Stella Abrera: A Wild Woman in Grief
The very haughty Lady Capulet was performed Wednesday night by a dancer still in her prime: the gorgeous Stella Abrera. In MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, Lady Capulet is a very proper woman. She cares more about pleasing her husband and society than tuning in to her daughter, Juliet. But when Tybalt, whom she has a fancy for, is killed by Romeo, her passion erupts. The moment he dies, even before he actually keels over, the Prokofiev music stomps on us all in a rhythm that I just love. (The 1,2,3, and 5 of a 6 are pounded out, with silence on the 4 and 6.) ABT’s Stella Abrera came down the stairs in a fury, threw Misty Copeland (a particularly lusty “harlot”) out of the way, and generally went wild. It was kind of like Giselle’s mad scene in that you didn’t know what she would do, and people backed away from her. Her heart was racing and her body was racing.
I remember seeing Georgina Parkinson hitting herself with her fists in this scene, and that seemed so rash for a woman of Lady Capulet’s breeding. But with Stella, the self flagellation was just part of a more thrashing, chaotic whirlwind of grief. I wondered, did this have to do with the fact that Tybalt was played by Sascha Radetsky, and it was too real for her to see her husband lying there dead? Or did she read Claudia LaRoccas’ comment in The NY Times that she was stiff in that scene? I don’t know, but it was the most powerful moment in the performance for me.
Herman Cornejo and Xiomara Reyes were wonderful together as R and J. They fit really well and looked into each other’s eyes with sincerity. The first kiss was dreamy and real and fantastic. She was a pliant, fluid, childlike Juliet. He had all his usual grace, but was a rather understated Romeo.
So I came away mostly with the image of Abrera, wrenched with grief.
Pictured: Stella Abrera as Lady Capulet. Photo by Gene Schiavone, courtesy ABT.