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AT12 ArtsPaper/Reviews


May 2017


Superb symphony, moving ballet, and intrepid explorer Here are excerpts of reviews of current and recent shows. For full reviews, see Palm Beach Symphony (April 13, Kravis Center) Ramón Tebar conducts his orchestra like a man fine-tuning a grand piano. Responding to his every command, even the slightest hand gesture, the refined playing of the Palm Beach Symphony in its last concert of the season was superb. What Tebar has done for this orchestra is no less than Herculean, growing it from a small chamber group, framing its size to match their many venues and their odd acoustic, reveling in the orchestra’s capacity to do big works when up to full symphonic strength. The all-Russian concert opened with Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise, the final addition to the composer’s own transcription for orchestra of 14 songs written in 1915. Stravinsky’s ballet music for The Firebird came next. Beginning with a mysterious, brooding introduction emerging from the lower strings the Firebird appears with intense trills — flapping her wings — caught by a prince, her pleas to be released are shown in long languid phrases that capture the mood perfectly. Over the next 11 movements, each section head shone as they soloed or led their players in this magnificent music. Tebar’s control was amazing. Each melody seemed to emanate from his fingertips, the chromatic strains contrasting serenely with the supernatural elements of the music. This idyll is jolted by one of the loudest sudden orchestral

“bangs” ever heard in the concert hall, guaranteed to wake sleepers all around. From then on, the music romps home with pounding realism from the timpani building to a thunderous affirmation. Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony (in B minor, Op. 74) ended the program. The adagio is full of deep passionate music that earned the symphony the descriptive word “pathétique,” a title suggested by his brother, Modest. The Palm Beach Symphony gave it a warm, respectful reading, every section playing to the highest standards, each the sum of this splendid whole which met another standing ovation as the dirge died away. — Rex Hearn Boca Ballet Theatre (April 8, Spanish River High School, Boca Raton) In Bournonville’s La Sylphide, Boca Ballet Theatre seems to have found an ideal match. The small educational troupe presented two performances of this 1836 work, whose score by Norwegian nobleman Herman Severin Løvenskiold is far better than most others of its era, and whose compactness and easy-to-follow mimed story make it very accessible. Joined by two excellent professional soloists from the New York City Ballet and a third from the Fort Wayne Ballet, the Boca troupe's mounting of this story was delightful and charming from beginning to end. In La Sylphide, a forest sylph, in love with a Scotsman named James who is soon to be married to a lovely village girl, is lured away by her through the evil machinations of a conniving witch. Frustrated

Megan Fairchild and Gonzalo Garcia of the New York City Ballet perform with the Boca Ballet Theatre in La Sylphide at Spanish River High School. Photo provided at not being able to capture her, he uses a scarf prepared by the witch to bind her to him, at which point her wings fall off and she dies, just as a wedding party featuring James’ betrothed, now married to his rival Gurn, walks through. As La Sylphide, Megan Fairchild was all lightness and grace, with beautiful footwork and expert carriage that she united to an engaging flirtatiousness. Gonzalo Garcia was a first-rate James, with brilliant high jumps in which he didn’t hammer the floor when he came down, and a lift to his movements that was almost as light and nimble as Fairchild’s. Shannon Smith, a frequent Boca Ballet guest, was a fine Gurn, with very athletic jumps and legwork of his own, and student dancer Brida Gibbons was impressive as Effie, stepping with elegance and a retiring modesty that befitted her role as a jilted fiancée. Director Dan Guin’s staging was crystal-clear and no problem at all to follow, and he made sure there was credible town activity while keeping that group of dancers out of the way of his storytellers. — Greg Stepanich

The Lost City of Z (opened April 21) Depending on whom you ask, director James Gray (We Own the Night, The Immigrant) is either his generation’s Kubrick — a dogged, uncompromising auteur of narcotized mood pieces — or a ponderous, inert storyteller with an elegant camera eye. Regardless, he’s an unlikely choice for The Lost City of Z (pronounced “zed”), an adaptation of David Grann’s biography of British explorer Percy Fawcett, whose obsessive expeditions into the uncharted Amazon inspired the character of Indiana Jones. Written and directed by Gray, and jettisoning some of the book’s more self-reflexive flourishes, it’s sure to bring Gray his widest worldwide audience. Gray weaves elements of an old-fashioned adventure yarn into a study of quixotic obsession and, for certain characters, near-madness. His approach is more workmanlike than ever before, but he paces the occasionally conventional beats with unimpeachable command, spiking them with visual poetry. The Lost City of Z is devoid of fat and fatuousness, and rich in beauty

and curiosity. Perhaps its most impressive feat is that it revives a childhood desire to explore the unknown, even when all roads lead to fatalistic folly. Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) accepts an offer from the Royal Geographical Society to hazard the untamed wilds of South America to survey land on the Bolivian/Brazilian border. Hunnam, most known for Sons of Anarchy, has Chris Hemsworth’s carriage and Brad Pitt’s gaze. He’s every bit a leading man in the making, and under Gray’s pictorially ravishing lens, he conjures Peter O’Toole exchanging Arabia for Amazonia. Long before reaching his destination, Fawcett is told to abort the dangerous mission. But Fawcett is the kind of person to ignore practical precautions, so he braves the thickets and wilds of the malarial jungle and the river described by one character as “a green desert,” while dodging arrows from justifiably aggressive natives. Gray doesn’t dramatize some of Fawcett’s wildest claims from this first expedition, such as the 62-foot anaconda he purports to have shot. It’s the discovery of ancient pottery at the end of the voyage that most interests Gray’s explorer, indicating the presence of a lost civilization that will rewrite history books. In between expeditions, The Lost City of Z spends more time than you’d think on dry land, charting the domestic and political fallout from Fawcett’s insatiable desire to explore. Fawcett is soon saddled with a convenient nemesis, James Murray (Angus Macfadyen), a grandstanding explorer who joins him on his second odyssey only to sabotage it. Fawcett also attempts to reconcile family life with his wife Nina (Sienna Miller), with his innate desire to discover El Dorado. This is where Gray sidesteps hagiography, bluntly assessing the destructive flipside of Fawcett’s adventures, and presenting Nina as a figure of tragic sacrifice, raising three children alone. Like a soldier addicted to the adrenaline of the battlefield, Fawcett doesn’t feel complete unless he’s venturing into dangerous waters. — ArtsPaper staff

Profile for The Coastal Star

The Coastal Star May 2017  

Serving Coastal Delray Beach and north to Hypoluxo Island

The Coastal Star May 2017  

Serving Coastal Delray Beach and north to Hypoluxo Island