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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
Performance Reviews
American Ballet Theater
Lincoln Center
American Ballet Theatre

American Ballet Theatre: Sylvia 2006

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 3, 2006
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
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American Ballet Theatre: Sylvia 2006

American Ballet Theatre

Metropolitan Opera House

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters:
Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova,
Georgina Parkinson, Kirk Peterson

Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Susan Morgan, Press Associate

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 3, 2006

(Read More ABT Reviews)

Sylvia (1952): (See June 4, 2005 Review). Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton, Music by Léo Delibes, Production Realization and Staging by Christopher Newton, Original Designs by Robin and Christopher Ironside, Additional Designs by Peter Farmer, Lighting by Mark Jonathan, Performed by Gillian Murphy as Sylvia, one of Diana's nymphs, Maxim Beloserkovsky as Aminta, a shepherd, Marcelo Gomes as Orion, the evil hunter, Carlos Lopez as Eros, god of love, Carmen Corella as Diana, the huntress, goddess of chastity, Anne Milewski and Craig Salstein as Goats, Stella Abrera and Sascha Radetsky as Ceres and Jaseion, Maria Riccetto and Jesus Pastor as Persephone and Pluto, Veronica Part and Eric Underwood as Terpsichore and Apollo, Conductor: David LaMarche, and the Company as Hunt attendants, Naiads, Dryads, Fauns, Sylvans, Peasants, Orion's Concubines, Slaves, Muses, Spring attendants, Summer attendants, Sylvia's attendants, and Trumpeters, with students from the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at ABT as Diana's attendants.

Christopher Newton's newly staged ABT full-length production of Frederick Ashton's "Sylvia", with Delibes' melodic score, was created in collaboration with the Royal Ballet as homage to Sir Frederick Ashton's centennial. The mythological plot tells us that Sylvia has promised to renounce love, but both Aminta, a shepherd, and Orion, an evil hunter, are in love with her. Sylvia blames Eros, God of love, for this trouble, and shoots him with an arrow, causing him to shoot her back. Sylvia now mourns Aminta's apparent death, having been struck by Eros' arrow, and Eros appears as a stranger to revive Aminta to locate the abducted Sylvia.

Orion tries in vane to win over Sylvia, who pours wine into his throat and dances until he sleeps. Eros again tries to reunite the lovers, Aminta and Sylvia. When Aminta arrives at a festival for Bacchus, he sees Sylvia arrive by boat with Eros. Orion still harbors evil jealousy and tries to undo Aminta, but Diana arrives and kills Orion. Diana gives up her anger at the two lovers for these violent events and blesses the lovers. (ABT Notes).

Sylvia, among the story ballets, is classic light, a sumptuous score by Delibes, a sumptuous set by Peter Farmer, and elegant choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton. Last year this ballet was revived and received its Ballet Theatre debut to tremendous acclaim. On the second year viewing, the nuanced humor and expressive partnering were more apparent, especially with a singularly different cast. Gillian Murphy was a more vulnerable Sylvia than Paloma Herrera (my 2005 review), and Marcelo Gomes a more macho and threatening Orion than was Jesus Pastor last year. Maxim Beloserkovsky is a star-struck Aminta, uncontrollably drawn to Sylvia, where Angel Corella had played this role (2005) with more physical abandon, but less emotionality.

David LaMarche maximized Delibes' triumphant and towering score in the softest and most majestic scenes, as the mythological and multi-layered plot unfolded from woodlands, to cave, to seacoast. Ms. Murphy was theatrical and lyrical as the loveless then lovelorn nymph of Diana, who has committed to renounce love, even in the form of an infatuated, intoxicating shepherd. Her multi-step, tiny footwork, juxtaposed against the deliberate walk on the bridge, showcased her versatility of style and dramatic technique. Ms. Murphy has evolved of late with more emotionally revealing qualities. Her theatricality is enhanced. Mr. Gomes, as well, is supremely dynamic, driven, and daring. His partnered lifts are god-like, and this power stood him well, as Orion jealously fights for his nymph, succumbing only to Sylvia's clever, heavy-drinking scheme.

Mr. Beloserkovsky leapt across the stage, arms forward, in astounding abandon, and exuded charisma and charm. Carmen Corella, as Diana, was piercing in figurative, as well as literal, terms. Carlos Lopez, as Eros, was as still as a statue, cowering in the shadowy corners of tall columns, not moving a muscle, until he appears under a folded cloak and makes use of his passion-filled arrow. Anne Milewski and Craig Salstein were the two most memorable goats I've ever seen dancing, with hilarious gay affectation. Maria Riccetto and Jesus Pastor were elegant in the "general rejoicing" scene, as Persephone and Pluto, as were Veronika Part and Eric Underwood as Terpsichore and Apollo. The JKO School at ABT students were adorable attendants to Diana, and the remaining cast, as Spring and Summer attendants, Hunt attendants, Sylvia's attendants, Trumpeters, as well as Naiads, Dryads, Fauns, Sylvans, Peasants, Concubines, and Slaves, was kept onstage and dancing, throughout this evenly choreographed event, with corps and leads in continual motion.

Sylvia, the ballet, has a happy ending, much like Sleeping Beauty and Raymonda, and there is a great deal that is camp. This is a light-hearted, but elegantly textured work, and, with the right cast, as I experienced in both 2005 and 2006, this ballet grows on the viewer. It does not mesmerize with the fixation of Swan Lake's Black Swan Pas de Deux, nor Giselle's mad scene, but it includes some quintessentially romantic partnering and the largesse of the corps, plus delicate costumes and multi-leveled sets. Kudos to Sir Frederick Ashton and Léo Delibes.

Gillian Murphy and Maxim Beloserkovsky in Sylvia
Photo courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor

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