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Friday, December 22, 2017

Met's Hansel and Gretel is a Full Course Delight

The cast of Hansel and Gretel take a bow
I've come to accept that the Met opera seasons are like a curate's egg. You can't expect a consistent level of quality and inspiration anymore. But once in awhile, you might stumble upon a totally delightful performance. And such was the case with their holiday presentation of Hansel and Gretel. Despite a mid-performance substitution (Tara Erraught, the production's Hansel, sounded wan in the first two acts and was replaced after intermission by Ingeborg Gillebo) the overall performance was one of the best things I've seen the Met do in, well, quite awhile.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Nutcracker Season: Sweets Amid Turmoil ...

The blindingly beautiful Snow Scene, photo @ Paul Kolnik

This year I went to an unprecedented seven (!!!) NYCB Nutcrackers. Don't ask how it happened, it just did. First of all, when I bought the tickets to the Nutcracker, I just wanted a happy, uncomplicated experience. But then, well ... #metoo happened to NYCB. It's AD Peter Martins was accused of sexual harassment and abuse and took a leave of absence from both SAB and NYCB. The charges turned more serious with accusations of physical abuse. I hope the board acts quickly to fully investigate these charges. With that being said I admire the company even more for carrying on with their level of professionalism and high standards amidst the turmoil.

There is an element of comfort food to Nutcracker season. Every year I laugh at the funny, skittish mice, I marvel at the beauty of Balanchine's Snowflakes, I go squishy at the adorable bunny pulling the tail of the Mouse King, blah blah blah. I also revisit my favorite dancers. So it's not surprising that I saw Sterling Hyltin/Andrew Veyette as the SPF/Cavalier twice, or Tiler Peck's Dewdrop twice, and made room for Ashley Bouder's Dewdrop as well. These are portrayals I know and love, and returning to them year after year is soothing and thrilling at the same time. It's remarkable how these dancers know how to transmit their magic in every performance.

But Nutcracker season is also a season of discovery, and I discovered so many previously-unknown desserts that I can't live without now. Just a run-down: Teresa Reichlen's Sugarplum Fairy, Emily Kikta's Coffee, Harrison Coll's Candy Cane, Preston Chamblee's Mother Ginger, India Bradley's Harlequin, and much more.