The Cinncinati Ballet

February 4, 2000

The Three Musketeers with Anna Reznik and Alexi Kremnev.
Photo by Nina Alovert

Cincinnati Ballet

Procter & Gamble Hall, Stanley J. Aronoff Center

Cincinnati, Ohio

February 4-6, 2000

Andre Prokovsky’s The Three Musketeers, which had its world premiere in 1980 by the Australian Ballet, was revised into a new version of his two-act ballet for the Cincinnati Ballet. Set to music by Giuseppe Verdi, the ballet was loosely adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas. Prokovsky has focused on the portion of the plot surrounding the diamond necklace given Lord Buckingham as a gift by the Queen of France. The ambitious Cardinal Richelieu wants the necklace so he can discredit the Queen before her husband, Louis XIII. The brave musketeers, headed by D’Artagnan, overcome the obstacles set up by the Cardinal, Milady and Rochefort, and return the necklace to the Queen. The ballet ends with the adagio between the lovers, D’Artagnan and Constance.

Prokovsky has created a witty ballet. The libretto is well thought out and the plot is “told” by the choreography, which was based almost entirely on classical dance. The Cincinnati company has mastered the ironic quality of the characters, making the work look like an elegant joke.

Some of the dancers were outstanding: the comedic actors Jay Goodlett (Rochefort) and Gregg Saulnier (Louis XIII); the enchanting Leah Elzner (Constance); the imposing Calin Radulescu (Cardinal Richelieu). Each musketeer was introduced via a brief variation. All three, Miroslav Pejic (Athos), Hong Yu (Portos), and Andrey Kasatsky (Aramis), embodied their characters fully and with fine acting technique.

The ballet would not have reached its full potential, however, had it not been for the spectacular performances of Alexei Kremnev (D’Artagnan) and Anna Reznik (Milady). Kremnev is a superb dancer with strong stage presence; he is an elegant and inventive artist. His dance is beautiful and masculine at the same time. He is musical, his jumps are high, and he maintains the chemistry of a lyrical hero in the most comedic situations.

Reznik dances Milady, one of the three melodramatic parts in the ballet. (The others, Zsuzsanna Bokor as the Queen and Rene Micheo as Lord Buckingham, seem to sleep through their roles.) A ballerina with a romantic appearance and a delicate build, Reznik has thin, long legs and big, dark eyes in a pale face. She is a talented actress as well. With her appearance and strong, harsh character, she creates the ideal image of the beautiful villainess, just like the one created in the novel by Dumas. Still, she manages to add a bit of whimsy to the role.

Kremnev and Reznik create such a strong magnetic field around themselves that the ballet often seems as if it takes place between the two of them, maintaining a balance between buffoonery and melodrama to create an enchanting, lyrical comedy.

The scenery and costumes were successful with a few exceptions. As the Queen, Bokor could not maintain her royal decorum while wearing a pleated skirt with a shirred top and straight three-quarter sleeves, decidedly not a queen of that period. The Queen’s ladies-in-waiting wear dresses more suited to peasant girls from the French countryside.

The ballet’s lively music immediately lifts it a level. The conductor of the orchestra, Carmon DeLeone, has worked with the theater for more than thirty years, and the orchestra, under the maestro’s guidance, sounded fantastic. The audience had the pleasure of hearing the music of Verdi in a first-rate performance.

The 37-year-old Cincinnati Ballet is a solid professional company currently under the direction of Victoria Morgan. Since its founding, the theater has emphasized creation of an original repertory with attention to the tastes of the city’s large number of immigrants with close cultural ties to European traditions. The city likes symphonic music and ballets with strong plots. Reznik and Kremnev are both former Moscow dancers who have worked in Cincinnati for more than two seasons now, and they have won the attention, love and loyalty of its audiences.