From the brief but joyfully jaunty overture of musical happiness,
thrillingly delivered by the incomparable Chicago Sinfonietta, to the
closing moments of the final act; The Merry Widow offers an enchanting evening of entertaining neo-classical ballet.
The Joffrey Ballet brings this Midwest
premiere of choreographer Ronald Hynd’s three-act story to life with
grace, elegance and beguiling playfulness. Turn-of-the-century Parisians
have never looked so physically fluid. Roberta Guidi di
Bagno’s lovely costume and scenic design creates a gorgeous visual
playground and the perfect look for this aristocratic love story between
a beautiful widow and a handsome count.
Victoria Jaiani and Miguel Angel Blanco are captivating leads, as
the widow and count. Their exquisite dancing is fueled by an
extraordinary chemistry that can be felt as much when they glance at
each other across a ballroom as when they are locked in a passionate
Yumelia Garcia is mischievously spellbinding
as the flirtatious Valencienne. Her extramarital love interest with
Camille de Roussillon, wonderfully played by Graham Maverick, creates a
scandalously sensational secondary story.
The final act puts on the Ritz in a fancy Parisian restaurant, the
legendary Chez Maxim. The ‘Busby Berkeley meets can-can meets ballet’
dance sequence is a lavish extravaganza of color and animated
exuberance, and a highlight of this already dynamic night of dance.
Although the story is light on riveting content, the presentation
is beautifully executed by this dazzling company of incredible dancers
that render a delightfully endearing interpretation of this fanciful
tale. Filled with silly slapstick minutia and whimsical romantic
intrigue, The Merry Widow proves that a sophisticated ballet can be perfectly charming.
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