The Carolina Ballet’s 2018-19 season opened on Thursday, Sept. 20th, with Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird & A Tribute to Russian Ballet & Its Composers. The diverse ballets are currently being performed in the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in Raleigh, NC’s Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, with performances running through Sunday, Sept. 30th.
Although listed later in the program, the first performance is Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1. Lead dancers Jan Burkhard, Yevgeny Shlapko, Lara O’Brien, Sam Ainley, and Kiefer Curtis, under the direction of Carolina Ballet’s co-artistic director and choreographer-in-residence Zalman Raffael, do a beautiful job of showcasing fluid movements and sculpted lines. Unfortunately, the rest of the piece falls a little flat.
The recording of the music that was used could have been of a higher quality. The sound levels were inconsistent, and you could hear the audible hiss of a record or poorly remastered CD. Also, during the larger company portions, there were a few dancers who were consistently too early or consistently too late. These slight errors were just enough to throw off the syncopation and muddle Raffael’s choreography.
After a brief intermission, the Petite Suite ballet was presented with the music of Alexander Borodin, under the direction of the Ballet’s artistic director and choreographer Robert Weiss. This was a sweet little vignette of little poems about the different Loves of Young Ladies. The setting showed a projection that helped to inform the audience of the multiple dances were portraying. Each soloist portrayed a different viewpoint, such as being in love, dreaming about being a socialite, or being career oriented.
After another brief intermission, the audience was delighted by Spartacus & Phrygia. It featured music by Aram Khachaturian from the ballet Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia and was choreographed by Robert Weiss. Soloists Margaret Severin-Hansen and Marcelo Martinez executed this performance flawlessly. They had the most wonderful chemistry together. You could feel the passion and drama between the two dancers. The dance was fluid, mesmerizing and absolutely beautiful to watch. The duo left you yearning for more.
After the final intermission, the main attraction is the classic Russian fairy tale The Firebird. Under the direction of Robert Weiss. Colorful costumes by David Heuvel and backdrops by Jeff A.R. Jones assist in bringing the music of Igor Stravinsky to life.
The ballet centers on the journey Prince Ivan, portrayed by (Richard Krusch). While hunting in the forest, he strays into the magical realm of Koschei the Immortal (Miles Sollars-White), whose immortality is preserved by keeping his soul in a magic hidden egg.
Prince Ivan finds the beautiful Firebird (Alyssa Pilger), who gives him one of her feathers as protection. Just before being defeated by Koschei and his minions, he summons the Firebird. Once the magic egg is destroyed, Koschei’s magic is released and the Prince can marry his Princess (Ashley Hathaway) to live happily forever after.
This performance by the Carolina Ballet offers a glimpse into the Russian ballet and honors some of the great Russian composers. Although The Firebird is supposed to be the showstopping headlining piece, to be honest the Spartacus & Phrygia duo of Margaret Severin-Hansen and Marcelo Martinez stole the whole show.
The Carolina Ballet presents Igor Stravinsky’s FIREBIRD & A TRIBUTE TO RUSSIAN BALLET & ITS COMPOSERS at 2 and 8 p.m. Sept. 29 and 2 p.m. Sept. 30 in the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
BOX OFFICE: Carolina Ballet Box Office: 919-719-0900 or https://www.carolinaballet.com/get-tickets.
Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or https://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/836166.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-719-0900 or https://www.carolinaballet.com/season-tickets/tickets/group-rates/.
SHOW: https://www.carolinaballet.com/2018-2019-season/firebird/, https://www.facebook.com/events/325817367957363/, and http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/event/carolina-ballet-firebird-8824. 2018-19 SEASON: https://www.carolinaballet.com/season-tickets/.
PRESENTER: http://www.carolinaballet.com/, https://www.facebook.com/CarolinaBallet, https://twitter.com/carolinaballet, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carolina_Ballet.
Robert Weiss (Carolina Ballet‘s artistic director and choreographer): http://www.carolinaballet.com/pages/staff-directory-entry/robert-weiss (Carolina Ballet bio) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Weiss_(choreographer) (Wikipedia).
Zalman Raffael (Carolina Ballet‘s co-artistic director and Carolina Ballet‘s choreographer-in-residence): http://zalmanraffael.com/ (official website) and https://www.carolinaballet.com/pages/dancers-entry/zalman-raffael (Carolina Ballet bio).
Shannon Plummer-White is no stranger to the stage! She studied Musical Theater & Opera at the American Musical Dramatic Academy in New York City, and has appeared in films such as Iron Man 3 and Safe Haven. She has also performed with the North Carolina Master Chorale and the North Carolina Symphony. When she isn’t on stage or making magic behind the scenes, she can be found in the art studio playing with fire and molten glass. She is an animal advocate with a special love of cats. She has four rescued fur children and a very supportive husband. Click here to read her reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.