Everything Looks Beautiful at the Ballet

Carmen the Ballet 

This ballet in four acts was based on the libretto by Henri Meilhac (1831-1897) and Ludovic Halévy (1834-1908) and choreographed/produced by Veronica Paeper, with the famous and recognizable music by George Bizet (1838-1875) and arranged/orchestrated by Michael Tuffin. The lead roles that evening were performed by: Claudia Monja, Carmen; Leusson Muniz, Don José; Armando Barros, Escamillio; Savannah Ireland, my future wife…I mean, Micaela [cough, cough]. Though it’s been a minute since I last watched a ballet, I’m glad I caught this one. It reminded me of why I stopped doing ballet, but still love dance!

Let’s start with the lighting for a minute. A random detail yes, but considering how effective the lighting design was, for the most part, I felt it absolutely necessary to give it a young mention nyana. Especially the tavern scene, act two, where the lights painted stunning shadows against the looming backdrops. It made the already seedy act look bigger and more menacing, which “a good boy, bad city” kind of guy like myself can appreciate, despite my wishing said shadows were cast a bit more  deliberately by the lighting designer. Act four was just another example of this rather impressively lit show as we watch the performers outside the bullring waiting for the action to commence as breathlessly as some of us in the audience. It was as glorious as what I imagine waiting for the arrival of gladiators outside the Colosseum must have been. Shows as magical as this where everything moves so seamlessly that even the follow spots seem flawless is why I assume live theater refuses to die and I could forgive what few and tiny hiccups I noticed in the performance.

The performances, though light-years ahead of what most people in the world can ever imagine themselves being capable of executing, were rather stark reminders of why I feel dancers (especially those in more classical styles) should involve themselves a lot more in acting and music theory classes. The musicality and acting of the piece were far from bad, but they were pretty far from perfect if I could spot the tiny mishaps so easily. I legit felt my boy, Leusson Muniz, was an absolute DOGG in his portrayal of a young soldier with no game led astray by a female. His focus however, would sometimes waver which caused small but noticeable mistakes in his performance and threatened to break the spell the show had cast. The music, which is iconic and pretty hum-worthy, can be tricky to follow unless one intensely familiarizes themselves with the counting of the the music. Claudia Monja was a firey goddess on that stage well deserving of the lead role, but there were moments (like one of her solos in the first act) where her feet looked as if they were searching for the music. The performances were stunning over all and I can’t help but wonder if the tiny flaws I’d noticed couldn’t have been helped by somewhat kinder choreography.

The choreography was splendid with very few boring or repeated sequences which can often make ballet a sleepy affair for me. This choreography just seemed to lack the perfect integration with the scenery and general theme of the characters at times. I can’t help but wonder if it may not have been at least partially responsible for some of the mistakes mentioned earlier.

Either way, this show left me whistling the music, crushing on the females and envying the guys…for their athleticism of course [cough, cough]. I’ll definitely reserve a budget to go and watch more live shows outside of my current world of poetry, even if it’s only to write about them. This show got 7/5ths of a whole back flip from this hip hip head. Salute, happy people.

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