San Francisco Ballet has just extended their Giselle Casting through Sunday February 13, 2011 and the burning question on every SFBalletomane’s mind is (all together now):
When is Maria Kochetkova reprising her almost legendary Izzie award-winning role of the doomed peasant girl?
The answer (pregnant pause for dramatic effect):
Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 8 pm
And now to complete everyone’s relief:
Yes, she will be reprising her Giselle with her equally brilliant partner, Joan Boada. Joan’s Count Albrecht is passionately in love with his Giselle and a more emotionally gut-wrenching final moment before curtain would be challenging to find. Or behold. We know it. And Maria ‘Masha’ Kochetkova publicly acknowledged it in her heartfelt Isadora Duncan Dance Awards acceptance speech, in which she gave thanks to her partner, Joan Boada. And yes, I’m sure SFB’s phone lines will be ringing off the hook today!
Before I reveal another surprise bit of Casting (in this same 2/10/11 performance!), I find it worth noting that SFB is well aware of the importance of Maria’s Casting news to Fans; in a rather stunning moment of clarity, I just happened to notice that the FIVE other SFB performances between February 4th and February 10th haven’t yet been announced! So they must already be taking plenty of calls about Maria. (My apologies to SFB if I am partly to blame!)
Now , before you run off to make that call and leave me behind, I have some more Giselle Casting revelations for true SFBalletomanes:
Aside from the fact that we will be treated to seeing our newest Principal Dancer, Artem Yachmennikov, premiering as Albrecht in Helgi Tomasson’s version of Giselle…and partnering our beloved Yuan Yuan Tan’s delicate and fragile beauty on Opening night…
Tiit Helimets & Yuan Yuan Tan in Tomasson’s ‘Giselle'; © Erik Tomasson
Aside from the fact that the Company’s premier ‘Danseur Noble’, Tiit Helimets, is partnering the sublime Sarah Van Patten, a dramatic Ballerina if there ever was one, in her debut in Tomasson’s Giselle (and after her crazed ‘mad scene’ portrayal of ‘Mermaid’ in John Neuemeier’s The Little Mermaid, I venture that her Giselle mad scene will be unlike any other)…
Aside from the fact that one of the Company’s most supreme technicians, the popular and beautiful Vanessa Zahorian, is reprising her Giselle this year with high-flying Taras Domitro (also premiering in Tomasson’s production!)…
(^I swear the man is more comfortable in the air than anyone in the Biz!)
Vanessa Zahorian in Tomasson’s Giselle; © Erik Tomasson
Aside from the fact that one of SFB’s most dramatically significant Giselles to date, the incomparable Lorena Feijoo (she has Giselle in her blood, courtesy of her National Ballet of Cuba roots!), is paired with the partner she loves best, that sensational dancer who loves to soar, Vitor Luiz, who makes his Albrecht debut here in Helgi Tomasson’s choreography…
Aside from all of that…
Let’s talk about our Myrtha’s and Hilarions.
In addition to our expected Myrtha (‘Queen of the Wilis’) portrayals, Elana Altman and Sofiane Sylve (I believe Sofiane’s repertory includes the role of Giselle, but it is her authoritative Myrtha that reigns at SFB), we have some unexpected surprises:
On Thursday, February 10, 2011, newest SFB Principal Ballerina Frances Chung is debuting as Myrtha in the same performance as Maria and Joan’s return to their signature roles! I admittedly adore Frances and this casting choice thrills me!
The other big Myrtha Casting coup is the premiere of SFB Corps Dancer Mariellen Olson, dancing with Taras and Vanessa on Saturday, February 12, 2011, 2 pm. Congratulations to Mariellen and a big thanks to Mr. Tomasson for his continued ability to offer challenging roles to deserving Corps members!
Ok-About SFB’s new Hilarions:
First and foremost I must mention that I am missing Damian Smith in the Casting so far, though not all the Hilarions have been announced. Damian is one of SFB Fans’ favorite villians; his Von Rothbart (Swan Lake) is classic, his Tybalt (Romeo & Juliet) can hardly be more chilling (he’s truly so fierce that he frightens me), and his Iago (Othello) is just pure manipulative evil. Damian’s Hilarion, Giselle’s besotted beau till the arrival of Albrecht/’Loys’, is cherished here and I hope we get to see it.
Whereas Damian’s Hilarion is suspicious, appalled, and eager to ruin his rival (we just love to hate him!), Pascal Molat’s Hilarion is quite a different animal.
I can’t believe I’m going to ‘out’ myself here, but Pascal’s Hilarion made me cry. I jest not. His Hilarion was SO truly in love with Giselle, and so obviously trying to protect her from Albrecht’s deceit, that when the Wilis had their way with him I wanted to stand up and scream “Nooooooo”! And that, my friends, has never happened to me before. And many of my readers have informed me that I was not alone in those feelings. Oh those evil Wilis…
Pascal reprises his surprisingly stirring Hilarion on Opening night with Yuan Yuan Tan and Artem Yachmennikov.
So what of our new Hilarions?
This year we are being treated to SFB Principal Dancer, a beloved Albrecht himself, Ruben Martin’s premiere as Hilarion. Until the rest of the Hilarion castings are announced, he is performing with Taras, Vanessa, and Sofiane on Tuesday, February 1, 2011. I love it when we get to see our favorites in new roles!
And the BIG surprise with Helgi Tomasson’s Hilarions is the premiere of SFB Corps Dancer Daniel Baker, new to SFB in 2010, and slated to debut this Sunday, January 30, 2011. He is premiering the same day as Sarah Van Patten’s Tomasson premiere and is already scheduled twice in SFB’s Casting.
Okay, Peeps, you have my premission to run to the phone now!
Here’s the announced Giselle Casting on SFB’s site:
See You at the Ballet!
(Odette’s Gala Observations coming…)