarah Larsen brought some beautiful tones and fine diction to her portrayal of Cressida.  Tenor Aaron Short made impressive use of word coloring as Pandarus.

The closing scene was the spirited ensemble from Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims. The spoiled aristocrats were devastated that there were no horses for their carriages to attend the coronation of King Charles X.  As is typical of Rossini, the musical excitement grows and grows. We particularly noticed the gorgeous coloratura work of Amy Owens who handled the embellishments perfectly.  The stunning empire costumes were by Lauren Pivirotto and the direction by Kathleen Clawson was charming with one exception; we did not relate to the ensemble breaking into late 20th c. dance moves.  It was jarring and anachronistic.

We would call the evening a total success and hope to see much more of the rising stars selected by the Santa Fe Opera to participate in this fine program.  Bravissimi e Gloria Tutti!

© meche kroop





Sunday, August 17, 2014

CARMEN



Ana Maria Martinez and Roberto De Blasio (photo by Ken Howard)



The current trend in opera is "concept".  Directors are falling all over themselves trying to make opera relevant, changing locations, changing time periods, doing all kinds of things to attract new audiences.  We are not among those that appreciate this trend.  Occasionally this fiddling works but more often than not the audience is left baffled.  Such was the case last night at the Santa Fe Opera's Carmen; Bizet's masterpiece was updated to mid-20th c. and moved to somewhere on the Mexican-American border, although that was only revealed piecemeal. The time is ripe for an opera about illegal immigration and the plight of Mexicans but grafting that concept onto an opera that we adore in its original time and place seemed ill-advised.

Bizet's music trumps everything else and if you closed your eyes and listened to Rory Macdonald's apt conducting of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, you might have had a fine time.  With your eyes open, you might have expected to be in Spain with vintage black and white films of bullfights projected onto the set.  The picture of the dead bull might have made you wonder if this was meant to be symbolic of Don Jose's stabbing of Carmen in the final scene. Interestingly enough, that scene does take place in an arena-like area.  But why was Carmen trying to escape through locked doors when she was resigned to dying?

Many other inconsistencies and questions about Stephen Lawless' direction distracted us from enjoying the music.  Why were the girls of the tobacco factory behind bars?  They were dressed in identical uniforms so one wondered whether they were meant to be in prison and given time in the yard for a smoking break.  Why was Escamillo's entrance so tacky, passed out on a mechanical bull?  Why was Micaela standing on the American side of a chain-link fence?  We could go on and on about the inconsistencies and ill-conceived ideas.

Carmen is not just a factory-worker (if that is even true) but she and Frasquita and Mercedes don wildly colorful costumes (by Jorge Jara) as onstage entertainers in Lilas Pastias' tavern while the customers dance the lindy to Bizet's music!  There is more coke-snorting than we would ever want to see onstage-- to no meaningful effect.  Were the smugglers smuggling drugs or were they smuggling "wetbacks".  Why are the "wetbacks" pushing the truck right up to the Border Patrol?  Did we need to see a trashy hooker distracting the border guard so a few illegal immigrants could climb the chain-link fence?

Well, let us move on to what we did like about the production.  Most of the video projections by Jon Driscoll served to open up the story in a cinematic way.  The scene of Micaela tending to Don Jose's critically ill mother gave us some insight into their relationship.  The scene of Micaela and Don Jose attending his mother's funeral showed us that Micaela still had some affection for him; she made sidelong glances meaningful.

Benoit Dugardyn's set design was simple enough not to interfere and was flexible enough to create the soldier's locker room, a prison, a bullfight arena, ramparts and a background for projections.  Pat Collins' lighting was sometimes effective,  creating shadows that highlighted the action; at other times the light fell in the wrong place and the action was cast into darkness.

As Carmen, soprano Ana Maria Martinez created a character that had very little by way of redeeming qualities.  Perhaps it is only that we prefer the role to be sung by a mezzo-soprano but her voice seemed uneven through the wide range Bizet wrote; her voice improved as the evening wore on.       Her acting was forceful but appeared to be based on something that she or the director considered to be sexy. The sexiness did not seem to come from within but rather was based on gyrations and cliched mannerism. 
Tenor Roberto de Biasio also got off to a weak start but improved vocally in the second act. He produced a fine messa di voce.  However, his acting was stiff until he reached places where he was given over to violence.  Baritone Kostas Smoriginas struggled to achieve some dignity and the arrogance the role requires; the direction was not kind to him, what with that mechanical bull and having to hold a microphone onstage and gyrate like Elvis Presley.

We liked Joyce El-Khoury's performance as Micaela; she has an expressive soprano and managed to evoke sympathy which the other principals did not.  Her duet with Don Jose was tender and their hands reaching out toward one another was perhaps the most moving moment of the evening.

The smaller roles were more effective.  Bass-baritone Evan Hughes was outstanding as Zuniga, using his booming voice, imposing height and dramatic skills to create a more interesting character than we are accustomed to.  He too has his eye on Carmen and, by the time his pants are around his ankles in her prison cell,  she has escaped.

Baritone Ricardo Rivera was a strong Morales, also making much of a role that usually makes no impression.

We liked baritone Dan Kempson as Le Dancaire and tenor Noah Baetge as Le Remendado, the two smugglers.  It was amusing to watch their interaction with Carmen's two friends Frasquita (soprano Amanda Opuszynski) and Mercedes (mezzo-soprano Sarah Larsen).  Grant Neale made a slimy Lillas Pastia.

Before ending. we would like to contribute this factoid.  In Mexican bullfights, they do not kill the bull.

(c) meche kroop

Saturday, August 16, 2014

DOUBLE FEATURE

Brenda Rae, Anthony Michaels-Moore and Erin Morley (photo by Ken Howard)











Erin Morley (photo by Ken Howard)











How could one make a marriage out of a 1786 Mozart singspiel and a 1914 Stravinsky fairy tale?  With great imagination!  Did the pairing work?  It depends upon who you ask.  Director Michael Gieleta has presented Le Rossignol as a production of the eponymous impresario of The Impresario and his company of performers.  The two wildly divergent works are bound together by the same cast and by the same scenic elements transformed in shape and purpose.

We have previously seen Mozart's Der Schauspieldirektor but never like this.  The hijinks occurring between the frustrated impresario and his three sopranos are here performed with much additional dialogue and interpolations of additional music by Mozart.  For some reason it is given in English.  Some of the dialogue is clever and some isn't.  It comes across as a backstage farce.

Before the opera even begins, we are treated to images of Salome with Jochanaan's head and a Tosca stabbing a Scarpia.  The stage is filled with performers of various disciplines, notably a troupe of very good dancers and three sopranos vying for parts in the new production of Le Rossignol.  The time is 1914 and the place is probably Paris; the impresario himself speaks with a Russian accent and is likely a fugitive from the Revolution.  The Countess who has supported his company is assassinated in front of our very eyes and Mr. Yussupovich fears he will have to close up shop.  Baritone Anthony Michaels-Moore handled the role well both dramatically and vocally.

His business manager Otto van der Puff (bass Kevin Burdette) proposes that Mr. Y produce operas that the public enjoys instead of radical experimental works.  Ahem!  They compromise.  There will be a Don Giovanni but there will also be this new work by Stravinsky.  And that's what we get in the second half of the program.  But not before we hear the three divas perform audition arias.  Soprano Erin Morley is filled with self-confidence as Adellina Vocedoro-Gambalunghi.  Soprano Brenda Rae has an enormous amount of fun as the over-the-top Transylvanian Vlada Vladimirescu who has brought along her husband, sung by the fine tenor Bruce Sledge.

Stepping in to replace the deceased Countess is financier Heinrich Eiler (bass-baritone David Govertsen) who wants his mistress Chlotchilda Krone (contralto Meredith Arwady) to be cast.  If the names of these three divas don't make you laugh then their shenanigans will.  Ms. Arwady is particularly funny as she sings Mozart's male roles in several registers.  We were reminded of Ira Siff's La Gran Scena Opera Company, gone but not forgotten.

After the intermission, we see the same singers onstage in the same roles but a transformation takes place as the clever set design (James Macnamara) is converted into the setting for Le Rossignol.  The piano becomes a boat and Mr. Sledge becomes a fisherman.  The outrageous Poiret-influenced costumes are stripped away and Ms. Morley becomes the eponymous nightingale.  The impresario is dressed as a Chinese emperor and Ms. Rae becomes a cook.  The costumes by Fabio Toblini are as sumptuous in the Stravinsky as they were in the Mozart.

The myth taken on by Stravinsky is that of a nightingale who sings so sweetly that she brings tears of joy to the eyes of the listener.  And that is EXACTLY what Ms. Morley achieved.  Most of her part is without words, a divine vocalise.  The cook will get an important position in the Emperor's court if she brings this splendid creature.  The nightingale does enchant the Emperor and the entire court until some Japanese envoys bring a mechanical bird (the lovely dancer Xiaoxiao Wang) that astonishes everyone.

The real live nightingale flies off; the Emperor is enraged and banishes her.  But when he is on his deathbed she returns and promises to sing 'til dawn if Death will return to the Emperor his symbols of power.  She succeeds and is offered a grand reward but the only reward she wants are the tears in the Emperor's eyes.  The opera is beautifully sung in Russian.

We loved the story.  Our thoughts ran along the lines of how in today's world we have been seduced by the faux, the virtual, the mechanical/electronic.  We need the real and the natural to heal.

Not everything worked.  We found the projections of modernist art to be ugly; they distracted from the gentle beauty of the myth and the music.  The dancers, wearing fake moustaches and glasses and rolling around on the floor dressed in knee breeches didn't make any sense whatsoever.  Sean Curran was the choreographer.

Conductor Kenneth Montgomery went all the way in limning the shimmering textures and dramatic orchestration of Stravinsky's score.  If we have nothing to say about the Mozart it is because the action onstage was so distracting that the music got very little notice.

As the myth concludes, the dancers are stripped of their lavish Oriental costumes and returned to their 1914 clothes, bringing the entire affair to a mostly satisfying conclusion.

(c) meche kroop







SIX RISING STARS

Rexford Tester
Dan Kempson and Annie Rosen
Jenna Siladie and Ricardo Rivera



Amanda Opuszynski




















Six talented members of the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Singers Program, accompanied by Robert Tweten, collaborated for an early evening recital that delighted the audience at the First Presbyterian Church.  The artistry of the singers was matched by the enthusiasm of the audience.

Talented tenor Rexford Tester opened the program with "Ah! mes amis, quel jour de fete" from Donizetti's Fille du Regiment.  He sang with panache and fine French diction. He nailed the nine high C's (but who's counting?)  His penchant for French continued later in the program as he sang Faure's "Lydia".

From Verdi's Falstaff, Ricardo Rivera sang Ford's aria.  Mr. Rivera has a lot of depth in his baritone, the type of voice known as a kavalier bariton; we heard an abundance of strength in the lower register, a very Italianate embouchure and an intensity of involvement with the text.

Soprano Amanda Opuszynski delighted with "Je suis encor tout etourdie" from Massenet's Manon.  Her crystalline sound was perfect for conveying the young Manon's innocence and excitement.  The embellishments were carried off with razzle-dazzle.

From Mozart's Nozze di Figaro, we heard "Crudel! Perche finora farmi languir cosi?", the duet in which Figaro (Mr. Rivera) puts the moves on Susanna, sung by the lovely soprano Jenna Siladie who later won audience acclaim with the "Silver Aria" from Douglas Moore's The Ballad of Baby Doe.

Mezzo-soprano Annie Rosen was simply splendid as Rosina in her duet with the marvelous lyric baritone Dan Kempson.  In this duet "Dunque io son" from Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Figaro is acting as go-between so that the Count can get together with Rosina.  The pair of singers had great chemistry together and charmed the audience.

Ms. Rosen sang Schumann's "Widmung" with fine dynamic control.  We especially loved the dreamy central section.  It was nearly perfect but we would love to see Ms. Rosen get a better handle on the final "ch" in words such as ich, mich, and dich.  So many American singers seem afraid of this sound and change it to ick, mick and dick or else they drop the sound altogether.

Ms. Opuszynski was charming in her Rossini song "La pastorella dell'Alpi" and gave a fine example of yodeling, complete with echo.

Mr. Kempson was nothing short of sensational in "Pierrot's Tanzlied" from Erich Korngold's Die tote Stadt.  The nostalgic feelings were palpable and his German diction is perfect.

To close the program, the entire cast performed the ensemble "Alla bella Despinetta" from Mozart's Cosi fan tutte.  The program seemed all too short!

(c) meche kroop

Friday, August 15, 2014

SUN SET

Joseph Dennis and Corinne Winters (photo by Ken Howard)

A rebellious young woman enrages her father by marrying his best friend who is already married. A nation emerges from centuries of feudalism and endures chaos on its lengthy pathway toward modernity.  Do these story lines sound familiar?  Do they sound like the stuff of opera?  Yes indeed!

The Santa Fe Opera is notable for tackling contemporary operas every season and this year's entry was  the very worthy Dr. Sun Yat-Sen by Huang Ruo who composed some very interesting music made dramatic by the liberal use of percussion.  Carolyn Kuan's conducting was exemplary.

Listening to the fine singing in Mandarin (and some in Cantonese) one could easily forget how much effort went into learning a language phonetically that is so very different from European languages. Mandarin is actually a "sung" language with words having different meanings depending upon the tones which rise and fall musically.  These tones must be sacrificed to sing on the proper pitch which makes it difficult, even for speakers of Mandarin, to understand.

Notwithstanding, the superb singers rose to the challenge.  Most astonishing was the performance of tenor Joseph Dennis as the good doctor himself.  Mr. Dennis is a member of the Apprentice Program and expected to serve as cover.  In a life-changing twist of fate, he wound up the star and garnered universal praise for his exceptionally fine portrayal.  He is onstage singing in nearly every scene and the music is difficult.  He sounded even stronger at the end than he did at the start.  Such are the benefits of a healthy young voice!

As his love interest Soong Ching-Ling, the superb soprano Corinne Winters gave a sensitive portrayal of a young woman who idealized this humble doctor who gave up everything to fight for China's future.  Her voice is nicely focused and has just the right amount of vibrato.  The love duet in Act II was meltingly tender and our favorite scene.

As Dr. Sun's first wife from a youthful arranged marriage we enjoyed soprano Rebecca Witty, another apprentice getting an opportunity for a breakthrough.  Her sacrifice was to grant Dr. Sun a divorce so he could marry Soong Ching-ling.  She has a touching aria in which she tells of being neglected by her husband who was so busy with politics and often in exile.  There was even a touch of humor when she told of her wish to marry an ordinary man in her next life.

As Charlie Soong, Ching-Ling's father, Gong Dong-Jian employed his bass well, both in friendship for Dr. Sun and later in rage when he felt betrayed.  As his wife, mezzo-soprano MaryAnn McCormick was a sympathetic character and we particularly enjoyed her scene with her daughter as papa lay dying. Charlie's reconciliation with his daughter was most touching.

The Japanese friends of Dr. Sun, Mr. and Mrs. Umeya, were portrayed by baritone Chen Ye Yuan and apprentice mezzo-soprano Katherine Carroll.

Should you know what was going on in China at the time that the United States and Europe were involved with The Great War, you would recognize how the libretto by Candace Chong simplified a very complicated story; there were long years of chaos and revolution as Dr. Sun labored to overthrow the Qing Dynasty and establish a democratic government.

But this is opera and such simplification is necessary. Sufficient it is to know that this humble idealist is still regarded as the father of his country, not only by the Chinese but also by the Taiwanese. The libretto was somewhat static with not much happening onstage. Director James Robinson did what he could to move the story along.

The set was designed by Allen Moyer with the outstanding element being bamboo scaffolding, symbolic of construction and change, erected on both sides and rear of the stage.  Other elements comprised a few pieces of period furniture.

The gorgeous costumes by James Schuette accurately depicted what was worn by both privileged Chinese women and by Westerners at the turn of the 20th c.  One could appreciate the style changes that occurred during the scenes set a couple decades later.  Much research must have been done.

The addition of dancers was an excellent choice as they illustrated the hard lives of the peasants during the feudal period.  Sean Curran's choreography bound the scenes together.

It was a genuine pleasure to hear a contemporary opera with great music.  It was also a great pleasure to hear it sung in Mandarin.  Translated into English, the dialogue would have sounded silly.

(c) meche kroop

Thursday, August 14, 2014

STARS OF AMERICAN BALLET




It's only been a half-dozen years since Daniel Ulbricht, principal dancer of the New York City Ballet, founded a small touring company comprising predominantly principals and soloists from NYCB.  This impressive company was brought to Santa Fe by Performance Santa Fe for two performances.  Last night's program was filled with artistry and athleticism and tonight's program promises to be equivalent or maybe even better.  If you are fortunate enough to snag tickets you are in for a treat.

We will not tell you which dancers are principals, which are soloists and which belong to the corps de ballet because each one was superb in his or her own way.  We have enjoyed these fine dancers in New York City but we enjoyed them even more in the relatively small Lensic Theater.  There is nothing like being up close and personal; thus we were quite willing to sacrifice the presence of a live orchestra.

Because of our predilection for the classical in all things, let us begin with the sensational Odette/Prince Siegfried adagio duet from Act II of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, choreographed by Balanchine, after Ivanov. Teresa Reichlen has the perfect body for classical ballet with beautiful long legs, arched feet, long slender neck, flexible back and a soft porte de bras.  We loved the way she fell back into the waiting arms of her Prince, Ask la Cour, always a fine partner.

The Black Swan Pas de Deux from Act III was performed in the Petipa choreography by Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild.  Ms. Peck has a more athletic body and was perfectly centered for the famous fouettes.  (Thirty-two but who's counting?)  While Odette is gentle and sad, Odile is conniving and seductive.  It is challenging to let the audience in on this while convincing Siegfried that she is Odette, calling to mind Odette's avian qualities. Mr. Fairchild also makes a fine partner and excelled in his variation.  There was a rather confusing mix and match of dancers for the variations but no one seemed to mind.

Another classical piece we loved was Opus 19. Andante which the talented young choreographer Emery LeCrone created to music by Rachmaninoff.  The work was classical, very evocative and was perfectly danced by Emily Kitka and Russell Janzen.  It is admirable that the company is giving a chance to young choreographers.  We are always delighted to see a piece by Ms. LeCrone, a fine dancer in her own right.

Along different lines, Mr. Ulbricht himself performed the world premiere of an unnamed work choreographed by Justin Allen to music by Rodrigo y Gabriela.  His remarkable athleticism evoked some wildly enthusiastic applause by thrilled members of the audience and we were among them. The work fit him so well it appeared that he himself had choreographed it.

Balanchine's Who Cares? to music by Gershwin, adapted and orchestrated by Hershey Kay, gave everyone a chance to show off Balanchine's quirky and jazzy additions to the classical vocabulary.  We always enjoy the adorable Megan Fairchild who performed a lovely solo to "My One and Only".  The entire cast dazzled in the final number "I Got Rhythm".

After the performance, the audience was invited to come down to the stage for a "meet and greet" with the artists.  Now THAT'S something that doesn't happen in the Big Apple!

(c) meche kroop